STORIES OF PREEMIE MOMS
Every pregnant mother expects to successfully go through the 9 months of pregnancy in anticipation of a safe delivery. However, this is not the case for every mother and definitely not for two of my pregnancies. In 2014 I lost a baby who was born prematurely. Back then, I did not know a thing about premature birth or if even how it occurred. Because of a spike in my blood pressure levels medically referred to as pre-eclampsia, my baby was born at 26 weeks and died the next day. I laid my eyes on him twice, at birth and death. In 2016, I had another premature delivery. When I started feeling pain I decided to go check with the doctor. It is here that he advised that the baby be delivered immediately at 33 weeks. During all this, I could not help but flash back to the baby I lost in 2014 under the same circumstances. I worried of history repeating itself. I was not ready to bury a second child. Even if it survived, I was not prepared to look after a premature baby. As I headed to the delivery room, I felt alone, anxious, hopeless, and helpless! As I was wheeled back to my room, the environment was quite galvanizing. My husband and our close family members beamed with smiles when they saw me. They complimented everything about the baby and chorused how beautiful she was. They told me everything was fine as the baby was well taken care of by the nurses who took her to the nursery and placed her in an incubator. My family continued to give me moral support and I was relieved for some time. I had even begun to see a glimmer of hope. Though I was hopeful, I pleaded with them to keep the news of the baby secret. The last time we told people about our other baby we lost him the next day, so I was trying to avoid a repeat of the events that happened when I lost my baby in 2014. The next day came and it was finally time to meet my rainbow baby. I was led into the NICU and watched her from a distance. She was the size of my palm. Her ears, nose and feet were so small. However, seeing my baby made me hit a new low. I wondered if I should give up or stay and keep fighting for my child. Three days passed and my baby was still alive! I cannot begin to explain the tension, anxiety and relief that came with each passing day with my baby still alive! I knew she was a fighter, and I was going to embrace motherhood no matter the circumstances. I decided to speak life upon my baby and believed she would leave the hospital. I walked to the hospital to visit my baby every day. I told her that she will live, she will make it, and she is the best baby in the world. She fed after every two hours and it is during this time that I bonded with and talked to my baby. I felt such a strong connection that I believed that she communicated back in her own special way.
I gave birth to my first premature baby in 2018. Having my first baby be a preemie was really tough for me to take in and handle. It was an experience that I did not want, but it did give me the opportunity to meet mama Isabelle from Mama Tulia. She was able to help me throughout my whole time in the hospital and even visited me at my home. Unfortunately, a few days later after I had been discharged from the hospital the baby died. This year during the lockdown, I was able to give birth to baby Ryan who was also premature. Baby Ryan was very tiny, weighing 1.5kg. We were in the hospital for two weeks. Every day I spent in the hospital was very scary. I started preparing myself for the worst since I had already lost my first baby because he was born prematurely. The moment I learned baby Ryan was premature, I called Isabelle and again she was there for me. Baby Ryan is now doing well and growing very fast.
I was having dinner with my sister just like any other evening. All of a sudden I fainted, collapsing to the ground. I was 7 months pregnant. My sister took me to the clinic where I used to go for my antenatal. They told us they don’t work on Sunday, so I was put in an ambulance and rushed to a big hospital. The doctor did a checkup and he told me that my blood pressure was very high and I was at a high risk of losing the babies if they didn’t do an immediate operation to remove them. I was taken into the operating room without really understanding what was happening. When I was conscious again, I was told I had given birth to premature twins weighing 1.3kg and 1.1kg. One week after being in the incubators, the older twin got a stomach complication that made him start vomiting. I bought some medicine to help him but the baby died. After losing my baby, I spent a month and three days in the hospital with the younger twin. During my time in the hospital, I was helped by Mama Tulia. I didn’t know anybody from the organization until Auntie Isabelle met me at the hospital. They gave me a preemie kit, money for medication and upkeep to use during my hospital stay. I am very thankful for Mama Tulia for providing what I needed, but I am more thankful to God for my babies and being able to bring a baby home even though I had lost the other at the hospital.
