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Preeclampsia in Kenya: “I Trusted my Doctor Too Much – How I Lost My Baby” -Jane Minoo

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By Maryanne W. Waweru l maryanne@mummytales.com 

This is the story of one Kenyan mother who survived preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) but unfortunately, lost her baby.

My name is Jane Minoo. I am 29 years old and a Public Relations practitioner, based in Nairobi. In 2014, I got pregnant and being a first-time mom, the first thing I thought to do was to get a good hospital or gynecologist. My husband and I settled for the one who had a private clinic in town, and who we believed was the best (or so we thought).

The first three months of my pregnancy were smooth. I regularly saw my gynaecologist who assured me all was well.

However, things started changing in the fourth month. I’d wake up in the morning with my face and feet considerably swollen. Interestingly, by 10am, the swelling would have gone away. When I mentioned this to my doctor, he checked me and assured me that I was fine.

Related: Warning Signs in Pregnancy: When to Call your Doctor

I admit though that other issues were troubling me at the same time. I was a 4th year university student, and my job involved lots of travel. Balancing the two was not easy. In addition, my relationship with my in-laws at that time was not the best, plus there was also my husband to take care of. Add on to that a pregnancy that was becoming difficult. I would tell God to remember me because I felt I was losing it. It was tough.

Meanwhile, the swelling persisted, particularly in my feet. One day, my sister, a nurse, told me to ask my doctor if all was really well. She had become very concerned. I did so, and as usual he said I was fine. My colleagues also had their misgivings, telling me it was too early in the pregnancy to be experiencing that amount of swelling but I would assure them I was fine because my doctor had said so. I added a lot of weight due to the swelling, and my blood pressure also went up.

My husband and I however ignored all the concerns from family and friends simply because our gynaecologist said I was okay. We didn’t know who to listen to so we chose to stick to what he said.

Also Read: Ladies, are You Sure of the Identity of Your Regular Gynaecologist? Learn from my Experience

One day, at 26 weeks pregnant, I woke up as usual with swelling on my feet and face. My husband noticed that the swelling had increased, but we brushed it aside knowing that it would be gone by 10am. We then both left for work. I lived far from work and had to connect three vehicles to get there. I remember being so tired with a severe headache that had been disturbing me for several days, but I nevertheless had to get to work (I was on contract basis).

When I got to the bus stop, I noticed people (especially women) were staring at me. I felt weird. I kept checking my face on my wallet mirror and realized that the swelling had not gone down yet. I became alarmed. I experienced the stares and gazes from strangers all through my commute to work.

When I got to the office, the receptionist saw me and shrieked, asking: “Jane….is this you? Are you okay?” Her (very shocked) reaction attracted everyone’s attention and they all looked at me. I started crying, as colleagues came to comfort me. They suggested that I see a doctor immediately.

I requested for some days off from my boss, which she gave without hesitation. At a nearby hospital, my blood pressure reading was high (210/110), with the doctor advising that I had to be admitted immediately. But I told her that I needed to talk to my gynaecologist first, which I did. She called my gynaecologist and all he said to her was: “give her something and let her go home. I will see her tomorrow”. He then switched off his phone.

Jane Minoo, a preeclampsia survivor.

I called my husband, and we agreed that I take the medication as per the gynaecologist’s directive and go home. As the hospital doctor gave me the prescribed medication, she kept insisting that I shouldn’t leave the hospital. She nevertheless requested that once I got near home, I pass by a chemist first to get my blood pressured checked again, and if it was still high, I return to the hospital immediately. I agreed and left the hospital.

The journey home was not easy. The headache was unbearable. I followed the doctor’s instructions and together with my husband, we got my pressure reading at a chemist near home. The pharmacist was not pleased with the results. My blood pressure was still very high. He urged me to see a doctor. We went home and I sat on the couch as my husband prepared something for us to eat.

Suddenly, I felt like I was on fire. I started vomiting nonstop. My head was burning. We got a taxi and returned to the hospital. I was admitted, but had to wait for the doctor on call who apparently was in another hospital at that time. Meanwhile, I was put on a drip which reduced the pain I was feeling in my stomach. We waited for six hours before he finally showed up. By that time, my head was exploding.

