The adage, ‘a woman can never be fulfilled without a child,’ was so true in the life of Julie Bukirwa. “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,” she believes.
Sixteen years ago, Bukirwa felt that emptiness. The pain; emotional rather than physical was her daily yet unwelcome companion, not to mention the indescribable depression.
“I have heard some barren women say that they crave to at least get a feeling of being pregnant and may be miscarry but my case was different,” Bukirwa narrates.
Almost doesn’t count
“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.
“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 shares. “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.”
Among the many painful miscarriages was an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in Bukirwa 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 says in a resigned manner, “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.”
Her response to those comfortimg words was, “How long must I wait?”
A long and painful wait
One of these miscarriages was so bad that Bukirwa almost died in labour.
“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.”
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 shares, “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.”
Out of patience
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 shares with tears streaming down her face.
“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 time lucky
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 reminisces. “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 affirms.
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 smiles. 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 says, “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.”
Causes of miscarriage
Although most causes of miscarriages are not known, the common predisposing factors are related to genetic abnormalities or birth defects that make it impossible for the baby to survive in the womb. A reduction in the human chronic gonadotrophic (HCG) hormone found in the uterus responsible for supporting the growing embryo can also cause miscarriage.
Doctors say structural abnormalities in the genital tract such as fibroids, emotional and physical problems such as trauma and domestic violence can also stimulate a miscarriage.
The risk of miscarrying is increased as a woman gets older, and it common among those above 35 years. It is also common among women with diabetes, hypertension, those with naturally weak uterus and among women who have had a previous history of miscarriage.