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I’ve been surprised by how many women have found my blog by searching “ambivalent about motherhood” or “ambivalent about pregnancy” into a search engine.
I’ve been overwhelmed by how many women are going through the ambivalence I felt when I first got pregnant. And how many of us are curious about how we’ve all moved forward since we first posted.
So here is my update:
My son turned 4 this year. He’s a happy healthy thriving little boy who looks like my father and like Mzee’s mother. He’s got a lot of my strong willed personality. I like him. As a person. I find him a fascinating little person in his own right. I find his likes interesting and his dislikes fascinating. He asks for what he wants and speaks truths as he sees them.
Its been a challenge to balance my growing career with being a wife and mother.
But as Sheryl Sandberg says, the most important career decision a woman makes is in the choice of her life partner. I’ve got an amazingly supportive husband who agreed to leave his well paying corporate job and move to a different country with me so I could focus on growing my work. Its been a year since the international move and all is well.
But we’ve also had to have serious negotiations about our roles in the family.
I think our marriage is very gender unconventional but thats because of our personalities.
I’m impatient and brash, he’s patient and very nurturing. So he does the things about parenting that need the patience and I do the things about parenting that need mixing up. I take our son out and about into the world with me when we’re running errands. When he’s with his Dad they stay home. Dad is the one to read him a story and put him to bed.
The price I pay for that is when he’s got a boo boo, he runs to Dad first. Its hard sometimes but I also know that Dad has put in the work and I don’t begrudge him. We play different roles in our son’s life.
But I’ve also had to learn to balance my career zeal with my time with family. One of my resolutions for this year is to be at home and present more. I won’t work from home. I leave work at work and I don’t work the insane hours I enjoyed working before having my son. I’m enjoying it actually. But I know i’m enjoying it because its a decision I’ve made and not one forced on my by society’s conventions.
We’ve also had a challenge getting other people to accept the roles we’ve built in our marriage. Women especially are the meanest. Women are the most staunch defenders of conventional gender roles. It blows my mind.
I’m still a work in progress. My family is still a work in progress.
And in the last few months my hubby and I have been debating whether to try and have another child!
So i’ve been facing a quandry that leaves me wondering how other mothers manage.
We’ll have guests at home and its time to feed baby Barack. I sit there trying to figure out if to just whip out a boob and feed the squirming screeming baby to quiet him so I can follow the conversation, or if I should leave the room and go feed him in a private room to avoid embarassing whatever male visitors.
For a while I had decided to follow the Muslim rule whereby I would whip out a boob if the male present was related to me and go into a separate room if they were not related. I think that doing this made my dad and father in law uncomfortable at first but they soon seemed to get over it.
For Easter we had close family friends over who also have a baby and I decided to just go ahead and feed in front of them. That seemed to make the other mother comfortable enough so she went about pumping right there. Both our hubbies didn’t seem to mind. What a relief!
As I get ready to go home for a few weeks I’m wondering how to navigate this one. I know that being gone for a while has left me a little hazy on how things are done. Plus i’ve never had a baby in Kenya before. So, whom to nurse in front of?
How do you mommies out there deal with this one?
So mzee takes baby Barack for a diaper change and a cool half an hour later he re-emerges singing and dancing with the baby singing “If you liked it you should have put a bib on it” to the tune of Beyonce’s “if you liked it you should have put a ring on it”.
Now mzee is not the singing type at all so I fall over laughing. Why is he singing this? Turns out that a diaper change that normally takes 5 minutes took so long because the baby kept spitting up on every outfit he was put in and there was a total of three outfits involved. So Mzee concluded to himself that if he liked the outfit, he should have put a bib on the baby to prevent the clotted milk that soon coated every new outfit.
In honor of 30 minute diaper changes I leave you with Beyonce:
I swear I don’t know where my days are going!!
I had all these brilliant ideas about all these things I would be able to accomplish once I was home on maternity leave. Well, projects are still on the shelf waiting for me. Ati I even thought i’d have time to put together some scrap books. Yeah right!
