When the party is over, go home!

Party's over

I am reading this amazing book. You know that feeling of every single word resonating with just about everything you have been through? This book speaks to me so deeply, I wish I found it sooner. I got to this chapter a couple of days ago that reminded me of one of the darkest moments I have ever been through in my entire life. I have mentioned severally on previous posts about postpartum depression. It is by far the darkest hole I have ever been in. Where you walk with no sense of direction, hands reaching out in the dark trying to look for a door and your heart calling for help, but you are all alone and no one can hear you. It goes on for days, weeks, months, years until it becomes your new normal.

When Kimberly was slightly over 1 year old, circumstances forced me to jump straight into the world and start living…alone, with her. No “mum buffering me” or “protecting me”.  I earned a salary of Ksh 25,000 at the time and was fortunate to get a raise after I made this very bold leap. It was around October 2012, with a net salary of Ksh. 35,000, I moved into a Kshs 15,000 house in Kinoo ready to give it a go. It was a one bedroom house so my help would sleep in the living room at night. We made due with what we had. I managed to make ends meet with that little amount of money, from bills, meals, the help’s salary and baby shopping with occasional assistance from the baby daddy when he was in a good mood.

Things were tough. I was consistently looking for an escape from reality. I hang out with my friends and always wondered what it would be like if I had no kid. What would it be like if I had my whole salary to myself. I envied them for being so extravagant and free! It didn’t help that Kimmie was consistently sick. The fevers, sore throats and really late nights were a constant reminder that I could not get back my life. Truth be told, at 24 years of age, I wanted out! I wanted to be normal, but deep down, I really loved her! I always made the sacrifice and I knew that I was all she had. I had constant battles in my heart. I was not living, I was existing!

A few months after moving into my new apartment block, I met the most amazing man I have ever met in my entire life! My neighbor! He was a MAN! Not a BOY! He was super smart,  had ambition, was cool, calm and collected, extremely easy on the eyes and…he wanted me genuinely! As in, guys! He was a dream come true, I swear. He didn’t mind that I had Kimmie. However, we spent a lot of time on our own. He literally got me to forget EVERYTHING! It was the best feeling ever, having a couple of days away from my harsh reality every week. We got super close with time and he helped me grow from a girl to a woman! I fed off his drive and worked towards investing more in my career, setting goals and achieving them and working towards dealing with my past. I literally got serious salary raises and bought my first car during this period.

He became the center of my world. At this point, I became the version of me that I wanted to be if I had no child. It was like freaking heroine! I wanted it, I needed it! I was high and wanted to stay high. Things kept getting better for about a year until we hit our first major bump. He opted to end things because, the guy was extremely rational. He deciphered our circumstances and saw red flags in our future. I, on the other hand was very drunk in love. The break up tore me into pieces. My chest hurt, sleep disappeared, I couldn’t eat…I felt like I had been pushed off a cliff and landed straight into my house with a baby going through major terrible two’s and driving me insane! At the time, I had a help who seldom went for her off days. So, I was rarely home! I was living the single life. Partying, hanging out with my man and working! The break up tossed me back into motherhood and responsibilities. I wanted out of that reality so bad! Mum’s never get a break from parenting. I was lucky to have had one, thanks to that help.

We finally made up and went through a series of break ups and make ups that really messed me up emotionally and threw me completely off balance, until it finally ended! Now that is where it all begun! The dark hole! This book has a chapter titled, “When the party is over, GO HOME!”. So, when he finally left me for good, I honestly could not deal with it. I went into severe depression that felt like I was going to die from sadness. I needed my drug! I had to find a drug so I could live! Kimmie needed me operational, at the very least. Better a zombie than a corpse! I started to party harder than I ever did in my entire life! I drunk every day. I even found a crowd that was willing to drink everyday. I would send my help and baby to my mum’s and spend days on my friend’s couch drinking! I couldn’t sleep so I chagged bottles of hard liquor to get me at least 2 or 3 hours of sleep. I was scared of being a lone in my house because that made me think. Thinking meant emailing my ex and begging him back because I wanted it to work. But him being rational, he knew that it just couldn’t. Well, not with me in that state of dependence and emotional damage from my past.

