Best year ever

Here’s a guest blog post from boyfriend…

Exactly one year ago, at 9:40pm, I heard your
sweet cry for the first time.It was the sweetest
sound I had ever heard. Right then and there our
whole life changed, mine and your mom’s, we
became parents.

I spent that night staring at your
precious face, I could not blink, I didn’t want to
miss anything. You were amazing, beautiful, tiny,
helpless, cute, who wouldn’t fall in love? I loved
you then.

We announced your birth to our family
and friends, and right there and then, we became
a family of three.

This past year has been the best year of our life.
You my daughter, Kendall , have changed our life
in the absolute best way possible. I read
somewhere that having a child is like letting your
heart walk around outside of your body. That
couldn’t be more true.

image

Daddy with his baby

It’s amazing to see how
much you have changed over the past year.

We have watched you grow, from reaching at
objects on your play mat to learning how to stand
and pick items from the table. How excited you
were when you realized you could stand on your
own…I felt the same way as you did.

You are
such a happy girl and have a smile that lights up
the room. Recently your first four teeth
came…and my God, how cute your smile is. It’s
funny when I see you cry for your toothbrush…it
‘s so cute when you try to do as you mom does.

You are so funny, I think you picked that from me
…. and you love attention…that you picked
from your mom… lol.

You are very social, you
make friends with everyone, you are too smart
for your age, you are always a step ahead of
whatever trick I wanna do to you.

I could say a lot and never stop, because I love
you, we love you Kendy. You are very fast
growing into a queen , but even so,….you will
always be our little princess .

Happy first Birthday Baby Kendall.

Feeding 101

Our lesson for the day is how to feed yourself

You first hold your spoon like this….

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Then you put the food in your mouth like this…

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The joys of motherhood., :-)

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There you go sweetheart; you nailed it!

Of Housegirls and Parenting

I’ve said before that realizing that I was expecting really made my blood run cold. I was happy yes, but there’s always that fear of the unknown; the realization that things will never be the same ever again.

With all my naiveté, I feared all the wrong things. Well, mostly. I feared that my body would change, I’d get stretch marks, I’d not be able to go out anymore(and it’s not like I liked it to start with). Very vain reasons I must say. But then again, I was young, stupid and selfish…mostly selfish. Ok, and stupid, you happy now?

I thought nothing of the expenses, or what getting a kid really meant but for some reason, the one fear on top of the list was househelps.

I knew we’d have to get someone to help around the house and with the baby and the thought terrified me. Turns out I had good reasons.

Boyfriend was not any better and what this meant is that neither of us was in a hurry to get the help we very much needed. Not even when I went into labor or when I came back home from the hospital. I’m blessed to have an amazing mother in law who dropped all and came to my rescue. She nursed me for two weeks, after which my mum came for a week.

I had no idea what was expected of me as a mother at the time. It was like reporting on your first day at work and you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do. You arrange your desk but then realize that the task only takes 5 minutes from the 8hrs. Seven and a half hours to go. You check your mail for the eleventh time. No new mail.  You go through the images on your desktop calendar. Seven hours, eighteen minutes to go. Great! Just great! You log into facebook but minimize it a millisecond later because you’re not sure whether you’ll get fired on your first day for facebooking… The torture continues for the rest of the day.

When my mother in law left, I cried like a baby. My mum came the day after and I could tell all would be ok. It felt like we were jumping up and down under the evening sun in a flower garden while holding hands. That did not last for long though. My sleep deprived self was once again devastated a week later when she left.

Now fast-forward 7 months and 2 househelps later when boyfriend and I came home on a Friday evening to find my very good housegirl doing what she did best; taking good care of my baby. She gave me the baby and excused herself to go un-hang the clothes. That’s the last I heard from her… and my house phone.

Looking for a housegirl is hard I tell you. It’s even harder when you’re desperate. The week that followed was just crazy. Boyfriend took a week-long leave to babysit.

He did really great I must say, but a day or two I came home to find him close to tears. Not that Melina cries a lot, no. As a matter of fact, she only cries like once every two weeks and even then, she has to have a very good reason for crying. Let’s say like when you make her stop eating her clothes which are so very delicious and rich in micro-nutrients, or when you try to go pee after she’s made it very clear that she wants you there 24/7. How dare you go pee?

