I was four when my parents discovered that my genotype is SS. As an adolescent growing up with Sickle Cell Disease, finding a man that would marry me was my greatest worry. I met my husband in 2007 after the completion of my first degree. I confirmed that his genotype is AA before I became committed. At the start, he did not know about my health status because though I was rather skinny, I looked fairly healthy. Then one day, he noticed the jaundice in my eyeballs. I told him the truth about my health, fearing he would back out. He did not.
Marriage and Pregnancy
We got married in November 2010. By January 2011, I became pregnant with a set of twins. I registered at Hosanna Specialist Hospital, a private hospital in Ilaro, Ogun State, Nigeria. Everything was fine until I was about 27 weeks gone. I became very jaundiced; my eyeballs were a very deep shade of yellow, almost green. No matter how much water I drank, my urine remained the colour of Coke. I was placed on a high dose of Flagyl IV. My PCV kept on dropping. I was transfused again and again but my PCV never rose beyond 20%. I was in that private hospital for almost a week before I was moved to the General Hospital of the same town. I received ten blood transfusions within three weeks.
Severe Bone Pain Crises, Miscarriages
I later developed bone pain crises. The pain was so excruciating. No injection seemed strong enough to take care of the pain until one of the doctors gave me Diclofenac. I found it very effective, and I was given more doses of Diclofenac. The plan was to keep me till around 35 weeks when the babies' lungs would have developed enough, so that I could have a C-section, but at 32 weeks, scan revealed that one of the babies was no longer alive. I was referred immediately to Federal Medical Center Abeokuta. I got there in the evening on Friday, 12 August 2011. Several tests were carried out and the doctors concluded that a C-section was not good for me at the time as my blood might not clot. Labour was therefore induced on Saturday evening. It was a terrible experience. I had the babies around 6 am on Sunday morning. The dead baby, a girl, weighed 1.8kg while the living baby, a boy weighed 2.2kg. They took the living baby to the Neonatal Unit but news came to me the third day that he too had passed on. I got pregnant again early 2012 and had a miscarriage, which was accompanied by an episode of bone pain. I can never find the right words to describe that pain. It was the most painful crisis I had ever had. From Queens Hospital Ilaro, I was transferred to Federal Medical Centre at Abeokuta again.
More Blood Transfusion, More Miscarriages
I was on a high dose of codeine. My PCV kept on reading 18%. Doctors kept transfusing me with fresh AA blood. My husband was the first to donate for me. Then we bought more blood. The pain subsided after two weeks and I returned home. Then I had more and more miscarriages up to the seventh time. Each time I had a miscarriage, it was accompanied by an episode of bone pain that kept me bedridden for weeks. I grew to be more afraid of the attending bone pain than the loss of a baby. None of the gynecologists I consulted could identify the cause of the miscarriages. Each time I got pregnant, I was on total bed rest in the hospital. My husband is a very caring man. He helps with house chores, whether or not I am pregnant.
A Break From Pregnancy, Pregnancy Again
I had the seventh miscarriage on14th February, 2014. Then I decided to take a break. I wanted to do something valuable with my life, so I returned to school in pursuit of a higher degree. I was on the verge of defending my Masters dissertation in July 2015 when I discovered that I was pregnant again. My gynecologist confined me to bed. My academic programme was halted. At Week 6 I started spotting. My gynecologist placed me on progesterone. I took one pessary per day, yet I continued to spot.The following week, I developed bone pain crisis that lasted for two weeks. I was treated with pentazozine injections. The spotting continued. I went for scan almost on a daily basis to check fetal well being (FWB) and each time scan revealed that the babies were fine. It was another set of twins (two girls).
One night, when the pregnancy was 11 weeks old, I discovered water gushing out of my body. I called my doctor who hastened downstairs. (He runs the hospital downstairs and lives upstairs). He and the nurses stood beside me and watched me cry. I think he called it rupture of the membrane. He said there was nothing he could do about it. He said such an occurrence is unusual in the first trimester. The next day, I went for a scan, which revealed that the amniotic fluid was adequate. My doctor was not satisfied. He wanted to know whether the babies were sharing the same sack or were in different sacks and to know from which of the sacks the water escaped. So, he sent me for another scan in another place. The result revealed that there were two sacks and liquid was adequate in both sacks. Since we could not be too careful, at the 13th week I had a prophylactic cerclarge. Two weeks later, I was discharged. I reported at the hospital twice a week. My doctor moved me to the Federal Medical Center, Abeokuta at 29 weeks. Though I took ugwu (a local herbal blood-builder) and milk on a daily bases, my PCV remained very low. I was transfused thrice. Sometimes, I became so anaemic I couldn't breathe. I was placed on oxygen. I was given a chart to record fetal kicks, I noticed a drastic reduction in fetal kicks between Saturday and Sunday 30th and 31st January 2016. On Monday 1st February, during the ward round, I showed the chart to the team of doctors. Dr Seyi Adebayo, my consultant, was the leader of the team. They immediately brought a bed side scanner which revealed cardiac activity in only one baby (Twin 2).
They couldn't discover cardiac activity in the other baby which meant that she was no longer living. I was sent for another scan, which revealed that only Twin 2 was alive. They had to rescue that baby fast. The pregnancy was 32 weeks and four days at the time. My husband and parents were not around. They had gone in search of money. (We were almost street-begging, as we had spent over NI million).
Coke Bottle Baby
At the ICU, I asked one of my doctor friends to go to the Neonatal Unit (NNU) and take a picture of my baby. I was pleased with the result not knowing that he had magnified the picture, because in truth the baby was no bigger than a bottle of Coke; she weighed a paltry 1.1 kg. When I went to the NNU the fourth day to see my baby, I couldn't believe my eyes. I had never seen a newborn that small in all my life. Though I expected that she would be small, my baby's size shocked me beyond words. She was in the incubator and was on breathing on oxygen as her lungs were not mature. On the eighth day, her dad and I went to her incubator side and christened her Princess Oluwayanmife Moset'Oba Oladejo.
Home At Last
On the 11th March 2016, Oluwayanmife was discharged at 1.6kg. My baby has since been growing well. She is physically and mentally agile. She eats and plays a lot. She only cries when she is hungry or when she wants to play with you and you are too busy to engage with her. I am the proudest mum on earth.