Michael Reid says in his book, Dear Woman; When the party is over, go home! In short, hiding behind the commotion only helps postpone the reality. I should have gone home! I should have immersed myself in that pain and gone through it until I got past it! Instead, at the end of 2015, I was hospitalized twice at Nairobi Women’s Hospital after almost drinking myself to the ground from depression. My friend Danny once came to hospital while I was getting admitted and offered to take Kimmie and my help home since they brought me in at around 6 a.m. While he walked them to the cab to drop them off, I suffered a panic attack and started planning my escape from the hospital because I was afraid of being alone. He came back and bribed the security guards to let him spend all day with me, every day for 3 days just so I could deal with things. Very humbling, I must say. I can go on and on but a lot happened. Story for another day.

The most positive thing that came out of all this is, I hit rock bottom HARD! The only way left was up! I had to deal with things. I had to quit the heroine, I had to leave the party and go home and the most important one that breaks my heart so bad to date is, I had to stop blaming Kimmie for my life not turning out the way I wanted it to be in the first place. I was seeing a therapist some months before I was admitted in 2015 and she got so pissed off one time and sternly told me, “Stop treating your situation as a mother as if your child sent you a memo requesting to be brought to earth. You made that choice for her. ACT LIKE IT!” These words hit me to date! All these things forced me to really dig deep and figure things out. I had to fix myself as an individual, as a mother, as a friend and as a future companion. I am not entirely there, but I finally understand how my ex was always rational and had the ability to decipher situations and identify his wrongs from my wrongs, fantasy from reality and look at the bigger picture and make extremely hard decisions and stand by them. Moral of the story, it can be hard to go home when the party is over, but it sure does shorten the healing process every single time. Trust me, I have become an expert at it! Lovely week.

My first relationship as a single mum.

With time, the hunger to be loved and cared for by the opposite sex grew inside me like a tumor. I was numb inside and wanted to feel different. Naturally, I love and love hard. Be it family, friends and companions. I lost all that through out the rough process of getting over being jilted and postpartum. I weighed 45 kilograms with blood shot eyes and bones sticking out at every point of my body with little flesh. Worse even, I was still breast feeding Kimberly. I had sleepless nights thinking about how I would handle everything at the same time with someone who wasn’t her father. I hadn’t been with anyone since him.

In my shenanigans, I bumped into an old friend from campus and re-kindled the friendship after years apart. It was easy…always has been easy to be with someone familiar. I was comfortable with going out for drinks with him, we had friends in common and he empathized with the whole motherhood situation. There was little to no pressure from his end on making me do anything I was not comfortable with. I liked it, A LOT! He also expressed interest in fatherhood. Haha, guys! The problem with being damaged is, everything sounds right, until it’s not.

We kept at it for a month or two, just hanging out in our usual crowds. With time, we started to spend a lot of alone time and alcohol was always involved. I was the least bit focused on my career, had shut down on everything. I did what needed to be done and that was it. So, I would leave work and go hang out with him and drink, then head home later in the night. One Friday, I decided to stay over. I dreaded telling my mum since I knew that she would be livid! So, we got drunk til late and I put my phone on silent. I really had no plan. I was going with the flow.

We headed over to his house with some liquor to set the mood and hopefully numb me some more so I could “do it”. We finally got to it and I was feeling calm and confident. I changed into his t-shirt and shorts and we hang out and talked. He finally started off the the process that leads to the real deal. It was working…I was comfortable and going with it. But, at some point, my breasts exploded with milk oozing into my bra in seriously huge amounts! I panicked and quickly started thinking….OMG, OMG, OMFG! What the hell was I going to do. I stopped him calmly and asked that we take more liquor.

He didn’t fight. We put on some more music. I pumped him with shot after shot with the aim of making him black out! My heart was literally going through waves of regret, shame and panic! He finally blacked out. I lay on that bed looking at the clock, soaked in a wet t shirt and trying not to smudge his sheets and mattress with breast milk! Finally, the clock struck 6 a.m and I could hear the matatus start hooting from a distance. I got up, sneaked into the shower, washed his clothes, showered and put on my wet bra, sweater top and a scarf covering my chest area fully. I bid him goodbye and left his house heading home.