I got pregnant towards the end of 2019. 3 months into the pregnancy I started bleeding. The bleeding was not that consistent, so I never took it to be something serious. Since it was my first pregnancy I thought maybe it was normal. For a while I was doing well until I was 6 months along. When I was 6 months pregnant, I started feeling some terrible pain in my stomach. After a week of pain I decided to go to the clinic for a checkup to find out why I was hurting. Immediately after reaching the hospital, my water broke and it was time for me to deliver. I was rushed to a room where the nurse helped me deliver. To my surprise I gave birth to twins. I never went to a scan because I was only 6 months pregnant, so all along I thought I was only having one baby. The nurse told me that my babies had been born prematurely and I had to rush them to a big hospital. The older preemie was weighing 1.5kg and the other one was 1.3kg. We were sent by ambulance to Kawempe Referral Hospital. Reaching the hospital, we were immediately sent into the special care unit. 3 weeks into the special care unit, where the babies were on oxygen support, the oldest twin Kato died. To this day I can’t tell you why he died because he looked so much healthier than the oldest twin Wasswa. The hospital called my relatives and gave them the body and they went and buried him. I didn’t even bury my own son because I had to stay in the hospital to take care of his brother who was also in critical condition. Wasswa was on and off the oxygen support for a month. I spent 2 months and some few days in the hospital with Wasswa, the remaining twin. It was during this time that I met Isabelle. She had come to the hospital to visit the special care unit and she was talking to the other moms who also had premature babies. She hadn’t talked to me yet, but she was done for the day and preparing to leave. Then I saw a nurse talking to her and pointing at me. Isabelle then started coming towards me. We started talking and she told me she was from Mama Tulia. She told me all about what she does. I told her about my story, how I lost the twin and how the doctors suspected the remaining twin to have heart problems. That very day she paid for Wasawa to get a heart check. Since then she just kept helping me in different ways through her ministry Mama Tulia.
I was having irregular periods. I would go a month or two without having them and sometimes go three months without seeing them. Because of this I didn’t even know when I got pregnant. This time I went four months without my period so I decided to go to the clinic. When I was there they told me I was pregnant. Just a month after I found out that I was pregnant I started having abdominal pains and one day I couldn’t sleep because I was in so much pain. In the middle of the night, I decided to call a boda boda guy who took me to the clinic. Since it was so late in the night the clinic was closed, but we just kept knocking until the doctor finally opened for us. He gave me an injection to stop the pain, but before he was even done I felt the baby coming. He rushed and brought me a sheet and I gave birth. I asked the doctor if the baby was alive, but he told me the baby was dead and he placed the baby on the table. He helped me clean up and get ready to leave. He then went to wrap the baby up, but to both of our surprises the baby was still alive. I quickly sent the boda boda guy home and he came back with two bed sheets that I used to wrap the baby and we spent the night at that clinic. The baby was weighing just 900grams so early the next morning we left the clinic and went to a hospital. Upon arrival, the baby and I were immediately taken to the intensive care unit. The baby was on oxygen therapy for a week and spent 4 days in the incubator. I spent 3 hard weeks in the hospital, but I was encouraged by all the other mothers who had prematures just like me. In my second week I met Isabelle. She gave me a preemie kit and I joined Mama Tulia.
