I am A social Worker, no daubt about that, i am Author, i am working with young mother, I would like their stories to be heard and their faces to be seen: to portray teen mothers in their living and working environments, collect their testimonies and show the consequences of early pregnancy.
During interview with the young mother, she expressed her life story.
And the moment that I have been anticipating for days, months, and years even has come. I took a deep breath and pushed down my baby with own power while I followed my body. Before my breath finished, my first baby came sliding out of me and the next follows. While I exhaled, I quietly said that they are born. They put my twin into my arms even before cutting their umbilical cord. They were warm, wet, soft, and smelled sweet. They screamed joyfully, and I thanked them repeatedly for giving me this wonderful experience. The doctors and nurses were looking on at that remarkable moment when our twin joined my family, confused, happy, and teary eyed. They stared at us with questioning expressions because they had just watched a birth so vastly different from the fearful births they had witnessed in the past—fearfulness that resulted from the negative birth stories that have been handed down to women for years especially women who passed through difficult life and have eroded their confidence and power regarding birth. How had it come to this?
In the beginning of 2017, my father died, following the mother, who was deceased before, the elder sisters suggested that everyone was to start living on his or her own. Being the last born at the age of 18, I decided to come to kampala to look for some work to do. Later got a job as a maid; I only managed to work for few months since I was always suffering from a severe headache and brutality from my bosses. Later I went back to village where I met a man aged 23 who promised to take good care of me. I came to town with a man and lived together for one week. Later, I went to look for another job. After some few weeks i realized that, I missed my periods that I am pregnant, I went back to a man’s place to tell him about the news. The man denied the pregnancy and told me never to come back looking for him.
By that time, no jobs, and lost focus and hope, I started living on streets and in churches. I went to the village. Elder sisters got mad about the pregnancy and they advised to abort. I resisted, not killing the innocent baby, I was chased away from home,I felt that everything was over, no hope, no money, and no any assistance.
I went back to Kampala but no where to stay, I started living in churches like Christian life church of pastor Jackson Ssenyonga in Bwaise, and Miracle center cathedral of Pastor Robert Kayanja Lubaga where I was receiving some help from the volunteers.
So, the matter worsens, she went back to streets, sleeping on verandas, and tree shades for couple of weeks, she met a woman called Musawo Jane in Bwaise, she gave her tea and what to eat, she told a bodaboda rider to take her to Lubaga miracle center cathedral of Pastor Robert Kayanja, she spent their 2 weeks since they was still chased because it is prohibited to deliver from church, she went again back on streets.
I walked with my baby inside right from Lubaga heading where I don’t know, sometimes the sunshine and heavy rain barely hit, stopped on the church called worship house of pastor Wilson Bugembe, slept there one day, and heading to a health center called Kawempe Mulago where she stayed 5 days getting medicine and other post natal care for free, because I explained my story to doctor, he was touched and decided to help me for free. From there, I continued the Journey, walking while sleeping on people’s retail shops, petrol stations, verandas, and streets; I went back to Christian life church.
Forty weeks and 5 days into the pregnancy, my Twins and I were still together. In life I don’t wished anyone to live in, I felt their movements less now—they were smaller than they had been but stronger. My friends on streets, in churches, at least 20 people checking on me every day where I used to sleep on cement to ask when I will give birth and scaring me by saying things like, “What if something’s wrong with the baby?” no one among my brothers and sisters wanted to know about my life, My mother and Father up in the sky/heaven may be were watching and praying for me, and waiting impatiently for their first grandson, constantly saying, “It’s high time the baby made an appearance.” Because they used to say that when they are still alive, they loved me so much. I became so fed up, especially in the last 10 days of my pregnancy. I suggested to the close friends-to-be that they not tell anyone the approximate birth date to avoid similar experiences.
I made myself believe that my Twins would be born in the night, having heard somewhere that animals that sleep in the daytime birth in the night and vice versa (which seemed to show that privacy and protection are important in nature.) In the weeks and days leading up to my due date, I tried my best to go to sleep in people’s houses, or people’s veranders early every day so as not to be tired when I finally went into labor. I would fall asleep rubbing my abdomen and thinking, “Maybe I’ll smell you tonight babies.” But when morning came, I would wake to find my babies was still saying, “Good morning, mommy!” from my womb.
It was another such morning when I went to the toilet of one of good Samaritan and saw the first thrilling sign that the birth was finally going to happen. I had to go to nearby church to pray, There came a lady dressed well, totally in the same age group, she was from Pelletier teenage mothers foundation (PTMOF) it was the first sign that Miracle exists, and God is always there for the poor, she told me about the services they are offering, at first I was in fear of strangers but finally I trusted her since we met at the church.
