Home Blog

How I Lost my Wife


By Maryanne W. Waweru l wawerumw@gmail.com

Wilson Irungu, 42, is a local Administrator in Kiambu County. He is also a widower, raising his three children in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Wilson lost his wife to maternal health complications in June 2022, soon after delivering their lastborn child. I had a chat with Wilson, where he talks about how this unfortunate event happened.

Maternal death is defined by the World Health Organization as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management.

This is Wilson’s story.

“When my wife fell pregnant with our thirdborn child, we were both very excited. Our first two children had a birth spacing of seven years, something that we had both agreed on. Our third child was equally well planned for, coming seven years after our second born.

It was my desire that we would have another son so that I would name my father-in-law, in line with Kikuyu traditions. We already had a son and a daughter –both named after my parents, so this time round I hoped we would name my wife’s father.

Baby was too big

My wife’s pregnancy was smooth with no complications, like her two previous ones. However, the challenge, which lead to her untimely demise, started when she went into labor.

She called me at about 3am informing me that the nurses had told her that the baby was big, which presented a challenge for a natural birth. They also said that the baby was tired and in distress.

The medics had advised her to undergo a caesarean section, something she was hesitant about because of the risks any surgery carries. Her two previous births had been natural, so we had never had to worry about this before.

But since it was the doctors advising it, and considering that she had already been in labor for a while, we heeded their advice and consented to the surgery.

Wilson Irungu, who lost his wife to childbirth complications.

Bouncing baby boy

When I talked to my wife a few hours later at 7am, her mood was very upbeat. She had delivered a healthy, bouncing baby boy! We were both overjoyed as she congratulated me on my wish for a baby boy. I congratulated her too on the successful birth of our son and told her I couldn’t wait for her to recover and be back on her feet again.

Three days later, she was discharged from the hospital.

Severe pain and bleeding

Two weeks later, just before the follow-up/review appointment she had been given by the hospital, my wife expressed some concern. She told me that she was still bleeding very heavily, which she thought was unusual. She was also in a lot of pain.

While she had been on a cocktail of drugs, including antibiotics and painkillers, and had already completed the dose, she was worried that the bleeding was still heavy, and so was the pain.

Something just didn’t seem right, she said.

When she told me this, we quickly returned to the hospital where she had delivered. Upon examination, the medics told us that while the wound was healing well on the outside, the inside still needed some more time.

They told us that it appeared she had some clots and prescribed more medication. They assured us that the situation was not alarming, and that all would soon be well. We left relieved, because we trusted their word.

Persistent unbearable pain

Unfortunately, we returned to the hospital just two days later when my wife’s pain become unbearable. The medics tried explaining to us what was happening, but it was basically a lot of technical jargon which we could not understand.

All I asked of them was to admit my wife for closer observation because I felt she would be safer at the hospital with their close monitoring and urgent action in case of anything. But they refused to do so, insisting that the situation was not alarming and that she could recover well at home.

We were somewhat 50/50 about going home, but they kept reassuring us that there was nothing to worry about. Since they were the experts, we returned home, albeit half-heartedly.

On standby

Once home, and with the medic’s assurance that the situation was not alarming, I travelled to Nyeri to my in-law’s place as there was some work I was undertaking with them. I would be back in a few days.

I left Nairobi on an early Monday morning and remained in constant communication with my wife. I would check on her every few hours. She would tell me that she was still in some pain, but that if it got worse, she would let me know. I told her that I was on standby to rush back in case the situation got worse.

Two days later, my wife told me that the pain was still bad. While she wasn’t bleeding anymore, the pain was horrible. I told her that I would come immediately but since Nyeri to Nairobi is about three hours away, I would in the meantime organize for a neighbourhood taxi to take her to hospital right away.

She however said that the pain was somewhat still bearable, so I didn’t need to come to Nairobi or send for the taxi. She told me she would give me a proper update the following day.

Wilson Irungu’s late wife.

“I’m dying”

The call that would change our lives forever came very early the following morning at about 3.45am.

“I’m dying” were the words that my wife said to me.

Frantic, she told me that the wound from the caesarean section had burst, and she was now bleeding profusely.

Panicky, I called a neighbour and asked him to rush to the house and take her to the hospital as I made my way back from Nyeri. I then called my wife again and told her that I was sending for help and that I was on my way.

My neighbour took just a few seconds to get to our house and when they got there, found my wife had collapsed on the floor. He quickly rushed her to the hospital –the same one she had delivered.

At the hospital, it was established that my wife was bleeding internally as her CS wound had indeed burst. It was an emergency situation.

Her dying words

When I arrived at the hospital about three hours later, I found the medics still trying to stop the bleeding. When I saw what they were doing, I told them they obviously were incapable of handling an emergency of that nature and asked them why they hadn’t already transferred her to a better equipped facility. I threw a tantrum until they allowed me to transfer her to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).

My wife conscious, but in lots of pain. I tried to engage her in conversation, to keep her awake. I kept reassuring her that she would pull through, but the only words she was able to weakly mumble were:

“Please raise our children well.” Those are the last words my dear wife ever spoke.

We got to KNH at about 9am. My wife passed away right there at the casualty as the doctors desperately tried to save her life.

She died on 10 June, exactly a month after she delivered our son on 10 May. She died at the prime age of just 37 years.

Support system

Today, my son tuns 2 years. I have had a great support system that has helped me raise him, alongside my two other children. A special gratitude to my sisters and my sisters-in-law who have never left my side and have remained very dedicated to supporting my family, which they continue to do till now.

Because of the pain I felt, I wanted to sue the hospital but after much consideration, I decided to let it go because I felt that it would be too involving and would not bring my wife back. I know how exhausting the process of legally instituting such a case is, so I chose to instead focus on putting all my energy in raising my children well, just as my wife instructed me to on her dying bed.

My first born is now in Form 3 while the second is in Grade 5.

