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I once hated my baby; my apologies to her

Jean Nduta got pregnant right after she joined campus. She was in denial, prayed to have a miscarriage and suffered postpartum depression. Mid this year, she overcame her struggles and is now working towards being the best mother she can

Last year, Jean Nduta was living the campus dream life. She had always wanted to get a university education. And here she was at St Paul’s University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication. And she has gotten a boyfriend who was a fourth year student.

Everything was going on well until her best friend hinted her cravings for fast food was probably because she was pregnant. “She got me a home pregnancy test strip and the results came positive. I was in denial,” she says. Jean repeated the test the following day and the results came out the same. She indeed was pregnant.

“I told my boyfriend and he denied I was carrying his child. In fact, he went ahead to question my faithfulness and wanted the baby aborted. It destroyed me that he wanted no part in the pregnancy,” she sighs.

At first, Jean wanted to do away with the pregnancy. She had contemplated an abortion, but could not go through with it. “I could not kill the baby. We had just lost our mother and I felt bad; I knew about the backlash that would befall me and I dreaded it,” she recalls.

Despite the fact that Jean was heavy with child, she did everything her peers did. “My maternal instinct had not kicked in. I partied, took alcohol and I remember wearing very tight jeans or pants to hide the growing bump and also just so I could miscarry, but it did not work,” she says.

She prayed for a miscarriage, it didn’t happen. “One day I walked into a chemist and bought malaria drugs. I had heard that if taken in large doses, they could induce a miscarriage. I failed terribly,” she adds.

When she was 32 weeks pregnant, her grandmother together with a friend to her late mother noticed and asked her about it. “By then, I had already deferred my studies.

When I confirmed their suspicion, my grandmother was besides herself with joy. She said that I was ‘carrying my mother’ who had just passed on,” Jean laughs. That was not what she expected. She expected some backlash.

Jean eventually gave birth to a baby girl in November last year. Still she hated her baby. “I did not like how she cried. I did not like that I had responsibilities. All my friends were going on with their lives as was evident on social media,” she recalls.

Luckily, her 71-year-old grandmother took care of her great granddaughter while Jean dealt with her issues. “I realised I had post-partum depression after reading a magazine article.

All the symptoms seemed like they were describing me. I hated my baby. I wanted her gone and I loathed every inch of her. I saw her as a barrier to my otherwise happy life,” says the 21-year-old.

Regrets

Jean admits to losing a lot of her friends. “I was judged and stigmatised for getting pregnant early and quitting school. It was tough, but while I worked through it, my grandmother was the mother that my daughter did not have. She fed her, changed her diapers and helped lull her to sleep. Eventually, I came round and I overcame that depression,” Jean says.

Her father and brother were also supportive. “You know, no one tells you how to be a parent, but my family have been there. Sometimes my daughter calls my elder brother baba and I tear up so hard. It reminds me of what happened when I was in school and it also makes me glow knowing the kind of love she receives from my family.

“I still look forward to having a family of my own although a lot of men I’m coming across are turned off by the fact that I have a child,” she smiles.

Now, her daughter is turning one in a month’s time and Jean is excited. “Sometimes I look at her and cry. I can’t believe I did not want her. Now everything I do is geared towards raising her in the best way possible.

Once in a while, I apologise to her for having not wanted her in the first place. I know she can’t understand what I tell her, but I regret not being the mother I ought to have been,” Jean says.

Everyday she leaves for work, she looks forward to seeing her at the end of the day. Though Jean who now works with an insurance company would like to go back to school in future, her mission now is to make up for the time she lost loathing her baby.

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