I recently read a post by a mum-to-be on a popular social media group for mothers asking for handouts for transport to get her to hospital as she was in labour.
Women came in their droves to bash her for not planning accordingly since labour and birth take nine months to happen and she had ample time to get ready for the event.
I was of the same opinion that she should have saved some money beforehand instead of relying on strangers to finance her, but then it occurred to me that I had become one of them – the women who judge others even without knowing all the information.
Since I became a mum, I have learnt not to judge people, especially mothers and pregnant women. I will not comment on how they have let themselves go or on their clothes or general appearance.
It was difficult for me to go to the salon when I had my baby. For four months I had matuta in my hair before I looked more presentable. Weeks before my delivery, my face, legs, feet and fingers had swollen so significantly that I hardly looked like myself. Now, if I see a pregnant woman who looks puffy and unkempt, I will hold my tongue and wish her well.
I will never a judge a mum on how she delivered her baby. Before I gave birth, people would tell me to have a natural delivery. When I later had a Caesarian section, the same people would ask if I had it because I couldn’t push. Does a Caesarian make me less of a mother? Never mind that it was an emergency operation and I really had no choice in the matter. It was either that or putting the life of my baby at risk. If I had had my way, my baby would have been born naturally, but such is life.
I will not judge a mum who chooses to feed things other than breast milk to her baby before the recommended six months are up. Life is hard, one has to hustle. If a mother feels that she cannot manage to exclusively breastfeed her baby and opts to supplement their diet with something else, she has good reason to.
Same applies to mums who leave their little ones with caregivers when they are still very young. A baby will not survive on love alone, people need to work and provide for their families.
Did you know that it is not a must to dress your little baby girl in pink? And that your baby boy will not become a sissy if you do not fill his wardrobe with “manly” clothes. Same thing applies to where you shop. If a mum decides that her little one will only wear clothes and use accessories purchased at shops along Biashara Street or from the vendor who has spread their wares on the street itself, it won’t make their child any less loved or affect their growth. Our classes are not the same, nor are our wallets, there’s no need to compete.
I have learnt not to listen to everybody. As soon as your get pregnant, everybody, even those yet to become parents, have an opinion on what you should do. It only gets worse once the baby is out.
‘Experts’ tell you how your baby should sleep, what to wear, how to bathe them, what to feed them, how to raise them. They forget that as a mother, you will get to know your baby so intimately that you will be able to read their moods and judge what’s best for them.
I was slapped in the face with the fact one can never be fully prepared for motherhood. Even if you start putting aside money from the minute you learn that you are expecting, it will never be enough.
All blogs and websites dedicated to informing mothers to be on the journey will always forget to mention one or two crucial tidbits. No amount of planning will get you everything you need; you are bound to forget something. In short, labour and birth cannot be predetermined and will happen when they happen.
I was so ready for a natural birth that I was completely blindsided when I got to hospital and was told to have a Caesarean section. I was still in shock even when I woke up from the anesthesia and had a little baby placed in my arms.
Motherhood has taught me to stay open minded. One cannot plan and execute every detail of the journey and one cannot tell what situation they will be in when they have a child.