The whole way home, I was lost in my head just thinking….OMG, it’s over! I cannot date. Really, it was HARD! How do you ooze breast milk into someone’s face…who is not even your baby’s father or husband. Nooooo, I wasn’t going to do it again for a while. There’s also this myth by the Luhya community about sleeping with someone who is not the parent to your child and this affecting the child’s health…Ha! I was going through mental torture. I got home and had to deal with the scolding, my insecurities and the fear of not wanting to touch my baby and have the curse be-fall her.

Do I have a moral today really…..I don’t think so. However, it is crazy being a single mother! People might find me crazy for telling this part of my story. However, truth be told. Men need to know what they put women through with their decisions. Not that I would marry a horrible guy just to save me this trouble. Just that, women really go through a lot in silence. I hope this makes at least one guy treat his woman like a queen.

WHY I WILL NEVER HAVE ANYMORE KIDS- PART 3

I have thought long and hard about writing about this and what it would do to me knowing that some readers work with me, others are potential business partners and some are my suppliers. Truth is, I have mentioned this to some of my friends that are Mums’ and I was shocked to find out that, many women suffer in silence. When I went for my last pre-natal visit, the doctor told me that I wasn’t going to leave. He insisted on inducing my labor because I wasn’t dilating any further and I was 39 weeks pregnant. I had been stuck on two centimeters for over a month. So, I was checked in and the whole process started. Despite using two pills to induce labor 9 hours apart, I only dilated 4 centimeters. 25 hours later, after such a rough time, I was finally ready to pop.

The room wasn’t prepared for delivery, so the mid-wives were all over the place when I started pushing baby out. They tore my honey pot to help baby out since she was loosing oxygen. Mums’ know that once that happens, you get ‘the stitches’. Well, that part was over and I went home and started being a mum. Kikuyu’s have this theory of feeding new mums certain types of food to help them lactate. Unfortunately, very few of those meals comprise of a balanced diet. I would do “Njahi” daily for lunch for about two weeks. What people do not know is that, when a woman is pregnant, her body starts to soften food for the baby to digest while in the womb. After birth, everything goes back to normal. Another thing they do not tell new mums is that, they should massage their nipples daily in preparation for the friction that comes with breast feeding.

So, around the 3rd or 4th day at home, things began to hit the fan. My nipples were bleeding from the friction and I begun to get constipated and have several tears. The pain was unbearable. Every time the baby wanted to feed, I would break down and cry. The minute she started circling, all the cracks on my nipples would sting. I told my sister about it and she told her friend. Her friend told us that the only way I could heal was from the bacteria in the baby’s saliva. In short, keep breast feeding! I wanted to quit! At the same time, I could barely sit down or pass stool because of the pain from the tears in my rear area. I was losing my mind! We went to Nairobi hospital for some help with the tears and the doctor told me that it was really severer. She prescribed oral re hydration salts to help soften my stool and no pain killers since I was breast feeding.

The tears kept happening on and off until the period when I was going out for drinks with my friends. Unfortunately, the de-hydration from alcohol, in-take of a lot of nyama choma and carbohydrates did not help the situation. So, one morning after a night out, I felt an intense pain from my rear area that made me scream! I kept it to myself for about two days until I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to a gynecologist to seek help, but he told me that I had to see an obstetrician. I went to the private wing at Kenyatta hospital and saw one who sat me down and explained everything. He informed me that I had hemorrhoids. He added that several women who experience very long labor pains and tear during birth suffer from them. 25% of women get this after birth and usually, this leads to postpartum depression. He continued to explain that, the only permanent solution was to surgically remove them.Pic 1

“Hemorrhoids are usually caused by straining during bowel movements, obesity or pregnancy. Discomfort is a common symptom, especially during bowel movements or when sitting. Other symptoms include itching and bleeding. A high-fiber diet can be effective, along with stool softeners. In some cases, a medical procedure to remove the hemorrhoid may be needed to provide relief.”

So, I proceeded to book for surgery and Frank took me for it. I swear Frank has seen me through a lot of shit! Anyway, so the worst part wasn’t over yet. He told me that he had to leave the wounds open because if he stitched them up, stool would linger on the stitches and give me an infection. He also warned me against not eating to avoid going to the toilet. He advised that I increase the visits to allow the muscles to adopt to the bowl movement and heal faster. I was given morphine oral tablets and allowed to get a shot if the pain intensified. I went back home to my 10 month old baby and was not allowed to breast feed her while I was on morphine. This is actually the point when she stopped breast feeding.

