I want a baby, a third baby. I want the baby to be a girl so I can name her after my mother. I want to have her before I turn 40 next year, Inshallah, in October.
After her, this third baby, I will peacefully close this chapter of birthing babies and shift all my focus to nurturing them.
I’ve been announcing this intimate disconcerting desire to whoever cares to listen.
I said it to the plumber, that soft-voiced chap with the broad shoulders who came to replace the leaking kitchen faucet, a man too brawny for his hustle. I said it to the chap from City Market delivering our meat, meat so fresh you could hear the slaughterhouse echoes from the gunny bag.
I said it to that grizzly born-again lady at Toi Market, the one who sells bath mats, the matching ones that reek of insincerity, the ones she promised are second-hand but which are not. She sold me the mats then prayed for my womb, she refused to give me a discount though.
There’s a boda boda rider I absentmindedly cut off in traffic the other day, on Ngong Road, he elbowed my side-mirror in disgust as he whizzed past. I wanted to roll down my window and shout, ‘It’s because I want another baby.’
Now I’m saying it to you: I want a third baby – GB and I already have our two children, she’s seven, he’s two, the lengthy gap between them is filled with the dark hopeless stories of pregnancies that never made it past the first trimester.
The befores, the in-betweens, the afters.
I have had too many to count.
I carry them all in my heart so no one can take them away from me.
I’m a 38-year-old urban girl and the chances of me carrying a pregnancy to term and bringing that baby home dwindle significantly by the months.
I’m a high-risk carrier. An improbability. The odds are stacked against me.
My gynaecologist explained it to me in all his medical lingo and in the context of my medical history.
What I picked up from him is that my body has bad eggs and good eggs. The older I get the fewer the good eggs. At some point, I imagine that the only eggs I’ll have are bad eggs. I think I’m already at that point.
Still, I foolishly cling on to the reasons why I want another baby. There are just two.
First, there is no greater joy than seeing our two children growing up together and hanging out, chuckling one minute then the next they’re fighting over who gets the TV remote or the iPad. ‘It’s mine!’
It’s also nice when you have a brother or sister to do life with. Your own little gang, your person.
I have many sisters and my brothers have each other, our lives together are like going on a never-ending road trip with a bus full of colourful personalities. You can get off the bus but you can never leave.
You can get off the bus but you can never leave.
I watch our children together and I hear Mother Nature whispering in my ears, taunting me, ‘Go on, Bett, upend your life all over again. Gain weight and lose sleep. Ignore all your old relationships and focus on the new one with the new baby. Pause your career, your business – pause your life to give another life.’
The other reason I want a baby is because I’m grieving and I’m lonely – I want a baby to ease my grief and loneliness.
I’ve had two best friends since I was 16 but they are no longer here with me. One friend relocated with her husband and two children to another country in August 2021. The other friend died in April 2022.
I feel like they left me here all alone, it breaks my heart that I’m living my life without them in it.
God, I miss my friends. Everyone needs their own close friend. For us women especially, there’s a warmth and security, a child-like glee and freedom of self that your girlfriends bring into your life.
It’s wholesome and nourishing to your heart and soul. To the balance of your wellbeing.
There are some things I cannot tell my husband or my sisters, never mind how close we are. The only people I can empty myself to – uncensored, unfiltered – are my girls. I didn’t comprehend this until they were both gone.
I didn’t comprehend this until they were both gone.
Having a baby will be a way for me to cope with my grief and loneliness. Something to redirect my time and energy to. A project to distract me.
I hear you saying, ‘That’s not the way to address this, Bett. You know that. Plus, if it’s a project you want so badly, why don’t you just pursue something else?’
That’s the question I also ask myself.
Many have told me that I ought to be grateful for my two healthy babies. That they know a couple who have been together for donkey years and have been trying and trying for a child with no success.
(Well, to be fair, everyone knows a couple who knows a couple. Still.)
I am grateful.
Every single moment, I am grateful.
My gratitude sits right next to my grief and loneliness.
It’s a complex and fascinating contradiction that oscillates unannounced between one extreme to the other.
It’s intense, this oscillation, difficult to comprehend. It’s what has brought me here, it’s what makes me me.
I am a Libra, after all, I’m constantly seeking balance.
My mentor said to me, ‘Your plan was to have three children Do-Re-Mi, two girls then a boy. Is that right?’
He carried on, ‘But God’s plan was for you to have Muna and Njeeh, five years apart. Accept God’s plan and love the two children He has given you. He has other plans for your life.’
An edited version of this story first ran in the Saturday Nation on April 22, 2023. It ran under my ‘Culture’ column.5