Three ingredients…

If you would ask me if I constantly enjoy the feeling of being a mother, I would to your utmost and unexpected blow and horror say no. It’s not that I don’t love my daughter or that I don’t intend to have more kids. Not that it’s not exciting to go home to a bubbly baby to sooth the remnants of my tough day at work or watch her knock herself out with the most minute of things. It’s not that she doesn’t rock my world with her genuine laughs or that she makes me young with the games we play. No.

It’s not easy to have another life depend on me. When I had her, my doctor deposited her in my arms before I could say ‘Fillet’. I’d felt a pang of fear engulf me at the thought of being a mother. Had the doctor given me a chance, I would have asked him to give me a few years to prepare myself psychologically. Yes, (thoughtfully) a few years would do it because the nine months I had been with child had been a drop in the ocean. Again, yes. Please shut your surprised mouth now. No matter how much I thought I had prepared myself, I still felt strange when reality checked in. I was terribly confused; I didn’t exactly figure where to start especially this, being my first time and all. Luckily I got used to it.

There are three major ingredients of motherhood, the first being love. This came in the moment I conceived. I loved her even when I had no idea what she looked like, even when I had no bump yet. I felt a sense of defence and promised to protect her with my life. My love grew with the bump. Her every shift was an honour and we played even while the most I could do was feel her. I’d talk to her and pray with her, even introduce her to things around us. I felt her movements the most when I’d lay down to rest. I was almost sure she felt it whenever I was at peace.

Then I gave birth to her and my love for her multiplied. Scared as I was to finally meet her I loved her to bits. She was tiny and helpless. Her head was heavy and her limbs folded softly into a soft comfort position. It was enough to make my heart melt. She relaxed whenever I held her in my arms and moved toward the direction of my voice. I knew instantly that I was an important person to her, to her daddy, and to the society. That is where my task began.

The second ingredient came in shortly-Care. I was tasked with the obligation to make sure another human being was fully comfortable. She’d cry and I’d get confused not knowing what to check first. Thank God for ‘New Mom’ books as they made me learn that there are three reasons babies cry when they are not sick; wetness, hunger and sleep. That made it easy for me to work my way around… at least untill one day when I did all that but she couldn’t stop crying. Oh, so I realised I was not supposed to take in stress lest I wouldn’t produce enough milk! Crap!

So with this responsibility weighing squarely on my shoulder, I had to work harder to endow her with the best we could get. I had to rally round her daddy to make more money. We would rather eat left over food than watch our baby struggle to survive.

Worry is the third and most comfortable ingredient. This is what led me to write this piece today. Since I had her, I have been watching this girl’s every move and react quickly with every whimper. I worry that she could fall badly when playing and I worry that while at work my house help could mistreat her or that she could feed her with lots of piriton tablets so that when she sleeps, she can take her domestic tours around. I worry that she could get sick. I worry when she chokes even on water. I worry when she sleeps when petrified and I wake up at night to feel her breath and to make sure she isn’t having any nightmares. I call home umpteen times a day to talk to her. I fret more when my heart skips a bit and my house help is unreachable. That kills me.

Mine is just a letter in a sentence. I know many women who struggle in marriages but hung in the there because they worry about their children’s future. Mothers worry about their children when they travel and even when they get married. They worry that they may get hurt in relationships and even when they take too long without communicating.

This ingredient is the most agonizing and I have already accepted the fact that I will worry for ever. I worry till I’m called paranoid, then I start getting worried that I could indeed be paranoid. The minute you become a mother, if you are not, you will know the depth of my plight. Meantime, it’s about time I call home again to check on my girl.

Bundle of joy

Baby pesh with daddy

That morning I woke up feeling unusually tired. I had been packing my hospital bag little by little the last one week and it had only been two days since I’d had the horrific false labor and I wanted to be prepared just in case it was time. That day, my mum-in law (a very special woman in my life) offered to take me to hospital when I woke up.  She had heard my wails despite the distance between the main house and my husband’s SQ…(My husband is the lastborn in the family and still lived in the family house). Being the first son to bring a grandchild into the family, my baby’s arrival was impatiently awaited.

