In her young life, Janet Wanjiku, 30, has gone through an illegal abortion and health-related pregnancy terminations. This mother of one, turned pro-life champion, started a ministry – Precious Pearls – to help young women avoid the path she took to end up in her situation. She shares her experience with FAITH MURIGU.
Janet Wanjiku, the third born in a family of five, was born and raised in Nairobi. She describes her childhood as a very happy one, where strong Christian values were instilled on her from a tender age. “I grew up in a close-knit family with very loving, caring and protective parents who taught us the fear of the Lord,” says Janet.
After completing her secondary school in 2000, Janet enrolled at the Kenya Christian Industrial Training Institute (KCITI) for a Computer Science diploma before taking another diploma in Public Relations at the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS). She was lucky to get a job as a customer care executive in an Information Technology firm in Nairobi in 2003 soon after her graduation.
“Longing for my independence now that I had a salary, I moved from home to my own apartment. I enjoyed my job and independence, and life was good. Not long after moving from home, I met a man who professed his love for me and in 2005 we moved in together,” Janet shares the genesis of her agonising experiences.
Before long Janet became pregnant and to her shock her boyfriend walked out on her. “After disappearing for two months, he reappeared to tell me that he was not ready to be a father. I felt cheated and was greatly hurt. Feelings of shame and embarrassment engulfed me and I regretted letting my parents down despite the values they had instilled in me,” explains Janet.
Janet agonised over prospects of bringing up a child alone. Confused and not knowing which direction to take, she consulted a friend who told her she was too young to be a mother and advised her to get rid of the pregnancy.
“My friend referred me to a clinic in Nairobi that offered abortions. The clinic told me it would cost Ksh7000. I told my boyfriend the route I wanted to take and he promptly sent the money. I was about three months pregnant at the time. Having an abortion meant my parents would never know about the pregnancy, which was a great relief for me,” says Janet.
The ugly scars of abortion…
One morning in December 2005, Janet, accompanied by her friend went to the clinic. To her dismay, there were several pregnant high school students and young teenagers at the reception waiting for their turn to have their pregnancies terminated. Some were in the company of adults and others what seemingly appeared like their boyfriends.
I was very nervous as the doctor ushered me to a room in readiness for the procedure. My greatest fear was getting complications from the procedure. The doctor assured me everything would be over in 20 minutes and the healing would take a short time. The whole process was horrendously painful as it was done without any anesthesia, but I persevered. When it was over, I was given some medication to prevent infection. Back home, I continued bleeding profusely and could not even leave the house. I took sick leave from work and was lucky to have my friend take care of me. She also bought me iron supplements to curb anaemia because of the heavy bleeding.
It was our family tradition to celebrate Christmas together and the first time I got out of my house was to travel to my parents’ home in Nairobi to join other family members. While my siblings and other family members enjoyed themselves, I was buried in self-pity, regret, guilt and shame of what I had done. I was unknowingly sinking into depression and my mother could tell I was withdrawn.
As if reading my mind, she came to me and said ‘Are you okay Janet? Could you be pregnant? If you are, you don’t have to condemn yourself. We shall support you.’ “Her words pierced my heart like a sharp sword. I was surprised she could be so much on the spot with her guesswork. Of course I told her I wasn’t pregnant but just tired,” recalls Janet, adding that she cried her heart out when her mother left the room. “I hated myself for not trusting my parents enough to tell them the truth. I felt worthless and wished I could die,” she adds.
“I was wrong to think abortion was just as easy as getting rid of a pregnancy. It affects you psychologically more than physically. Back in my house after Christmas, I was going insane. I would wake up in the middle of a nightmare of crying babies. I lost self-confidence, became fearful and easily irritated, and depressed most of the time. When I resumed work, I turned to alcohol to suppress my feelings and cope,” Janet says.
Then an ectopic pregnancy…
“The desire to have a child to replace the one I ‘killed’ became an obsession. We reconciled with my boyfriend after the abortion and continued living together. Then in 2006, I became pregnant again. This time I was determined to keep the baby, whether my boyfriend supported me or not. Then one night I woke up with severe abdominal cramps and felt a lot of pain when passing urine. I was also bleeding. I saw a doctor who told me I had an ectopic pregnancy (the pregnancy was developing outside the womb) and needed an emergency operation,” Janet continues with her story of great pain.
“Losing another child – a child I wanted to keep so much – was unbearable. I sank deeper into depression and was constantly on anti-depressants. I developed ulcers and my health was on a downhill path. My only prayer to God was to give me a child. I conceived again in 2008 and this time the pregnancy was problem free and I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. My joy and happiness knew no bounds. I now felt there was a chance to recover from the abortion and the ectopic pregnancy,” says Janet.
Then she became pregnant again in 2009, while in the middle of sorting out her contraceptives. This time she was not so lucky as she started bleeding in the early weeks of the pregnancy and it had to be terminated. Memories of the abortion and other lost pregnancy flooded back and she felt God was punishing her for her sins. In deep agony and repentance, she turned to Christ and dedicated her life to God. She broke up with her boyfriend, as she wanted to leave the past behind and start a new life. She also resigned from her job to dedicate her life to Precious Pearls, a ministry devoted to teaching teenagers and high school students on issues of abstinence, teen pregnancy, drug abuse and abortion. Janet visits schools and churches where she engages young people on these touchy issues and she says the response is always amazing.
Janet recalls being invited to one of the public universities in 2011 to engage with the students, as the university health services were concerned about the high rate of abortions amongst the students. They recorded about 42 abortions each month. “From about 70 women who attended the meeting, about 30 of them had had an abortion more than once,” Janet talks about the shocking revelation.
Precious Pearls has been actively involved in mentoring, counseling and providing information to the youth on sexuality and sexual health. Lack of accurate information is the main reason many young girls end up with unwanted pregnancies. Janet says young girls in schools and universities are struggling with a myriad or problems.
“Pornography, homosexuality, indiscriminate sexual activities, masturbation and abortion are common in many schools and the sad thing is that most parents are not aware of the challenges facing their children. My ministry conducts empowerment seminars and camps during the school holidays to help young girls on character development and behaviour change,” says Janet.
Consequences of abortion…
“My worst experience of abortion was its after-effects, when I struggled with guilt, shame and regret. God connected me with a couple who helped me overcome these feelings through prayers and counseling,” Janet says.
Abortion also has many consequences on a woman’s health and some end up barren if the procedure goes wrong. Infection is also a major problem and one of the causes of ectopic pregnancy if the Fallopian tubes are blocked by an infection. While abortion is illegal in this country, unless on medical grounds, many abortions still happen in backstreet, as well as registered clinics and people like Janet have decided to talk about it and not bury their heads in the sand. Janet hopes to reach and touch many young women through Precious Pearls. This is now her full vocation as well as taking care of her young son.
Symptoms of abortion…
According to Silent Scream.org, women who have had an abortion are almost always said to experience some or many of the following symptoms:
Bondage to shame and guilt.
Nightmares relating to the abortion.
Feeling that God would never forgive them.
Depression, which can lead to suicide.
Self-hatred for allowing themselves to carry out an abortion.
Flashbacks and even hearing sounds of children crying.
Obsessive desire to have another baby to replace the aborted child.
Inability to form a true loving bond with her other children.
You can reach Janet through:
Cell: 0717-178201 or 0708194330
Published in November 2012