Loss of my unborn baby
Saturday 6th of September 2014 is a day I would love to forget but, I cannot. This dreadful day is when I lost my unborn 5 month old baby.
How it all started
Like all women I thought I had the sequence of baby making figured out; married at 24 years, the first baby (a boy) at 25 and I was in a blissful state of marriage. To me at that time one baby was it, but my husband wanted another child, especially since he really wanted to name his mother; he was brought up by a single mother. Thus the next baby come when I was 29 years; like the first baby, we didn’t bother to check the sex as we were so sure it was a girl because the moods and craves were so different from the first pregnancy. Well, shock on us as we welcomed another handsome boy into the family. The only difference was he is not as hyper as his brother; he was the calmest, coolest baby ever.
Again, I was contented being the only girl in the family with three boys competing for my attention. While the spotlight can be flattering to a girl, she can get pretty lonely, especially with all the socks and dirty shoes thrown all over and the fuss about how many shoes and handbags I own. Thus the crave to have a girl to share with started kicking in at 35 years, but at the time I was too busy. My career was on the fast lane, with a TV show, bridal shows and shows; I was moving in and out of town as well as out of the country. At 37 years, I finally decided that I would have a baby girl at 40; everyone I told thought I was crazy.
It took me 3 years to convince my husband to have a ‘pension baby’ and with his help we got the boys (Mark 14 and Albert 11) to accept the idea. After consultation with my doctorJanuary this year I went off the contraceptive. The plan was to let my body relax and stabilize for about 3 months, then design a baby girl; my doctor assured me that it’s very possible. He and I discussed ovulation and which days to go to ‘Mombasa raha’ (sex) if we wanted a baby girl. Armed with my own ovulation kit, I started documenting my menstrual circle. In the mean time Mombasa raha trips were either on safe days or the usually cliché of withdrawal method – who came up with the withdrawal thing anyway? I would like to meet the person who invented it; it does not work!!!!!!!!!!!! By the time I was ready to design a baby girl I was 4 weeks pregnant. I blame it on my husband; all the sweet nothings, massages and back rubs not to forget the “I will withdraw just before” hullabaloo.
Discovery of the pregnancy
Thus the ‘plan’ to plan never was as the pregnancy came even before the plan!
One Sunday afternoon in April as I was at home chilling out with the boys, I started feeling pain in my tummy – period like cramps which escalated that night. The following morning, the pain got worse, forcing my husband and I to seek an appointment with my gynecologist. The doctor, after examination ordered, we do an ultrasound scan and a pregnancy test. The scan was to determine if everything was ok with the pregnancy and what was causing the pain. The pregnancy test came up positive, to my shock and surprise the scan also revealed multiple fibroids; two of them as big as tennis balls. The scan which involves moving a probe around the surface of my tummy course me so much pain I almost passed out.
Back at the doctor we presented the result sheet and black and white pictures of the fetus – now 10 weeks old. The doctor assured us that the growths, though big we’re not near the baby and would not hinder its growth, but he warned that the pregnancy was causing them to bleed out and sometime pregnancy triggers accelerated growth and compete with the fetus. This had happened with my first pregnancy, but Mark (the first born) overcame the fibroids, so much so that the next pregnancy (Albert) I had totally forgotten I have these dreadful growths.
First trimester blues
My husband and I were ecstatic with the discovery that we were pregnant. Like all my pregnancies the first symptom is usually spitting. I remember my first pregnancy I used to walk around with a plastic soda cup for spitting; until one a homeless boy snatched it in town, I didn’t know what do I just hope he looked before sipping. Unlike all the others I lost appetite and my taste buds went numb; thus I had to put lemon and tamarind in everything I ate. Plain drinking water moved from being the most refreshing thing to the most dreaded. I could not have enough of black grapes, green olives and Minneola oranges.
This pregnancy also took on a calm demeanour; nothing upset me or ticked me off. Oh yeah, I was also into my husband I wanted to spend each and every minute with him; I tag along whenever he was running his errands and doing his business; I did not mind waiting in the car. We were tight like peas, potatoes and carrots in my mother in-laws stew. At least that’s what I thought kumbe; I was driving the brother nuts.
