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.
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!