The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: In the Pink Corner - the Miracle of Life Is a Double-Edged Sword

column

So the good news is, we're expecting again. The bad news is that this time we're doing it the biological way. The last time we were expecting, it took several weeks of prayer, three months of being vetted by the Police, a month being visited by social workers and having our bank statements gone over to ensure we could afford a child.

There were a million doubts and fears and people's opinions to wade through. And then finally the court gave us a signed document making us the legal guardians and parents of the most wonderful gift we have ever been given.

However, nothing in that process prepared us for the real business of expecting. I know I am supposed to be glorying in the miracle of creation, but to be honest I am not feeling too miraculous.

It is like my body has been invaded and taken over by aliens and no amount of trying to use mind over matter is helping.

I wake up in the morning and I tell myself that it is a beautiful day and I want and need some breakfast. Hubby lovingly fixes what we both know to be my favourite breakfast.

The birds are chirping outside as we dine in peace. Shortly, however, that peace is interrupted by a familiar stirring in my tummy. No, I tell myself. You need food and the baby (or babies) needs nutrients to grow. You will not throw up.

A few short minutes later, I will be exiting the toilet and apologising to Hubby for the beautiful breakfast which I was unable to retain.

This sets the tone for the rest of the day. Whoever coined it Morning Sickness was a cruel liar. This is with me all day, every day.

The first time it happened, I thought I had done my bit for the morning and could proceed to board a taxi and get to work. The taxi filled up and we set off. Then I became aware of a cologne/perfume which for some reason I could not stand.

And my stomach began its familiar dance. Since then I have discovered several more smells and sounds that set me off. The weirdest part of it is that I do not like the way my own body smells.

I have changed soaps and deodorants and finally settled on using Hubby's aftershave to scent my armpits. He is developing the patience of 10 saints, poor man.

I have to take a moment to pray for all the women doing this dance without a supportive partner. In a way I am relieved and looking forward to having a magnificently rounded belly.

When you opt to adopt a child, people automatically assume there must be something wrong with your plumbing. Where I come from, nine months after you marry people will greet your face but address your stomach, looking for signs. I wonder why they don't stare pointedly at the man's crotch instead - after all the baby-making starts there!

I have friends for whom infertility is a painful reality, and something one of them said to me stuck in my head. She said it is beyond a curse to be infertile in a society of fertile women.

And it is always the women who get blamed. So perhaps I am a little bit glad that the gossipy ones waiting to confirm that I cannot make babies have another think coming.

I've got me a ticket to womanhood on the bumpiest ride of my life to date. Being a last born child has taught me many skills, among which is a talent for feeling thoroughly sorry for myself.

The only thing keeping me sane is the thought that I should not embarrass the thousands of tough mamas who are taking care of families, working and carrying their pregnancies along with apparent ease - and possibly no paternal participation.

Now I know where scorned women get their fury from - Mother Nature is a very crazy adversary, and hopefully I will figure out how to survive her.

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