She leads me to where she stay, I found older woman at home, to find that she was the mother of that lady I met, but I told them everything I passed through, then, after, they tried to link me to my older brothers and sisters who chased me, but all in vain, in the end, they sent me back to my Sister Called Namatovu Zaina to first deliver, then I will come back to acquire skills. Since the organization don’t accommodate mothers due to its little facilities.
Reaching to My Sisters home, Waves from my other sisters and brothers ordering my sister to chase me from her home, because I was pregnant at young age. Looking to the situation, at home, I developed feelings to escape from my sister’s home to go back to street. On the street, the contractions became more frequent. I put my hand on my abdomen and could feel uterine contractions, but they were not bothering me at all.
At around 2:00 a.m., I put my hand on my abdomen. Because of the stories of labor pains that I still had in my mind, however, I didn’t think they could be birth contractions. I went to church of Pastor Jackson Ssenyonaga.
While at the church, I suddenly felt nauseous and vomited I could sense an amazing cocktail of hormones flowing through my body. I had never felt so happy, energetic, and motivated. These were the last moments of my babies inside me, and I was enjoying it! I went to Mulago hospital. The on-duty doctor put a hand on my abdomen and said, “The contractions are severe. I think I should examine you.” I lay on the examination couch and he made a vaginal examination. The doctor told me that they are Twins! I said what!?
This is exactly what happened in my birth. Overcome by a sensation like the thrill you get at the moment you parachute off a mountainside and shout out with joy at the top of your voice, I screamed uncontrollably.
Realizing that the doctor, Mrs Alice from PTMOF was already in the house and the nurse were all staring at me in amazement, I told them, “Everything’s okay, don’t worry. There is no pain, just a sudden adrenaline rush. I settled myself back onto the bed and felt the urge to push. My body position was as straight as possible. I took a deep breath and pushed my first baby downward with all my power. “Push slowly,” my birth doctor warned me. “The baby’s coming too fast. After few minutes, I pushed the second baby! Doctor told me! Again “Push slowly,” I’ll have to do an episiotomy.” But I just could not slow myself down. In my terms, it was a natural birth throughout.
I was in a state of shock after the delivery, unable to believe my Twins was now in my arms. It was 3:15 a.m. Just 25 minutes had passed since I had gone into the delivery room. The birth was not the way some people had described it. It was totally painless, joyful, exciting, and quick. My Twins was so good, Looking healthy. At first, They greeted the world with loud screams, presumably because of the effects of the hormone cocktail, but they calmed down after they was cradled in my arms and heard me say, “Welcome, my Twins. I have been waiting for you for so long. I love you so much, do not cry.” They began looking around curiously with their eyes wide open. One named Wasswa Miracle and the other named Kato Favour.
From hospital, I came with Madam Alice at the centre, where I was given a room to look after my little young ones, as well as learning hairdressing to be equipped with skills. It is now a year living at Pelletier teenage mothers foundation, my twin’s looks very heathy and energetic, I am glad to be part of my new family.
I am thankfu for all the support. May God bless you!
After told me the story I Asked about her dreams, she mentions two things: she would love to raise her twins well, and be able one day to return to school. She cannot afford either.
Unfortunately every year the same tragedy touches thousands of Ugandan girls: 39% of women in Uganda under the age of 19 have already had a child or are pregnant. Most pregnancies are the result of rape or other sexual abuses, including survival sex. The consequences are extremely serious: school drop-outs, mental health problems, family and social rejection, forced marriage, domestic violence, increased poverty and children sent away as restavecs (a modern type of slavery). The impact is also considerable on the well-being and functioning of society as a whole.
Some time ago I started meeting women, young girls and older women, who became mothers much too early. I wanted to listen to their life stories and look into their eyes, which often say more than words.
These women are one of the reasons I came to Nansana Uganda and joined the mission. Being aware of the daily struggles of Ugandans is very important and motivational for my work.
I would like their stories to be heard and their faces to be seen by others as well, which is why I started the “My GIHAPOAF” project. The objective is to portray teen mothers in their living and working environments, collect their testimonies and show the consequences of early pregnancy.
I also ask women about their dreams. “These are usually very ‘ordinary’: return to school, have the family together, find a job, ensure a better future for their kids, stop being abused, be happy.”
I truly believe that we should, and can, strive to make these ‘ordinary’ dreams come true.