The thing is, a baby can really push your buttons. They’re worse when they’re a little grown and a little mobile. She might not cry, but she’ll want to pull your hair and your nose and your lips. She’ll try to scale you, and then put the button on your shirt in her mouth. Now she wants the remote. No! She wants the remote, not her toy. Now it’s the phone. Why don’t you want me to play with your toy (phone) papa? Now she does not want to be held. Put me down, I’m a big girl. Why are you not holding me? Do you hate me papa? All these happen in one minute. Now multiply that by a whole effing day!

You’ll give her a toy, and she drops it to the floor. Being the good parent that you are, you pick it up for her thinking that she dropped it by mistake (since you can clearly see that she’s now trying to reach for it), but after picking it up for the eighth time, you’ll realize that the little Dennis(e) the Menace is dropping it just to play with you. She enjoys your pain.

Saying that boyfriend was exhilarated when we finally received a phone call informing us to send bus fare for our new housegirl would be an understatement. She was to arrive in Nairobi on Sunday morning which would give me just a few hours to train her before leaving her with the baby on Monday the following day.

She called early Sunday morning telling me that she was in town but when I went to get her, my calls went unanswered. Thirty missed calls later, I could not reach her. Thinking that her phone must have run out of charge, I now had the hectic task of looking for her in a crowded town via footsteps the way it used to be done like 3 presidents ago. I’m now convinced that I have superhuman qualities for I was able to sniff her out four hours later.

Just when I was about to give up and leave, I saw a girl sleeping next to two street boys. She would have passed for a street girl, were it not for my supernatural sniffing qualities and the fact that she was seated on a very big bag. I dangerously ventured into the street territory fearing for my life and tapped her shoulders to wake her up. Tapping was not enough. The boys were looking at me curiously. And so was everyone else. I shook her one, and then twice. She woke up startled, gazed up with tired, teary eyes and then went back to sleep.

When I shook her the third time, I quickly asked her name and yes, this is the girl I was looking for. When I told her I’d been looking for her the whole day, she mumbled something about her phone being stolen. The street boys wanted to be paid for taking such ‘good care’ of her but when I reached into my pockets to get the money, a small crowd that had gathered told them off and instructed me not to give them anything. This did not stop them from following us around town demanding to be paid but I held my ground.

The bag was heavy, and the girl was staggering a little. I assumed it was from being so sleepy since she’d traveled in the night and again the sun must have sapped the strength out of her while she slept. I therefore took the bag from her and hurried from Machakos Country bus, heading towards City Center where we’d get a matatu home. It was a long way. I could not understand why she had opted for a cheap bus while I’d sent enough for her to use a comfortable ride.

Helping her with the bag did little. She was walking so slowly that I’d occasionally stop and wait. It was frustrating but bringing up a kid teaches one to be very patient.

We finally got home and I showed her to her room. It was around noon and we took late breakfast for I wanted her to sleep off her drained self before telling her what was expected of her. She spilled tea all over the carpet but I overlooked this. Patience…

When I told her to go sleep however, she did not respond. I asked her again and again. Nothing still, she just looked at me blankly. I decided to talk to her like a two year old. (And did I tell you that she was a mother of an eight-year-old?)

‘I’m telling you to go to the room I showed you and take a nap, we’ll talk when you get up,’ I told her.

‘I swear, I have no idea what room you’re talking about,’ she said.

This girl must be crazy! I’d just shown her the room. As a matter of fact, her bag was in there.

But then again, she was sleepy and tired. Patience Cess, Patience.

We could not communicate at all. She was speaking in Swahili yes, but we were not communicating. She was talking about her phone and things I did not understand. At one point I thought that she was not quite there mentally. I felt like she’d have needed 50 shillings worth of charcoal to boil to completion. But I reasoned that the sun can do things to your head and she’d be okay when she woke up. Boy, was I wrong?

Long post short, girl wakes up two hours later, goes to my bedroom where boyfriend is taking a nap. Boyfriend wakes up to find someone looking at him as he sleeps.

I try to tell the girl to come to the living room for the orientation and she refuses blatantly. Boyfriend comes to my rescue and she agrees to sit and talk. When told to respect me she laughs arrogantly and says that she understands very well that respect is important.

I tell her that Melina’s clothes are washed once every two days and she tells me that she can never do that.

