It’s Mother’s Day day y’all and I can’t believe I am a mother and that on this day we get to be celebrated!
So last Friday I was talking to my sister about what we were going to do for queen mother as a token of appreciation for being the wonderful person that she is, the ray of sunshine in our lives, the solid glue that holds the family together, our pillar of strength and it was then that it hit me that I was actually going to celebrate my first ever Mother’s Day today. Yaaaaay!
In all honesty, motherhood is not a walk in the park. People throw this phrase around a lot,quite casually , but until you get to experience the rollercoaster ride that motherhood is, you can never truly understand.
Let me tell you a story…
The first time I held my son in my arms after my c section I couldn’t get myself to stop staring at him. He was calm, sweet…he was a little ball of beautiful magic. The first few days of our lives together were exhilarating to say the least. All he wanted to do was nurse, with his eyes closed of course and to smile and to cozy up beside his mother. And man, I was so excited to finally see him after all those months of weird cravings. The days leading up to delivery are the hardest. You just can’t wait to hold your baby. And when it finally happens, it is pure bliss. It was for me.
Then one calm evening during the second week, I noticed that Kai was strangely fussy, and it only got worse as the evening progressed. I had read a lot about colic but then I couldn’t really get myself to accept that it was happening this soon. So I called a doctor friend of mine and explained to him what was happening outlining all the symptoms that I was able to observe. Kai was having his first episode of infant colic. This went on for about 2 hours when he finally dozed off in my arms.
The next few weeks are days that I will live to remember. They are days that I will never forget. They are days that I will never take for granted. They’re days that stretched me beyond my limits. They are days that broke me and mended me right back. They are days that gave me clarity.
As a new mother you want everything to be perfect. You want to do everything for your baby and you want to do it yourself. You want to be the perfect mom. You want to be the one to shower him, you want to be the one to be changing his diapers, you want to be his knight in shining armor. You want to lull him to sleep and you want to be the one to sooth him when he’s in distress. That was me. I had a lot of help at my disposal but I still wanted to go the whole nine yards. My Dm would handle all the other chores but when it came to Kai I did all the work myself. I didn’t trust any other person to do a perfect job.
So as days went by, his colic got worse and it got to its peak when he was about 7 weeks old. He’d cry his lungs out from 6pm to 10 pm or 11pm or even 1 pm. Nothing would sooth him, not rocking, not nursing. Nothing ever seemed to work. Let me take you back: When he had the first episode, we tried administering Bonnisan and I gave up on the third day when I noticed it wasn’t working. From there onwards, I tried all sorts of prescriptions. Sijui infacol, sijui neopeptine, at some point some mama even recommended some traditional herbs which I was a bit hesitant to try because I wasn’t sure if Kai’s liver would be able to handle them. Back to my story, nothing is as heartbreaking as seeing your child in pain and not being able to do anything about it.
Most of my nights between the time when Kai was two weeks old and the time when he turned three months old were exasperating. I was still nursing my c section wound and Kai’s tummy on the other hand was taking me through hell.
I was super anxious throughout this period and even though I would be so beat and exhausted after a tummy episode, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because my anxiety would be at an all time high. I kept imagining he’d wake up and start screaming again. Most nights after Kai fell asleep I’d play scrabble on my phone till I couldn’t hold my eyes open anymore.
So this is how those evenings went. He’d start being uneasy at about 6pm and the pain would gradually get worse before it got better, which most of the time was around 11pm. During this period, all i/we ever did was hold him and pace around the house with him, sometimes he’d want to nurse obsessively (which only made the problem worse) and sometimes he’d never want anything or anyone to touch him. One of the symptoms of infant colic is a baby vigorously jerking his or her arms and legs in the air while trying to ease up the pain in their tummy. It’s some kind of reflex. So Kai would do that for hours on end till he’d be sweating, which then again made things even more worse because from the time my son was like days old, he has always hated discomfort. Any form of discomfort. Be it overly full diapers or extreme heat. So then we’d pass him from one person to the next: myself, his dad, on days when he was around(he works in a different town) the Dm, my sister (she visited severally) I actually remember one night when we had tried every other thing we could think of and nothing seemed to work, when we decided to wash Kai at one in the morning(Don’t look at me like that, it was my sister’s idea😂😂😂) Remember this is a child who showered in the morning and in the evening at around 7(Lakini I had first time mom kiherehere sana pia😂😂😂. Saa hizo a new born can even go for three days without a shower and it’s perfectly okay)
I wanted my baby to be clean 😂, and it was November.
