Grace Akello always wanted to become a midwife, but was forced to leave school when she became pregnant at 16 years old.
When her boyfriend, now husband, discovered she was pregnant, he took Grace from her parents’ home to live with him. This was their informal marriage arrangement.
Despite attending 3 antenatal visits, I did not know the signs of labor.
Labor began while Grace was out collecting firewood in the bush but she thought it was just the usual baby kicks.
The labor pain intensified and the next day, Grace’s sister-in-law called the traditional birth attendant. After administering herbal medicine and seeing no progress, the birth attendant recommended that she be taken to a health facility.
Without transportation, a neighbor helped Grace to the clinic where the doctors noticed the baby’s head was stuck. Grace finally managed to push a tired but live baby. In this rare instance, Grace’s baby survived; in 90% of births where a woman suffers a fistula, the baby is stillborn.
Grace was discharged, but 3 days later she discovered she was leaking urine. At first, she thought it must be what happens to every mother after giving birth. However, this leakage was not taken lightly by Grace’s in-laws. Like many fistula sufferers, Grace was abused and humiliated.
After 11 years of living with fistula, Grace finally received free surgery at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital in December.
Grace today is a happy woman with 3 healthy children.