It’s so surreal to call myself a mom, at least at this point in my life. Some time last year, I was not sure I wanted to have kids and now, I cannot remember what life was without my little one. See, from the time that I suspected he was coming into being, to the time that I made a conscious decision to bring him forth, I walked in anxiety and worry. All fears melted away when I let the old me die, and I took up the calling to be a mother to another.
This is not to say that I had any knowledge of what I was signing myself up for. Sure, I had been around my nephew for about a year and half and I knew the selfless dedication that came with having a child, but this was different. I was having the baby this time, and so started my journey into “momminess”.
Quickly, I signed myself up on babycentre.com and over-read the material – they send a weekly newsletter updating readers on developments and milestones. I read months ahead of my status. The forums on there are quite enlightening and comforting to know that you aren’t the only one breaking into cold sweat at night or experiencing nightmares that you ate your baby – I know, uber weird!
Then came the announcements, to family and friends. Some of whom were genuinely happy and others who weren’t very positive, but we got through it – barely. The support from unexpected sources was overwhelming to say in the least. I had food marshals checking whether I had eaten, gotten my shots, gotten safely to my stage to get my matatu home, booked my hospital (this one I procrastinated yaani…).
My son experienced such an outpouring of love from the world around him even before he arrived. I will be forever indebted to my late night chat buddies who stayed up with me during my insomniac phases, the mommies before me who gave me advice and prepared me,the workmates who stopped talking to my bump when I asked them to, my sisters (and housemates), who endured my back rub requests and my nesting syndrome that hit like a storm. Infallible support was the best gift that they all gave.
Hospital visits were always a time to laugh as the doctors always had these shocked looks on their faces every time I’d walk in and announce the number of months I was carrying and they took my weight. “Unakula kweli? Hebu take a packet of milk daily to gain a few more kgs, the baby is healthy though…” It went on to my last visit, where all 54kgs of me were told to expect baby’s arrival in 2 weeks or so.
My birthing story is brief. As brief as labour can be. A calm Sunday ended with a hurried ride to the hospital, and me carrying my little one in my arms – all swaddled and soundly asleep – about an hour later. I didn’t sleep a wink for hours, as all I could do was stare at this pink being. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was beautiful and I instantly loved him with all of me.
Cut scene to our arrival back home. Lord, do I thank you for my mother. Her two week stay was heaven sent! I couldn’t for the life of me wash my little one. I thought I’d drown him or bang his head on his wash basin. I mean I had read up enough and watched “How To” videos on YouTube, but today I understand why mommy knows best.
The day mom left, I had split feelings – that I finally had space to experience things for myself and that I’d have no idea where to start. The latter kicked me in the butt real hard. I was such a fumbling first time mom. All sorts of questions ran through my mind! “Is the bath water too hot? Am I exposing him to the cold? Should I really send photos of him to people? What is Gastro Intestinal Disease? Zombie baby!
He’s sleeping with his eyes open – is that normal? His eyes don’t follow my fingers, can he see?” He was a calm baby though – another thing I’m grateful for – no crying around the clock, no outbursts in the night – just cute little moans and groans and I’d know he’s hungry. This had its not so good side as I slept through it one day and woke to a wailing baby. Cue the guilt.
I never thought I would ever have such regard for poop in my life! I am now a self proclaimed expert on baby poop. I can tell healthy poop, from runny poop to “You should call your doctor” poop. It’s one of those things moms can do. I am still wracked by many questions everyday as I deal with his ever changing poop cycles and consistencies and his little and sometimes, not so little, pukes.
My instincts have been a victim of second guessing, thanks to the unsolicited advice that I get from strangers in the matatus, in the streets, and even by the security guard! Stares and disapproving head shakes from men and women as I “wear my baby” in my DIY kikoy baby wrap: “Huna baby shawl? Ama ni digital? Humuumizi miguu huyo?” Such dents in the already shaky confidence I have in myself have unfortunately caused me to discard what I think is right for him a couple of times.
What if he remembers that I left him to go back to work when he grows up?I am riddled with the guilt of going back to work and leaving him at home with the nanny, thereby missing out on the many firsts we have been on during my maternity leave.
Who will cheer his mini-push ups during tummy time? Will I get a nanny cam? What if she doesn’t rush to him the minute he cries like I do? What if she is like that Ugandan nanny who balances her weight on infants and kicks them around the living room for sport?
I worry about the man that he will turn out to be. I know that whoever he grows into is solely and squarely on my head as he will take his cues from me. I hope that he will be kind and considerate, loving and warm. Funny enough, he already feels like all these things now. He’s been kind to me – he’s helped me learn him. He’s been considerate – of our neighbours and not wailed through the night (lol). I see love in his eyes every time we connect as he feeds and his warmth is evident in his baby coos and gurgles that he’s just starting to exhibit.
I am unsure of many things and it is this crippling paranoia that says one thing to me: I love my son dearly.
© Zo Si