I can’t figure out where all my time is going. I had no idea taking care of a baby took this much time. I barely have time to check email let alone write people back. And blogging is such an indulgence nowadays!!
oh and lets talk about showers…. I used to think its a joke those women who would complain about not having time to take a shower. Kumbe its true! As soon as I put baby Obama to nap and step into the shower he wakes up and start wailing. There I am, all soaped up and debating to let him keep screaming and rinse off, or create a sudzy puddle all the way to his crib and try and calm him down. It was funny the first two times. After the third time it gets old.
Much as i’m miffed at how little time I have for myself I have to admit i’m quite proud of myself and the little guy for how much he’s grown. He’s put on close to 4lbs in 9 weeks and has those chubby cheeks babies get. I marvel that all this is from drinking my milk and my milk only!
And as i’m typing this he’s swaddled in bed right next to me completely refusing to take his nap and just smiling and cooing at me instead. It warms my heart. What a cutie…….I”m smitten
Mzee and I are holding up but I must admit that the addition of this little munchkin had changed the game.
Its amazing to me that such a little thing can have such a big impact.
Not being able to make him stop crying is the hardest. When he’s crying I feel like my heart is being ripped into pieces. When Mzee is not able to get him to stop crying in 2 mintues I feel like i’m dying. At the same time I know that its important to let Mzee take care of him and not be hovering all the time. Stepping in every time does communicate to Mzee that I don’t trust his ability to handle the baby. In my mind I know that.
But boy am I failing the test big time! I hear the baby crying, vumilia for about 2 minutes, then I can’t take it any more and I have to come in and intervene.
I’m worried that i’m contributing to a dynamic that is going to come back and bite me in the butt again latter where Mzee doesn’t know how or is not willing to deal with the crying baby anymore or the baby doesn’t know how to be comforted by his Dad.
Moms out there, was this ever an issue for you guys?
Also, in celebration of babies here is Nyota Ndogo and my next cd purchase as soon as I hit home.
Quick post while baby naps…
My brain is barely functioning!
I keep forgeting stuff and can barely retain new info. I’d heard about this phenomenon but its really trippy when it happens to you!
So much for trying to work on my book while baby Barack is napping. All i can muster is folding laundry and ironing.
Hopefully things get better in some weeks here because this really is not sustainable.
In other news, today is my first day alone with the bambino. He was born exactly a month ago (January 16th) and since then I’ve either had Mzee or his parents or my parents around. So far its going swimmingly. I even figured out how to go to the bathroom while holding him because he was screaming his head off and I really had to go. about those Kegels……
I keep thinking that if I knew six months ago what I know now I would have had so much more fun with my pregnancy.
I spent so much time and energy flipping out and fearing the labour and delivery that it seriously cut into my enjoyment of pregnancy. Turns out I had nothing to worry about and I should have just chilled out.
1. Yes labour and delivery are painful but its doable and bearable with the right kind of pain medication. I went into the process thinking that it was either an epidural or nothing. Kumbe there are IV medication options which is what I took and it worked perfectly for me. Every hour the nurse would load me up with a dose and I would continue labouring. I could still feel the contractions and the pushing but the meds just took the edge off. Halfway through the nurse looked at me and told me that I was well on my way to doing this without an epidural and for the first time I believed that i was capable. That nurse was awesome!
2. My body is capable of a lot more than I’ve ever given it credit for. I’ve had a really rough relationship with my body for years now. Coming to America as a teenage girl to a family where the women had serious body image issues themselves was horrible for my self image. Consequently i’ve wasted the last decade in conflict with my body. I feel like labour and delivery have ended a long civil war. My body has won. I love it, I respect it, and I am in awed amazement at what it can do. For example, I’m already weighing less than I did on the day that I found out I was pregnant!! This is not because I went on some extreme diet during the pregnancy. I just decided that I wasn’t going to care about dieting and that I was just going to focus on eating healthy but eating what I fancied. Nausea took care of my tendancy to overeat and the rest is history. I’m hoping to parlay my newfound respect for my body into a new healthy lifestyle. wish me luck!!