Rompers, check, shawl, Check, Diapers, Check….changing clothes for me, check. Crap! I realized I hadn’t bought tooth paste, a brush and some soap. Tired as I felt I had lost confidence in leaving the house, but I loved walking so I called my brother and he agreed to walk me to the nearest convenient store. I bought the stuff and quickly returned to the house. Evening came and I still didn’t feel settled. Agitated I kept checking my bags, cleaned my lesos and walked around the house looking for something to occupy myself with. 

Suddenly, my plug flushed out and I rushed straight to the bathroom. I knew it! This uneasiness wasn’t uncalled for. What mom told me to look out for was here and I knew Baby’s arrival would be soon. I was due in 6 days but alas, not even doctors can be exact with dates!

Labor pains were progressively increasing and pacing up and down the house wasn’t doing me any good. I thought to call my sister in-law for last advise. She works in a hospital and has 3 kids. Clearly, she must know something! I thought to myself. “Start counting the minutes between the contractions.” She advised. “They usually start from 30minutes, count them down to 7minutes, and then go to hospital. I began counting…crap! They were spacing the 7 ‘f’ing minutes already! I got very anxious and poured myself a second cup of tea (I love my tea. Still do) then I called my mom. I continued pacing the house. Justin, my husband was in class. He was doing his final semester and we had agreed that I’d call him in case Baby decided to check in so we would meet at the hospital.

We rushed to hospital, though I wasn’t in a hurry myself. My mom and mom-in law were. I kept wondering how this whole experience would change my life and wasn’t sure I was ready to be a mother. I wished, for a moment, that I’d go back home and continue being pregnant till, well till I was ready. But baby didn’t care if I was ready or not. It was ready to meet me. My moms checked on me frequently as I sat uncomfortable in the back seat. I would cringe in pain and get lost in it while they listened in silence, till the pain subsided. Mom-in law was driving.

Soon I was walking into the labor ward where I was warmly welcomed by the painful cries of other to-be mothers, most of which were screams of actual delivery. This would be confirmed as the screams would die immediately a new born would begin to wail. Other pregnant women walked around aimlessly as their labor pains would mysteriously disappear after their arrival at the hospital. One asked me for a Nokia charger, which I didn’t have, and she marched out and into the next room. My two moms strangely reacted differently to my now very painful contractions. Mom-in law looked like she was in worse pain than I was. I could see her face fold till her eyes closed and she would then beg me to hang in there..I wondered how she managed four rounds of merciless torture. My other mom also went the four rounds and she looked the part. She didn’t look the least pitiful and to some point, I thought I saw a proud smile at the corner of her mouth. “How is it?” she kept probing to which I’d answer not too bad to. I told them how I’d bravely bear the pains to the end without a scream, and they both shared a knowing look. How I wish they had told me to my face what a dreamer I was. I was glad though that they were not there, hours later when I screamed my lungs so loud the doctor rushed in, thinking I was ready to push.

My husband never left my side though. He rubbed by back to my orders and was almost as exhausted as I was. I could see him struggle to hide his pain whenever I cried and he did everything to make me comfortable. He even bought me fries and chicken which I happily munched away amidst my moments in hell. He was later asked to leave so I could get yet another check up.

I was close, and doc asked me to save my energy for the pushing part, which I obviously never heeded. I screamed through the next hour I had to myself and then suddenly, I got an urge to push. I thought it was poop so I began pushing it out. Then I remembered doc saying to call out if I felt an urge to poop. So that was it? My baby was to come out like poop? I mean seriously?

I called out and he didn’t take long. He hastily prepared the tools on the bed then urged me to push. I did. “I said push!” he shouted and I did again and again and again. I was worn out and baby wasn’t out yet. “I’m afraid your baby is tearing you, so I will have to slice you just a little bit to make way.” He warned. I didn’t give a damn. I told him I wanted this thing out of me. I didn’t have any more energy left in me.

