Hurting when they hurt

In the past 10 months, have taught me that I can have continuous sleepless nights and still manage to smile at my baby (not necessarily at the father though). Or laugh when my baby bites the life out of my nipples or giggle to that painful face grab she loves doing. But I cannot bear to see her uncomfortable let alone in pain.

She had a cold and tonsillitis last week and like so many other colds that other children go through it was stressful. But I noticed some positive changes in the way I handled it this time round as well as in my daughter. I was not tempted to call our doctor ten times or to run to the hospital after the first cough and I believe that is called experience. This is the way I handled it.

Fever at any level used to make me panic because I know that fever is the sign of something serious and we have had quite scary experience with infections. But last week, when the thermometer showed that she had a fever, I kept on monitoring, removing her clothes and putting wet towel on her, and  giving her painkiller when I had to. I think my husband was amazed that I didn’t want to run to the hospital at the slight increase of her temperature.

Throwing up –  was a whole new experience.  In all the times she has been unwell, I have never seen her vomiting, spitting yes but never throwing up. It was frightening but I found myself bearing through it, breastfeeding more and giving her fluids to avoid dehydration. I kept an eye on her soft spot as a sunken soft spot is a sign of dehydration.

Sleepless nights –  When your sleep is interrupted 5 times in an hour, you become the crankiest person alive. Oh yes, you will,  just ask my husband. If lack of sleep can affect an adult that much, children can suffer from it more and that added to the illness is a messy cocktail. I held my girl almost through out three nights while breastfeeding her for comfort. I tried catching some sleep during the day when she is with someone else or even dozing off while I hold her.

Warm bath  – on the third day of our restless evening, she threw up so much, I decided to give her a bath. I saw her relax and even falling asleep before I was done. I forgot that a warm bath not only soothes them but also eases the pain and discomfort that comes with a cold. Fortunately, she did not have a stuffy nose but the steam from the water could also have helped in clearing that too.

We ended up going to the doctor on the fourth day because the fever kept on going up and down but the experience showed me that we both have grown together in this journey. Kids can fall down ill a number of times but they are built to survive. We should not be in a hurry to administer medicine as their immune system is developing and it needs to learn to cop on its own with the minor issues. One should not take chances with infants below 6 months but for older kids, I have learned that it is best to monitor and keenly observe while making them comfortable. But our motherly instincts are usually correct and you should run to the doctor if you feel that something is not right.

Baby Wema needs our help

There is an indescribable gut wrenching pain you feel when your child is seriously unwell. It is an experience that questions your faith and makes you ask your God Why? It is a point where you actually feel that selfless love because you honestly want to take their place. They are all you think about so you forget that the rest of the world exists. It tortures you to know that they are in pain and have no words to tell you how they feel. It is an experience that drains you financially, emotionally and physically.  It also strains your relationship with your partner and other people around you.

When I saw baby Wema’s medical appeal a few weeks ago, I was taken aback and felt the pain and confusion the parents might be going through. So I sent my contribution and a message to mama Wema and forgot about it. Today I saw this video of her parents explaining her condition and call for help and it broke my heart. It hit me that awful experience I had with my daughter for two weeks has been their life style for months.

Our little ones are fighters, they push on in an extraordinary way through tough times. I believe baby Wema is one of the most bravest fighters but she needs our help so she can come out victorious. Please watch their video and lend your helping hand to the family so she may get well and live the life she deserves.

MPESA Paybill Number: 763762
Acc Name: Wema

Bank Acc Details: Barclays Bank
Acc Name: Aria Wema Mwende
Acc Number: 2037591966
Branch: Village Market


Post baby intimacy

The thought of having sex to a new mother can be nauseating. I know because I was there. While your partner might be counting down the days to the ‘big day’ after weeks or even months of sex deprivation, you are most likely dreading it. That is why a mother I was reading about the other day didn’t correct her husband who was complaining that the 6 month no sex restriction from the doctor was too long. She felt like his misunderstanding was the best blessing in disguise. The story doesn’t say how it ended but it is an example of new mothers’ detest to sex in the first few months. Fortunately, this is temporary and you will have your sex groove back in time.  

Before I had my baby, I used to think it is the doctor who gives the green light to resume sex at the 6 weeks postpartum checkup but it all depends on you and the type of birth experience you had. Your body needs time to heal and you will know when you are ready. For some mothers who had a natural birth, it can take two weeks or up to three months for others who had an assisted birth or cesarean section. I also thought there was something wrong with me because my libido was non existent for weeks. But that is expected as our body tries to naturally prevent another pregnancy by keeping oestrogen levels low, as we breastfeed, which is the reason why our libido vanishes into thin air.

Often times, mothers are scared of having sex after the baby thinking it will be painful or the stitches can come off or just being self conscious about our squishy bodies. While you are waiting for your body to heal, it is good to communicate your feelings and how your body is to your partner as he might have no clue about the great transformation your body is going through. Lack of intimacy for long can bring resentment between the two of you and you will feel like roommates before you know it. Be transparent about your feelings instead of hiding behind the ‘I am not ready yet’ mode.

At whatever point you decide to resume sexual activities, you should prepare yourself for awkward moments such as leaking or painful breasts or your body responding differently from what you were used to. It will take time for your body to feel normal again. It is thus advisable to give yourselves time as you explore different ways of being intimate. But before you actually resume sex, you should think about birth control. As much as exclusive breastfeeding can be used as a natural birth control, it is not 100% effective because it can be affected by slight changes in your breastfeeding pattern.

Myths about sex after baby are many and often scary but our bodies are different from one another so too are our experiences. It is best to wait until your uterus stops bleeding (which can take 10 to 14 days) but as long as your body has healed and you are mentally and psychologically ready to resume sex, don’t be afraid to spark that fire.

This first appeared on The Standard on 2 April 2017