Keisha Robb-Foreman's journey through fibroids to fertility

All Woman

This is the first in a series of women's journeys to motherhood after suffering through pregnancy loss, and/or gynaecological issues that may affect fertility or complicate pregnancy. These include conditions like endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The aim of these stories is to raise awareness about female reproductive issues, and help women to identify when something is amiss, while serving as a beacon of hope for women with similar stories.

KEISHA Robb-Foreman was 28 years old when she found out that she had uterine fibroids. The young woman had always had very painful, heavy periods, but that year in particular, it seemed as if her symptoms were worsening. Her abdominal pains grew more intense, and her period became so heavy that she grew anxious about being in public.

“I had very bad bleeding situations where I would be at work and blood would be gushing down,” she shared with All Woman. “I went to the doctor and that was when I found out that I had fibroids. It was devastating for me.”

But at that point she did not have health insurance, and she anticipated that treatment would have been expensive. “I didn't know how I would deal with it so I just dealt with it every month when it came,” she said.

She endured her symptoms without much change until two years later when she was getting married. Because she did not want a dreadful period to ruin her wedding day as she walked down the aisle to be married to the love of her life, Robb-Foreman took an oral contraceptive for the first time in her life.

“I took the contraceptives just to delay my cycle for my wedding, but the following month I got very sick,” she recalled. “I remember being at home and was just on the floor throwing up. We rushed to the hospital and they told me that one of my fibroids was so big that it had degenerated…”

Uterine fibroids, which are abnormal growths made up of muscle tissue and fibres in or around a woman's uterus, degenerate when they outgrow their limited blood supply. Robb-Foreman was hospitalised for three days, but though she was in intense pain, they could not have removed the fibroids at that time because of how sensitive her body was.

“I lived with it for four more years,” she said. “My husband and I were trying to conceive during that time, but between dealing with the heavy periods and intense pain, it wasn't happening.”

In 2016 the couple saw a glimmer of hope. After changing jobs, Robb-Foreman finally had sufficient health insurance to evict her unwelcome womb tenant and make room for a baby.

“That's when I met obstetrician-gynaecologist Dr Jordan Hardie, and we decided to do the surgery. The fibroids were so huge that a myomectomy [operation to remove fibroids while preserving the uterus] was the only way to get rid of them.”

With the support of her husband, prayers of her church community, blood donations, and an expert team of doctors led by Dr Hardie, the surgery was successful.

“After the surgery, Dr Hardie encouraged us to try to get pregnant, because there was a possibility of the fibroids growing back over time,” she shared. “So we were trying, but it was so hard. Mentally we wanted to have a child, but it was frustrating after being married for so many years and it wasn't happening.”

Robb-Foreman was overjoyed in 2017 when she discovered that she was pregnant, but as fate would have it, that joy would not last beyond eight weeks.

“When I was almost eight weeks, I remember being at my parents' home and using the bathroom, and there was just a lot of blood. I was just constantly bleeding,” she remembered sorrowfully.

She called Dr Hardie, who calmed her down and encouraged her to get some rest. He knew that she was having a miscarriage which is not uncommon after a myomectomy.

“That was devastating, but the Lord brought me through,” she said emotionally. “Only the Lord knew how I felt. If God wasn't in my life, I don't know how I would have survived. Eventually I told myself that when the Lord was ready, it would happen.”

After making the conscious decision to stop trying to get pregnant again and instead just enjoy their marriage, the couple conceived again in April of 2018.

“It was just a delight!” she beamed. “During that period I was monitored a lot, but I had a beautiful pregnancy. I only threw up once in my first trimester, and it was only because I ate too many foods at once that didn't go well together. Because I had the myomectomy, I had to have a Caesarean section.”

“Dr Hardie delivered my baby boy, Janoah, on December 27, 2018,” the mother said happily. “I give God thanks for allowing me to conceive, and to finally experience what motherhood is about. Having a C-section was scary, but I have a great doctor and I know the Lord helped him.”

Now 39 years old, Robb-Foreman, along with her husband Dwayne, spends her days cheerfully helping her 18-month-old son to make sense of the world. She shared optimistically that she would gladly have another baby if God allows her to. For now she is counting her blessings — one of them being that her fibroids now seem to be under control.

“Based on my cycle, things have been normal since I had the baby,” she said. “No cramps whatsoever, and no significant change in terms of blood loss. I know it's God that allowed me to survive and to conceive. After dealing with fibroids for so many years, I know that there is hope for anybody.”

Can you relate to getting pregnant despite the odds? If you have had a baby after suffering pregnancy loss or gynaecological issues that affected your fertility, share your birth story with us and inspire others. Send e-mails to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com

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