I remember we had planned well for our last born child, joking that this would be our retirement baby who would keep us young in our 60’s. It is sad that she is not here to actualise this. I’m however grateful for the blessings of the three children she left me with, who are a constant reminder of her presence in my life.

I miss my wife dearly.”

Wilson is one of the Assistant Chiefs in Kiambu County. He tells me that:

“Now, being a local Administrator, I really understand what one feels after loosing a loved one. I have to write burial permits everyday as part of my work, and my experience on what I have gone through after losing my dear wife gives me the courage to console each person/family in that situation that I come across. It is not easy, but in all things we give thanks to God.”

What words of encouragement do you have for Wilson? You can share them in the comments section 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

What makes you scared to give birth again? Kenyan mothers share their reasons


By Maryanne W. Waweru l maryanne@mummytales.com

In African society, many women who have only one child are usually asked the question: “Kamoja tu? Mbona huongezi kengine?” (why just one child? Why aren’t you adding another one?)

This is because, in a society that defines a woman’s worth by her ability to give birth –and how many children she can give birth to, the expectation is for the typical African woman to have more than one child. In fact, it is demanded of her, so to speak. A woman’s worth is determined by her maternal capacities.

So, in one of the online groups I’m in whose membership is thousands of Kenyan mothers, the following question was posed:

“Mothers with only one child, what makes you scared to give birth again? What makes you reluctant to have a second child?”

Hundreds of women responded. There are many reasons why women choose to have only one child. I will just summarize the main (and repeated) reasons that were shared in response to that question. Important to note is that I was not able to deduce the women’s ages or the ages of their children, or their marital statuses.

The comments are also not reflective of mothers with secondary infertility (unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after previously giving birth).

Some of these responses can help inform healthcare workers as they handle pregnant women and mothers, for better outcomes. See the reasons below:

Traumatic pregnancy and birth experience

  1. Most of the respondents said the labour pains they felt with their first child has made them never want to have another baby. The overall sentiments they used to describe their labour experience can be summarized in these three words: ‘I saw death’. Their experiences were so horrible that they dare not contemplate ever having another birth experience.

Watch: My experience giving birth to a 5kg baby – Catherine’s story

  1. High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) that almost cost them their lives.

Read: Helen Njoroge’s story with high blood pressure in pregnancy

  1. A horrible vaginal examination (VE) experience left some women too traumatized to attempt to get pregnant again for fear of undergoing a repeat experience.

Read: 13 Kenyan women’s experiences with vaginal experiences during labor

  1. Caesarean section (CS) recovery. The mothers who cited this said they experienced extreme pain, infection and bleeding that almost led to loss of life. Reading the descriptions they gave of their post-CS experiences was quite distressing I must say.

Read: Betty Mueni’s story on her complications from a CS

  1. Nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy. Those who cited this reason (also known as hyperemesis gravidarum) said they vomited from the first day up to the ninth month –including on the day of delivery. An experience they can never wish to go through again.

Read Victoria Gachuche’s experience with hyperemesis gravidarum.

  1. Excessive bleeding after childbirth (post-partum haemorrhage -PPH) that almost left some women dead

Watch Stephanie Mwangi narrate her experience with excessive bleeding after childbirth

  1. Having a delicate pregnancy that involved having their cervix temporarily closed through sewing in a cervical stitch (McDonald stitch) procedure and being put bedrest for most of the pregnancy

Read Selina Ojwang’s experience with a McDonald stitch.

  1. Those who experienced third or fourth-degree vaginal tears during delivery (which in some cases led to urinary and/or faecal incontinence (fistula)

Great fears

  1. The fear of losing another baby
  2. Fear of going to the theatre again
  3. Fear of giving birth to a special needs child again
  4. Fear of giving birth to a premature baby again
  5. Fear of having another sick child (newborn had a medical condition that made them spend months in hospital)
  6. Fear of becoming a single mother again
  7. Post-partum depression that lasted months, which at some point made them suicidal
  8. Extremely painful breastfeeding experiences (inverted nipples, cracked nipples that left the mother bleeding, in excruciating pain and in tears, as well as general exhaustion from breastfeeding)
  9. Sleepless nights that would leave them drained, weak, fatigued and unable to function properly (especially for working mothers)
  10. Their marriages ended and they don’t want to get a child outside marriage
  11. “I don’t like kids. I don’t have that connection with children. Catch me dead doing it for the second time. Not all women are meant to be moms.”
  12. “I was never interested in being a mother. It just happened and I couldn’t get out of it. I can’t repeat that mistake (of getting pregnant) again.”
  13. “I lack the time to raise another child” (too busy with work/career)
  14. “Kids are emotionally draining. They are too much work and too much responsibility. I can’t ever do it again.”
  15. “I love my space and independence. Children take that away from you.”
  16. “I’m too unhappy in my marriage to have another child with my husband. If I meet the right person in the future, I’ll probably try again.”
  17. Financial reasons, where they don’t feel confident about being able to give the next child the kind of life they desire for them due to their financial challenges.

So now, in case you see a mother with just one child, and you are tempted to ask her: kamoja tu? Si uongeze kengine?, I hope you now have an idea of some of the reasons as to why she has that kamoja tu.

Did I miss another reason? You can add it in the comments section below.

Do you have a motherhood experience or testimony you’d like to share? Email me: maryanne@mummytales.com

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

Cover photo by isaiasbartolomeu, Iwaria. 

He Slapped me Hard because I asked him to Serve me Food. I was still Weak from Childbirth


This is the story of a young 29-year-old mom who sent me her story about her abusive relationship, and what made her eventually leave it. 

“I got into a relationship with a man who I believed was ‘the one’. However, his true colors would soon begin to show. He started attacking me right from the early stages of the relationship.

After coming home from work, he would go through my handbag and phone just to check who called or sent me text messages. Whenever he thought he saw something suspicious, he would demand an explanation. Sometimes he would hit me while doing so and the more I would try to reason with him, the more he would beat me up.

The abuse continued as the relationship progressed.

Before long, I discovered I was pregnant. I hoped that he would change since we were now going to have a baby. They say babies have a way of mellowing one down.