The doctor checked on me and requested for a scan the following morning, which showed that baby was okay. Following the scan, I didn’t see the doctor again until 9pm at night, where he instructed I continue with the medication. This was the second day in the hospital and my head was still throbbing. My headache would just not go away. I remember my husband would place a wet “kitambaa” on my forehead and it would dry up so fast. Family, friends, workmates kept wondering why I wasn’t being attended to well and at some point, my family suggested I be transferred to another hospital, but the doctor, who as usual came at 9pm, turned down their request.

One week went by. I was sitting for my final exams at the same time, and so I would leave the hospital, do my exams and return to the hospital. The doctor had instructed the hospital to give me the permission to do so.

One Saturday, I woke up feeling much better. I was sitting for the final paper that morning so I left as usual. I was upbeat, and we were hopeful that I’d be discharged that day. I finished my exams and got back to the hospital at around noon. The nurses came to listen to the baby’s heartbeat but they couldn’t hear it. I was sent for a scan.

Related: “I Spent Almost Half of my Pregnancy in Tears!” -Mary Naanyu

During the scan, my husband and I both remember hearing baby’s heartbeat. But as we returned to the ward, something felt amiss. We kept asking for the results, but the nurses were very evasive. I became very uneasy and started suspecting that something was wrong. My fears were confirmed when at 6pm, my husband and I were called to a room and told that our baby’s heartbeat could not be detected, and that my blood pressure had gone down. Things weren’t looking good.

Sadly, they informed us that our baby was no more. Meanwhile, the doctor came in as usual at 9pm and said that the loss was expected. That survival was either for me or the baby.

It was a hard time for us, but I was yet to hear the worst. I was told I had to deliver my dead baby. Imagine my mental agony.

I was induced that night but nothing happened. I was induced again at noon the following day, and I labored till midnight. I just remember doing one push and the baby was out. I didn’t get the chance to see my daughter because I fainted after the push. My husband saw her though. We left her in the hospital and went home the following day, empty handed. Preeclampsia had taken the life of our baby. We were devastated.

Related: George Ojwang: Remembering my Dear Wife Claris, Who Died due to Preeclampsia Complications

The healing process was not easy. I could see the many questions on our neighbor’s faces and other people who knew I was pregnant.

The first three days were particularly unbearable. I would wake up, sit on the couch and cry the whole day. No food. No talking. Nothing.

I couldn’t stand seeing my phone ring. I blamed everyone for my loss. I blamed my gynaecologist for being ignorant and not paying attention to my blood pressure. I blamed my boss for not giving me days off, I blamed husband for not understanding what I was going through, I blamed everyone and everything around me. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to die. My husband tried to help me, but at some point he had to call my family to come and pick me because he didn’t know what else he could do to assist.

A call I received from my mother one week later changed everything. She told me to wake up from that couch, take my Bible and read it. She said that I was too young to give up on life. I heard her, and started opening up to my husband and pouring my heart out. That began my healing process.

After three months, I conceived again and gave birth to our daughter in December 2015 -the same time I had lost our first daughter. I gave her the same name I had given our first daughter -Princess Sabrina Akinyi. Everything was smooth during her pregnancy and I didn’t experience any blood pressure issues. But I drew closer to God and prayed every day.

Princess Sabrina Akinyi.

I am now pregnant again -17 weeks. So far so good and I am praying for the best. To God be the Glory.

The reason I’m sharing my story is to encourage other women and their partners to have hope. I’d also like to advise pregnant women to stay away from stress, and even more importantly, they should not ignore any unusual swelling or headaches they have. If people around you are worried about something regarding your pregnancy, don’t ignore them. If possible, seek a second opinion from a different doctor.

My purpose is also to create awareness on preeclampsia because while it appears to be common, not many women know about it. When I lost my baby, I met other women in the hospital who had lost babies through preeclampsia but no one was talking about it.” -END

Do you have any feedback on this story? You may comment down below. 

Mummy Tales by Maryanne W. Waweru is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.

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