January 31st, 2015 marks a very important day in my life and that of my family. It is a day that God’s light shone on us (literally) during a very dark period. On this day, I had been prepared to accept that my baby; had very low chances of survival.
In the wee hours of the morning, I had an angelic visit. To me, it seemed to be Jesus Himself sitting by my bedside, touching my hand and telling me “Be still, for I am the Lord”. I woke up immediately and recalled this verse from the Bible.
I quickly reached for my Bible, opened the verse and read it out loud. I was surprised at how quickly I found it, because even though I knew it was written in the Holy Book, I had no idea which book it was in nor the chapter. It then occurred to me that He had truly visited me!!!
‘BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD; I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE HEATHEN, I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH.’ (Psalms 46:10)
This is my testimony. Hope it encourages someone who might be going through some challenges or who finds herself in a similar situation.
All this happened after a period of being subjected to complete hospital bed rest, lots of bleeding and pain, anxiety and stress. I was only 26 weeks pregnant with my second baby when it all began. I knew something was definitely wrong when the pregnancy felt so heavy that I found myself trying to support my tummy with my hands while walking. All I wanted to do was to lie down.
Then the bleeding came in gushes. I was rushed to Aga Khan Hospital Kisumu. At first the doctors tried to prolong my pregnancy. We were all praying for at least 28weeks gestation (at 28weeks, the prediction was that the baby’s lungs would have matured enough), but they soon realized that this was not going to be. The strategy then was to save my baby’s life outside the womb. I was injected with corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate to help speed up the development of my baby’s vital organs.
Being in Kisumu was a great disadvantage to us since they did not have the equipment necessary to handle cases of my magnitude. We were advised that I be airlifted to Nairobi as soon as possible. I was going to have my baby at 27 weeks instead of 40 weeks (13weeks early)!!! I had him on 31st Jan instead of 1st of May. This was expected to bring a lot of challenges for my family and most especially, my new born.
We had to charter Amref services plus hire two ambulances. One ambulance was to collect me from Agakhan Kisumu to the airport then the other from Wilson airport to Agakhan Nairobi. My other issue was that I could not leave my toddler son behind since my husband was out of the country. Thankfully, Amref agreed for my son to accompany me with the help of my brother in law, David.
Amref charter services were very expensive (If you are not insured by them). A one-way trip cost Kshs 385,000 ($ 3850), though I’m not sure whether that was inclusive of the cost of the two ambulances. We were in a desperate hurry to get me to Nairobi, so we agreed to it. It would later come as a shock to us that by the time we had completed the discharge process from Aga Khan Kisumu, it was already past 5pm. This meant that the Amref evacuation cost would double as in the evening, the cost escalates to around Kshs 770,000 ($7700).
At that point, all I had was my faith in God and I decided to wait and get to Nairobi the following day, January 31st. I thank God all went well, He sustained me amidst the pain throughout the night, and He even visited me to console me!!
I remember my brother-in- love David asking the doctor what happened if one could not afford such services. The doctor replied that they try to save the mother’s life as much as they can but unfortunately, they are never able to save most preterm babies. Even if the babies were born alive, their chances of survival would be very slim since the most important medication they need immediately after birth, SURFACTANT, was not available, not to mention the other medical facilities and equipment. That revelation struck a chord in me and changed my life forever.
Surfactant could only be found in Nairobi, with its order placed only after the birth of the baby. That was the longest Kisumu-Nairobi flight of my life. I ran out of oxygen severally along the way as the pains increased. Thankfully, I had three doctors on board. There was heavy traffic jam from Wilson airport in Nairobi, but the ambulance was quite efficient.
On arrival at the Aga Khan University Hospital, I found a team of doctors and nurses waiting for me. The scene was exactly like that of Baby Taurique (watch video-attach the video). It made me feel like I was grasping death by my claws yet I was very calm. I was ready for the battle ahead, or so I thought. In my mind, I was having a baby normally and no matter the outcome, I would love my baby. Whether he had disabilities or whatever challenges the doctors had prepared me for. These were challenges that are normally associated with preterm babies. In my heart, I knew I would still serve God, whether I lost my baby or not.
The doctors confirmed that I had progressed into full labor on arrival at the hospital in Nairobi. My baby was breeched, he was lying across in my tummy, meaning a normal birth delivery was nearly impossible. The other issue was that I was losing a lot of blood so they had to make plans for blood transfusion.