The doctor informed me that the pain would be on and off but, bearable until around 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Trust me the pain was no where close to bearable; I felt like I was in labour half the time. The next 10 weeks were hell; I cursed Kidero for all the potholes and many bumps around my house (are bumps really necessary, especially on Dennis Pritt road all five of them in less than a kilometer surely!). I cursed the day I moved into an apartment on the third floor – what was I thinking, especially given the boys wanted to another apartment further on, but on the first floor. I also had bridal showers booked months in advance that I had to do. I remember going to a bridal shower in Langata, while in so much pain. When I got there at the parking lot, I took painkillers, waited it out for about 30 minutes, then to my horror it was on the 4th floor or something. I went in, did my thing just before the pain came back, I was out of there. To make matters worse, I was at that time working at radio Jambo from ten pm to midnight; not that I had a problem with work, but by the time I got to work the lifts were already switched off so I had to climb stairs to the third floor. The radio station would pick and drop me off with the other staff in either a probox or an off road 4×4 both of which are not built for comfort!
All my friends and especially my husband urged me to slow down; ‘quit the job, cancel the showers’ he urged. But I am not the type to sit around all day and watch soap operas; not that I have a problem with soaps I love them just as much as the next woman. So I learnt to live with the pain; breathing exercises from lamas class; sitting flat on the carpet with my back propped up with pillows and supported by either the coffee table or sofa (Albert the designated expert in the setup). Another time I would be on all fours; like kuchuna mboga (doggy style position) which really helped relieve the pain. I had embraced my new status – pregnant at forty and determined, pain or no pain.
I now felt invincible as I was approaching 20 weeks I thought I could do it all. I remember one Saturday; I had a ladies fellowship meeting all the way in Karen area – Kirarapon, then a bridal shower at Brew Bristol on Ngong road at 7pm where I even manage to do a few lap dancing moves – imagine that! Later I conducted another bridal shower in Westlands that ended at 2am in the morning. Well, I soon discovered that I am no super woman as a matter of fact the next day I was in my favorite position on all fours in my sitting room and in so much pain trying to catch up with my soaps and E news. Then I didn’t care if visitors would pop in even my mother-in-law would have had to put up with me. The boys decided no friends were allowed to visit less they asked why their mother’s back side was up in the air. Thereafter, the rest of the week was spent indoors to the protest of my producers and boss at the radio station. When I resumed work it become quite stressful, especially the radio show, most of the nights I would get home at around 1am by the time I would settle down and relax well enough to sleep it would be past 2pm which meant waking up late morning – I would start to function normally at noon. At times the pain while in the studio would be so intense that I would do the whole show on my feet; luckily my producer was very understanding and would let me take a break by play music when the pain was severe. Nonetheless, I love talking to people so my listeners kept me busy.
The radio show – Bahari ya mapenzi
I never thought I would even do a Swahili radio show. In my line of work most commonly used words in English don’t exist in Kiswahili and those that do are too vulgar to say on air. So the penis and vagina become Mr. Victor and Miss. Victoria respectively, lovemaking as usual become ‘mombasa raha’ (fun at the coast), doggy style position become ‘Kuchuna mboga’ (harvesting vegetables), while premature ejaculation was ‘safari fupi’ (short trip); language Kenyan can understand, associate and be comfortable discussing. Initially, I was bombarded with jokers out to brag about their sexual prowess and of course most of it grossly exaggerated. Stuff like ‘I go ten rounds in a night’, ‘I have sex every single day’, ‘I apply lemon Juice to tighten my Miss Victoria’.
So the first order of business was to deal with the jokers so I was very hard on them, I really told them off for which I was reprimanded by the boss, but to his surprise majority of the listeners agreed with me and would call in to tell off the jokers. After a few weeks the show was so popular that most nights I could not read the SMS as they were literally coming in the hundreds so were the calls. On the show I had a day of question and answers, another for discussing diseases and conditions that affect Mombasa raha as well as those transmitted through it. There was also a segment dubbed second chances which was a hook up show dedicated to widows, widowers, senior bachelors and spinsters over 45 looking for a life partner.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up due to fatigue, pain and the timing of the show. My boss on the other hand didn’t believe that I was really overwhelmed so we parted ways.
The day before the miscarriage, my husband and I had gone for a scan just to make sure all was well and also check the gender. We had to use another doctor as my regular doctor was out of the country. It was six days past the magic 20 weeks when the pain was supposed to have vanished and I back to my usual self, but the pain was still there and getting more and more intense. The scan showed everything was ok, the baby was growing well; the heartbeat regular and the organs and limbs in place and it was a boy. Even though we really wanted a girl and this stage we just wanted to get through with the pregnancy so we were relieved to know all was well even though the fibroids were also growing. The new doctor (who is also a friend), was happy with the results, he just changed the pain killer to a much stronger brand.
