Sylvia Asubwa shares her long and painful journey to motherhood after she had lost all hope of conceiving.
My name is Sylvia Asubwa. I am in my mid-30s. I am a mother of three children: Favour, Reuel, and Tendai. I consider these children miracles from God because shortly before I got married in 2013, I had lost hope that I would ever have children of my own.
My story begins in February 2010, when I met my husband Jackson Nyamai at a Valentine’s dinner that the Deliverance Church Lang’ata Youth Summit had organised. I was a new member at the church and it happened that during the dinner event, I was placed at the same table with Jackson.
We had a good, casual chat and exchanged contacts. We quickly became friends and within a year, our friendship blossomed into love. On August 10, 2013, we were wedded at Deliverance Church, Lang’ata.
We had started our wedding plans earlier that year. About three weeks to the wedding, Jackson decided that we should see a gynaecologist for advice on family planning. We were both undertaking postgraduate studies and wanted to delay getting children.
At the hospital, we were taken through a routine check-up and the gynaecologist said that I looked like I was 26 weeks pregnant. This shocked me. I was not sexually active and knew that I couldn’t be pregnant. It caught Jackson off guard. We did a scan to check if indeed I was pregnant. The outcome showed that I had multiple fibroids. The smallest was 7 cm and the largest was 9 cm.
‘Messed up’ system
The gynaecologist said that my reproductive system had been messed up badly by fibroids and chances of ever having children were almost zero. He recommended that we postpone the wedding to December 2013 and rush in for emergency surgery. He then sent us for additional tests.
While going for the tests, I interacted with another gynaecologist who was not convinced about the rush for surgery. He advised that I could still go on with the wedding and honeymoon, and return for treatment later. We took this advice and went home.
My condition kept bothering me. I didn’t want to enter marriage in a manner that would cause my husband to feel like I had lured him into marrying a barren woman. But Jackson kept reassuring me that he had faith in the woman he had fallen in love with and chosen to marry. I prayed and pleaded with God to make me whole again. On August 10, we held our colourful wedding.
I fell sick a week after our honeymoon. I went to the hospital for tests but nothing was found. Four weeks into my marriage, I was invited for an interview by the Kenya Military to work as an arbitral specialist. I passed the initial interview and was asked to go for the medical check-up final stage before I could join a three-month training program with the military.
“We have some bad news for you. We cannot admit you to the military because you’re pregnant!” the team leader pulled me aside and said. What was supposed to be bad news gave me indescribable joy. I burst into song and dance and cried tears of joy. I was elated and couldn’t wait to tell my husband. God had answered my cry.
Six weeks in, I developed complications. I would bleed daily. I remember one of the doctors I saw saying that my pregnancy would abort in the next 2 to 3 weeks. I changed doctors several times. My appointments to the doctor were so many that my job contract was not renewed after expiry in December 2013.
As complications mounted, the doctor suggested that he would remove the baby at 28 weeks and incubate him for about three months. I was losing too much blood and he felt that the pregnancy was becoming a threat to my life, too.
This suggestion devastated me. If it happened, I was afraid that people would think I had conceived out of wedlock and was using incubation as an excuse. By sheer miracle, though, at week 26, the bleeding stopped.
On May 16, 2014, my water broke while we were having dinner at home. Jackson rushed me to a hospital which was about a ten minutes’ drive from home. On arriving there, I was told that I had already dilated to 10 cm. I was taken straight to the delivery room. Within another ten minutes, I had already pushed out the baby without any trace of labour pains.
But this was not the end of it. I developed a complication known as placenta accreta, where the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine walls and fails to come out after delivery. This causes excessive bleeding and can lead to maternal mortality.
After failing to remove it without surgery, I was rushed to the theatre where I stayed for four hours due to excessive bleeding. The doctor would later tell us that at some point, they had lost my pulse. I was bleeding to death.
After delivery, I started going for routine check-ups. The doctor wanted to explore the option of surgery to remove the fibroids before we could think of having another baby. He had advised that we have our babies as soon as possible due to the complications I had.
We agreed to try out a baby every nine months. It seemed that my prayers were working because, after delivery, the fibroids kept getting smaller and smaller until they disappeared. Nine months later, I conceived my second born child.
This pregnancy and birth of our second born, Reuel, in March 2016, was smooth and without complications. When he turned nine months old, I conceived yet again. This pregnancy went on smoothly until the last week of my pregnancy in August 2017. I had gone to the hospital in Nairobi for my final clinic when the doctor decided to do a quick scan. The scan revealed that my baby was dead.
‘Sorry, your baby is dead, and we have to do a quick dilation and evacuation procedure to remove it,’ the doctor told me. For a moment, I lost my mind. I picked my bag and ran out of the room, went straight to my car and drove out of the hospital.
Silent delivery room
After driving for a while, I pulled off the road and called my husband to explain my predicament. He immediately called my gynaecologist who was attending to an emergency in another hospital. The gynaecologist asked us to proceed to where he was, and after fresh tests were done, it was confirmed that indeed the baby was not alive.
This was one of the darkest days of my life. I remembered the nine months journey and could not reconcile the fact that suddenly, there was no child. The gynaecologist had me induced into labour and after about four hours, I delivered the baby.
There was silence in the delivery room. No baby crying. It broke my husband. We had planned to name this baby Liam. We did a post-mortem and took tests to find out what had caused the stillbirth. Nothing was found. We contracted the hospital to bury the baby, and I was discharged to heal from home.
All this while, my uterus was clean without any trace of fibroids. A few months later, we started trying for another baby. This time, though, I was unable to conceive. About a year later, I noticed that my tummy was getting bigger each day as if I was expectant. This was followed by heavy bleeding. I went to my doctor and after doing a scan, he informed me that I had a growth in my uterus. He recommended immediate surgery.
In February 2019, I went in for surgery. Tired of all that I was going through, I asked the doctor to do a tubal ligation and a hysterectomy since I did not want to imagine myself pregnant again. After surgery, the doctor said that he thought the growth was cancerous. It was whitish and quite big. He said he had never encountered one like it in all his practice life, and recommended that tests be done to determine if it was cancerous or not.
Fortunately, the tests showed that it was not cancerous. The doctor also said that he did not do tubal ligation. He saw no need for it because 80 per cent of my uterus had been removed during the surgical procedure. This part had been badly damaged by the growth and cutting it off was the best solution. I was asked to prepare for menopause.
Proud mother of three boys
Fortunately, within weeks, my periods came back. It was consistent for the next few months. I did not take a family planning method because nearly my entire uterus had been removed. Moreover, my doctor had ruled out the possibility of conceiving again because I had no functional uterus.
But God works in mysterious ways. Nine months after my surgery, I conceived yet again. I took six pregnancy tests to ascertain the positive results. My gynaecologist termed my positive test as a sheer miracle.
Interestingly, I carried this pregnancy to term and on July 9, 2020, I gave birth to my last born son, Tendai. I delivered Tendai through the caesarean section because it was unsafe for me to push out the baby.
I am now a proud mother of three boys. I am very grateful to God for my husband who has been very supportive, patient and kind to me throughout this journey. I owe it all to God first, then to him for the love he has showered me with through it all.
Despite all the challenges I have gone through in my quest to become a mother, God has given my heart perfect peace. My journey and story are not only for me but also for other women and couples who are going through tough times trying to have children.
God is more than able to rewrite our stories and give us incredible testimonies that exceed the desires of our hearts if we hold on and keep the faith.