There are several nights during these colic episodes when I put my baby on the bed and left him to cry it out because I was exhausted and my wound was painful as hell , and with his dad standing there confused as hell, wondering if he should console the baby or the mother. There are nights when I left him to cry it out while I sat on my bedside rag drowning in tears, drenched in sweat and breast milk.
I won’t lie to you, there are nights I thought about harming my baby. There are nights I wished I could get him back into my tummy because it was much easier when I was still carrying him like that. I was sliding into post partum depression, or I was already in it and I didn’t know it yet. Or I actually did know but I hadn’t accepted it yet. I had friends who called me almost every other day to check up on me but I never for once told them what I was dealing with. I actually told them about the colic, never about how crazy it was driving me. Thanks Cheptoo, thanks Vio, thanks Linda, thanks Shayne(she kept telling me colic itaisha hadi you won’t remember if it ever happened), thanks Mama dearest . Y’all have a very special place in my heart.
Moment of awakening.
So one night the usual is happening. Kai is screaming his lungs out, it’s just me and the Dm on this particular night. We’re taking turns soothing him. Nothing is working, he doesn’t want to nurse, he is violently shoving his body and writhing in pain(at one point colic made me wonder if my baby had been demon possessed 😂😂😂)
I’ve paced like the whole house trying to sooth him but nothing seems to work, I’ve changed his outfits, I’ve done everything I can think of and nothing is working. I’m suddenly tossing my baby up in the air in a desperate bid to sooth him, something I know I shouldn’t do, something I know is a no-no. But I am not thinking in this moment. I am not even present in this moment, I am not even aware of what I am doing. All I want is for my baby to be relieved of this shit. So I do this for like three rounds and when I bring him down my baby cries like he’s going to die. Like his heart has stopped. He hadn’t been breathing all this while 😢. I could’ve broken his neck, or his spine.
THAT WAS MY MOMENT OF CLARITY. That was it. That was the moment I decided that I wasn’t going to be a super mom. That’s the moment it occurred to me that I wasn’t okay . I woke the Dm up, handed Kai to her and went straight to my bedroom, knelt on my bedside rag and I prayed. I don’t know if I was really praying or crying. Sometimes the things we cannot vocalize we make up for in tears. I’m not sure if I uttered these words or if they were spoken in my mind but here’s what I told God /what I think I said ” I prayed for this child,I prayed for him to be delivered safely, you gave him to me as a precious gift. Now that he’s here and I need to do the real work, don’t leave me now, I need you” I gave ultimatums too. I fumbled with words. I cried.
That was it.
Come the next morning I woke up early as usual, had a very long warm shower, had breakfast fit for the queen, dressed up in one of my favorite dresses, did my make up and finished it off with red lipstick. I then left instructions on how breast milk should be warmed and fed to the baby then I left for town. I did my nails, did my hair, had a foot massage, ate out at my favorite restaurant then I went back home after about four hours. It was like seeing the sun after a long spell of winter. It was a breath of fresh air. That’s the day I decided that I wasn’t going to try to be a perfect mom. I accepted that I needed help with Kai, and that was the first step towards healing from post natal depression. In the days that followed, we adapted a different routine. I’d wake up, feed Kai, hand him over to someone, have my breakfast, take a warm shower and nap for about two hours. And I felt so much better. I felt like a burden had been lifted off of my shoulders.
It’s not like I wasn’t aware of what post partum depression was or how it happened,or what it could do. I was well aware. I had read all about it and had even seen people go through it. I actually never imagined that it would ever happen to me. But it still did. Depression is not an object. It’s not tangible. It’s a little big thing that creeps into you and begins to eat you from the inside out. It makes you sick in the soul and with time it begins to show on the outside. It begins to show in your actions.
Dear new mom, your child does not need a perfect mother. What he or she needs is a sane mother. Your child’s life and well being depends on the decisions you make. As a new mum you’re struggling with a whole lot of stuff : Hormonal imbalance, weight gain /loss, adapting to having a newborn(especially if it’s your first) you’ll be struggling with feelings of inadequacy, you’ll be struggling with physical healing, you’ll be doing the most, while receiving very little or no feedback from your baby, and so the best thing you can gift yourself is to cut yourself some slack.
This is not a sob post or a pity party (all though I felt a little tear bite the corner of my eye while writing parts of it😂) but the fact that I’m able to talk about it like this today means I am over it.
Ps: I won’t talk about today’s outfit, if a picture is worth a thousand words then let these ones speak for me.
Happy Mother’s Day ♥