Hope Nyaboke*,16-year-old Form Two student
Pregnancy: Five months
Lying helpless at the corner bed of this ward, Hope can hardly enjoy the rays of the January sunshine.� She is in pain; both physical and emotional.
At 16 years, both kidneys have failed after she developed complications from an induced abortion. She lost so much blood that by the time she got to the local hospital in Kisii, she was anaemic and organ failure had set in.
Terminating pregnancy seemed like the best solution as advised by her parents so that she could resume school with her Form Two peers in January. She didn’t want to embarrass her family.
Not after they were so proud, last year, that she had joined a reputable secondary school. Now it’s all a puzzle how, a little bit of ‘fun’ ended up in a pregnancy, an abortion and now……… kidney failure.
Her boyfriend had declared undying love, promised her eternity. They had spent ‘quality’ time during the August holidays and assured her that ‘all will be fine’
Missing her monthly periods didn’t cause alarm, yet.
“Maybe my body is sending me the wrong message,” she thought.
Unusual cravings and a shift in mood swings elicited her mother’s suspicion.
A pregnancy stick confirmed mother and daughter fears and a family discussion that evening concluded that they were going to ‘sort’ the pregnancy the following morning at a local ‘doctor’ in Kisii.
His office ceiling was boring as the termination was done. Hope cried like a baby but the ‘doctor’ wouldn’t stop exchanging one tool for the other to get the foetus.
She screamed her throat dry, her lungs out.
In less than� 15 minutes, the procedure was complete and given a clean bill of health to go home for a restful evening. On getting home, cramps and fever set in, but she took pain killers and slept. When the bedsheets became unusually wet around midnight, she called out to her mother in the next room who switched on the lights only to be met by blood-soaked sheets where her daughter lay.
A quick phone call to a local taxi operator got this family into the casualty of a local hospital but they could only stabilise her until morning before a referral to Kenyatta National Hospital, 300km away. She had gone into shock.
A scan showed that the abortion procured earlier was incomplete; her uterus was perforated causing vaginal bleeding leading to anaemia and subsequent organ failure.
An ambulance got her to KNH later that evening after five hours where she was admitted, taken to theatre and later placed on the list for kidney dialysis the next day at the renal unit.
That she has to undergo dialysis for the rest of her life, is a sentence she is not ready to take in the middle of her teen years. A kidney transplant may stabilise her, but the doctors are not discharging her until they monitor her adaptation to dialysis, which she will require at least two sessions per week.
That she is alive and lucky to have her uterus after a botched abortion, rings on her head every day. The scary part of the whole experience was not having anyone to share it with, she says, yet the scariest is that one wrong decision has cost her some of her youthful days.
Will I return to school?
Will I ever look my parents in the eye?
Will I ever forgive myself?
One more look in the skies and time heals, she contemplates.
Catherine Ndiga *, 22-year-old second year Economics student;
Pregnancy: Four and a half months
Jude is my friend at college. We aren’t dating but close. At weekends, we hang out together either in school or go for swimming at a public pool near our college where I am studying Economics whereas he is a Computer Science student.
On one of those afternoons in August last year after swimming, we went to his place and chemistry happened. Towards the end of November, our friendship grew and so did my tummy.
I blamed the chips and sodas that Jude and I enjoyed at the school canteen on lesson breaks. The occasional back pains could have been as a result of my daily walk to and from school and with end of the semester exams approaching in December, fatigue could have set in.
However, when Cynthia pointed out that I looked pregnant, I bought a test strip for Sh50 from a local chemist on my way home from school. Two positive red lines and my world crushed.
Guilt emotions ran in my mind but I didn’t know what to do. I was scared to tell mum that I was pregnant; my dad would kill me. I wore a tight skirt that evening during dinner to conceal the pregnancy and texted Cynthia that we meet early morning for an urgent ‘group discussion.’