But I was wrong.

Violence during pregnancy

It so happened that my pregnancy was complicated and despite knowing this, he didn’t make things any easier. There are days when he would attack me even when I was really sick. He would strangle me, kick and hit me while saying that the pregnancy wasn’t his. The beatings continued throughout the pregnancy. He did not care that I risked losing the baby.

Meanwhile, my health challenges during the pregnancy led me to lose my job as I would miss work so many times. When I became jobless, the abuse intensified. He would say that I was nothing without him.

He told me not to think about leaving him, threatening that if I did, he would track me and kill both the baby and I. I lived in perpetual fear of him. I also wondered where I would go -pregnant and jobless.

The day I tried to leave

Meanwhile, the nurse who used to see me during my antenatal care visits would warn me that the stress from my relationship was affecting the pregnancy as I had developed high blood pressure. But I seemed lost on what to do about it.

I would confide in my sisters and my grandmother about what was going on and they would caution me, telling me that if I didn’t leave the relationship, it was only a matter of time before the man would kill me. But I was too scared to leave him. What if he actualized his threats of killing my baby and I, as he had threatened so many times?

One day, I attempted to leave. This was after he had beat me up so bad, and I felt that I couldn’t take it anymore. Sadly, when I tried to leave, he grabbed me, kicked and choked me until I thought I would die. After he had exhausted his strength on me, he locked me inside the house and left with the keys as he went to work. I had no food in the house that day, so I stayed hungry, bruised and bleeding.

Eventually, by the grace of God, I delivered my baby who was born healthy.

A few days after my discharge from hospital, I remember begging him to serve me food (I was weak from the birth and was still bleeding) and instead of doing so, he slapped me so hard across my face because I had dared ask him to serve me. How could I have even entertained the thought of asking him to do so, he said as he hit me.

The day I finally left

I got a job when my son was around a year old. Then he started accusing me of sleeping around because I suddenly had money. He would gang up with his mum to frustrate me. (I used to live with her in their rural family home).

One time, she told me “Even if he beats you up, I will still support him because he’s my son.” She would often ridicule me.

The last time he hit me was when our son was one year and nine months old. That was the last straw. I got up and told myself that I was not going to raise my son in that kind of environment. I vowed that was the last time that he was ever going to hit me. I had had enough. Enough was enough.

That day, I mustered all my strength and left.

I rented a single room and began life with my son. It is where we still are today. I do menial jobs to support us both. Starting out has not been easy, but at least my son and I have peace.

It has been six months since I left. He has never reached out to know about me or our son, and that’s okay.

That relationship lasted three years. Three years of pure abuse. It was not worth it.

What I would like to tell a woman is that if he hits you for the first time, he’ll surely do it again. And again and again. Don’t wait until its too late. And don’t be afraid to leave and start your life together with your child. There is no harm in being a single mother and I believe you will be helping your children more by leaving, rather than raising them in the toxic environment of domestic violence.” -END

Have you ever been in an abusive relationship, which you left? What would you like to tell other women based on your experience? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll be in touch.

If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, you can call the National Gender Violence Helpline (toll-free) number: 1195 and you will be assisted. Calling 1195 is free and operates on a 24-hour basis. 

Mummy Tales 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

“My traumatic experience with cyberbullying” -the chilling tale of Mary Mwendwa, an award-winning journalist

Mary Mwendwa, an award-winning investigative journalist.

By Maryanne W. Waweru l wawerumw@gmail.com

Mary Mwendwa, a mother of two, is an award-winning investigative journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Mary once published an article in an international media outlet, but which later came back to haunt her, to the extent she couldn’t leave her house, fearing for her and her children’s safety. But what exactly did she write about, enough to make her live in such fear? 

With a career spanning over 18 years, Mary’s work has been published in different media outlets -both traditional and new media platforms. While digital platforms have created numerous opportunities for women journalists like Mary, they have also exposed them to online gender-based violence. I had a chat with Mary, where she narrated her experience with digitally-enhanced harassment. This is her story.

Two years ago, I did a story featuring three male former national boxing stars who, in their active years, had brought fame and glory to Kenya by raising the country’s flag high in the regional and international boxing arenas.

Sadly, the boxers are now struggling to eke a living, many times depending on friends and well-wishers for their basic needs such as food and shelter.

Despite representing Kenya in various championships and winning enviable titles for the country, the boxers now feel neglected by the government, sports bodies, and other stakeholders. Miserable, depressed and battling mental health issues, the article featured the boxers’ alcohol and substance abuse which they turned to in a bid to numb the ‘pain of betrayal’.

The article highlighted the need for Kenya’s support structures to cater for such national heroes after their days of glory. By featuring the experiences of the three former boxers, the article stressed the need for better strategies to care for retired or incapacitated national sports heroes.

The article was published in a major international news media outlet and was read by thousands of people across the world.

Receiving abusive messages

Soon after the article was published, I suddenly noticed a barrage of notifications on my Instagram page, which was very unusual. When I checked, my inbox was filled with tens of messages. I was confused. I had never witnessed such activity on any of my social media pages before. I was soon to realize why.

When I started reading the messages, I realized that they were all referencing the article. They were accusing me of being a traitor. Many of the comments insinuated that I had committed an unforgivable atrocity by publishing a story that shamed Kenya. They accused me of trading Kenya’s distinguished name for a few dollars by selling the article to a foreign media outlet with a huge global audience. They said I was unpatriotic, that I had embarrassed the country. Some insulted me while others tried to intimidate me by saying that a woman journalist had no business writing about complex issues such as sports.

After glancing at their names and profiles, I noted that they were mostly male. They were Kenyans in the country as well as those in the diaspora. Some were from pseudo accounts while others were from people with genuine profiles.

Due diligence

I stopped reading the messages when I got to 100. I had to stop after I realized that with each comment, I would become very distressed. I began feeling scared because some of the comments were very hateful and abusive.

