TWSC Submission: Grieving the Loss of My Unborn Child and Uterus

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My name is Catherine* and I am 42 years old and an animal health assistant by profession. I was born in a family of four siblings and the only girl.

In 2010, late December, I was diagnosed as diabetic. I later found out that I was born diabetic but didn’t know until I was in my 30’s. Shortly after, I got pregnant after hooking up with a guy only to realize later that he had a drinking problem.

When I was 3 months pregnant, I was so stressed that I almost lost my baby. My cousins rushed me to hospital and fortunately all turned out well. A month later, the hubby became too much and I left for my parents’ home upcountry. My mum helped and encouraged me and that eased me. I even did some shopping for my unborn baby.

At around 6 months, I remember coming across a story in the national paper about a pregnant mum who ended up losing her uterus and baby after falling off a stool. I felt sad and afraid. I don’t know why I felt afraid.

My pregnancy progressed well and I gained plenty of weight – Dad even thought I was carrying twins. After one of my prenatal clinics, I was advised that my unborn baby was very big and the doctor would have to do a C-section before my delivery date.

One day as I was cooking some lentils at home, my unborn baby kicked hard and I joked to mum, “huyu ataangusha tray” (the baby is kicking the tray). This was Dec 7th 2011. I was scheduled for my C-section on Dec 23rd. The next day, I felt sick and Dad took me to a local clinic. The doctor said that my blood pressure was low and my sugars were at 22. Both my parents were diabetic. My mum used to inject insulin while Dad took it orally.

My sister in-law came to visit on the 9th and noticed my stomach was turning black. The next day, I went to Tumutumu Hospital for a checkup. Long story short, after an examination and ultrasound, they determined that my baby was dead.

I was operated on the 13th of December. I went to theatre at around 9 a.m. and came out around 5 p.m.in the evening. My stillborn baby was 5.8kg dead weight. It was a boy.

I was told that my baby died because my diabetes was not managed well. The next morning, the surgeon came for rounds and said she needed to talk with me privately. Nothing could have prepared me for what she said next.

“Sorry for the loss of your baby and uterus, too.”

I was 35.

I was devastated and cried uncontrollably. They said my uterus raptured and they tried suturing it but gave up. They removed it to save my life because of excessive bleeding, they said.

I went home after a week with a basin in my hands… 

I healed somehow though I still miss my boy. That was the first of many surgeries to follow.

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In 2016, I was hospitalized because I could not pass stool freely due to adhesions. The doctor did a major operation on my stomach which lasted for around 8 hours. You should thank God if you can pass stool freely. My appendix was also removed because it was pushed and had stuck to the abdominal wall.

In September 2018, I had another operation which lasted over 10 hours after the doctor discovered my two discs had torn, so he did a spinal fusion and laminectomy. The only way to relieve my worsening nerve pain was to insert metal rods in my back. So I have metal plates on my spine and had two more minor operations on my thigh and butt for removal of some fat lumps that were causing nerve pain. During the time I was hospitalized, I received devastating news – my dear mum died.

Seven years later I am still healing from all the loss. I would love to have a surrogate so I can be a mother but I can’t afford one. I wish people, especially in-laws would stop pressuring women to have children. They demand babies like they will look after them.

Today I live in constant pain in my back which makes it difficult to work with animals, but it is my job. Another challenge is using of public transport. The bumpy ride causes me so much pain. I wish people knew what I go through. When they come to buy meal for their cows and see me sitting they assume I am lazy. I wish they knew. I look healthy but they don’t know what is happening inside my body.

I pray that the doctors who have attended to me are blessed. If there are any well-wishers out there, I would love the support. I earn a meager salary and struggle to make ends meet. Despite everything that has happened to me, I know God has great plans for me.

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2 Comments

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  1. 1
    Mamoeketsi Semokonyane

    I am very sorry to read about the massive turn your health endured to this day. I don’t know what exactly to say to make you feel better. 5days ago today I just lost my 10weeks pregnancy over a sudden expulsion not even doctors could explain rather refer as HIGH RISK CASE in my next so expected conception. 8years today I’m still waiting for someone to call my own. I must really say I am very saddened by your loss of a uterus to top it off

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