Any expectant mother will experience a roller coaster of emotions such as numbness, disbelief, anger, guilt, depression, and pain when she finds out that she has suffered a miscarriage.
It is a problem that may be caused by an underlying medical condition that damages the fallopian tubes, interferes with ovulation, or causes hormonal complications.
Christian mother Mrs Julie Bukirwa who welcomed her first child after five miscarriages in 16 years, is familiar with the struggle to become a parent.
Julie this week spoke to the Daily Monitor about the joy she felt when she learned that she was pregnant on several occasions, and how that joy was cut short.
“I always conceived, carried my babies very well but towards the end of the pregnancy, the enemy would attack and boom, no foetal heart beat. I would go to hospital to find out why my baby was not moving and the nurses would tell me the worst news, “Sorry, but you have lost the baby.” It happened five times and every time it did, Bukirwa almost went crazy.
Although Uganda has a high fertility rate [about seven children per woman], there is a big number of couples who face infertility and miscarriage. Just recently, a report from the Ministry of health revealed that about 10 to 15 per cent of the couples cannot have children.
Julie and her husband were however not ready to settle their case before God without a child. “You can have all the wealth, the love of your husband, drive that dream car, have a very well-paying job but if you do not have a child of your own, you will always have that emptiness inside of you,”Julie narrated to the news outlet.
“I asked God why it had to be me all the time. I wanted to die so many times. I thought of committing suicide but knowing that was a sin, I let go,” Bukirwa explained. “I could not face my in-laws and every time I saw them talking or laughing, I thought they were back-biting me. I was crushed.”
Julie told the newspaper among the many painful miscarriages was an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in her losing one of her fallopian tubes. With only one left, she prayed, fasted, and slept on prayer mountains calling to God to remember her just one time and give her a child.
“However, it seemed like my prayers either never reached God or it was my fate never to have babies,” she said, “But I am forever grateful that amid all this, my husband was there. He gave me all the support, the love and care although deep within me, that was not enough. I was always bitter and complained at every slight thing he did.
Nonetheless, he stood firm, understanding where all that was coming from. He always said, “Julie, I believe that one day God will give you your own child although I do not know when. If you have lost hope, I have not. One day we shall hear the cries of a baby in this house.”
‘How long must I wait?’
Julie told the newspaper one of the miscarriages she went through was so bad that she almost died in labour.
Her response to the comforting words from her husband was, “How long must I wait?”
“I remember doctors calling it placenta abruption due to hypertension. But I wondered why it was happening seeing that I took my medication religiously and never missed my antenatal visits. I just could not understand why all that happened.”
As if the physical pain was not enough, one time her cousin looked at her in a mocking way and said, “Julie, you know you are not meant to have babies. Why do you even bother conceiving, unless you want to die in the labour ward like last time. If you want a child, please adopt one. I even wonder how that husband of yours can tolerate you, he should have got another woman instead.”
At these words, Bukirwa was dumbfounded and could only pray, “God you have heard it, do not allow my enemies to laugh at me, please exalt Yourself.”
In denial after sixth attempt
When Bukirwa conceived again, for the sixth time, everyone thought this time she was going to be lucky.
“On December 31, 2014, I wanted to go to Namboole for end of year prayers because I was excited. However, at noon, I felt the baby kicking restlessly for almost 30 minutes. It felt strange and I called my gynaecologist but he advised me to relax, which I did. However, I realised the baby was no longer kicking and I called the doctor again. He laughed about it and insisted that I relax since I had just left hospital and everything looked okay.
“He, however, told me to pay attention in case the baby continued not to kick, at which point I would have to go to hospital. That evening, the pain started. I was scared, certain that the inevitable had happened again. I was taken to hospital, a scan was done and there was no fetal heartbeat. I just knew it.”
Bukirwa blacked out, then came around. However, she was bleeding excessively, and in great pain. With all that, she had to be operated on to save her life since the baby was already dead. “I begged to be taken to theatre because the pain was unbearable,” Bukirwa told the Daily Monitor, “When I woke up, I had temporary amnesia; I thought I had a baby, I was in denial, but I thank God that the doctor did his part and my husband was right there. He told me to cry as much as I wanted and indeed I cried, my tears would have filled this world for all I knew.”
‘Find another woman to give you a child’
Upon recovery, Bukirwa decided to leave her marital home so her husband could get another woman to give him a child. “We fought about this and he insisted that he did not marry me with a condition that I give him a child. He told me that with or without a child, he loved me and was willing to stand by me no matter what. He said if I run away from home, he would look for me even if it meant camping at my workplace,” she narrated
“Though I gave up on running, I was angry with God. I stopped praying and said, “God, just do as you please but I am done crying for a child.” My not-so religious husband now stood up and became very prayerful, he said he is standing in the gap for both of us and indeed he prayed.
“I always heard him late at night crying out to God to remember us and make his wife happy. But I was done, I did not care. I even started planning adoption. My husband told me to find out all the necessary procedures and let him know. He was ready for it if it made me happy. However, I was quite busy that I postponed it all. Then in 2016, we were wed in a civil wedding. But after that, people talked!”
Seventh attempt: God Intervened
Many said that her husband had been bewitched; why would he marry someone who could not give him a child? “Through all that, my husband comforted me, advising me to only look at him and God.Then I conceived again; the seventh time. I was scared; what if the same thing happened again! But my husband assured me that it was going to be different as it was our season and I was going to be a mother,” Bukirwa reminisced. “Just be positive, dismiss any negative thoughts and relax,” he said.
Indeed, Bukirwa could relax. She had such an impressive supportive team. Her pastors prayed. The doctor said he was praying and believed that this time it was going to be successful. All her friends prayed even without telling her and on December 7, 2017, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
“When I was entering the theatre, my husband told me to come out as a mother and indeed, I came out as one. The emotions that I felt that day, I can never explain; I cried so much, I was speechless,” Bukirwa says with raw emotion, “I looked at this fragile little angel in my arms and thanked God. I could not believe it; I was finally a mother.”
Bukirwa got married at 19 and had failed to deliver a live baby until she was 35.
“Indeed, His timing is never late or early, just perfect,” she affirmed to the newspaper.
Bukirwa is forever thankful to her husband who never stopped believing, caring, loving and supporting her. “He never abandoned me, I admire his patience,” she smiled. She is also grateful for all the people that never ceased to pray for her, “My pastors; Pastor Mafabi and Pastor Robinson; even when I stopped going to church, would call and encourage me. My gynaecologists were Godsent. They gave all their time, would call just to check on me, treated me so well and stood by me through my tough times,” she pours her heart out.
Word of advice
“My encouragement to all men is that if your wife is not conceiving as early as anticipated, miscarrying or having still births, please do not look at her as cursed, that is the time they need you the most,” Bukirwa said, “Even if the whole clan is against her, she will not be afraid because you who matters the most is there for her. Pray together, receive counselling if necessary and love and support each other. For the women, pray, be positive, eat well, exercise and leave everything to God. Cry when you want to and be around positive people that can encourage you and move you forward.”
The Daily Monitor contributed to this article.