Cases of the morning-after pill failing to prevent a pregnancy are nothing new. In most cases, this is usually attributed to not taking the pill within 72 hours after intercourse, misuse of the pill and possibly taking counterfeit emergency contraception pills.
Three young Kenyan women spoke about their experiences after Postinor-2 (P2) pills failed to prevent a pregancy.
Here are their stories.
Lynn Omondi, 26
I took the emergency contraceptive pill within the recommended 72-hours period that was written on the packet. Then I waited for my period and waited and waited.
Let me start the story better. It all began in 2011. I was a virgin, in form two and an innocent 15-year-old girl when I was introduced to some guy who was a fellow student by a classmate. Before long, we started hanging out. Quite innocent at the time, the most extreme “intimacy” we would achieve at that time was to hug each other and holds hands. After a short while, we broke up for two years but then rekindled everything in 2013. We were in form four at the time and I was still in love with him, even after the breakup.
Given that I was in day school and he was boarding, communication was a problem, so we both had to get those cheap feature phones called “kabambe” in Kenya. We were excited that we were about to graduate from high school and couldn’t wait to celebrate the achievement by “eating the forbidden fruit”. It had been years since we met and we had agreed that we wouldn’t do it until after we left high school.
We, however, didn’t do it. Even after clearing high school. Instead, we broke up. Again. For the whole of 2014. I didn’t date anyone else after that break-up, and I don’t know whether he did, but in 2015 we hooked up again. I was already working at a cyber café in town waiting to join college. Since I lived with my aunt I didn’t have the freedom that a lot of teenagers have and so I had to sneak out every time I wanted to see him.
After two months of his coming back, we did “it” with my high school sweetheart. Just once. Yes once. On the afternoon of a 17th. We had really waited for this moment and since there was no condom and shops were far away, we had no time to wait for protection and other worries; it just happened.
Once I reached home, I told him on phone that I didn’t want to get pregnant as my aunt would kill me. The next day, very early in the morning, my sweetheart brought me Postinor 2, the emergency contraception pill. I took the two tablets immediately. And then the side effects kicked in…..nausea, dizziness, a little bit of fever and all that. I thought the drug was working so I didn’t mind the side effects. I was wrong.
After about three weeks I got sick. Pregnancy symptoms started knocking me off but I told myself it can’t be.
When the symptoms persisted I decided to get a pregnancy test kit. Guess what?
It must be a mistake, an error, I reasoned, so I bought another kit and went to my guy’s house so that we could test together.
Now I was devastated. And in shock. I didn’t know where to begin from how to approach my family, how to deal with this. I was supposed to join college in the next few months, so would this pause my life? My plans?
My guy, my sweetheart, the father of my baby, left for Nairobi soon afterwards and I was all alone with the pregnancy. We stopped communicating.
The first trimester was really tough for me. I became suicidal and thought of ending my life several times but because I had resigned from my cyber cafe work, I did not even have the money to finance my suicide. It was terrible! I was so embarrassed and stressed.
In the second trimester my pregnancy developed complications that affected my blood pressure and after six months I gave birth to a premature baby, who was placed inside an incubator for a month. I couldn’t even afford the medical bill when they eventually released us to go home and I had to cry my way out for them to release me.
Fast-forward, long story short… my P2 baby is now a handsome young man who just turned seven.
Masha Caro, 29
This story takes me back to the year 2015, when I was in love. Totally crushing on my man. I think it was during that phase they call a honeymoon stage in life and my boyfriend had travelled to Mombasa with his friends for a one-week vacation. We were so much used to each other and him being away for one week seemed like a whole year. He eventually came back though, arriving in the morning and coming straight to my house as we had agreed on phone. Seeing him, touching him, being with him after a week away… let me just say the feeling was out-of-this-world.
I prepared tea with groundnuts (don’t judge me or rush into conclusions, you imaginative dud!). After that we shared a shower and got into bed. No protection. Nothing. Carried away by the craziness of the moment.
A few hours later we walked into a chemist shop in the Buru Buru neighbourhood of Nairobi and bought P2. This was not my first time using the pills and it didn’t bother me at all. My boyfriend was in his final year of study at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and most of the time I would visit him during weekends. After a month I missed my period, and after some time I got worried as I was already a mother of one, still in my early 20s and not ready for another baby.
