I was 48 when I had my only child
Posted Saturday, March 9 2013 at 00:00
Affluent in politics and business, but without a child, one woman had lost all hope, until she had to get treatment for a discomfort in her belly. The now 49-year-old shares her experience, challenges and joy of bearing a child late in life.
Alice Kafooda, 49, is unquestionably one of the wealthiest women in Ntungamo Town with vast pieces of land, rental houses and produce stores. Also a well-known politician, she has been the FDC women’s league chairperson for Ntungamo District since 2006. Over the years, her charity work has endeared her to the people in her district. By last year, there were more than 15 children benefiting from her charity in form of school fees.
Until last year, however, Kafoda was also known for something else, something more dismal; she had failed to have children. For this, she was tormented more than she could be appreciated for her other achievements. So much so that she was driven out of her marital home in 1990 after about 10 years in marriage.
“I got married in 1981 in Ihunga, Kajara Ntungamo. I was, however, abused and despised by the whole family after it became apparent that I could not have children until it got so bad that I had to leave,” she recounts.
It was not any better at her parents’ home in Kabahambi, Ntungamo Municipality, where she ran to, as she was still despised. So, she left and busied herself with her businesses and politics.
And then last year on August 14, at precisely 10pm, when she was 48-years-old, Kafoda’s first and only child, a baby girl, weighing in at 3.8 kilogrammes, was born at Itojo Hospital in Ntungamo, by Caesarean Section.
“I named her Ruhangampeire, which means ‘God has given me’,” she explains. And along with this wonderful gift of a child that had eluded her for so long, was the baby’s father, Edward Muwanga. They had got together after her first marriage and had together, for the last nine years, searched high and low for a solution to the childlessness problem. To their daughter, Muwanga added a Kiganda name, Nasonko.
The price she paid for the late baby
Kafoda reveals that she had first conceived in 1993, but unfortunately miscarried, thrusting her into more hopelessness and resignation.
Her next pregnancy signs came when she was in police cells where she spent a week after she had been arrested and detained for participating in the Walk-to-Work protests on October 17, 2011.
“When I was in the cells, I developed a lot of pain. I thought I had been poisoned and I was going to die. Two days after leaving the cells, I developed contraction in the uterus,” she says. Kafoda also recalls that just before her imprisonment, she had bled unsually heavily through 2010 and 2011, a problem none of the doctors had managed to decipher. “It was disturbing that I was getting periods after I had started menopause. I was feeling a lot of pain, in addition to the heavy bleeding,” she narrates.
While most doctors recommended surgery to rid her of the uterus and with it the discomfort of her periods and pain that sometimes made her fail to walk or drive, one recommended a visit to renown gynaecologist, Dr Ssali Tamale. There, it was discovered that there was a swelling in her uterus, which was enlarging, hence the pain, and could have been what had blocked her eggs from moving into the womb from the fallopian tubes.
“I had an operation to remove the swelling, shortly before I was imprisoned,” she remembers. After being released, Kafoda returned to Dr Tamale to check on the pain in her tummy, only to be told she was two months pregnant.
It was joy after that, marred by the difficulty and risk of the pregnancy, on her and the unborn child. There was also the fact that the medication she had been prescribed after the surgery was not safe for the faetus, and Dr Ssali informed her that the baby could not survive. It did, except that at four months, her cervix threatened to open, which could have resulted in a miscarriage. A doctor sorted that out however but told her the baby would need to be born at seven months and incubated to relieve the pressure on the uterus, which was causing her a lot of pain.
“The pain continued to reduce, however, and I carried the pregnancy to term and delivered by Caesarean Section, as advised by the doctors. It had been a long journey and process but one worthy wait. Kafoda celebrated, along with the townsfolk, most of whom came to congratulate her. Of course, not without some speculation. “I hear all the mess and myths surrounding my giving birth, very many people do not agree that it was natural, but I had it the same way other women do it, I found the problem Doctors treated it and I was able to produce, it was not artificial. But you can never stop people from talking.” She says.
Her life has since changed, drawing her attention to the deficiencies in the government systems and a woman’s real plight. “Before I gave birth, I never knew the many problems women face, the child is hard to take care of, it is expensive and the government is not aiding the mothers. The child needs special attention, resources, time and courage,” she says.
She has otherwise adjusted her schedules, cutting back on business to look after her baby who today weighs 11kilograms and squeals happily when she hears her mother. It is joy in Kafoda’s house and her life could never be the same again.