My doctors were very good as they wanted to avoid a caesarian delivery (CS) by all means. They said that chances that my baby would die were high and they did not want me to go through it all. I remember asking the doctor who was to carry out the CS that he should not come again to see me because I had faith in God that I would have a normal delivery.
They had me sign consent forms though in case of an emergency. Glory and Honor to God; neither did I have CS nor any blood transfusion. By the time I had dilated to 9cm, my baby had turned, he was born with the legs first though. They were dark purplish in color because of lack of oxygen.
They also confirmed to me that I was having a placental abruption of which 30% had already been detached from me. The diagnosis for placental abruption came after the baby and the placenta had been delivered. The placenta had clots and had turned dark in color partly; this was the reason for my bleeding the entire time.
My baby was also terribly underweight and would have had to be in the NICU and NHDU for months.
The scan had shown that he was to be around 800grams but he was born at 1.1kgs. That was a great miracle for us! During this period he could not breastfeed and was on oxygen support almost the entire time. There were times he contracted infections and was quarantined at times but he overcame all. Glory to God! But he got admitted again a number of times and has now cheated death five times to a point that I would almost give up and tell God to let His Will be done. My baby stayed in NICU and in NHDU for around 77days. He was discharged weighing 2.2kgs.
One week, after the initial discharge, I woke up at around 1am to check on him. I found him turned blue-black. I been taught how to check on the oxygen saturation level by checking the lips, hands and feet. He was not responsive at all. I called my brother-in- love Sam and his wife Lucy who lived five minutes away. When they arrived, there was no time even to rush him to the hospital. Lucy requested me to hand the baby over to her while Sam asked me for a bible. We all engaged in prayers, by the time we said AMEN, baby Gueth was sleeping soundly and his lips, hands and feet were pinkish again. (I don’t know if I prayed at all or was just responding ‘an amen’). I witnessed a miracle that night!
They taught me how to pray for my baby using “PSALMS 91.” He contracted pneumonia on three different occasions, after the initial discharge. This also encouraged me to learn a lot about pneumonia as initially I was filled with lots of guilt that it was my fault. I thought I did not keep him warm enough only to learn that there are other factors that can lead to pneumonia. But each time, God gave him back to me; to us. Today he weighs over 15kgs; he is a happy, healthy and very intelligent boy, a true testimony of God at work. His developmental milestones are on track and sometimes even ahead. His heart was confirmed to be in perfect condition, this was after initial tests revealed an opening in his heart. We did an Echo (heart) test twice and both times, the opening was confirmed. We were then scheduled for heart surgery in November 2015.
Miraculously, come November, the opening in his heart was no more. God had sealed it completely. His brain development so far is healthy and normal. He experienced acute reflux (vomiting condition) which greatly disturbed him throughout the first three years but has since subsided. He is able to retain his feed nowadays, unlike before when I would feed him only for him to throw up the entire content. He has had bouts of cough that affected him, but thankfully we have also been able to apply nebulization technique at home to help him. We no longer use the nebulizer nowadays. During all this time, everything had a toll on my first boy and he lost a lot of weight and became very sick as well.
At one point, he was to be admitted in NHDU while the youngest was in NICU. The doctors did all manner of tests on him. He was later found to have very large adenoids and acute bronchitis. We were forced to fly him to Abu Dhabi for treatment. The separation from both my babies was a torture. I had to commute daily to the hospital to be with my youngest, while my eldest was in a hospital out of the country where I could not reach him. My husband was away too at work in another country. My family was broken. We were all apart at a time we needed to be together the most. I give thanks to my sister Ruby. She sacrificed everything to be with my eldest son while he was recuperating. I truly experienced and saw God’s grace literally being sufficient. It was no longer just a bible verse for me, but a reality, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness,’ 2 Corinthians 12:9.
I am forever in awe of my God and Savior. He is a faithful and loving God. In Him, there is life and His blessings do not add any sorrow. Thank you Jesus Christ for your provision spiritually, physically and financially. My prayer goes to all who may be experiencing challenges in life, especially to those moms who are having difficulties with conception, pregnancy, and child bearing and rearing. May God grant you your heart’s desire. May you have total faith in Him and just be still and know that He is God. His timing is the best.
To the preemie mums that we bonded with in hospital, I am forever grateful. We cried together, ate together, held each other’s hands in support and solidarity. Some of us lost our babies, while we lost some mums. Yet we still stood strong and had hope in the Lord. May He always see you through in all your endeavors. To all who had and lost, may God cause you to hold other babies again like He did to Job in the Bible. (To the moms in the Preemie Heroes group, keep on encouraging one another. Thank you all for the support, I love you all).
