• Crossing over to motherhood requires a lot of psychological prepping
Baby bag? Check. Hospital bag? Double-check. Due date… three days.
As I sit here writing this column, the baby is pushing out, not bearing down as he/she is supposed to. Rather, out as though he/she wants to burst out of my navel. He/she is pulling on nerves, making me feel an odd tingle-like pressure on my bladder.
I apologise in advance if this particular column seems too personal. However, I cannot write my weekly commentary as usual as if I am not worried about facing the single biggest moment of my life. I am scared; I am excited; I am anxious. I live every minute of the day expecting the unexpected at any moment.
With seven billion people in the world, humans have normalised childbirth as an everyday thing, blinding themselves to the ugly truth. The truth is childbirth is the singular most phenomenal thing that reminds us of the Divine. Giving birth is nothing short of a miracle. It is a test unlike any other burdened on the female species of the earth.
During pregnancy, every know-it-all male and female figure in your life is bound to tell you some generalised statements like, “It is a normal process” or “All the women before you have gone through it.” We have become so blasé when it comes deliveries that we forget how dangerous the process is to the mother and baby. Every year, thousands of women die from maternity-related issues. According to Unicef data, 342 Kenyan women out of 100,000 women who give birth die from maternity-related complications.
Some of the issues contributing to the increased mortality rates among new mothers include eclampsia, postpartum bleeding and postpartum infections. New mothers also face a range of psychological issues that result from the PTSD of childbirth.
I say this not to cast a dark shadow over a moment that should be a happy one. I say it as a reminder to those who have forgotten about the pain and distress women face during childbirth. Children are born every day. However, just because it is a normal thing does not make it any less miraculous.
Just as I prepare myself for the most amazing gift yet, by collecting the sweetest baby paraphernalia and readying the house for its long-awaited guest, I also find myself preparing psychologically. For the past week, I have been mourning the inevitable loss of my presently past self. A woman I have known for 33 years. A woman who has been in charge of her own life and taken charge of no one else.
To prepare myself for the lifelong responsibility of being a mother, I have had to bid adieu to the fearless, idealistic and somewhat self-centred person who had once been my constant companion. I have found it extremely essential to prepare myself mentally for any life-altering event.
It might sound eccentric to some, but I thought long and hard about it. I do not wish to be one of those middle-aged people who desperately cling to youth in my forties; that is why I lived life as I wanted in my twenties. Nor do I want to be one of those mothers who lives her life like a faded mirage of her singleton days. When the time comes, I would like to be able to embrace the new challenge and role unreservedly.
Just as my packed bags and nested home represent the preparedness for the arrival of our bundle of joy, my new perspective represents the awareness of a life-changing moment. So dear reader, wish me luck in my new journey and remember the next time you read this column, my perspectives would probably have shifted as I view the world from the role of someone I have never been before: a mother.