On the 10th of October 2014, I gave birth to our first born daughter after an intense induced labour. She was a week over due, and had put on an impressive 1.2 kg during her last 3 weeks in my womb. As I left the hospital, I felt that I could survive anything having given birth to a tall baby naturally. Naively, I also believed the road ahead would be easier compared to what I’d just been through. It wasn’t!
It has been hectic. For the first few days, I worried constantly that she wasn’t getting enough milk. I couldn’t understand any of her cues. I’d decided that I wanted to breast feed her exclusively, so an hour after giving birth, I walked her to my room where I proceeded to stay with her for the next two days. The first night I cried. I felt that my milk wasn’t coming out as my daughter just kept suckling. I asked the nurses for help many, many times. Each time, they just kept saying, ‘Keep trying, the milk will come!’ or ‘Oh my, she is a tall baby! You are going to have a difficult time feeding her.’
Even though I’d researched everything about pregnancy and birth, I completely forgot about colostrum and thought she was still hungry every time she cried for too long. When we got home, I wondered why she would not stop crying. Still, I put on a happy face. I already felt like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks. When she was four days old, my husband and I went to the ‘Casualty wing’ at Nairobi Women’s because I thought something was wrong with her. On the way to the hospital she stopped crying and proceeded to sleep for the next three hours. The amused doctor told me she was perfectly fine, something that terrified me even more. I wanted him to tell me she needed to poop to feel better or for a friend to say her baby cried all the time.
I kept hearing everything was fine, I wanted explanations and needed desperately to understand what was happening. Two days later, I started working 5 hours a day from home. Two weeks later, I was going out for meetings a few hours a week. Some days, I thought I’d pull my eyes out and faint. Other days, I stayed up all night Googling “facts” I’d heard about babies from friends or trying to figure out when things would go back to normal. One day, I asked for help. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t feel depressed; I was just overwhelmed and needed some help.
As I write this, my little princess is 8 weeks; 3 days old. I’ve been working on-and-off since she was 6 days old, and today I just learned that my employer doesn’t want to continue with the contract. Obviously, terms that were attractive initially aren’t any more. It seems that there’s a lot going on around me lately and not all of it positive! Pre-motherhood, I would have shot myself, yelled on top of roof tops. Now, I find myself regrouping and finding new solutions.
I don’t know how I’ve done it – a lot of it is down to God. The other reason – the most motivating reason right now and for the rest of my life – is our little girl! I’ve never felt such a strong need to be a protector, a provider and overcomer. I could be having a rough moment and then I see her turn or make a funny face. I can’t help but laugh! She smiled at me this morning. Not a wishy, washy I’m-Farting-Smile; she heard my voice and smiled! It’s one of those things that just make you extremely happy to be alive.
I don’t know if I’m going to be an awesome mother. In fact, sometimes I’m not too sure what I’m going to do the next moment. But I am sure of one thing: I will be strong and I will do my best. I’m starting to pat myself on the back for what I’ve accomplished. I have a lot of respect for women in general and mother’s in particular.
I hope this encourages a mother out there. No matter how old your child (ren) is or what you have to balance. Women do so much, and even though the only reward or thanks you get is seeing your child, it’s worth it. It’s worth it, and you are an amazing being! I can’t wait to face tomorrow, because each day this little soul who I’ve been given the privilege of guiding strengthens my ability a little more! You don’t know how strong you are until you’ve given birth and mothered, albeit for a little while! It’s amazing… It’s so amazing; I just might be a ‘super woman’! *Wink
By Malowa Oduol-Njeru