These are her words, ‘Clothes are washed every day and that is how I’ll be doing it. I’m also a mother and there is no way I can stay a whole day without washing a baby’s clothes. If you don’t believe me, wait until tomorrow and then you’ll see.’

She starts making faces and boyfriend asks her whether she’s in pain. She denies at first and then changes her mind saying that she has a toothache. She’s told to go get water from the kitchen so as to take painkillers.

The water takes so long that boyfriend goes to see what she’s doing. He calls me and I go only to find her in our bedroom going through our wardrobes. 1700 shillings is missing from my dressing table.

A search through her bag brings forth two empty bottles of some cheap liquor (flying horse), chewing tobacco (boyfriend says it called cuberr), and my shoes. The money is nowhere to be found.

We later found the money; some in her mouth and the rest between the bed sheets. That’s also where we found a half-eaten chapatti.

I’ve outdone myself this time round…

Housegirl number three duration – Less than 3 hours.

How much do we Know?

The block, which housed 3 one-bedroomed units, stood at the extreme corner of a large extended family’s homestead. The place had a rural feel to it complete with napier grass, bananas and even about a half dozen coffee bushes. In front of the three houses, the other side of a well-trimmed live hedge was a kitchen garden. The garden belonged to the landlord’s mother.

The thing that drew us to the place was its countryside’s setup. Going home to the tranquil place sounded like a welcome escape from the hassles of the city; traffic and all.

When we moved in, the block was fairly new. Of the three units, only one had been occupied. The remaining one would be occupied two weeks later by a lady I never came to know well enough. Boyfriend and I chose the house in the middle. To our right was the lady I’ve just mentioned, while to the left was a young couple just like us. Now allow me to talk about the couple…

The landlord said that they had moved in just a week before us. Though I didn’t know at the time, the guy was a Luo while the Lady was a Kalenjin. And friendly people they were. Before long, we were all friends. Not bosom buddies kind of friends, but the kind that un-hang your cloths when it rains and you’re at work. The lady would even come to my house to borrow my movies.

That year, Christmas came and went. I saw our neighbors slaughtering a chicken over the festive season, and saw them again escorting their visitors. It therefore came as a surprise when boyfriend came about a week or two later and asked me whether I’d seen the young man. According to boyfriend, the man looked emaciated.

Apparently, he’d felt sick and went to the hospital. Unfortunately though, he was wrongly diagnosed and the doctor had been treating him for malaria while in the real sense, he had diabetes. He told boyfriend that as a result, he was to be operated on the following Tuesday.

Though I did not understand why a diabetic patient would need an operation, boyfriend looked rather shaken and I suggested that we needed to pay a visit to our neighbors. But we kept postponing the visit. Days turned into weeks.

The weekend before Valentines I flew to Western Kenya. Boyfriend was also away on business. When I came back that Sunday, I saw my landlord come with some people who were clearly looking for a house. I was confused. You see, I’d not even noticed that my neighbors had moved. Maybe I was selfish or needy, but I felt betrayed. I wondered whether something was wrong with the place, or maybe they’d found a better place. Either way, I felt that they should have told me that they were moving. Plus they left with my movies.

Going against my better judgment, I called the lady. She surprised me by telling me that it had in fact been a week since they moved! She also said that she was a little busy and would call me back in no time.

I took that to mean that she was calling back in a heartbeat. But several heartbeats later, the call was not forthcoming. I had a burning urge to know why they had moved and it was killing me. And remember that we were not tight enough, so calling her and nagging her with questions was not an option. I therefore devised a devilish idea. How about I call her, ask her where she is and say that it’s because I need my movies back? That sounded like a very bright idea. And that’s exactly what I did.

When I Told her that I needed to know where she was so I could get my movies back, she told me that she was in a small family meeting and would get back to me. A week passed and she never called me.

As I did laundry outside my house on weekends, my landlord’s mum would be in her garden chatting me up. At times she’d even give me green maize to make githeri. And that particular weekend, the week after talking to my now former neighbor, was no different. But what she asked that day almost made me faint.

‘Did they finally bury your neighbor?’ she asked.

‘Wait. What?’ I exclaimed obviously confused.

‘Your neighbor, was he buried? ’ she repeated.

