Seated on a sofa in her Kariobangi South house, Mary Wanjiru, 40, adjusts little Samuel Baraka on her lap. She recounts being operated on seven times in her quest for motherhood. Samuel is the last of the three boys she has had after four devastating uterine ruptures.
Having met her husband in Nairobi in 2002 and gotten married in 2004, Wanjiru’s first rupture happened in April 2006, when she was 30 weeks pregnant.
Wanjiru, who comes from Mukurweini, Nyeri county, says during the night at St Mary’s Hospital, she realised the baby wasn’t playing in her womb. The following morning, because the doctors couldn’t get the baby’s heartbeat, they induced Wanjiru for an entire day, and when the baby couldn’t get out, Wanjiru’s husband came on the fourth day and she was taken to the theatre for a Caesarean Section after he complained.
“The following day, the surgeon told me my uterus had ruptured. I thought a rupture was a minor thing,” Wanjiru, who did her KCSE in 1996 at Kaharo Secondary School, says. Wanjiru’s stomach began to swell, and the doctor decided to remove the baby’s remains by inserting pipes to her stomach through her nose.
Wanjiru’s second pregnancy in 2007 lasted only 23 weeks. By the time she got to KNH, her uterus had ruptured, and she was successfully operated on and the baby removed. Ayanga, who is from Maseno, says because St Mary’s had his wife’s medical history, he first took her there on a Sunday, and she was discharged on Wednesday. The problem resumed after several days, and he took her back to the hospital with a taxi.
The hospital couldn’t consider his pleas to admit his wife without the cash deposit, which he didn’t have. Ayanga requested the taxi driver to take them to KNH, where he was allowed to pay the Sh2,000 he had with him, instead of the required Sh8,000 deposit fee. His wife had been readied for theatre, and was later operated on.
THIRD, FOURTH RUPTURES
When Wanjiru became pregnant a third time in 2009, she began antenatal clinic early at KNH, to prevent another rupture, which happened at 26 weeks pregnant. When Wanjiru became pregnant again in 2012, the doctors and nurses at KNH were concerned. The doctors had told Wanjiru if the pregnancy got to week 34, the rupture won’t happen, but it happened at the beginning of week 32. Ayanga, Wanjiru’s husband, says when he was recommended for counselling, he said his wife was the one needing counselling.
The nurses recommended she be taken to the labour ward, which she refused. “When I was scanned later that night, the baby had died. Having felt I had tried enough, I told God I didn’t want to wake up from the theatre,” Wanjiru says. That’s when KNH senior assistant chief nurse Nerea Ojanga first heard of her case.
“I first met Wanjiru on a Saturday, after her ruptured baby had been removed through CS the previous day, when a nurse manning the department told me Wanjiru had been crying a lot. As I counselled Wanjiru, she cried and cried, and I told her to cry freely, because the rupture was a loss.” Nerea says.
After Wanjiru picked herself up, Nerea told her she thought scientifically, if the uterus had had four ruptures, it wasn’t capable of carrying a baby. “I told her to ride on the faith of her husband not to adopt a child. After praying, the husband came and took her home. I couldn’t understand why she kept rupturing,” Nerea says.
FIFTH TIME LUCKY
Wanjiru became pregnant again in July 2013. “I told God I will stay in the house to see what He can do, and I only went to KNH at 38 weeks pregnant to deliver! ” Wanjiru, a staunch Redeemed Gospel Church faithful since 2011, says. The doctors were shocked to see her. After being scanned, Wanjiru was assigned a ward for a CS.
Nerea saw Wanjiru again on a Thursday in March 2014. Because Wanjiru had come for delivery only, she was immediately admitted in the ward. Wanjiru was immediately taken to the labour ward, where she had a successful delivery.
She went on to have two more successful pregnancies. The second baby, Israel Kihara, was born in January 2016, and the third was Samuel, who was born on April 4 this year.
To reflect on their resilience and gratefulness, Wanjiru and her husband gave their children symbolic biblical names: Ephraim, Israel and Samuel.