The healing process begun. Frankly, it took over 6 months! There are times when I went to loo and would have the local pharmacist come give me a jab because the pain almost made me collapse Every time I passed stool, I had to sit on warm salty water to avoid infections. Literally, I wanted to die! I had this one guy who I was kind of seeing at the time, and I had to stop because, I had too much going on.  Anyway, long story short, when pregnant, prepare your nipples from day one to avoid scarring. Learn how to breast feed…it is something no one teaches you! If you do it wrong, it hurts! Eat a balanced diet. The traditional myths on certain meals helping with production of more milk should be avoided. Also, if you start to feel depressed, talk to someone about it. It will help you get out of it sooner rather than later. Part 4 coming soon!

WHY I WILL NEVER HAVE KIDS- PART 2

I have been watching a series on Netflix called ‘The let down’. Pretty interesting series about first time motherhood and parenting in general. I cannot relate to everything, but what really hit home was in episode 1 where this girl had a 2 or 3 month old baby, a husband travelling to Kenya for work and a friend’s birthday dinner that she really wanted to go for after being cooped up in the house for months! She had no one to watch her kid so she went for the dinner with her! The baby cried the whole time, her friends looked at her funny and when she finally put her down, she tore up her dinner and downed a whole glass of champagne! When she left, she got onto a train with some young adults drinking and making merry. I think her life just hit her! Being a mother means, everyone else has options, but you! She broke down for a couple of seconds and noticed her baby’s beautiful, innocent eyes starring at her with the look I mentioned earlier…”please don’t give up”. I think this is God’s way of giving you strength to keep going.

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After I spent about 6 months at home being a mum, doing the chores, the late night feeding and always looking and feeling exhausted, my mum forced me to go out for a drink with my friends to unwind. I had spent all this time crying over my heart break EVERY NIGHT in my mum’s arms and she felt like it was time to end it! Fortunately, all this got me to lose a lot of weight and my body was looking…well…skinny! I prefer chunkier, but I am proud to have almost been a size zero once in my life! Hahaha. My mum’s instructions were, not to call home at any point. She even gave me cash since she knew how broke I was. So, I met up with some friends. After about 1 year and a couple of months of literally no alcohol in my system, I finally had a drink. It helped me forget for a few hours. I got a way from reality. I met people, got hit on, felt worthy again, danced and felt a little like old times.

The more I sipped and talked to a couple of guys, it hit me…how does all this work when I have an infant?! I withdrew a little from the crowd since I knew that, realistically speaking, this was like Cinderella. When the clock strikes midnight, reality checks in. I had this splitting pain on my nipples and suddenly, I was leaking left, right and center! I kept going to the bathroom to change breast pads and eventually, I was too full of milk and my chest felt like I was carrying two footballs around! I opted to leave. It was literally midnight when I boarded a matatu to head back home to Umoja. I decided to call my mum severally until she picked up. When she picked up, all I could hear was my sweet little baby crying hysterically in the back ground. I felt like getting off that matatu and running home…almost like the damn thing wasn’t moving fast enough!

When I got home, I grabbed her and just cried. I never wanted to hear that cry ever again! Funny, my mum was laughing at me like a crazy ol’lady! She was like “Utaharibu huyo mtoto”, meaning, you will spoil that child. She told me not to call because she knew that Kimmie had never been away from me. She was bound to cry herself to sleep, even if it meant all night. Mum sang, rocked, walked around, soothed but she just wasn’t having it! I had to put her on the bottle since I pumped and trashed. She hated it since I was right there, but the comfort of sleeping in my arms calmed her down.

I spent the rest of the night just thinking…How will I ever restart my life? It felt like the end. Almost like, this is all it was ever going to be! I couldn’t leave her, I couldn’t date because zero out of 10 men want a new mum, plus, I had no job to support myself and Kimmie. I walked right back into my cocoon! I stayed there for a while until some old friends reached out a couple of times to hang out.  I started warming myself up to the idea and going out occasionally. Kimmie started getting used to it and I got comfortable with leaving her behind for a couple of hours just to escape reality a little bit. One night, she got this severe fever! I was out with my friends and my mum called to ask me to come home.