I couldn’t understand where the bitterness was coming from, because I had taken weeks to adequately research on the story, spending enough time with the interviewees, visiting their homes, interacting them, interviewing coaches as well as representatives of the Kenya Boxing Federation. My story was well covered and did not have gaps.

From that story, a family in the United States got in touch with me and requested to support the facilities where the boxers trained through upgrading of the facilities. It is a story that came with lots of positives, but all this was watered down by the negative comments I was receiving.

I started finding it hard to concentrate on my next story as my mind went back to the vicious comments. I started lagging behind in my work.

Threats of a personal attack

While still trying to digest what was happening, I one day received the shock of my life when one of the boxers called me. He said:

“Your story has made me look bad. You have tarnished my name and image. Everything you reported about me is a lie. I’ll look for you and hire goons to beat you up. You’ll soon know who I am.”

His threats puzzled me since I had personally interviewed him and had factually reported his story. I had recorded my interview with him and had obtained his consent to share his story -explaining to him the purpose of the interview and where it would be published –evidence of which I had. I wondered about his attitude and thought that perhaps he had been reprimanded by people who had read the story, and he was now releasing his frustrations on me. His words troubled me.

The man then started texting me several times in a day, threatening to locate me while repeatedly mentioning that his goons would teach me a lesson. I blocked him, but he started calling me with different numbers.

His actions paralyzed me. While I was certain he didn’t know where I lived, I couldn’t be too sure. If he could hire goons as he alluded, couldn’t he also hire people to investigate where I lived? I feared for myself and my children. I became petrified about leaving my house, preferring to work indoors.

Panic attacks

I tried to ignore the man but whenever my phone rang, I would start shaking, get sweaty palms, with my heart beating very fast. Had his goons located me?

This situation was unfortunate because as a journalist, I use my phone to undertake extensive research, call sources for my stories, and receive calls. But now, every phone activity would ignite a panic attack. Anytime my phone dinged with a message, I would jump up with fright, fearing the worst. I resorted to changing the sound settings of my phone to ‘silent’ so that I wouldn’t hear it make any sound. My phone is my office and because of his threats, I couldn’t effectively use my office anymore.

This went on for about a month and in that time, I missed many work opportunities. As a freelance journalist, this was a difficult situation as it affected my income.

Security features

Eventually, after a month, his calls, messages, and threats stopped suddenly. It took me months to regain my confidence again as his actions, together with the threatening and abusive messages on my Instagram account had taken a toll on me.

I began talking to experts on digital security, who enlightened me on how I can better protect myself online as a woman journalist. I realized that I had not put security features on my Instagram account, and that’s why anybody was able to send me direct messages. While I put restrictions on direct messaging on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter) accounts, I had not done so on Instagram, and this is how the abusers had reached me, taking advantage of this gap to send me offensive messages.

Lessons learned

I have since learnt that one should never take any threats lightly, including those meted online. Such threats can damage one’s emotional and mental health, disabling their normal functions. Online abusers can literally numb your life. I have also realized that while one may take threats lightly simply because they are online, these threats can be actualized physically.

I would advise anyone who receives online threats to gather all the evidence and report the offender/s to the police. Nowadays, the police are sensitized enough to deal with online violence reports. Abusive comments on your posts, messages to your inbox, text messages or phone calls that are threatening or offensive in nature are enough for someone to be charged and prosecuted.

At a professional level, I have since participated in training activities by organizations that promote the digital safety of women, including female journalists. I have enhanced my knowledge about how to stay safe online through use of different digital security tools, and I’m in turn intentionally transferring this knowledge to other women journalists. 

Also read: Former fashion model speaks out about how her life changed after experiencing online GBV

This article was first published in Talk Africa here, with the support of KICTANET. KICTANET is an organization that contributes to the promotion of digital rights in Kenya through policy advocacy, awareness campaigns, capacity building, and public participation in the policy-making process.

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

13 Kenyan mothers share their experiences with vaginal examinations (VE) during labour


By Maryanne W. Waweru l wawerumw@gmail.com

A vaginal examination (VE) is a routine medical procedure during labour to assess and monitor its progression. It basically entails a nurse/midwife/doctor inserting their fingers into the vagina of a pregnant woman who is in active labour, to feel the cervix and to estimate how dilated (opened) it is as they assess the progression of labour. Ideally, vaginal examinations are done at regular intervals of about 4 hours, to check whether the labour is progressing as expected.

In this article, I share a few Kenyan women’s experiences with vaginal examinations during childbirth. The purpose of this article is to improve nurses’, midwives’, doctors’, and other healthcare provider’s understanding of women’s experiences with this process, for improved maternal care.

So, what I did was to ask random mothers the following questions:

  • Did you know that the VE would be done?
  • Did the nurse/midwife/doctor explain it to you beforehand?
  • How did you find the procedure to be?
  • Was it done by one nurse/midwife/doctor, or by different people?
  • How many times was it done?  
  • Was it done by a male or female nurse/midwife/doctor?
  • Was it done in privacy?
  • What would you like to tell nurses/midwives/doctors about the VE process?

The following are some of the responses I received. All the women delivered in hospital.

Mother A

My experience was very unpleasant. The first time, I was 3cm dilated when a male nurse examined me. After some hours a female nurse did it. Surprisingly, she told me I was 2cm dilated then asked me to go home and return when I was more dilated. I refused as I was scared about something going wrong at home. I felt safer in the hospital. A few hours later, a different female nurse examined me and said I was 5cm dilated. That gave me hope that baby was finally coming, but a few minutes later another nurse examined me and said I was 4cm dilated. I was confused. Did these people know what they were doing or were they just guessing? I hated how different nurses kept inserting their gloved fingers, making me feel embarrassed. Couldn’t it just be done by one person? However, being a first-time mother, I didn’t want to ask any questions as I feared their reprisal. Many hours later, the doctor came and told me that my labour was progressing poorly, and baby was getting tired. I was taken to the theatre for a caesarean section. Imagine after all that!

