It was that annoying pressure in the lower belly, crazy period pains and a belly a little bigger than it should be – not very becoming for a lady. Getrude Mungai, then 19, took the matter to the hospital. The doctor pointed out two strangers sitting in her womb…and they were not babies…
In an interview with Brenda Wangwe-Kilonzo for Babylove Network, Getrude reveals what the doctor told her: “You have to get pregnant within five years… lest these fibroids ruin your chances.”
Soon, thankfully, the gentleman in the locales of her life popped the question. A marriage happened at age 24 years and a pregnancy soon after that. There were two threats of pre-term labour in the fourth and sixth month which called for bedrest but that was just about it. “Mark, my first born, conquered fibroids!” she prides. That paved easy way for his brother Albert, who she bore fibroid-free, issue free.
We had this conversation with Getrude Mungai at her shop along Nairobi’s Kenyatta Avenue. I had waited for her to create a private haven for our ‘feminine’ tete-a-tete. But typical of her guts … we had it like she has it on TV and radio. Shop attendant present, clients walking in and out. Utterly comfortable in her proverbial ‘What’s-there-to-hide’ expression.
“Did I say I saw my house full of children… I LOVE babies…” she says. “I had always envisioned a house of at least six children yelling and running around the house….” The economic situation and their current hands-on parenting style, however, saw them linger at two. “I enjoyed being flanked by the three boys – all competing for my attention,” she goes on to say.
Soon, however, the girl-talk crave kicked in. What with the socks and dirty shoes scattered all over and the need for someone to get dolled up with. “So at 35 years, it became apparent we wanted a girl. My career was, however, on the fast lane; A TV and radio show and bridal showers all over. I was moving in and out of town as well as out of the country. I eventually decided that I would have my baby girl at 40,” Getrude recounts.
“So we were ticking off the ovulation calendar – marking out my safe days, ‘baby-girl days’ and eating right,” Getrude laughs. Soon there was pain in her tummy that worsened through the night. The doctor’s result thereafter was a positive pregnancy test – 12 weeks along!
“To my surprise the scan also revealed multiple fibroids; two of them as big as tennis balls,” Getrude tells. “The scan which involves moving a probe around the surface of my tummy caused me so much pain I almost passed out,” she adds. The doctor assured that the growths, though big, were not near the baby therefore wouldn’t hinder the baby’s growth. He however warned that the pregnancy was causing them to bleed out and that sometimes pregnancy triggered their growth making them compete with the baby, she explains.
Well, besides the crazy cramps, numb taste-buds, and being on a spitting spree (which were countered by putting lemon and tamarind in all her food and relishing black grapes, green olives and Minneola oranges) the pregnancy was easy – no mood swings. She loved Mr Mungai to a fault! “I’d tag along whenever he was running his errands and doing his business; I did not mind waiting in the car…. Only to realise I was driving the brother nuts!” she laughs.
The pain eased off a little. Duty continued to call – the showers, the radio station… There was a Saturday that looked like this: a ladies fellowship meeting in at Kirarapon – Karen, a bridal shower at Brew Bistro on Ngong Road at 7pm. Later, another bridal shower in Westlands that would end at 2am!
She says the next day she was in her favorite position – “On all fours in my sitting room and in so much pain trying to catch up with the soaps and E news. The boys decided no friends were allowed to visit less they asked why their mother’s back side was up in the air,” she laughs. The pain would not allow her to go her radio jobs the entire week – to the protest of her producers, she writes in her blog.
In a capsule, it negated the doctor’s prognosis that the pain would be bearable until around week 20. “The pain was nowhere close to bearable; I felt like I was in labour half the time,” Getrude recounts. The pain would show up in the studio, causing her to do the show on her feet or ask for music breaks. She’d have to take painkillers and wait for 30 minutes before getting into a bridal shower – and she’d dash out right after the shower as the pain would soon resurface…
“I cursed…for the potholes and many bumps around my house! – all five of them in less than a kilometer!” she laughs. It’s like everything conspired to torture her. Bridal showers on the fourth floor. The work elevator having been turned off by the time she got there for the night show. Home drop-off in a Probox – certainly not built for comfort.
Getrude says her husband and close friends urged her to slow down – ‘quit the job, cancel the showers’. “But I am not the type to sit around all day…. So I learnt to live with the pain; breathing exercises from Lamaze class; sitting flat on the carpet with my back propped up with pillows and being on all fours; like kuchuna mboga (doggy style position) – which really helped,” articulates the sex expert. Something had to give though. The ‘Bahari ya mapenzi’ radio night show was let go.
It was six days past the magic 20 weeks when the pain was supposed to have stopped. It was only getting more and more intense. A visit to the doctor showed everything was ok, the baby was growing well; the heartbeat regular and the organs and limbs in place. It was a boy. At this stage we just wanted to get through with the pregnancy – not even the child’s sex. So we were relieved to know all was well – even though the fibroids were also growing. The doctor (a new one – now that the regular one was out of town), was happy with the results, he just changed the pain killer to a much stronger brand,” Getrude tells.
