A Mummy Story: Lessons from a street girl
By Julia Omenda
4 years ago | 3 min read
I was in my second year in campus at a local university, when I discovered I was pregnant. I had no business being pregnant at that time, given my five-year-plan- but I was so in love. And this was one of the end results…one of them. In hindsight, it was puppy love and everything about my world was clouded. I was looking at life through pink coloured glasses.
And it helped that when I went to my Gynae to confirm - okay I had no idea about home pregnancy test kits, so shoot me - that my boyfriend was there with me. Needless to say he told me how calm and mature I was when I learnt am expecting a baby. Boy! If he knew the drama that was happening between my brain and my heart and my fallopian tubes!
Days became months and by the 7th month I was like a sack of potato, given, with amazing hips and butt. Then one day, after my many doctor’s appointment, as we are riding home, me at the back of the car, lost in thought. Thoughts about my future, I panicked.
“How was I gonna take care of another human being, let alone a baby? I was not even sure I could take care of myself. How do people raise human beings? What do they do to prevent them from getting sick; getting marasmus or dying! Oh lord, what if I accidentally kill it! And I started to hyperventilate. I didn’t want my boyfriend to see me in that state. But I was having such difficulty breathing. I was in an oven.
“Open the windows please!” I hear myself snap at him.What one thing never fails to make you feel better?
By now he is used to my mood swings, or chooses to understand my pregnancy brain. Either way, without a word he dutifully pulls down the windows. As am gasping for breath, my head almost out of the window, I see her…
She looked frail but alert. Definitely in her teens 14 or 15 years old. Her clothes dirty. Her dirty brown hair kinky and shrivelled. She was sitting among the litter bay in Ngumo estate. She kept nudging this playful baby back to her because he kept wandering to where the older kids sniffing glue were hunched over, watching something. As if to protect her baby from their glue-sniffing, but she really was part of them. It was her family. Eventually she went and picked him up and moved the baby to a ‘safe’ place, not far from the rest.
That’s when a voice inside my head reassured me.
“Look at her, dirty, simple, poor chokora. But she is doing a fine job taking care of her child.”
For sure the child looked chubby and active. He was about six months or so I figured, because he was crawling all over the place. I was genuinely amazed that her baby had survived that long.
It all happened in an instant but it spoke to me for a lifetime; then and even now, 3 babies later. I knew then that raising a child, for a mother it’s not so much skill or knowledge, but instinct.
When my son was born two months later weighing 2.75kg. He was a pink tiny, frail, almost transparent bundle of joy. Instinctively, I knew I had to breastfeed him, and so I settled him into position for his first feed. At home I knew I had to clean him. I had to keep him warm. I was his first protector. I knew I had to be his first best friend. And with time my son responded to me and trusted me and loved me unconditionally, even through all my experiments on him, failed or otherwise. But every time I panicked, and those days were many, I still remembered that girl. I knew everything was gonna be alright.
My son is now a full blown 13 year old teenager who sometimes I wish to exchange for another, but that’s a story for another day.
Thank you little street girl. You gave me a special gift – the confidence of motherhood.
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