BY BETT KINYATTI
I’m broody again.
Last time I was this broody was in the Easter of 2017. Muna was a year and a half old. Nanny Viv was a few months into her new gig at my place. I was no longer hangover with hormonal, which means my mind wasn’t chugging like an old diesel engine. I wasn’t on birth control either. And I had unsexy post-birth flab I hadn’t addressed, especially around my waist; I had a mommy pouch – it’s what remains after you’ve birthed and your skin has stretched and your abdomen muscles are loose; so what used to be the baby bump now sits like a waist bag above your crotch.
Well, GB and I got pregnant. I stopped Muna breastfeeding cold turkey (the poor thing, she couldn’t stop crying ‘nyonyo’ for weeks). We lost the baby at nine weeks. It was a phantom pregnancy, to tell you the truth. I wanted a baby so bad that I fed my mind the symptoms.
I got on birth control a few weeks after the miscarriage – I slammed the window shut. Months after I began drinking green smoothies and running for an hour around my hood in the mornings. I tried gym but I failed miserably.
Now here I am, more than a year later looking at babies and wondering why I can’t deliver one tomorrow.
I don’t like to question these things but I suppose I’m broody because Muna joined preschool last January and has new pals. The other weekend she went for a sleepover at my sister’s place; she was there all day Saturday and all day Sunday, not once did she stop her cousins to ask, “Wait, where’s Mummy? When do I go back home? Why am I having more fun here?” I was gutted. Last Saturday she was at Karura with Nanny Viv and my sister-in-law for some neighbour’s kid birthday party. They had a blast, all of them, with her bike and those colour blast games and whatever. No one called in to check on what I was doing. I’d wanted to go to Adams for some loose shopping but I ended up staying in and raiding GB’s liquor cabinet. I caught Netflix tipsy, reruns of ‘How I Met Your Mother’.
Then there’s GB. GB doesn’t want to make out anymore, he wants to spend his weekends in Nanyuki looking at more plots. This kuyo man of mine, he chats more on WhatsApp with his broker, Towett, than he does flirting and talking dirty with me.
I’m wondering, as a couple, surely how many acres do we really need?
I want a new person. Someone who’ll make me feel needed again. Someone who won’t squirm or say no when I ask to cuddle. I don’t want a puppy or a kitten. I want a baby, preferably a boy. If I can get twin boys or boy-girl twins, it’ll even be better. Two for the effort of one. A buy-one-get-one-free. Like it’s happy hour in the uterus. Dear God, I know you invented happy hour – give me twins.
This broodiness makes everything about newborns so tenderly appealing. Their onesies and little socks. That jumbo head, the way you lay them down and the only thing they can move is their hands and legs. Eyes that float like marbles. That tiny wrinkled greenish bum. A neck as strong as spaghetti. Toes that are all the same length. Gosh, those toes have to be the most adorable thing on Earth. And the smell in their neck – the smell of milk, newness and unreserved trust. You can tell how much they trust you from how they let their bodies loose in the bath. And don’t even get me started on that thing they do with their tongues and nostrils.
Broodiness has me forget being woken at 3 a.m. to breastfeed and rock him back to sleep. Or dealing with colic and post-partum depression. Or expressing to build a stockpile in the deep freezer. When I had Muna, me and my breasts were in competition to outdo each other. I had a breast pump – first electric, then manual. I ditched both pumps at some point and took to hand expressing. I learned it from my colleague, met her in the mother’s room at work. Yeah, I was the cow and the milker. It was crazy. GB once walked in on me hand expressing, he didn’t touch my breasts for more than a year.
Speaking of being awoken at 3 a.m., last week I met a sleep trainer called Kitt, Kitt Nyang’aya-Kiarie. (She really insists on that hyphen in her name. Much later into the interview, when she’d loosened up and was now sharing personal details about her life, she said she loves her husband too much. Her exact words were, “I’m obsessively in love with my husband.” She also said that she speaks to her kids in only “Dholuo.” I loved that. And I loved her the more. I asked her where she got her all-roundedness from and she said from her mother, Apondo. “I really admire my Mum.”)
Right, what was I saying? Yes, Kitt, I met her at Java Sarit last Friday for a SatMag interview.