When I got there, she was really unwell! We stayed up waiting for Gertrudes Donholm to open because we had no means to get to the one at Muthaiga which is open 24hrs. As soon as it opened, we had camped out there for hours and Kimmie had mild convulsions while we were there. They took her away from me and gave her a suppository to reduce the fever immediately. My mum called my older brother, Frank, to come help since it was not looking too good. They immediately asked for her to be admitted, but I had no insurance. I had asked her father to at least help with the cover since he had an income, but he completely ignored me. To get her admitted, we had to pay a deposit of Ksh. 80,000. My brother paid immediately. They asked us to get an ambulance for an additional Ksh. 20,000 but he said no. He drove through traffic like a crazy person and got us to hospital in good time!

The doctor came in and ordered a spinal tap for her. So, how this test works is, you have to bend the baby over, head in between it’s legs and keep them still enough to have a giant needle inserted in her spinal cord with no anesthesia, to get some spinal fluid to test. Keep in mind, she was in so much discomfort, was fussy and guys, Kimmie is a fighter! She wasn’t having it! The nurses make you bend the baby yourself! I almost cried, but she was screaming her lungs out. Somehow, I got this inner strength, I started talking to her, reminding her that I was there and nothing bad would happen on my watch! She cried til she had no voice and no tears left. She just lay there like a malnourished child. We stayed there for 3 days and got her back to her normal self! My brother took care of everything! This situation traumatized me. I was brave through it, but really scared after it.

When we got back home, we had a very deep conversation. Especially because, Kimmie’s father showed up during the worst part of this whole situation and did absolutely nothing but frustrate me through out the process. He spoke to me about the reality of how things would be with a dead beat dad and what I needed to do to plan better for Kimmie. So, he offered me an internship at his start-up Media buying and planning agency and put both Kimmie and I on health insurance covers immediately! One thing I would hope you all take away from this read, be it a single parent, a couple or even a person with no kid yet! As a parent, there are two things I have learnt. To protect our  kids for the long haul, invest in health and education. They are the most expensive things a parent will ever spend money on. I want to close by thanking my brother, Frank Maina for taking care of us at a time when he could have said what everyone else says, ” I can’t right now, or I don’t have the money”. Also, for stepping in as a man when I really needed it! I can never re-pay you enough for that. God blesses you because you bless others. Part 3 coming soon!

 

Why I will never have any more kids-Part 1

I am a mother to a 7.5 year old beautiful, melanin princess. She is by far the most amazing person I have ever met in life! Beautiful, loving, funny and smart. However, it has not been all rosy for the both of us. Just to back track, I was in an extremely toxic relationship when I was 18 years of age. I had just lost my first true love to an accident and I was looking desperately for someone to fill that void and make me happy again. So I met this guy who was extremely toxic from the get go. However, like I mentioned on my previous post, I did not know how to be loved by a man. I settled for so much less than I deserved and eventually, he dumped me for his current wife and mother to his two kids. That situation was toxic to the extent that it haunted my friends and I in 2016! Story for another day.

I had been with him for around 2 years and I recall once being suicidal when he dumped me for a few days. Life! Anyway, so his neighbor (not friend) who was also in the same campus I was in but older started to pick up on my Facebook posts that were so broken, that my mum and brother begged me to stop posting. He reached out offering a shoulder to cry on. I had gone into a really dark space where I drank hard liquor daily, spent all my time at the local bars in campus trying to numb the pain and he somehow came around and gave me a little bit more structure. He was doing his masters while I was in my third year at campus. I fell back in love quite fast and started speaking to my cousin about contraceptives. I had heard of femi-plan which is an every day pill. What no one tells us is that, these pills need to be taken at the same time every day. One lapse in consistency renders them useless.

I had a conversation with him about it and we agreed that we were ready to take that step together. We visited the campus VCT and got tested together and boom, the recklessness begun. About a month later, he started to distance me. I figured, he was probably overwhelmed with work and school. So, one Thursday, he told me that he would be hanging out with his friends while I took my evening class. However, my class got cancelled and I reached out to go hang out. He seemed off though…like not present. After half an hour, he asked to drop me back at my hostel as he needed to go meet his dad, who was running the business he worked his day job at. My friends wanted to have nyama choma and drinks later though, so I agreed to go back home.