And to all the medical team at Agakhan and worldwide, thank you so much. You are all doing extraordinary works. May God continue guiding and blessing all those dedicated to fighting for the lives of these fragile but mighty babies and the other sick people.
To my family members and friends, thank you all for all the prayers, love and support we received. God bless you always.
POST PARTUM DEPRESSION
Despite going through all this with Jesus by my side, at some point later, I got overwhelmed while taking care of my preemie at home, I lost it and fell into depression. I stopped walking with the Lord and that was why I fell into the enemy’s hand. I only realized one day, a year later, that I was depressed after coming across an article on depression.
I was experiencing all the symptoms listed. I was so unhappy and could not place it. My husband tried all he knew, in vain. All he had left was to commit me in prayers. I never went to church, and rarely left the house even to visit friends. I kept to myself mostly, this was because we avoided visitors as much as we could. Any contamination, was a reason for us to rush back to the hospital. I thank God for good family friends who would always visit me and follow the hygiene protocol in my home.
One day I came across a preaching message on Youtube by Mummy Faith Oyedepo and that was my turning point and my healing from depression. Then I enquired from God to know my purpose in life. I listened a lot to Bishop Oyedepo’s, Dr. Mensa Otabil’s and Dr. Myles Munroe’s teachings on Vision, Purpose and Pursuit. Then I was led into prayers with fasting – Dr Myles has a very clear-cut guidelines on YouTube on how to pray and fast. It was my first time fasting ever! This led to the birth of Preemies Africa then, now Preemie Heroes.
Initially, it was Preemies Kenya, but God expanded it to Preemies Africa. We have cureently changed our name to Preemie Heroes. When God revealed to me my purpose in life, I began to research on premature childbirth in Kenya. The statistics I got were disheartening. The fact is that majority of families cannot afford prematurity childbirth worldwide. It is an expensive affair. Prematurity childbirth can happen to anyone, no specific known cause has been identified as per the research and the worst part is, it occurs to most families when they least expect it. (My first born was born a late preterm, while my youngest was an extreme preterm.)
When a woman conceives, she expects to carry the baby for 9 months and deliver a healthy normal baby. This therefore finds most families less prepared financially and psychologically. The total medical cost of my youngest son stood at around Kshs 4M. I remembered what one doctor had told me that they try to save the mothers’ lives in most cases but sadly they lose the babies because of the cost involved and lack of adequate facilities.
As per the last report from the Ministry of Health, Kenya loses 26 preemies daily. 8,303 die within their first month of life every year. 188,900 is the number of preterm babies born in Kenya in 2015. Out of very eight children born, one is a preterm.
My fellow Kenyans, and Africa at large. It is possible to save the lives of these precious little angels. Why is it that according to statistics;
- More than 60% preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia?
- 12% of babies are born too early in the lower income countries as compared to 9% in the higher income countries?
- Why is there a dramatic difference in survival of premature babies depending on where they are born? 90% of extremely preterm babies (<28weeks) born in low income countries die within the first few days of birth of life. Yet less than 10% of babies of this gestation die in high income countries setting?
Prematurity Childbirth is the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age; 1 Million deaths in 2015 (WH0). In countries with reliable data, preterm birth rates are increasing. Three quarters of these deaths can be prevented.
Suboptimal use of technology in middle income settings is causing an increased burden of disability among the preterm babies who survive the neonatal period (WHO). At Preemie Heroes, we will stand in the gap and ensure that our preemies get access to these technologies too, especially the so deemed expensive incubators!
God gave me a revelation which I hold dear to my heart, from the book of Isaiah 65;20 Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days. Or an old man who does not live out his years, he who dies at a hundred will be considered accursed. By the Grace of God, no more preemies will die at an early age in Jesus name.
‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.’ He will indeed be exalted!
Our Vision is to build a First Class Affordable Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Hospital. Our Mission is to improve the survival rates of preemies and lower the numbers of preemies born in Africa by raising awareness amongst all the stakeholders through advocacy, resource mobilization and capacity building.
Everything is possible. God is on our side (Matthew 19:26). Please join hands to support and walk with Preemie Heroes to save these lives and bridge the gap. It is high time we make Africa to arise!!
We invite you to kindly like, follow and share our page and articles @PreemieHeroes on the social media. We are an upcoming organization and therefore still putting a lot together, we seek for all forms of support including donation of baby items to give to preemie families in need.
Thank you for taking your precious time to read this.
God bless you all.Follow us