I never knew that premature babies and such tiny babies existed until I was in the NICU with mine. My husband and I got married in January of 2005 and in December we gave birth to our first born, Marjorie. Since then we tried to have another baby but ended up having 5 miscarriages. The loss of those babies were so painful. Two of the pregnancies made 8 months and the others 9 months, but the babies were all born dead. We tried to find out what kept causing this, but the doctors never gave us a conclusive answer. This year I was pregnant again for my 6th time. When I had just made 6 months into my pregnancy I started feeling terrible. I was experiencing the same symptoms I used to get before I had my past miscarriages. I would swell, vomit and feel very terrible. I wasn’t ready at all to lose another baby. I was so determined to keep this one alive even against all odds. So I went to the clinic and requested to have them take the baby out. The nurse told me I should go to a big hospital, so I did. After a few tests at the hospital, I was taken to the operation room and I had a C-section. When I gave birth to baby Jessie, he was weighing 1kg. For 3 weeks the baby was in the incubator and on oxygen machines. I was so scared for my baby and wondered if he was going to survive. When I was in the hospital my husband came to visit me, but on his way he was involved in a motorcycle accident and broke his leg. With all of this going on, I was really torn apart. My worst memories from the hospital took place during the night. Nights that I would see and hear other mothers crying and weeping after their babies had died. It was a very terrible experience. Some of my best and happiest moments were the first time I changed my baby’s diaper and breastfed my baby. These were my happiest moments because I wasn’t sure they would ever happen, but in these moments I knew my baby was growing into a healthy and normal baby.
My husband died in an accident when I was just three months pregnant. It was a very tough and stressful situation because now I was going through pregnancy alone. When I was 7 months, I was sitting home and suddenly blood started coming out of me. I decided to go to a nearby clinic and I was given some medicine that helped to stop the bleeding. The following day I went to a hospital for a checkup and to see if the baby was okay after the bleeding. The doctor told me my pregnancy seemed to be complicated and he suggested I should stay in the hospital for two days while he monitored my condition. I was not ready to spend two nights in the hospital, so that evening I decided to go home and come back early the following morning. As I was packing up to leave, the doctor came in and told me he found out I had a placenta praevia and they had to remove the baby immediately. That night I had a C-section and I gave birth to a boy. He was born at 7 months, but to our surprise he weighed 1.8kg at birth, surely that must have been God. We spent one week in the hospital and grew stronger and stronger each day. Though my baby was born in these strange and complicated times of the global pandemic, God has somehow provided for us in so many mysterious ways. He has truly shown us that He’s the father to the fatherless.
I was 16 years old when I left my village in the western part of Uganda to come to Kampala for my secondary school studies. While I was at school I got pregnant. For six months I was able to hide my pregnancy from everyone. I didn’t even tell my mother or relatives, but just my one school friend. I started having pain, but I just ignored it. As the week went on the pain just kept increasing. I eventually decided to go to a clinic that was outside the school, but the nurse told me she couldn’t work on me because I was young and my pregnancy seemed complicated. She suggested I should go to a big hospital, so I did. At the hospital, my water broke and it was time for me to give birth. I gave birth to a preterm. Once I was discharged I stayed in the hospital because I still hadn’t told anyone about my pregnancy and I couldn’t go back to school with a baby. I was so lucky to meet Isabelle while I was in the hospital. Mama Tulia has helped me and my baby so much. She paid my school fees so I was able to still do my final exams. She even helped me reconcile with my family. Meeting Isabelle was the greatest blessing I have ever received.
I gave birth to my baby at six months. I never knew that I was pregnant because just a few months prior I had gotten a family planning injection. A series of things started happening to me that I didn’t understand. One evening I just collapsed when I was home with my first born who is 13 months. The neighbor came and knocked on the door but I couldn’t respond, so she decided to call my mom. My mom told her I was inside so she hit the door and forced her way inside the house. She found me on the ground so she called my mother who came home immediately and took me to the hospital. My whole body and feet were swollen. After seeing the doctor, I found out I was pregnant and my blood pressure was very high. The doctor suggested that it was necessary for me to have the baby taken out in order to save my and the baby’s life. He gave me medicine and monitored my situation while trying to get my blood pressure under control. For 2 weeks I was admitted to the hospital and when the situation finally seemed to be getting better we were allowed to go home. After just 3 days back home I started feeling terrible. I began swelling again and vomited the whole night. I was rushed to the hospital and immediately had a C-section. I gave birth at just six months to a baby girl who weighed 1.8kg. The baby was on oxygen for 4 days. We spent three weeks in the hospital before we were discharged and went back home with Baby Jararius.
