Not Born Ready

The day I found out I was expecting my first born, I had THE hangover of all hangovers. I had been partying for like four days straight and was planning to go for another hangout to wrap up the weekend. It was a Sunday. I did what I typically did most Sundays: laundry, cleaned up my house, watched some telly and got too lazy to cook. Plus, when you get over the puking stage of a hangover the hunger pangs that hit you are strong and all your cravings are for something fried and greasy. I won’t waste your time with too many details, just know Kenchic, a Black Ice and a trip to the pharmacy all happened that Sunday and by the time my head hit the pillow that night I was 100 percent sure, confirmed, to be with child. My other subsequent pregnancy discoveries were equally dramatic, to put it politely. 

Drama aside, the realization that I was hosting another human being was heavy on me. There were feelings of excitement, panic, fear, bargaining with the person upstairs and finally acceptance. No amount of advice or reassurance can take away the burden of responsibility of knowing you are now in charge of somebody else’s life and livelihood, even before they are born. From that moment onwards it is almost difficult to lay claim over your own body. This alone makes me a strong advocate for pro-choice. Purely because it is on you as the carrier of this pregnancy to physically go through this experience. It’s not like you can uproot your uterus and shelve it until the baby is ready to be born. No siree! You will feel every little bit of this baby’s development.

Personally, I was not ready. The physical changes alone truly make it such that your body does things beyond your control. You are a host. All care and attention is a part of doing everything in your power to ensure this human you are carrying makes it out in ten months. That 9 month gestation period is a lie!! It takes 10 damn months aka 40 weeks!!  Do the math. The heartburn, melasma, constipation, hemorrhoids, hormonal acne, oedema, gestational diabetes among many others; the strength of a woman is unmatched in the ten months she carries that baby. The difficulty is further aggravated by every Tom, Dick and Harry having an opinion to give. Let it be on record that I laughed out loud as I typed Dick, given the topic of discussion. Yes, I can be juvenile like that, sue me!

Mentally, it feels like being on a permanent roller coaster ride. Teetering from adoration to worry to panic to anger and sometimes to resentment. You heard me right, resentment. Nowadays I have better coping mechanisms largely because they are opinionated little humans who will give you a piece of their mind, solicited or not. It was different when they were younger and it was up to me to decipher what they were communicating with every cry, scream and tantrum. My mental health and capacities are continually being stretched. Worrying about making the right decisions by them. Worrying about if, in raising them, I am leaving them with traumas they will need to work through later in life. What levels of unlearning will they have to go through in discovering who they are? How much affection is considered smothering? Should we loosen the boundaries so they learn from their mistakes? Am I building a healthy sense of self-worth in them to minimise or magically prevent them from developing self-esteem issues? See where I’m going with this? No?

Navigating pre-adolescence is an extreme sport! The mood swings, the silent treatment and – let no one lie to you – their sweat stinks! They may not be of age to use deodorant but their bodies did not get the memo. Especially after they have had a good sweating session from playing outdoors! You want to get that child into the bathroom. FYI, they will do everything to dodge showering. See what I mean? This parenting gig has no OFF button. It stays ON 24/7, even when you travel for work, or go for a romantic getaway with your personal person, in your head, you are still parenting. The level of responsibility is something I struggle with to date. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this ends when they move out. The expenses will lessen but your child will still need you in one way or another. 

I recently read something online that got me laughing and worried in equal measures. It was a piece by a mother titled ‘My 13-year old daughter hates me’ or something along those lines. In summary, she and her daughter were in the stage of their relationship where they did not like each other. She went on to explain that she loves her child but she no longer understands her. They have days where they speak no words to each other, where her daughter is outrightly mean to her and completely withdraws. She, the mother, has to constantly remind herself that this too shall pass and all she can do is let her daughter know she is there for her no matter what. Extreme sport!

Earlier on I talked about resentment but I really did not expound. Here goes. Some decisions are easy to make, like, will I have eggs or sausage for breakfast? Chicken or beef? Rice or pasta? If it isn’t obvious, my life revolves around food more than I care to admit. Resentment. Having my kids very early on in my twenties meant that time of my life was very different from that of my peers. While people were partying, switching relationships, working shitty internships, leaving the country etc., I was changing diapers, looking for miracle cures for colic, bad mouthing rude pediatricians and singing nursery rhymes even in my sleep. The kids got older and I took stock of my life as Maureen. I was very resentful. I felt like having babies had robbed me of the ‘twenties experience’. The hardest realization was knowing there was no rewind button. 

Making the choice to stay home and raise the humans also had an impact on my career. My peers had advanced from entry level jobs to mid-level management. When I eventually transitioned back to a full-time work situation, it was like starting afresh. Volunteering, taking on internships and not really being picky about what came my way. Any opportunity that got my foot in the door was up for grabs. The fact that I really hadn’t figured out what career path I was going to set upon only made it that much harder. The levels of resentment were all shades of ugly. Admittedly it is not all gone, I just handle it better and it is not as strong a feeling as it used to be.

I tell you, no one prepares you for these things. Being a parent, by choice, by birth, through surrogacy, guardianship or adoption, no matter the circumstances that get you there is not for the faint-hearted. You best be ready to commit for life. No return to sender.

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Black Panther
Black Panther
2 years ago

Those loudly opinionated little people, though…can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Reply to  Black Panther
2 years ago


2 years ago

So well written! Especially because all I see is your seamless motherhood, I like how honest this is

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