Keeping my baby: The bravest thing I’ve ever done

Patricia Kombo, 22, Student at Moi University and blogger at patriciakombo.wordpress.com

I realised I was pregnant at 3 weeks; I was shocked since I had used contraceptives. I had missed my menses which led me to suspect pregnancy and buy an over-the-counter test kit, and the results were positive. Being raised in a Christian family with strict parents, I saw abortion as the only way out. The thought of turning into a laughing stock to all those who had celebrated my going to university mortified me.

I called back home and lied I had malaria and I needed to visit the doctor. My parents sent me some money; little did they know my evil plans. A friend introduced me to a quack doctor who I paid Sh7,000 with the understanding that he would help me terminate the pregnancy in a week’s time.

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The “doctor” was a no-show on the D-day. I called and called but he ignored my calls and eventually blocked me. My plan had hit the wall and I didn’t have any more money to go ahead with my plan. I thought of how my parents would be disappointed in me, how much I was disappointed in myself. What would happen to my pursuit for education and a better future?

Three days after my abortion plan failed, my mum called to check up on me and wish me a happy birthday. She told me how much she loved me and gave me general advice on life. That call stirred something in my heart. At this point, the friends I’d shared my predicament with were pressuring me to go ahead with the abortion and were even willing to help raise money for it. However, I decided to keep my baby.

I informed my aunt, who later broke the news to my mother and sister. My dad, who’s more authoritarian, was kept in the dark. Balancing university assignments and the stress of pregnancy was quite a challenge. I lost my friends and even started missing classes because I just wanted to be alone.

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Later that September, while living with my dad, I’d wear loose clothes to hide my rapidly protruding belly. He only found out about my pregnancy when I was eight months along, at my sister’s graduation. He was so upset that he refused to speak to me. This was really hard on me and I feared that he would chase me from home and stop paying my school fees, which thankfully he didn’t do.

I delivered my baby girl, Tiffany, safely. My dad took care of the hospital bills. I breastfed my daughter for three months before going back to school. Tiffany is now a rambunctious 2-year-old who fills my life with joy and purpose. Now I advocate for women’s empowerment through agriculture, which led to being nominated for Kotex #periodOrNot She Can Awards. I’m glad that I was brave enough to keep my baby; it was the right decision.

I CAME OUT TO MY FAMILY

Marylize Biubwa, 28

Human Rights Activist

I first realised I was queer when I was in high school. In form two. It came as a surprise because it started off as people, especially schoolmates, assuming I was a lesbian. A friend even told me I get too close to my friends and that’s why people think I am a lesbian. 

Fast forward to 2010 just after I cleared high school, I freed myself off a non-sexual romantic relationship with a man to find myself. I felt like I tried too hard to be in that relationship although deep down I felt I desired something different. I told him I was attracted to women. However, it was only in 2013 that I finally accepted myself as a lesbian.

In August 2018, I decided to finally come out to my family. It was actually more like coming out to my mum. I was afraid of disappointing her and I knew her reaction would set the tone for the rest of the family. My coming out ended up bringing up a lot of other issues, including how I had been sexually abused as a child but my family refused to believe me. With nowhere else to go, and no job to sustain myself, I was on the streets for two weeks. This was a very dark phase for me. I broke.  I broke in ways I have grown to abhor. I was lost, defeated, and alone. The only emotion I was familiar with was numbness and the desire to die. I just wanted to end it all. Eventually a Nigerian friend, Ifeatu Nnaobi, took me off the streets.

My family has not reached out to me for reconciliation; at least not directly. I have had scenarios where a friend tells me my mum was asking about me. My mum only called once but I didn’t pick her call, so she tells people I refuse to talk to her.

I’m still rebuilding myself. Sometimes I suffer mental breakdowns. But I have found wonderful friends and have a therapist and a psychiatrist. I consider it a success that I’m still here, still alive and chasing my dreams. I have had to go through a journey of self acceptance and self love. This helps me through the tough times.

What would I do differently? I would wait till I’m financially stable to come out. The most traumatising thing for me was to live in the streets. Until today, my greatest fear is not being able to pay rent and finding myself in the streets again. I learnt that being free should be the ultimate goal of life. It also taught me that family is not blood, family is people who choose you over and over and over again. I’ve become more vigilant about LGBTIQ rights. I am not scared to knock through doors and to speak life to why sexual minorities’ rights are human rights. Coming out has made me a more legitimate LGBTIQ activist and feminist. It made me free. I guess it’s true what they say; if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If I died today, I will be happy to know I lived a free life.

I QUIT ALCOHOL

Name: Kenneth Kaane

IT specialist at woks for an Advanced Cybersecurity firm in Silicon Valley

I was angry at myself. I had settled for less than I deserved in life. The dangerous relationship I had formed with the drink had to come to an end if I were to live a quality life and manage personal and business relationships effectively.

I have memories of my late father severally giving me a sip of his drink when I was young. In my family, imbibing alcohol was just something adults, especially males, did. It was expected and accepted. But I started taking alcohol with friends late in high school; when I was in Form Four. To me alcohol was unpalatable at first but my taste buds adapted with time. 

At first, I was only drinking socially and everything was fine. I noticed alcohol had become a problem when it took centre stage in my life; when it became a coping mechanism. At the peak before I quit, I was drinking daily and even at times from morning.

I decided to quit cold turkey. I took stock of my life at that point and focused all the resulting anger towards this one goal. I had to make extreme lifestyle changes like avoiding some friends. I also announced on social media my decision to quit alcohol which made me accountable. With hindsight, I could have used easier methods.

This year will mark five years since I gave up the drink. I quit alcohol 26 October, 2014. This quote from Israelmore Ayivor captures perfectly my mood when I made the decision to quit, “If you are not angry with your average performance, you can’t effect a change! You must get upset to grab the energy to break the fence confining you!”

I started seeing benefits of an alcohol free lifestyle almost immediately. I have not had a single drink since quitting. I count each day alcohol-free proudly. By the grace of God and encouraged by loved ones and friends I continue the journey.

In the beginning I kept off places where alcohol was served. It is easier to avoid a temptation when it is not in the same room with you. With time the cravings have become but silent whispers and I can go anywhere comfortably without worrying so much about backsliding. I remember a friend telling me I had become boring and that he will never invite me out. Most friends tried so hard to reintroduce me to the drink. It is a cult. Right now everyone has accepted the new me and we hang out without pressure.

Quitting alcohol is a personal decision but I’ll always advocate for responsible drinking. Know when to say no, what your tolerance level is, and especially being able to take safety into your hands when you go out drinking.

I’ve learned that courage is just anger at the situation in front of you. If you are angry enough at what is challenging you, you will confront it no matter its size.

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pregnantMoi UniversityStudent