I tossed and turned in bed that night wondering when morning would come so we could brain storm with her. We didn’t have enough money. Cynthia, thus, said that since the pregnancy was 12 weeks old, we could wait until the end of the month when we got our internship stipend of Sh5,000 to get the matter ‘sorted’ at a local chemist.
Five pills were inserted in my vagina and two under my tongue, I was sent home to wait for minimal bleeding, which marked the end of my pregnancy.
The minimal bleeding went on for two days and stooped but three weeks later. My stomach bulge was still growing, sending confusion to Cynthia and I whether the Sh5,000 paid was wasted. Another pregnancy test turned positive and Cynthia said we need to seek ‘services’ of a doctor at a chemist in Huruma. That I had to stay overnight at the clinic, complicated the arrangement because I didn’t have a clear reason to give for my absence at home.
Cynthia corroborated that I would stay over at their place but she got busy to take me to the clinic later that evening, but promised to pick me up in the morning. My pregnancy at four and half months now was an ‘easy’ job, the doctor had promised, as he ushered me into his office that had a leading door where the twin beds were immaculately spread.
I brought a bottle of water as instructed by Cynthia to beat anxiety and fear. She had even joked that I was too frail and the screaming would kill me than the abortion itself.
As I changed into a green gown, I whispered to God to forgive me for what I was about to do.
The doctor inserted a couple of pills and speculum. A couple of other metallic tools did the rest of the work as I held onto the sheets on both ends with my eyes affixed on a small crack on the clinic’s roof.
I took a sip of the water and he covered me with instructions that I lie on the bed for three hours to remove the ‘products’, he called my baby. The cramps and occasional vomiting made me cry like a baby and in between, I felt a burning sensation.
When it was all over in the morning, he prescribed some antibiotics with instructions that I should call him if I had any questions.
Cynthia wasn’t there to pick me as agreed, but I called my mother explaining what I had done overnight and asked me to go home for a chat. My mother’s eyes were blood short, her voice firm but her words piercing that I had sinned to man and God, yet it was most urgent that I seek medical help because I was still bleeding for the next one hour.
I forgive you, but repeating is a severe mistake, I remember her words.
At KNH casualty department, I was quickly referred and admitted to the gynaecologic ward, 1D, where my uterus was repaired and antibiotics given to treat infections that had already set in.
And for the next three days, I received counselling from the staff. I feel better now though ashamed of my decision to procure a backstreet abortion.
Jared has not responded to my phone calls, texts and chats during this ordeal. My mum brings me food every day, but has not gathered the courage to tell my father the reason I am in hospital.
She casually told him that the doctors are managing my irregular periods that are quite complicated. He believes her but we have agreed that this is our little secret as long as I become a responsible woman. I will not have another ‘boyfriend’ unless I am ready for what comes with it.
Gladys Chao *, 25-year-old business lady
Pregnancy: Five months
My boyfriend and I were having problems because he wanted to go back to his ex-girlfriend. He started a hotel business and we had just moved in together looking forward to the birth of our baby in April.
However from the third month of pregnancy, he didn’t come home daily, didn’t buy stock for our business and didn’t pick my calls whenever he was out.
I became frustrated because his parents had already blessed our union, yet he was reconciling with a girl they had broken up with in university.
On a Friday morning, I woke up determined to end our relationship and the pregnancy. My friend took me to a clinic where with Sh7,000, the abortion was done and I was given painkillers after a one-hour process.
I went home and wrote him a message that our relationship is done. The following morning, I developed abdominal pains and bleeding and decided to rush to KNH where I whispered to the attending nurse that I was having a miscarriage instead of telling her the truth.
I was admitted and on examination, the doctor told me later that a piece of metal had been left in my uterus but the damage had been mended. He said I was lucky to keep my womb.
My boyfriend hasn’t known that I terminated the pregnancy, but I regret the rushed decision especially because I could have died yet he has made up his mind to be with another woman.
I was taken through counselling at the hospital and I feel stupid to have done it. I will move out and concentrate on setting up my own hotel business.
Names of the victims have been changed to protect their identity.