And that is when she explained that my neighbor had passed and that is why his young wife had moved to her sister’s. And the time I was calling her asking for my movies she was probably at her husband’s wake. :-(

I’m 14 weeks!!

My name is Melina. I’m 14 weeks old. You probably know my mum. She gave me that pet name but I don’t like it much. Not that I like a lot of things though… For starters, I don’t like medicine. Sweet or not, it makes no difference, I just hate the taste. I also hate it when someone tries to wipe /clean my neck. I know I’ll stink if someone doesn’t do it, but that’s not the point. The point is that wiping someone’s neck is just rude.

I’ve come a long way though. I remember back in the day when I didn’t like taking a bath. I would cry and cry and cry. And then my old lady convinced me that as a girl, I either like it, or I like it. Left with no choice, I warmed up to the idea of taking a bath every single day. But that does not mean that I have to like dressing. Rest assured that I’ll raise a ruckus if you try to dress me. Cloths suck!

Recently, my mum went back to work. She leaves me alone. Ok, she leaves me with aunty. The bad thing is, I really miss my parents when they are gone. The good thing is, I have my aunty twisted around my little finger and she does whatever it is that I want her to do. For instance, everybody knows that being held while someone is seated is not so much fun. Fun is when someone stands and sways you from side to side. Now that’s what I like. Aunty does that very well. Not that I give her a choice.

I’m sleepy now, but I’ll be telling you a lot more about the things I love like pooping, and eating, and crying.

Did I tell you that farting is really painful? Well, it is. And so is sleep.

Meet Melina

You know how you meet someone you last saw like 10 years ago and you have no idea how to start a conversation without making a fool of yourself, well that is exactly how I feel. So much has happened since we last saw each other.

Remember the bun that was in the oven, it cooked already; I have the most amazing 9 weeks old daughter. Melina is her name. Not her real name though. Melina is the closest I could come up with seeing that her African name means honey, and Melina is its Greek equivalent.

Going through with pregnancy, giving birth and watching the young one grow is nothing short of a miracle. I remember people asking how I felt when I was expecting. Does is feel heavy? Are the kicks painful? Do you have any cravings? Are you scared of the labor and such and I always gave the same answer.

You see, one is pregnant for a whole nine months. The sickness, cravings, tiredness and even getting bigger all happen gradually. This gives the body time to get used and appreciate the new, though sometimes very awful, feelings as the new normal. I totally forgot how normal used to feel like. How it was like being able to tie my own shoes or eat beef or onions without puking my guts out. And now that all that is behind me, I barely remember how it used to feel like being pregnant. Heck, I even stare at the pregnant women the same way people used to stare at me with questions on their faces.

When the 40 long weeks were over, my body did yet another amazing thing. It endured the most unbearable pain it had ever been subjected to and brought forth a beautiful baby girl.

And here are answers to some of the questions I’ve been asked time and time again.

How did you feel when you realized you were pregnant?

I’d say overwhelmed. No matter how ready you are for a baby, the reality brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I’d be crying, the next I’d be so happy, the next I’d be scared shitless, and the next I’d be laughing hysterically. It’s all so weird. The men on the other hand are more terrified, but better at hiding it. Boyfriend looked totally composed. I only learnt later, way much later, that he was more terrified than I was.

Any Complications?

Every woman is different. Mine was rather smooth. But I’d be lying if I said that the first three months weren’t a nightmare. Everything smelt bad. Perfume, beef, pilau, onions, samosas… And the normally nasty smells like sweat smelt 100 times worse. I was also so tired. This is attributed to the fact that in the first 10 weeks, the placenta is not yet ready to take over its tasks which means that your body does all the work. I’d relate the feeling to how one feels when on acute malaria medication.

Then there’s another uncomfortable feeling you get in the stomach every 30 minutes. Like when one has amoeba. This requires one to eat constantly. I carried bananas everywhere I went.

How does it feel? Heavy?

Like I said, you don’t wake up one morning and find your stomach has extended to your nose. It happens slowly and is therefore not as bad. Sometimes you feel heavy though, mostly after sitting for too long, but most times I barely felt the difference.

I’d say that sleeping was the trickiest part. And you can only sleep on your left side. Woe unto you if you get tired.

Cravings?

I did not crave anything in particular, but I liked ripe bananas, omena and Tusky’s loaf.

How bad was labor?