Kitt’s trains parents on how to teach their children to put themselves to sleep. That make sense? She said, “Babies are born already knowing how to put themselves to sleep, I mean, it’s all they do when they come home from the hospital. It’s parents who start these habits that get in the way of this sleep.”
“Habits like what?”
“Like, they over dress or over feed the baby. Or they feed the baby at the wrong time, like too close to bedtime. Other parents sooth the baby back to sleep with, I don’t know, a white nose machine. Sometimes they rock or pat the baby to sleep, or they hold the baby when he’s napping. Others don’t have a regular bath time routine…it’s a long list of habits.”
I chuckle. “I think I was guilty of most of those things. I used to let my baby fall asleep on the boob, then moving her from my boob to her basket was like trying to detonate a bomb.” We laugh out aloud. I continue, “She only learned how to sleep when I got my new nanny [Nanny Viv]. My old nanny ran away, so when this new nanny came, I put up a strict schedule on the fridge and told her that Muna strictly follows this schedule: breakfast at 8.30, play til 10.30, snack, nap at 11, lunch at 1, play til 4, snack, bath, nap til 6, dinner at 7, bedtime at 9. Which she followed. She’s actually the one who sleep trained Muna. And I always thank her for it.
“It had gotten to a frustrating point where we were all sleeping in the same bed, me, Muna and my hubs. Hahha. And Muna would be on my boob all night. My hubs would be on the edge of his side clawing his fingers and toes into the mattress so that he doesn’t fall off.”
We guffaw. I add, “And how bad are Kenyan mums with overdressing babies? And over-feeding them?”
“I knowww,” Kitt says. “Babies cry to communicate but parents think it’s because the baby is hungry. He’s crying because his socks are tight? Nyonyesha. Or there’s an ant biting his finger? Nyonyesha. He wants to chill and play instead of being held? Nyonyesha. Or he just feeling really hot in all those layers of clothes? Nyonyesha. Or he’s really exhausted and really just wants to sleep? Nyonyesha. Can you imagine how full and uncomfortable that baby gets?”
I laugh again. Gosh.
That was a fun interview. We chatted for about two hours.
Look out for the story soon in the SatMag.
Anyway, I’m prepping my body for pregnancy. I’m gradually cutting out the rubbish from my diet – unhealthy takeout, whiskey, our office tea. I’ll start yoga and swimming soon. Would I be pushing it if I got a new Dr. Mattress and down pillows? One of those pricey fluffy ones with foam memory? I want my eggs to rest comfortably.
I got this cocktail of pro-vitality nutritional supplements from NeoLife: omega-3, essential vitamins and the promise of a baby with great hair. Next month I’ll take calcium and folic acid. Then iron. My pal, Vicky, advised me to try some dandelion and raspberry leaf tea, to tone my uterus. I will. I also asked GB to take zinc and folate supplements, for healthier and more robust, uhm, swimmers. He looked at me as if I’d asked him to pierce his belly button and wear a tank top.
And yet, babies aren’t made like this. You prep and plan conception dates around your career and work projects, school dates and horoscopes. And you pray for a baby of the opposite sex to what you already have, so that your little family can be perfectly balanced.
Then your baby ends up being made when you’re wasted on the couch or having a quickie in the shower. Other times, when you’re certain you’ve closed that chapter, it’s an unexpected and – Lord, forgive us – unwanted oops. For others, it’s months of pregnancy before you ask yourself, “Hang on, wasn’t I to get my period in Jan, six months ago? Maybe I should see a gynae?”
Making babies is not a beautiful and surreal pre-planned process. It’s messy and rough, riddled with anxiety as you wait for a period not to show when it’s supposed to show. Impatiently pausing your entire life to look out for the two lines on the pee test. Telling yourself to hold off on getting some essential wardrobe items because the next time you want to shop is for sexy maternity dresses.
The self-doubt of your uterus to do what it’s supposed to when you want it to, you lying in bed as you desperately tell your man, “Haiya, me and my egg are ready now. Hit it! Release your canon ball. And you’d better not stop until you’ve given me a baby.”
Hahha. Point me to an urban woman who got knocked up with such lousy passive-aggressive lines.
Making babies is as unpredictable as childbirth – and motherhood – is.
But I’ll try anyway. And I’ll ask you to pray with me.
Remind God about happy hour.