The stinking woman

I had become familiar with this stench overtime following the birth of Jakwe. So had the people around me. They now walked with their faces contorted in disgust and noses turned away I’m assuming to take in one deep breathe so they couldn’t suffocate when addressing me. My husband was not an exception. His disgust was like a constant reminder of how I got here. How I did not choose to be this woman. The stinking woman. The woman who smelled of urine. Was this the price I had to pay for bringing a life into the world?

Jakwe sure made my labor and delivery memorable and excruciatingly painful as she was a large baby as the nurse with the cold eyes and distant voice had put it. I’m not certain whether she was a nurse but her full figure and motherly blossom only confirmed my bias.

She had been kind and chirpy when my husband and I got there earlier that evening but I guess there’s something a long night and a room full of women in anguish does to you. Exhaustion sets in and the jolly self floats away leaving the fatigued, hungry and vexed you. She had become somber and more difficult to talk to. It was almost 3 a.m. And that was the least of my worries. This baby had to come out one way or another so I did what every woman is expected to do during birthing – I pushed and pushed and pushed.

I cannot remember what happened first. Jakwe popping out of me and crying, her cry made me overly sensitive and in that moment I understood what the big fuss about being a mother was, or the pain between my legs which could have been anywhere, right? I had just delivered. My uterus was barely contracting and my vagina, well, my vagina was on fire.

We visited a doctor in Okechu after Jobu and I realized that i was soaked in urine everytime I was pressed and when I did pee, I did not see my pee come out from the usual orifice. This worried me. How was I going to conduct my daily activities? Was I going to start wearing a pamper at my age? Hell to the no. That’s when I asked my husband Jobu to accompany me to the clinic and as I lay there, legs spread and the doctor poking my insides, I wondered what he was looking for and what would happen if he found it.

You have a Vesicovaginal fistula otherwise called VVF.

The doctor calmly said while maintaining eye contact.

I was confused. I’d heard that abbreviation before but never knew what it meant. He went on ahead to explain to me and made it clear that it was a not an uncommon occurrence in women following birth.

If it was so common, why wasn’t I well informed about it? I wondered silently.

I will book you in for surgery to be done during the upcoming VVF free camp to be held at our facility, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching & Referral hospital next week. You’re lucky, he added.

As we walked away, my mind kept drifting to the other women before me who hadn’t been so lucky. What about them?


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