Mother B

As he prepared me for the VE, the male nurse told me it would be a bit uncomfortable which was true. I didn’t feel pain, but I felt a lot of discomfort. The same nurse is the one who checked me about four times. He was patient with me and explained what he was doing and why. I would urge nurses to prepare the woman beforehand so that she can be mentally prepared. It also helps her to relax, based on my personal experience. I would also tell them to be gentle while doing so as the patient is already dealing with a lot of anxiety and pain that comes with labour.

Mother C

I was a first-time mother and I remember being ushered into the labour room by a male nurse as he pointed to a bed with the instructions “panda hapo utoe nguo ya ndani na ulale ukiangalia juu”. I obeyed him and next thing, I saw him put on gloves and apply gel on them and without saying a word, inserted his fingers. The pain I felt by this intrusion was worse than the pain of labour itself. I was so unprepared. A little courtesy would have helped!

Mother D

My doctor had briefed me about it prior, so I was well prepared. The procedure was uncomfortable but not painful. It was done by a one specific nurse at different intervals, and later by my doctor. It was done in privacy as they drew the curtains surrounding my bed. What I would tell medics is to please be gentle as they do it, and inform the patient in advance so that they are prepared psychologically. It will help ease the discomfort.

Mother E

Mine was so painful! The nurses didn’t tell me what they were doing. They didn’t even introduce themselves at the very least. The first time it was a female nurse who did it, and I remember shouting at her to stop because of the pain I felt when she did so. The second time it was a male nurse who I will never forget. He inserted his fingers so deep that I yelled out in pain. He said he was trying to open my cervix to allow baby to pass through, but I wondered why he was being so rough while at it. I screamed out in so much pain until the supervising doctor came rushing and instructed him to be gentle because I was a first-time mother. It’s been six years and I think the reason I fear giving birth again is because of that process.

Mother F

For my first delivery, I hated it as it was done by different trainee nurses. I feel it would have been better if it were done by just one person who had experience but no, they all had to have a go at it because ‘they were learning’. Worse, it was done with them as a group so they were all standing there, observing my nakedness. I felt so invaded and violated. Thankfully, with my second child I knew better so I delayed going to the hospital such that by the time I got there, I was already 7cm dilated and this time it was done privately and by only one nurse.

Mother G

I didn’t like it. After being checked twice, when I saw the nurse coming again for the third time, I shouted at her not to do so because she was hurting me with her fingers. She left me alone as neither she nor any other nurse returned to check me again, only coming to do so when I started screaming that my baby was coming out.

Mother H

I never minded it because I was in labour and I just wanted to know how far the baby was. The female nurse told me that she was doing it to check how much my cervix had opened up. She did it twice and it wasn’t painful. It was done in privacy which was such a relief. I would like to tell nurses not to be harsh when handling women in labour. Just be polite and kind to them.

Mother I

I didn’t know about it. I was a first-time mother and the nurses would just come and insert their fingers –rotating between male and female nurses. They weren’t telling me what they were doing and I was afraid to ask. I found their actions to be invasive. At some point it was so bad that I refused for them to touch me because I was feeling harassed. When I refused, a female nurse slapped me and shouted at me to cooperate. I felt so bad.

Mother J

I never minded the procedure. I was a first-time mother and I had read about what to expect during labour and childbirth. The nurses never told me anything at the hospital when I was in labour, so thank God I had researched on my own. It was done four times by different nurses. Initially, it was done in private but after I was 8cm dilated, the nurses didn’t draw the curtains that surrounded my bed, so it was open for anyone to see, unfortunately. I went on to deliver my 4.2kg bouncing baby boy vaginally and didn’t get any stiches. The nurses congratulated me for being strong and listening to their instructions.

Mother K

The procedure left a bad taste in my mouth. I especially hated the gel they applied on their gloved fingers before inserting them. I think it had pepper in it because it would leave me feeling itchy, aching, and sore. Each time I saw the nurse approaching me I would just start crying because I knew what was coming and there was nothing I could do about it. It was such a bad experience for me.

Mother L

Being a first-time mother by then, I didn’t like it. It was done by a female nurse, and I wasn’t aware that she would insert her fingers down there. It was so painful until I told her that she was not well trained to do it. But she told me she had been a nurse for many years so there was nothing I was telling her. She added that this is what all pregnant women in labor go through, that I wasn’t the first one, and so I should just get used to it if I was to continue having babies. I wasn’t happy about her attitude. The nurses should be explaining to the mothers well and they should do the VE in a friendly manner.

Mother M

My experiences with all my three children were good. The nurses told me what they would do, and that I should relax if I did not want to feel pain. I relaxed and it was uncomfortable but not painful at all. They have all been done by female nurses, which is what I preferred.

Mother N

The labour pain was so intense until I didn’t feel the pain when the nurses did the vaginal examinations. It was done by both male and female and I didn’t mind whoever did it, I just wanted my baby to come. In fact, I was the one calling out for them to come check if I had dilated enough as I just wanted to be over and done with.

Those are just some of the responses I received, but from them you can deduce that:

  • Many first-time mothers don’t know that VEs will be done on them
  • The nurses/midwives/doctors need to explain the VE procedure to the women beforehand
  • Knowing what to expect helps the women feel more relaxed, lessening the pain and discomfort
  • They prefer that it’s done by one nurse if possible
  • The women value privacy during the VE procedure
  • Women in labour are afraid to ask medics questions or voice their concerns about any negative experience for fear being rebuked or punished
  • The nurses/midwives/doctors need to be gentle as they do so

If you are a healthcare worker who helps women during childbirth, I hope this article has been of benefit to you as you help women achieve positive childbirth experiences.

If you are a first-time mother, I hope you know what to expect.

If you’d like to share your childbirth experience email me at: wawerumw@gmail.com

Do you have an opinion about this article? 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

Cover image photo by

How I became a Teenage Mother of Two in Quick Succession


By Maryanne W. Waweru

For many teenage girls, the idea of getting pregnant -even when they are sexually active -is a thought that is often far removed from their minds. This is the story of 25-year-old Jackie, a mother of two girls aged 8 years and 7 years.