That day at the dinner table the conversation was all about naming the baby; we had previously had the same conversation and picked a girl’s name. As we discussed different options, Mark and Albert come up with ‘Ceaser’. I like the sound of it, but my husband asked ‘Why Ceaser?’ To which we all replied ‘it sounds good’. To him it didn’t make sense to pick a name just because it has a feel good effect. To him Ceaser was part of the group that crucified Jesus Christ, plus all the kids Mark and Albert were all named after important people in our lives. I on the other hand had thought of Mungai Mungai after his father (junior could make him feel inferior in the future), but I liked Ceaser and joined the discussion in support of the boys to the shock of Pete. Now Pete the father and husband was getting really agitated and I was having too much fun – I love it when the boys drive their father nuts. The more he appealed for reason the more Ceaser become appealing by the end of dinner he was now pissed and vow the baby would never be named Ceaser.
That night the pain was unbearable; I took pain killers every four hours. The night seemed like a lifetime of agony. I woke up and 8am and asked my husband to bring me the pain killers. When he did and I sat up to take them, as I turned to go back to sleepmy waters broke. “Pete my waters broke” I yelled to my husband. ‘Huh?’ he replied in disbelief and shock. ‘My waters broke; I need to go to the hospital now!’ I yelled. By now most of the bed was wet and the brother was running all over in panic; he was trying to dress, wash and brush his teeth all at the same time. Then it hit me. I was in labour the whole night but had been so accustomed to pain that I missed the signs. As usual in these situations, it’s the woman who must muster courage and take control as the men lost it.
I took deep breaths, call my regular doctor’s assistant who ask me to proceed to the hospital and promised the doctor filling in would come to see me.I am one of those people who get very organized when there is a crisis. I remember the new doctor I saw the day before, so I picked my phone and called him. He was just about to go in for surgery but he assured me that he would be there as soon as he was done.Now I had two doctors coming which was a bit reassuring. While my husband was dressing I called a lady doctor in my home fellowship group for advice and boy am I glad I did; she explained so many things I didn’t understand and also helped me calm down. My husband was now a totally confused person so called my mentor and asked her to come My mentor has been walking with me in my Christian life; she has become part of my family, my husband respects her and my kids adore her.
I got dressed quickly, managed to walk down the stairs, got into the car and my husband drove me very slowly to the hospital which is about five minutes away. On arrival, the receptionist directed me to the emergency; on the way there I met a nurse on the way who took me straight to the check-up room. She ensured I was stable then called me a doctor to attend to me. Wow! In came a young lady looking all blinged up, that was very refreshing, at least for me. She was not wearing a white overcoat, no sir, she was not. She was ready to party, she quickly examined me and broke the news that I was having a miscarriage. By then huge clots of blood were dropping down; I had never seen anything like that. Until then I thought something could be done to save the baby, but going by the clots I realized what deep shit I was in. The most scarily thought was; could I be bleeding to death?
Luckily, just at that moment my mentor walked in to the relief of both my husband and me. Pete quickly gained control over the whole situation. He conferred with the doctor and arranged for my admission. Before long I was induced and transferred to a ward. After half an hour I went through with labour and gave birth to a stillborn – Ceaser. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. What I felt, the emotions, the pain and most of all the heartache I would never wish on any woman.
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 firmly attached and is very painful to remove.
After the operation came even more shocking news, apparently I lost a lot of blood and there was talk to do a blood transfusion. I didn’t understand, but by the look on Pete’s face I knew things were thick. To him I looked as white as a ghost. The doctor ordered that I be given plasma – a blood substitute (also called artificial blood or blood surrogates) is a substance used to mimic and fulfil some functions of biological blood. It aims to provide an alternative to blood transfusion, which is transferring blood or blood-based products from one person into another.)
My husband and I are really apprehensive about blood transfusion we consulted widely and the general advice from most doctors was to continue with the plasma then if the situation didn’t improve go for the transfusion. Thank God, the plasma was adequate, but since plasma doesn’t have red blood cell which carry oxygen in the body, I was ordered on strict bed rest for two weeks thus the long article.
I am now in the comfort of my home surrounded by loved ones. God has been faithful, I can now eat – I have a meal plan which seems to work. Each day is better than the last.
I am touched by all the get well wishes, prayers, support and visits both at the hospital and home.
God bless you all.