Someone once described giving birth as trying to pull your lower lip over your head. Painful, right? Well, wrong. I’d watched delivery videos prior to labor so as to know what to expect, but I was surprised to find out that compared to labor, pushing is simply a walk in the park. Labor was so painful that when it came to pushing, the pain was barely there. And when I saw my baby, I forgot completely.

It’s crazy that I now ask boyfriend, ‘Did it look that bad?’

And the answer he gives tells me that he felt more pain than I did.

But I must say that it was a lot better than I expected.

How’s motherhood?

Breathtaking

Melina fills my heart with so much joy that I cannot even begin to explain.

There’s this feeling you get to have the absolute responsibility of someone so tiny that they cannot even tell you what it is that they want. How good it feels watching her trust that you’ll meet all her needs, learning to understand her language, and being ready to do anything under the sun to make sure that she’s happy.

P.S. Boyfriend is now Hubby; I call him that coz it makes me feel young. ;-)

Hormones

A friend of mine was wedding last Saturday and I easily convinced boyfriend to accompany me. The wedding was nice and all but come lunch time, the plates were not enough for all of us. Other than wait and queue with the rest who included small kids, we decided to go buy food someplace else. Boyfriend was a little a lot hungry and his ulcers were getting the better of him. Either that or I was imagining my own things. Bottom line, one minute we’re standing at a French fries stand and the next we’re having a heated argument about, well…, French fries. The details of that argument are not important, but the bottom line is, I did something that surprised even me.

I’m normally very good when it comes to winning arguments. I’ll take a very light argument, make it personal, argue like my life depended on it, get angry if I have to(which is basically most of the times) and finally stop talking to whoever am arguing with like any mature person would do. This is especially worse if we’re arguing about gender balance. Let’s not even go there.

So this day I’m so angry I want to throw the fries that I’m carrying away. Then without warning, I start crying. No, not weeping softly into my handkerchief, no. I’m talking about wailing loudly while tears and all other unmentionable fluids roll down my face.  I’m wiping my face messily with the back of my hand while I tell boyfriend rather loudly exactly how I feel. People are staring and I don’t care. He’s taken by surprise. He apologizes. I’m not even listening. He now thinks it’s funny and starts laughing and I cry a little bit harder and a little bit louder…

That has now been my life since boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to have a baby. I now do things that would make me cringe on a normal day.I’ll tell you all about that in coming posts.

And talking of boyfriend, I thought about replacing that word with a better one like say ‘baby’s daddy’ or ‘husband to soon be’ but he went and did something that made me change my mind.

I was in the kitchen eating (I do that a lot lately) when I heard him laughing from somewhere in the house. The polite thing to do would have been to ask what was funny, but I knew better. Knowing him the way I do, I knew that he’d have said that he just remembered a part in ‘How I met your Mum’; a part he’d probably made me watch like 17 times. And then he’d tell it to me all over again, and when I didn’t laugh he’d think that I’m not getting the joke. And I’d try to explain that I got the joke alright, and in fact thought that it was totally hilarious the first three times we watched it but after the 13th time hearing about it, and the 9th time watching it, the joke sort of stopped being so funny. I’d end the explanation with the classic line, ‘Maybe it’s just me…’

You see, it’s too much work. And who needs to go through that? Seeing that I was ignoring him, he laughed again, louder this time round. Before my mind could even remind my mouth to not say a word, I heard myself ask him whether he’d like to share the joke. He did. What followed was not funny at all.

Him: I was just reading your last blog post. How come you’re so funny on the blog and not funny at all in real life?

I thought he was kidding and expected him to wink twice when I looked at him. But when I did, what I saw was an innocent face staring right back at me. His expression said that he was waiting for an answer

I happen to be very good with comebacks. In fact my mind was spinning.

I could have told him to get off my blog and go read a particular one I felt would be appropriate for him at http://www.youarealsonotfunnybutyoudonthearmesayingittoyourface.com, but I didn’t.

I could have told him, ‘But look who’s now stuck with me for the rest of his life. You still think you’re so funny?’ But I didn’t.

Or I could have taken the high road; tell him to shut up while I ran away crying, but I still didn’t.

Instead, I had a smile on my face as I thought,’ Forget the cute names, I’ll continue calling you boyfriend on my blog.’

Who’s laughing now?

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