“My story is not special and it is not uncommon. I’m just an average young lady who went to school, did my studies -and did a bit on the side… this is my story.

Being a teenager, there are always two sides to your being; the one you put across to your parents, and the one that you are when with your friends. There is what your parents have taught you, and then there is lots of peer pressure. Add hormonal changes to that mix and you have teenagers behaving in all manner of ways and doing all sorts of things.

Finding out I was pregnant

I found out I was pregnant when I was in high school in Form Three, aged 17 years. When my period delayed for a week, I remember being so nervous about it, terrified at the thought that I could be pregnant. I had been sexually active so I knew that pregnancy was a possibility, but which I nevertheless wasn’t expecting.

As much as I wanted to take a pregnancy test to confirm my fears, I couldn’t do so at that particular time because I was attending a church camp. There, I made friends with a girl who I confided in and thankfully, she was not judgmental.

When the camp ended, I first took a detour to her house because I really needed to confirm if I was pregnant and I didn’t want to do so at home. I did not have money to buy a pregnancy test kit, but my friend had some savings and bought one for me.

I took the pregnancy test.

I remember being so nervous as I waited for the results. I was an emotional wreck. After what seemed like endless hours, but which was actually just two minutes, the two distinct lines appeared, confirming what I had been dreading most.

I was pregnant!!!!!

Telling my boyfriend

The first thing I did was share the news with my boyfriend. I had kept him abreast about my missed period so he too was waiting for me to confirm whether I was pregnant or not. When I told him, he was shocked, but he nevertheless took it all in and offered to support me. He was 24 years old at the time and staying with his parents.

When schools reopened, I reported as usual, keeping my secret to myself. It was a boarding school and I endured my first trimester while trying to focus on my studies.

But keeping the pregnancy a secret was so tough! I had to hide it amidst terrible bouts of morning sickness. When the nausea became unbearable, I confided in a few close friends and roommates who helped me cope and covered up for me where necessary. Those girls really came through for me! They ensured that neither the matron, teachers, nor fellow students knew about my pregnancy that whole term.

Breaking the news to my mother

As the pregnancy grew, I knew I had to inform my mother. See, she is a single mum who had been through so much already, raising me as an only child, and this made me even more apprehensive about breaking the news to her because I knew she’d be so disappointed in me.

But I had to do it. I wanted her to hear it from me first before she started seeing my bulging belly.

When I broke the news to her as soon as we closed school, I didn’t get the reaction that I was expecting. Surprisingly, she was quite calm about it. My mum told me she’d already suspected as much because I hadn’t asked her to buy me pads for a while –as I usually did.

My mum wasn’t exactly thrilled, but she told me that no matter how or when they come, children are always blessings from God.

Let me say this: When a teenage girl finds out she’s pregnant, in her mind, it’s the worst thing to have ever happened to her. At that specific moment, she needs all the support she can get, otherwise she can easily harm herself or fall into depression. Thankfully, my mother never stopped showing me love and affection; she would always check on me to ensure all was well. Honestly, this is what kept me sane throughout the pregnancy. I love my mum so much.

Refusing to Return to School

When schools reopened the next term, I refused to return. This is because I was already in my second trimester and I was showing. By that time word had already gotten out that I was pregnant. My classmates were talking. The teachers were also discussing me. There was no way I was going to return.

So what I did was search for an adult education class where I continued with my studies. I was determined to complete my high school education. My mother supported me.

At my new ‘adult school’, learning with older people was not as difficult as I had thought it would be. I didn’t feel out of place with them because they understood me and my situation. In fact, they were very supportive. Also, my interaction with them helped me see life in a different way and made me realize that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and ambitions.

Getting Pregnant –Again!

I went on to have a smooth delivery and was delighted to hold my newborn daughter in my arms. When she was six months old, I enrolled in a tuition center closer to home so that I could dash home to breastfeed during the lunch break.

But then, something happened that almost threw me into real depression this time around.

I got pregnant again!!!!

It happened when my daughter was just a few months old! To say that I was distraught would be an understatement. I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness.

To be honest, talking about my second pregnancy is hard because I felt so disappointed in myself, and it felt even worse because I knew I had disappointed many other people, especially those who had helped me deal with all the drama of the first pregnancy. How could I have let them down again? So soon? My poor mother.

When I thought about what people would say, and how they would judge me, I felt so terrible. Thoughts of having an abortion filled my mind. However, I decided to accept the situation of my own doing and take responsibility for my actions. I was going to have the baby. Period.

As expected, people talked and talked and talked!

“Didn’t she learn anything from her first pregnancy?” they asked each other.

But I decided to remain strong. I remember sitting for KCSE when I was pregnant while still taking care of my daughter who wasn’t even a year old! You can imagine how tough that was. Thankfully, I performed quite well in my exams.

What I Have Learned

As a woman, having a child changes everything. It makes you grow up really fast. It also makes you have a new purpose in life. I used this and made it my drive to make myself a better person. I returned to school and made effort to ensure that I wouldn’t fail in my exams. Today, I am a stronger woman and have used my children as my newfound drive in life. My experiences of being a teem mom of two helps me talk to other young ladies into being more informed about their sexuality and to empower them to make the right decisions.

My experiences have taught me that young people need to be given more sex education. Teenagers need to keep being talked to, to broaden their understanding on sex. Maybe if I had had more information, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant –and pregnant again –so soon.

I often say that we should never judge anyone because there are things in life we don’t anticipate but yet they happen to us. In addition, everyone has their fair share of mistakes or things they’ve done in their lives that they aren’t proud of.

All in all, I thank God each day for my two daughters, who are such a blessing in my life and give me so much joy.

I am now 25 years old. I successfully completed my bachelor’s degree and I have a good job. My mother remained my pillar of support, helping to raise my daughters while I was in university. We continue to raise them together.”-END

Cover image courtesy of Iwaria.