I didn’t have any issues with my pregnancy until I was 7 months along. For three weeks I wasn’t feeling good at all. My stomach was hurting and I was discharging water. I went to the hospital and I was advised to go for a scan at a clinic. The day I had decided to go for the scan I felt a sharp pain in the stomach, so I decided to go back to the hospital. The doctor told me the baby was coming, so I was taken to the room and I gave birth. After I gave birth, the baby was put on oxygen for 2 days and then in an incubator for 3 days. I spent a month in the hospital and it was the toughest time of my life. It was so hard to see my baby hooked up to machines and being fed through tubes. What made it even harder was that I had spent all my money and had to go some days without eating anything. After that tough month I was finally sent home. Another mother in the slum who also had a preemie baby introduced me to Isabelle. She told me that she was being helped by Mama Tulia and when she heard about my situation she wanted me to receive that help too. I am so glad she did because Mama Tulia has been of great help to me and my baby.
My name is Kyazike Amina and I am 18 years old. I am from Kibuko Village in Eastern Uganda. I was raised in a Muslim family and I am still practicing. When I was still little my mother left our family. My father carried on and had a total of 10 children. When he died my siblings were divided. Me and 2 of my siblings were sent to live with my grandmother. I was in my Senior 3 year of schooling when Coivd hit. Since schools had closed down I began to look for work. I travelled to Kampala and found work as a shop keeper. In just three weeks I found a man. He told me he was Muslim and a student too. I began a relationship with him. About a month after working at the shop I was dismissed. The shop owner had his wife take over my position so I was no longer needed. I made plans to return home to the village to stay with my grandmother once again. Before I could head back I realized that I missed my period. I went to the hospital and they confirmed that I was pregnant. I moved in with the father of my baby. I knew I couldn’t tell my grandmother I was pregnant because she would not approve of me having a baby in this way. I too knew what I had done was wrong so I kept my pregnancy hidden from her. When I was 5 months along I began having stomach pain. At first I just thought it was a normal pain of pregnancy, but once it started increasing I knew I needed to get it checked out. I went to the hospital near me for an antennal check up. When I was there they told me I had an urinary tract infection and since I had left it untreated it was quite serious. I was referred to Kawempe Hospital to receive care. By the time I reached that hospital it was midnight. When I got there they told me they don’t work on pregnancies below 7 months and they referred me to Malago Hospital. When I reached that hospital it was now 2am. When I got there they took me to a room and told me to rest for the night. When I was sleeping pain woke me up at around 5am. I went to the bathroom and when I was on the toilet I realized I was starting to push my baby out. I was in shock because I was only 5 months pregnant. I struggled out of the room to find a doctor, but I could only find the cleaner. She saw me and had me lay down on the floor. Right away I gave birth to my baby. I didn’t even push, the baby just came out. By the time the doctor came all he did was cut the umbilical cord and take my baby to the NICU for care. My baby was born at just 29 weeks and weighing .89kg. I named my baby girl Namudumba Shifrah. My baby was immediately put on oxygen for 1 week and remained in an incubator for 2 weeks. She was fed by a feeding tube. We spent a total of 2 months in the hospital. While I was in the hospital I had to tell my grandmother because I ran out of money. I was planning on waiting to tell her until the baby was 2 years old but I had no other choice. Once I told her she was very upset. She was mad, but she helped me financially. When we were still in the hospital a nurse asked me about my situation. She asked me my age and if I had a job. When I told I was 18 and had no job she told me about Isabelle and Mama Tulia Ministry. She contacted Isabelle for me and told her my story. Isabelle then called me and she started helping me and my baby. When we were released from the hospital I moved back in with the baby’s father. It has not been easy since he is without work, but I know I can’t return to my grandmother’s until I am ready to ask for forgiveness. My baby is now 3 months old. Shifrah is healthy, she is still small, but she is gaining slowly. I have not been able to breastfeed so feeding her has been difficult. When I first took her home I had to feed her with a feeding tube, but now I am trying milk, glucose, and different formulas. Isabelle has been contacting nurses for me and helping me figure out what I should be feeding my baby to help her grow strong. I am grateful to have Mama Tulia support me. I have begun bringing my baby to the Centre for the weekly meetings. Being around other preemie moms and being cared for in the many ways the ministry offers has been a great help. I am Kyazike Amina. I am a mother of a premature and this is our story.