 ‘Push!’ Doc urged on. I did and felt the knife make its way through my flesh. Before I could yelp, I felt a huge release from my insides, followed by a sharp screech and it wasn’t me. The doc raised my wailing baby upside down and smiled. “It’s a girl!” He announced “Welcome to the world young lady. You are in Kenya.” He said, then quickly wrapped her and handed her to me and continued cleaning up.  It was time to spread the great news.

Triggered Explosive

I didn’t have the slightest idea what parenting was all about even when I found out I was pregnant. I used to baby sit my nephew, severally, but even this did not teach me much aside from tying a diaper the right side up and feeding an over-playful toddler. If it went too far, and I couldn’t take any more, I’d throw in the towel; take the messy child to his mother and slump him on her lap. ‘Chukua mtoto wako!’ I’d angrily say in exasperation, and be glad I didn’t have to care if he ate or not. ‘He isn’t my responsibility and after all, his mom can give him nyonyo and get this feeding thingy over with already’. I would think to myself.

I was with my husband, (who was then my boy friend) at a clinic in Buruburu, where we went to have the pregnancy test done. We had convinced each other that home test kits could be wrong, despite the fact that these very same kits were our solace when we wanted to test negative. Now that we really wanted a child we could not afford to use the ‘wrong’ test kit.

The clinic attendant handed me the results shortly and proudly announced that I had tested positive. “It’s now your duty to take care of this child” she said. At that moment, I felt the weight of impending doom fall squarely on me. My duty? My responsibility? Hell no! It was unthinkable and I did not want to think anymore.  Mixed feelings were rushing disrespectfully though me, and for a moment there, I lost control of myself. Me? No longer a young girl? Now in charge of another human being? Whoa! Whoa! Just wait right there. That was a little too much weight for me at a go. I needed some air. Outside the clinic, my husband and I kept stealing knowing glances at each other. We knew we were ready for a baby but its presence suddenly seemed unwelcome and it took me quite some time to accept my fate.

Every morning before going to work and every evening before retiring, I would pull out the result slip from my drawer in my bedroom (I still lived with mum then), read the three-sentence contents, then fold it and carefully return it to its hiding place. This went on for a month, when I finally accepted I was indeed carrying a growing human being inside me. Time dragged too slowly and I decided to occupy myself. My extracurricular activities increased since aside from long walks, I measured the size of my belly every day, wondering when it would start to show. I went from buying bigger jeans, to painfully letting go of my size 8 tops and my skirt suits began looking like they belonged to a small sister I never had.

Finally I ballooned months later. I struggled to adjust to my new walking style and spent millenniums practicing in front of the mirror before leaving the house. Kids around the estate just had to confirm my size whenever I walked past them. They would scout around me whispering into each other’s ears. They probably were betting at my time of explosion. They would gaze at me as though they were counting down seconds on my triggered atomic bomb and their playing only resumed as soon as I was completely out of sight.

At this point I ate like a pig. I craved everything edible on sight; from paw paws to pumpkins; even the groundnuts that Rasta ate to cool off his marijuana and bhang mix intake looked scrumptious to my eyes. His green stained teeth did not nauseate me even once. My favorite though was pawpaw which Pesh is now allergic to.

After a lot of impatience, time was finally up and I was almost due.  I became an ant at the last minute, scrubbing floors and almost cleaning clean dishes. I had no clue I had episodes of false labor with all with all the busy bee duties till one night at 4 am when a sharp pain sliced right through me. I was startled awake  and the first thing I checked was if I was bleeding. I wasn’t. I had slept over at my boyfriend’s place so I turned to see him sleeping peacefully to my untimely labor pains. The pains were on and off and when they were on, hell was on the bed. I writhed in pain as I turned from side to side, trying to bear them. At one point they were too much I decided to awaken the sleeping log, who mumbled something about going to hospital, then turned and continued snoring. As the pains increased, I opted to wail instead of keeping it all inside me. It reached a point where I began hitting the log, not to wake him up but to keep the pain from making me go insane; he never woke up anyway.