The pain was however so unbearable that night, she had to take the pain killers every two hours. The next morning right after taking more pain killers and rolling over to continue with her much needed rest – now that she was up most of the night, the waters broke. Shock, pandemonium and obvious confusion riddled the house that moment. The long and short of it is she managed to talk with three doctors in the process – all of whom brought reassurance, despite their jargon, and they made it to the hospital. It then occurred to her that the crazy pain at night was labour! Only she had gotten accustomed to the symptoms.
They soon met the heartbreaking news that she was having a miscarriage. “By then huge clots of blood were dropping down; I had never seen anything like that. I had thought something could be done to save the baby, but going by the clots I realized what deep shit I was in. Another scary thought was; could I be bleeding to death?” Getrude recalls.
“Before long I was induced and transferred to a ward. After half an hour I went through labour and gave birth to a stillborn – Ceaser. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. To compound the situation the placenta refused to come out, the doctor tried to pull it manually, but it was too painful for me plus now I was too weak. I had to undergo an emergency operation to remove it. According to the doctor, early in the pregnancy the placenta is much more firmly attached therefore very painful to remove,” she narrates.
More appalling news after the surgery was that I had lost a lot of blood which called for a blood transfusion. She was hesitant but Peter’s face said it all. She looked like a ghost – she later learnt. The doctor prescribed plasma – a blood substitute which mimics and almost works like real blood. This was thankfully adequate. Since plasma doesn’t have the red blood cells which carry oxygen in through body, she was ordered to be on a two-week strict bed-rest.
“I went through what every pregnant woman goes through after delivery. The bleeding, leaking of milk, the puffiness – compounded with the feelings of loss. Gratefully, I had a good support system that rarely allowed me my duvet cry-days. A good friend put me on a blood-boost diet – the liver, the greens, the beetroot… the doctor was shocked to see me for my review. I was glowing! The down-side was beetroot being a potato, it all went to my hips. I put on weight!
My hubby, who didn’t say much of it, was just as crushed. I healed faster than he did,” she realises. It is now getting to three years since the dreaded 6th September 2014. Yet the #AnotherChildDream remains alive, Getrude avers. “I would get the baby as soon as yesterday… but I am busy readying Peter. He is not as easily manipulated (noting she is good at it), especially not after our last ordeal.”
“I had considered surgery to remove the fibroids but did not like the idea of having a scar – now that it would have to be an open surgery,” she says, adding that her last hospital experience also left her hospital-averse. The smell of hospital antiseptic still conjures the tension, fear, and sadness that riddled the last time she was there… – delivering her baby way before term.
She is therefore on a naturopathic juice diet that has been linked to shrinking fibroids. “It hasn’t been easy – because I am foodie!” she laughs as she slices a jackfruit to chew on. “I also play squash three times a week.” Some good news: the fibroids, which were tennis ball size have shrunk to marble size. The doctor says the coast is again clear for a baby…
Well if you thought we’d wrap up this piece without a peak to what Getrude Mungai, the sexpert, does best… redirect your sails to the following tips.
• I do not prescribe a specific sex position – as long as you are comfortable.
• The libido differs with each pregnancy. In my first pregnancy I had sex till the last day. In my second, I wished my husband had been given a work transfer to some far place and gets blocked from travel for three months.
• While sleeping, use pillows to support. Try to see to it that no part of the body is on top of the other.
• No douching.
• Low libido times? Keep the man happy in other ways? So you give him no reason to be ‘adventurous’? Answer: “Let them try to be pregnant! Shame on any such mindset. They should be human! Pregnancy is not a life-sentence. They should simply be patient.Your man just needs to understand.
• The pregnancy. Own it from day one! Don’t miss a doctor’s appointment. My hubby has always owned ours. He is the one who gets the pregnancy kit. He is there when I use it. And he is the one who checks the results.
• Something interesting: In the process of removing the firmly attached placenta (Now that the baby wasn’t due), the doctor burst my vaginal muscles. I suppose God was putting me to test of what I preach… I had to go on a serious vaginal workout to get back the firmness… In the meantime, our love-making had to stay of penetration and focus on the sensuality.
• For the paternity leave – kindly use it to parent. It’s not time for the garage.
Parenting – Then vs Now
I have a lot to say about my mother’s parenting – more on the free-range kind…,” she laughs. It worked – looking at where I am today. They nevertheless choose the hands-on one. “Oh we are all over their lives! We have even done homeschooling. Everyone has a time-table. We shape them into the kinds of people we expect them to be – in terms of discipline, ethics and faith. The rest is theirs,” she shares. “So you can be sure our third would be received by a very eager support system, more so because the siblings are also eager help guides.”
A few things to note
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumours of the uterus, and are quite common.
They happen in about half of all women over age 35. A big number of them do not cause symptoms.
They don’t always cause pregnancy complications – depending on their size and location.
Women with fibroids should have regular check-ups, and treated with medication or surgery or both – if necessary.
They may cause pregnancy complications, such as extreme pain, separation of the placenta, bleeding during the first trimester, breech delivery and could affect the baby’s growth and health.