Connecting the first heart beat I heard in the ultrasound room to the one I feel now while holding my son is a dream. Recently, while my young brother helped me babysit, he made a random comment. He said, “I sometimes cannot believe that this baby is yours”. I responded with, “I feel the same way too”. We laughed it off and went on to something else but really, that is what I feel almost on a daily.
Motherhood has been that experience that I cannot put together in any number of words. Mostly it has given me a somewhat different perspective to life.
Four months down the road, the biggest one is a deep understanding and experience of God’s pure and perfect love. Every time I hold my son, look at him or feel his heartbeat, I feel God’s reassurance of his perfect love for me as His daughter. I keep wondering if with all my imperfection, I can love my son this much, how about God who is a good and perfect father? I had to be a mother to comprehend this, and appreciate God’s perfect and pure love for me as His daughter.
Motherhood has taught me to fully trust God, right from the time the Sonographer said I had a condition called Blighted Ovum to when my husband had COVID-19 around the same time, to the birth of my son. For those that may not have heard of it, a blighted ovum also called an embryonic pregnancy, occurs when an early embryo never develops or stops developing, is resorbed and leaves an empty gestational sac. The reason this occurs is never known and is common with first pregnancies. A blighted ovum eventually results in miscarriage. Some women choose to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally, while others take medication to trigger the miscarriage.
In my case, I had all the signs of pregnancy. The ultra sound showed a 7-week gestational sac but it was empty, there was no heart beat. The doctor gave us a month to wait, monitor and see what would happen. We just prayed in faith and believed God would change that prognosis. I continued taking all my vitamins. Around the same time my husband got a serious bout of COVID-19. The day we both tested negative for COVID, we rushed back to hospital, and behold there was the most precious heart beat I had ever had. That sound has never left my ears.
In addition to that, I went 2 weeks past my due date and my doctor suggested that I get an induction. I can not describe how painful induced contractions were for me. It started to feel traumatic, which is not the experience I wanted for myself but mostly for my baby. My progress in labour did not match up to the pain I felt or anything I had read in terms of labour progression.
I remember I requested for Ceasarian section but my entire medical team did not agree. They all literally stamped their feet with a big NO, "It’s not ethical to have a Caesarian section delivery because of pain", and my plea was expected of a first time mother. Besides my blood pressure was fine, baby’s heart beat was fine too, so they concluded there was no need.
I made several pleas of the same that were rejected. I understand their perspective which was one of the reasons I chose my doctor, he is very positive, but I felt something was not normal. I had been on glucose for energy the entire day. My water broke at the start of labour, which meant that my baby could be exposed to infection. My progression was going in reverse; my blood pressure and baby’s heart beat were checked almost every 30 minutes. Note that all of this is normal for a first time mother; some women take up to 3-4 days in labour and eventually have their babies just fine. However, the constant monitoring felt like they were waiting for a danger signal to rush to save our lives. It mattered to me that my baby’s entry to the world was not chaotic because I had heard enough stories of how babies are rushed to the NICU, which I didn’t want.
Eventually after 22 hours of this agony with no progression sign, I made a final plea which the doctor heeded and I went through a dramatic rush to the theatre. I did not want to experience any other contraction!
After what felt like a blink of an eye, my son cried and I just bowled in tears. I wondered why I had subjected my body to the induced labour pain when there was another way. Just like I had felt throughout the day, my baby needed a few minutes on oxygen to stabilize; he had a weird color and an infection. It was painful to watch the nurse put a cannula on his little hand to administer antibiotics. Flushing his veins before the injections was the most painful to watch. I only imagined how bad it could have gotten if had not insisted on what I felt.
Overall am just grateful to my doctor, his team but mostly to God that I walked out alive with a healthy baby. I also understood that I had undergone a major surgery and needed to give my self the time and grace to heal physically, but also emotionally from all that I had experienced.
And there we were with a big testimony of faith, having a pregnancy that did not go as planned, to figuring out how to nurture, nourish and raise a little human being the best way possible, having to leave him behind and return to work, to finding the right nanny for him and many other scenarios which play in my head. All of this has taught me to let go and let God be in charge. This attitude always lifts a huge load off me and allows me to enjoy a seamless journey.
I looked at breastfeeding as a way to connect and bond with my son, and this has made it so enjoyable. This attitude helped me maneuver the very first days of sore nipples, poor latches and increased my milk supply by a great deal. I must also say that my son has been a pretty easy child and has also made this journey so easy.
I have had to interest myself in reading up widely on all things concerning mothering. So many things can catch you unaware while on this journey, and I have found so many gems and tips hidden in books, articles, personal stories, among others. I have had to read as many books and articles as possible about every topic; pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, Gas in babies, Colic, milestones, safety for babies, etc. This has given me confidence and peace when handling a number of things.
Just as the gut feeling is always right in normal life, so is the mother’s instinct in motherhood. Always trust your instinct while arming yourself with as much independently-researched information as possible - do what works for you and feels right. My motherly instinct kicked in during labour at the hospital, when I insisted and asked to be taken for a C-section after 22 hours of induced labour. Glory to God that everything went well, albeit the doctors noted both the baby and I were tired, and it was the right call to go for emergency C-section procedure. I believe this instinctive call inspired by God saved both myself and my baby. I must note that I was in the hands of a very professional and caring team, in a hospital that is highly specialised, nonetheless, I had to make use of my instinct.
This is the time I have been the most vulnerable and needed a lot of help. I have had to learn that it’s okay to need help. My temperament does not naturally seek help, I feel like as though it’s bothering people! Besides, most times I feel like I can do it all. It has taken motherhood for me to learn to ask for help and use the help available to me. I have had to be keen to refuse the urge to be a super mum who is fully in control. My husband has been a super valuable part of this as he has taken on the dad hat with so much grace, and has made everything seamless and easy for our son, and mostly myself.
As I aim to do my best every day, I am also intentional not to miss out on enjoying every day small moments. Like how he looks right into my eyes and gives me a smile in the middle of a feed or when he joins me for Yoga and literally hangs with me the entire session or when he just won’t go down and so we end up prepping a meal together. It’s these little moments that have made motherhood blissful. I have been present to enjoy these moments but also captured them on my phone and in the journals that I am keeping for him.
Motherhood has brought out the best and healthy version of me. I have subconsciously improved my lifestyle to enable my body nourish and give him the required antibodies. I started to have a more healthy diet to improve the quality my breast milk, work out to loose baby weight and in so doing my body and mind have benefited the most.
I have also learned to appreciate how strong and resilient my body is, and in turn nourish and cherish it more. Watching and experiencing the changes that happened and are still happening fascinates me, and so when my body tells me it needs to rest, that is exactly what I give it.
Mothering is a cocktail of emotions and a roller costa of events, like literally, so you have to recognize them. I sometimes take breaks just to understand what emotion it is that I am going through and often times, all I have needed is to deeply process how grateful I am for the journey.
About the writer
Joanitah Asiimire is a new mom to an four-months old baby and a wife to an amazing husband. She is a communications professional, lover of God and the simplicity of life.
She likes to travel, have interpersonal conversations, play chess and read a good book.