Suddenly at 6am the pain was no more. I was completely worked up and the only thing was sure of was that I wasn’t sure I would go through the real labor the following week, leave alone parenting. I turned to my side I fell into deep sleep.

Patience(Pesh)

She’s a gorgeous, sweet little girl when you first meet her. At only 1 ½ years, she’s very shy to strangers. Greet her and the closest she’ll get to you is a quick but firm handshake. Impressive, but don’t even consider picking her up as that would certainly ruin the already auspicious moment.

She’s bit chubby, with a round face and long hair. God knows, I’ve only trimmed (no cut) her hair once in her little lifetime. She’s slightly taller than most kids her age and Jesus! This baby’s got bootie!

I remember it’s the first thing my sister noticed when baby was barely days old. She was changing her on one of her visits, when suddenly she froze. “What, kwani her poop is purple?” I asked a bit alarmed. “No,” was her reply, “I’ve never seen such a tiny baby with such an ass!” We may now change the topic. 

Now, this baby is never moved by cartoons. Whenever I leave the channel on these or even animations she will either walk out on me, go search for her favorite Cedamont DVDs and shove them in my face or worse still throw me the look that plainly says ‘ Mom, can we please watch something else? Can’t you see these things are not real?’

What kind of baby hates cartoons? All kids love cartoons. Her father loves cartoons! But not her. She’d rather listen to music. This baby loves music so much she’ll dance to any tune of it, be it Citizen News, Scotts advert, Kigeugeu or worst of all bend over. The moment I caught her boogying her small self to that kind of music, I banned it from my house and Cedamont DVDs checked in.Perfect, great music sang by real kids. Not cartoons. God would never forgive me for having his child dance to Bend over for Christ sake! What will she do when she’s 20?

This little girl loves her Daddy so much. His name was the first she learnt to call. His name is the first she calls every morning when her eyes open and sadly, his voice is the only one she heeds to. I’ve gotten used to screaming my head off to no avail. It’s as if she synchronizes or overwrites my words and encodes them into bla bla blas. The only time she remembers me is when she is sick, sleepy, hungry, and wants nyonyo.  This nyonyo is what I’m banning next and soon. She obviously knows I got a soft spot for her when it comes to that, and she surely does know how to maximize on it. But there will be an end to it. I too want someone to sing my name and dance when I walk in and, well since it’s clear she is Daddy’s girl, I plan to fast, pray and sow for Project Baby Boy.

We always hide in our bedroom whenever it’s feeding time for this girl. I try to feed her myself sometimes but she will struggle to get a sip of milk from my breast and I end up smeared with her food. It’s just the other day when she realized that this nyonyo actually produces the same milk she runs away from. She will stare bluntly as it leaks in the middle of a breastfeed and informingly let me know its producing milk. So we hide. We just better hide lest this girl will get ‘sick’, and screech as though it’s war. Given a chance she will take off full speed and hide in any crack, enough to fit her. The only good thing that comes out of this ‘hide and seek’ feeding is that my husband and I get time to ourselves and ,you know, do what married couples do. We do this every other day; it’s become a part of us. This young creature has literary taken over and now rules our house! She makes it lively, dirty and cluttered with toys all over; from the entrance to the kitchen. Whenever she sleeps we take a breather, though even then we have to keep the volume down lest we awaken the little monster. In her young mind she can’t wait to wake up and get all messy all over again!

She makes our days and reigns over our hearts. She makes us experience practically all emotions; anger, laughter, sadness and happiness. She makes us children as well as adults and she permanently bonds her Daddy and me. Her name is Patience, but she will only answer to Pesh. Please meet my daughter.