Do you have feedback on this article: Comment down below or email me on wawerumw@gmail.com 

You may also like to read the stories 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

House Helps in Kenya: The Day my Nanny ‘Killed’ Her Daughter


This is a post by Yunita, a guest writer who talks about how her immediate former house girl, Petronilla lied that her daughter had died and she had to urgently travel back home. But it was all a lie…

“I may never really understand what led her to such desperate lengths. Why, Petronilla? Was I bad to you? Why didn’t you just say it – or even just run away? But lie that your child is dead just so you could leave our house?

You could just have said that you missed your family and wished to visit them. Or that you didn’t like the job anymore. Or that we weren’t paying you enough and you wanted a pay rise. That you simply wanted to quit.

But lie that your daughter is dead? Surely.

Yet, I do not judge you because I believe, just as my mother does – that you must have been in very dire straits, in spaces I’ve never been to, hearing voices I’ve never heard, dreaming dreams I couldn’t ever perceive.

Maybe you were fighting battles my mind couldn’t ever fathom. I’m resigned to the fact that I may never really understand. And to be grateful that life has been kind to me. Maybe much kinder to me than it has been to you. Because what do I know about your struggles anyway?

Who was Petronilla?

Petronilla is a young lady that I took into my home as a nanny, house girl or Domestic Manager (DM) –as we commonly refer to them as. We embraced her and welcomed her into our home wholeheartedly. We were kind to her. We’d pictured her working for us till she retired. We were even willing to help with her six – yes – six children where we could.

One of these children was her daughter Leah who had just completed her KCSE. I’d talked to several friends who needed a house girl, and one had even agreed to employ her. Sadly, Leah is the daughter that Petronilla ‘killed’. Petronilla told us that her daughter had died by suicide. She had swallowed pills and had been immediately rushed to hospital, but she didn’t survive.

Before she left our home, Petronilla was a mess. She would sob, sob, sob. Sniff sniff sniff again. She’d blow her nose over and over again. We cried with her, sympathetic and empathetic about her situation.

“I don’t even feel like eating anything,” she’d cry. She was inconsolable.

Petronilla, a week after you travelled upcountry to ‘mourn’ your daughter, I called you and asked how the burial arrangements were progressing. You told me that ‘we completed everything yesterday’. You knew very well that I would interpret this as “we buried my daughter yesterday” because that’s when you had told us she would be laid to rest.

But it was all a lie as we were to later find out, to our horror and dismay. You had simply found a better-paying employer and were looking for a way out of our home.

Surely Petronilla, were all these dramatics necessary?

Yet, I choose not to judge you. Life must go on and I wish you all the best. It is well.”

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

What do single parents do after the death of their only child?


By Maryanne W. Waweru l wawerumw@gmail.com

I recently watched a video of a single mother who recently lost her only child, a daughter, to suicide.

Now, there’s this comment from a fellow viewer that struck me. It read: “Losing an only child is a very painful experience and honestly, if you can give birth, don’t give birth to just one child. It’s better to have three or four children, for your own good.”

Another viewer agreed with her, saying: “Sure, this mother wouldn’t be ‘all alone’ as she is right now if she had other children.”

The insinuation being that when, in the unfortunate circumstance that you lose that only child, the hit it takes on you is so terribly more devastating than when left with other surviving children.

The mother in the video I watched appeared to be in her late 40’s. She was inconsolable, saying her world had literally come to an end following the death of her only child.

I noted other interesting comments in response to that initial one:

“That’s why our parents gave birth to many of us to offer themselves softer landings in such cases of child loss.”

Another one differed, saying:

“We don’t know the reasons why she didn’t get the three or four children you are talking about. So stop being insensitive with your comments and stop judging because you don’t know.”

“The matter of having children is personal. Whether one or 10, it is a very personal choice. We don’t know why people decide to have one or more kids.”

The comments went on:

“You can get those three or four children and they all die on the same day. It has happened before and we have even seen it in the news. It’s not about getting many children.”

Another one said:

“People should give birth to the number of children they want and can raise. No child can be replaced with another.”

And another:

“Most end up committing suicide unfortunately.”

And another one:

Even if you have 12 children, it won’t ease the pain losing one. Because which one would you like to lose?

After reading these comments, I asked myself: what is it like to lose an only child, as a single parent? Truth is, no one can answer this question better than someone who has lived through this experience. In case you are one or know of one such parent and would be willing to talk about it, please reach me on wawerumw@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you.

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

Featured stock image from: iwaria.com

Why I Took my Daughter for the HPV Vaccine -Sarah Kimani’s Story


By Maryanne W. Waweru

Sarah Kimani, 44, is an award-winning journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. She is also a mother of two girls aged 15 years and 2 years. At the age of 13 years, Sarah’s older daughter received the HPV vaccine, which helps prevent cervical cancer. I had a chat with her about it, including the cost of the vaccine, if there were any side effects, and if she had any concerns about the vaccine.

If you have any feedback about this article, or if you have a story touching on women and girls’ health that you’d like to share, please email me on wawerumw@gmail.com

This is Sarah’s story.

Thank you, Sarah, for your time. Tell us more about taking your daughter for the HPV vaccine.

At the time she was getting the vaccine at 13 years, the government had already started the campaign about two years earlier. The first time I took her (she was aged 11 years then), the nurses informed me that she was already late for it as they advise that girls get the vaccine before 10 years.

I went to two other different government health facilities, but the feedback was the same: that she was late. Their main concern was that they weren’t sure if my daughter was already sexually active, and I really didn’t want to argue with them since I knew my daughter. And since I wanted her to get the vaccine before she went to Form One, I opted to get the vaccine at a private hospital.

Tell us about the vaccine at the private hospital

When I went to the private hospital, I learnt that there was a vaccine that prevented more cancers of the female reproductive system. I was presented with two options:

  • One that prevents at least 17 HPV strains
  • One that prevents at least 35 HPV strains

That there was a vaccine that could prevent more strains sounded like something I wanted to take for my daughter. I chose the latter.