I was 17 years old. I was at school about to do my final exams for senior four when I got pregnant. The father of the baby was a university student. I called to tell him I thought I was pregnant but I hadn’t confirmed with the hospital yet. He asked me what I was going to do about it and I told him I would not abort. Four days after that call, I went to the hospital and the results confirmed that I was 2 months pregnant. After talking to the principle of my school he told me he would allow me to sit for the national examinations. However, after a meeting with the entire school staff they refused to let me sit for exams since they decided that I was a bad example for the school. When my dad and auntie found out that I had to leave school they tried to convince me to get an abortion. They said that since I was so close to finishing my high school studies it would be a waste of my time and their money for me to leave. I was staying in the village with them when they told me that they would force me to end the pregnancy. I decided to run away. I went to my grandmother who stays in the city. My father went looking for me. When he found out I was staying at my grandmother’s they had an awful quarrel since my grandma was willing to support me throughout the pregnancy. After the fight my father left and never returned. I remained with my grandmother and started caring for my pregnancy. I went for antenatal visits and each time I went I was told my blood pressure was very high. Two days before I made seven months, my stomach started hurting me. In the days to come the pain kept worsening. My grandmother told me that the baby might be coming and that I should go to the hospital, but I didn’t believe her since I was only seven months along. That night, at around 8pm, the pain became unbearable and I could feel the baby coming. I knew I needed to go to the hospital but it was late and we had no money for transport. My grandma told me we had to wait until the next morning when we could walk to the hospital; however, at around 1am my water broke. I ended up giving birth in the house shortly after. My grandmother called the neighbors and two ladies came to help. One of them was a midwife and as soon as she saw me she told me my baby was premature and we needed care immediately. Because of the time of night, we had to search for a boda boda (public motor cycle) to bring me, my newborn baby, and my grandma to the clinic. When we got to the clinic they told us they didn’t have the equipment and the materials needed to care for a premature baby. They told us to wait as they called an ambulance that would take us to a big hospital. The ambulance took us to Kawempe hospital. As soon as we got there they cleaned the baby and placed her in the incubator. The baby was 1.5kgs at birth. We were in the hospital for 3 weeks and 5 days with my baby Khloe being in the incubator for most of the time. I met Isabelle when she came to the hospital to visit and pray with all the moms who had given birth prematurely. She was with another lady named Margaret. When they came to me I told them my story and they listened and encouraged me. She gave me her number to call her in case I needed anything. Since that first meeting in the hospital, Isabelle has been helping me and baby Khloe. During the hospital stay she would give me money for food. She even helped pay for the medication needed when my baby got an eye infection. When we were discharged from the hospital, baby Khloe kept falling sick. Isabelle continued to support me by bringing us to the hospital and helping cover medical costs. When I was back at my grandmother’s place I received a call from Isabelle. To my surprise, she said she wanted to visit me in my home. She would come and spend time with me, my baby, and my grandmother. When baby Khloe was four months, she invited me to the Mama Tulia Center. When I came to the center I got connected to many other mothers of preemies. I started learning more about the bible through the weekly bible studies. I learned how to make paper bags. Once I was good at making them, Isabelle helped me start up a paper bag business and I would sell the paper bags to different pharmacies. I feel at home at Mama Tulia. I am thankful for Isabelle and her team, they have helped give me the hope of going back to school after the COVID situation settles. I have the confidence to do this because of the care and encouragement I have received from Mama Tulia.