An hour or so later, they picked me up and I suggested that we hit a joint in Zimmerman called Canopy. It was close and I had lived there before so I felt safe. When we walked in, I found my boyfriend with another lady in a very compromising situation. Of course a lot of drama went down, which led to a very bitter break up. A few days later, I took a pregnancy test. I had been feeling funny but never had morning sickness. POSITIVE! I went through a serious emotional rollercoster! I remember crying and telling God to just hit me with everything so it can all be done at once. I talked to a couple of people for advise and they were very realistic. They presented all my options to me but the emphasis was to ensure that he was part of the decision.

In the brokenness, he convinced me that he was willing to change, inform his family so we could settle down together, ensure I finished campus, get a house so we could move in together….A LOT! When we told my family, my brother told me that he would not fall for it. He vowed to raise my kid because he knew that the guy would not follow through. True to his word, one disappointment came after the other and my brother funded everything! I finished campus while 7 months pregnant, he rented out a house for me near campus and supplied me with pregnancy supplements monthly. Literally, he stepped in as my daughter’s father!

When time finally came to have my baby, I labored for 25 hours. A few minutes to her birth, she was loosing oxygen. Take time to watch the Dorothy Dandridge movie or documentary and see what long labor can do to a child’s life. Anyway, Kimmie really really put in a good fight through out the 25 hours. She came out literally navy blue from the lack of oxygen. My mum and friend were there to hold my hand. Fortunately, she came out healthy and I count myself extremely lucky that she had no brain damage during the 15-20 minutes before birth. Anyway, so after three days, we were discharged from hospital. He talked me into moving in with my sister in Kawangware while his father finished building the house “we were to settle in”. He didn’t show up to take us home. I remember crying painfully on my way home in my sister’s car with my tears dropping on Kimmie’s little face. I just kept asking myself, WHAT HAVE I DONE! She was so small and innocent…and she was MY responsibility!

My family had all gone back into their wallets to foot the bill and he had came in a day before to tell me not to name his mother. That he was doing me the honor of naming mine (hahaha, trust me, I did not laugh at that time). I started off my life with Kimmie alone and things had changed so drastically. I became a full time mum, no income, no support from her father. He threw in some diapers here and there when he felt like, a few technical appearances, one or two baby clinic visits…literally, less than bare minimum…if that is even a thing. My sister started to warm me up to the idea of single parenting. Unfortunately, I was not ready to accept. I hang in there until he dumped me when she was 5 months old. I had begun showing mild symptoms of postpartum depression, but this completely threw me off the cliff!

I moved back in with my mum because I needed the emotional support desperately. She had raised around Ksh 80,000 from her friends, cousins and sisters for my child. I started to manage that money to buy diapers, fund hospital visits and basically manage baby responsibilities while my mum housed and fed us. However, I got so depressed, sometimes I couldn’t even function or hear my own baby cry. My friends were all working and living their lives and I was home with a baby on my own. It tormented me how men can up and leave so easily, but women can’t. I loved her deeply, but I hated my life!

She was regularly unwell and I had no hospital cover. I remember the late nights filled with worry when she was suffering in pain from sore throats, a blocked nose and  discomfort. I remember the crying, her little innocent face just begging me not to give up on her. All this tore my heart into pieces. So everyday became a fight…an emotional fight. A fight not to give up even when I never wanted to leave my bed, a fight to look at this baby who looked just like the father that abandoned us. However, she always held my face and planted wet kisses on me with her eyes filled with so much love, oblivious of what was going on around her. She literally was my reason for waking up every day. I begun to ‘survive’. I was a very empty person, but the little love I had left to give, I gave her!

This went on for years and I will flesh it all out with time. However, I find it necessary for every one to try and understand the symptoms of postpartum depression. It can be taken care of at it’s early stages. It is very hard to spot especially because women go through a lot of hormonal changes during and post pregnancy. However, the inability to get out of that stage is a sign. Child neglect, self neglect, loss of energy, spacing out etc are all signs. Let us help our beautiful mothers usher in these little angels with ease, even when they struggle to do it. As always, thanks for reading. Part 2 coming soon.