How did you prepare your daughter for the vaccination?

My daughter is slightly older than her classmates, and a good number of them had gotten the vaccine at the age of 10 years, so she knew about it. She’d talk to me about it, asking me when she would get it too. I found her to be fairly knowledgeable about it. There seems to have been a lot of information sharing among her peers.

It also happened that at that time, my aunt had received a breast cancer diagnosis, so there was a lot of talk about cancer in the family. It was therefore easier to discuss the vaccine with my daughter at that time.

It also helps that in Kenya there is a culture of vaccination where information is widely circulated publicly through the media, in schools, community forums etc., so the issue of vaccination was not foreign to her.

Tell us about the vaccine administration

My daughter was given the vaccine in 2 doses, 6 months apart. She received it in the arm. While my daughter has a phobia for needles, the nurse who gave it to her handled her quite well. She was very welcoming and had an air of confidence around her that reassured us. She was this motherly, matronly figure who put us at ease.

The nurse began by asking my daughter a few questions and counselling her about the importance of healthy behavioural practices as she blossoms into a young woman. She gave my daughter information in a way that she could easily understand. I liked how she handled the whole experience for my daughter.

What documents were required for the vaccination?

Just the regular immunization schedule booklet that each child has that details all the vaccines they have received from birth. They are very strict about that, for records purposes.

Did your daughter experience any side effects?

She only had a slight swelling where the vaccine was administered. The swelling lasted two days.

How much did you pay for the HPV vaccine?

I paid Sh35,000 for this vaccine. I paid it in two instalments. I however find the cost for the non-government vaccines very prohibitive for those who would like to get it –in the event they miss the free government one. I’ll ensure that I take my younger daughter for the government one when her time comes.

Had you heard about any conspiracy theories about the vaccine?

Yes, I had. Additionally, as a journalist, I have reported on the issue of vaccines several times. I have also covered women ailing from cervical cancer, only to later learn that they had died. I weighed the pros and cons and made my decision. I didn’t need a lot of convincing.

Today, I’m an HPV vaccine advocate and I talk to my relatives and friends who have daughters about it. Two of my friend’s daughters recently turned 10 years, and I talked to them about the importance of taking their daughters for the HPV vaccine, which they did.

Do you feel that your daughter is now protected from cervical cancer?

The vaccine is one thing, but behaviour is equally important. I regularly have ‘the talk’ with my daughter because I know of the other risk factors that may predispose her to diseases. It is something that I’ll keep doing as she grows. However, having the vaccine reassures me that she’s better protected from getting cervical cancer and other reproductive health cancers.

Having seen, first hand, how devastating cervical cancer can be, I encourage parents with daughters to take advantage of the vaccine –now that we have it available in Kenya. At least we have that choice as a country.

Some may say that giving your daughter the vaccine may encourage them to be sexually active, but it depends on how you deal with it. I encourage parents to access it for their daughters. It is a step in the right direction, and it is up to us to embrace any medical advances that arise.

Thank you very much Sarah for sharing your experience.

What are your thoughts on this article? What do you think about the cervical cancer vaccine? Has your daughter taken it? You may comment down below. If you have an experience you’d like to share, email me on wawerumw@gmail.com

Mummy Tales 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

How I ensure I never forget to take my annual pap smear


By Maryanne W. Waweru

For the last 16 years, Agnes has been taking her annual pap smear on her birthday. It’s easier for her to remember that way, she says. I had a chat with the 43-year-old Interior Design Installation contractor who is based in Nairobi, Kenya, on her decision to do so. A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. 

You’ve been doing a pap smear for the last 16 years without fail. What inspired you to be doing so?

I learned about cervical cancer and how it’s transmitted while in my twenties after hearing about several cases in my extended family. At the time, there was no vaccine and the best solution was early detection.

Take us through the first time you did the pap smear. Was it something you dreaded, and how is it now, years later?

I don’t recall the exact time, but I was around 25 years old. I had had a chat with my roommate back in college, who described it as a painful procedure. So yes, I was dreading it, but I told myself the pain would be the trade off to keeping cancer away. Turns out the ‘pain’ was really just discomfort from the use of a device to open the pelvis to enable the doctor to access the cervix. Different doctors use this device differently and then again –we have different pain thresholds.

With your busy daily schedule, how do you ensure you never miss your annual appointment?

At first, I did it every two years whenever I remembered. But as I got older, to ensure I didn’t forget, I opted to do it on my birthday month, every March. My birthday month is a time for self-reflection, so why not also make it a time to get my annual check-up?  A pap smear is one of the tests that women over 30 should get annually to ensure they stay healthy.

Where do you get your pap smear done (public or private hospital) and at what cost? Is it covered by insurance?

I started with a private doctor, but I have since discovered cheaper and more accessible options at LVCTs. Most health insurance covers don’t cover the well-woman checks.

Have you ever had a scare, where your results didn’t come out the way you were expecting?

So far so good. I have never had any test results come back positive for any HPV.

I’d also like to say that as mothers and aunties, we should have this important health discussions with our daughters and nieces and inculcate in them the importance of taking matters about their sexual and reproductive health seriously. We can even offer to take them for their first well-woman check-up.

For instance, having early (teen and pre-teen) unprotected sex exposes the still developing cervical cells to viruses which in future can turn into cancer. Delaying sexual debut to mid-late 20s is best.

We should also teach boys and girls to thinking positively about their health and bodies because how we think about ourselves manifests in actual reality. I also meditate often about my health and wellness.

Your last words?

Annual well-woman check-ups are important for every woman’s general health and well-being. I would advise women to schedule them to coincide with their birthday or the anniversary of an event that will ensure you always remember.

What do you think about this story? Comment down below with your thoughts. Have you ever taken a pap smear test? What was your experience like? If you’d like to share it, you can email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll get back to you.

Mummy Tales 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

Featured image: Iwaria



error: Not Allowed