Five weeks after that early morning unprotected encounter I spotted some blood down there. Oh, what a relief! I thought to myself. But I was mistaken; that light spotting was one of the early signs of pregnancy.
On the second month, I stared having nausea and vomiting out anything I’d eat. I did a pregnancy test and it turned positive. To be honest, I had mixed feeling: the joy of being a mother again, yet sad that I was not ready for this. I shared the news with my boyfriend and I remember he was so supportive he promised to take responsibility and be there for us no matter what. As he came from a boys-only family, he wished for a girl. With his support and assurance, I gathered the courage to carry the pregnancy to full term,
It was not an easy pregnancy though. Even though my boyfriend had assured me of support, I was alone emotionally as he was still in university and I couldn’t tell my parents about my second ‘slip’. I was alone most of the time as my boyfriend would come and check on me mostly on weekends or during his free time, but then I needed someone to be there for me fully. I attended all my antenatal clinic appointments religiously and sometimes my boyfriend would accompany me, mostly for those scanning dates.
It is now six years after the P2 failure and our beautiful princess is in Grade One. She makes our life so beautiful and happy, and in her I see God’s plan because I can never imagine my life without her. We named her after my mother-in-law (yeah, we started living together after he cleared JKUAT).
Verah Okumu, 24
I was 19, fresh out of high school and working in a hotel in town when I met Steve, and he was everything I had wanted in a guy. He was aged 32 and I loved the fatherly treatment I got from him. I’m saying ‘fatherly’ because that’s what I had missed in my then ex, who was a university student. Being that many years older than me, I trusted him. I mean, who wouldn’t? I got everything: dates, money here and there, and the freedom I had to visit his home every time.
My first encounter with him was protected as we used condoms, but as time went by I got to trust him and so we stopped. I knew of family planning but I thought it was hectic getting proper care, so I resorted to taking pills because we never met frequently.
He would personally give me the money or most times escort me over the counter to get the pills, and I thought I’d be fine as always. I celebrated my birthday the next year in March in his place and we obviously went down, took my pills as usual and went back to my normal business.
And that’s when the trouble began. I wasn’t even anxious about my menses because I had the most irregular of them. Work suddenly became boring and I wasn’t looking forward to waking up any longer. There was nothing amusing anymore with the service to customers and sleep became my cup of tea. I’d give any excuse to skip work. There was nothing else alarming except that I got easily irritated.
Then we began the next month of April, and in the middle of it I sensed things were not okay. End-month came and still… nothing. I was shaken. I had to self-test; it was positive.
I told nobody at that time because the confusion that set in left me clumsy and unable to think.
A few weeks earlier Steve had resigned from work due to some wrangles with the management. Now phone calls to him went unanswered during the day, and when his phone was on, it was only for a few minutes. I had to inform him, so I looked for him physically.
I can’t say exactly what his reaction was because while I was contemplating an abortion, he wasn’t for it. See, the guy at that time was jobless and within a month everything had changed about him. He had even sold his phone and was using a small one. At the time, he was working as a construction worker despite all his academic qualifications. I was devastated. The only thought was that my child would suffer. How was I going to go through pregnancy? I wanted out, but he refused.
The following week after I told him about the baby he asked that we move in together. Marriage at 20? With a 32-year-old-man? It was not making a lot of sense.
It happened that my grandmother had passed on and after the burial I took the opportunity to travel with a cousin to Nairobi, just to escape the pestering Steve had on me. Still, I was the only person who had this knowledge of the pregnancy.
I became super-cautious and anxious and resorted to buying high-waist pants, but as time went by they became tighter and tighter. I always wanted to be alone.
At four months I was still thinking about abortion but had no money and trusted nobody, not even my cousin.
I was confused.
I was afraid.
I was lonely.
I didn’t have anyone at the time because I gave up my phone.
Then I finally gathered the courage to tell my cousin and I had never been so relieved. I just wanted to go home and be with my mother. I knew she would be broken after this news but that was all that was in my mind. I managed to retrieve my numbers and gave Steve’s number to my mum. It wasn’t going to be easy but he was ready for the care.
At five months I began my antenatal care and I was surprised by the amount of care my aunts showed me. I wished I had not hidden myself in loneliness and self-pity that long.
Looking back, I know I would be dead now because I had taken to overdosing during that lonely phase. I would take any medicine in the house.