When Justine Nasimbwa and Anthony Mutyaba received the news that they were expecting a baby, they could not contain their excitement.
But on October 4, their excitement was cut short when they mysteriously lost the six-month pregnancy. “I have seen premature babies survive. Couldn’t my firstborn has been rescued by doctors?” she asks, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“On October 4, I started feeling a lot of pain. I felt like my six-month unborn baby wanted to come out. A neighbour rushed me to Medical Chambers in Wandegeya. Here, a nurse told us that my cervix was open and she could not manage me.
She advised my caretaker to rush me to a nearby hospital. My neighbour decided to rush me to Case Hospital on Bombo Road. We reached Case Medical Centre at around 12:00 am. I explained to the nurse that my cervix was open and I was in pain. I was given painkillers and admitted.
The following day, Dr Ssekilime came to check on me. He asked me whether I had sh700,000. I called my husband immediately to find out whether he had the money. When he confirmed that he had it, the doctor asked the nurse to organise the theatre for the operation.
On my way to the theatre, I was coughing and bleeding. When the doctor saw the blood, he told me he could not do the operation. Instead, he advised me to go to the maternity ward and give birth because the baby was 4.5cm nearby. I was feeling the baby move. The doctor told me that the cervix was weak and very wide.
At about 5:00 pm, I delivered a baby boy. I touched my baby and he was warm. I called my husband and then blacked out.
At around 5:00 pm, as I was doing shopping for my baby, I received a call from the hospital asking me to carry enough bedsheets because I had lost the baby. I immediately called my family.
In Buganda, if a premature baby dies, it has to be buried that day. So they told me to hurry and pick the body for burial. At 9:00 pm, I was given the baby wrapped in three pairs of sheets and sealed with masking tape.
Since my wife was not going to be part of the burial ceremony, I asked her to say farewell to the baby by placing a bed sheet on it. I picked my mother up from town and we headed to Nabinonya for burial.
At about 11:00 pm, we reached the burial grounds. According to tradition, the burial of such babies is done by women who cannot give birth again, so I stayed in the car and left my mother and her friends to go for the burial.
My mother said she also wanted to wrap a sheet around the baby to say farewell to it. When she removed the masking tape, the baby cried and moved.
Everyone made noise and they called me to start the car so we could rush the baby to Kisubi Hospital. When we reached Kisubi, the doctors told us that they could not do much. They asked for sh80,000 for an ambulance to rush the baby to Nsambya or Mulago Hospital.
When we got to Nsambya, the baby was taken to the nursery. I was the only person allowed inside. The doctors looked for its veins and put it on a drip. I did not sleep, I spent the entire night looking at my sweet baby.
In the morning, I saw him struggling to breathe and move. I called the nurse to have a look at him. When she came, she said his respiratory system was weak. She asked me whether I had a name for him. We called him Michael.
Despite the health workers’ efforts, the baby passed on. I cleared the bills and they gave me the body. We went back where we were supposed to bury it the previous night. I am still in pain that Case Medical Centre’s doctors wanted me to bury my child when it was still alive.
Maybe if my baby was put in an incubator, it would have survived. Why didn’t they give me a death certificate if my baby was dead? They would have told me that my child’s chances of surviving were minimal instead of claiming he was already dead.
When my wife was discharged, the medical form from Case Medical Centre read “an inevitable abortion”.