This is Part Two of Deborah Nafula’s story. In Part One, Deborah, a mother of a beautiful girl aged 7 years talked about how she unexpectedly found herself pregnant in her first year of campus, and the moment she had to break the news to her parents -who had raised her in a comfortable Christian home. Catch up with Part One of Deborah’s story here.
Today, she talks about taking a break from campus to care for her daughter, her disappointment with her daughter’s father, and how, after resuming her studies, she had to make the decision on whether to leave her daughter back at home, or go with her to campus. This is Deborah’s story.
“My daughter was born bouncing and healthy. I named her ‘Alice’ after my mum. My mum is a perfect role model on motherhood. As I held my daughter for the first time in my arms, I felt overwhelmed by the pure joy I felt. At the same time, I was acutely aware of the huge task that awaited me as a mother.
Taking a Break from Campus
When my daughter was two weeks old, I went to school to fill in my deferment forms for an entire academic year. I had made the decision to suspend my studies for a year so that I could take care of her.
Motherhood does not come with a manual, and I’m grateful for my mum who guided me through new motherhood. Thankfully, my family members were just as supportive. I remember the amazing bath times with grandma, her laying on grandpa’s chest as he did his study, happy times with uncles and aunties who would babysit her, as well as days out with excited nephews and nieces.
I did my best to do right by my daughter. There are moments when the going was tough, but I had to be strong. As I took care of Alice, her father would check in at times but not as I expected he would. I found that I always had to call him, plan for him to meet and bond with his daughter.
To Leave my Daughter Behind, or to Take her With Me?
I decided to resume my studies at the university when my daughter was eight months old. I was joining a new class with new faces in 2nd year. I had not made arrangements for my accommodation, yet the new semester had already started. This forced me to make several trips from home to campus to fill out the forms that would enable me resume classes.
However, this two-hour commute from home to school and vice versa was not easy. Thankfully, Pauline a close friend from the previous class accepted to accommodate me to give me time to settle in. That first night away from my baby was one of my longest nights; I could neither sleep nor call home with the fear of hearing her cry.
Leaving my daughter was the toughest part for me. I chose not to take her with me to campus because I was so scared of getting a baby sitter to care for her while I was in class. I knew that leaving her at home with my family was the safest place for my baby, and that’s what I did.
My first week in class was full of stress. It was written all over me. The days were so long, but I would be comforted in the evening when my mom would call to let me know how my baby was doing. My sister Miriam would also check on me all day long with phone calls. A new-found classmate called Rakesh also made sure I got acquainted with the class schedule.
When the weekend arrived, I would board the first vehicle home. I was so anxious to see my daughter; to hold her and kiss her. She was so excited to see me; I remember her being clingy to me all day. This became my routine for the next three years as I undertook my studies at the university. I would leave home for campus very early on Monday morning.
Whenever I received a call from home informing me that my daughter was unwell, I would ask for permission from my lecturers to go home and take her to hospital, or stay with her until she felt better.
Talking with my family on phone were the best times: I was updated on every detail: the first word she said, first time to talk, play moments, falls and injuries. I was always checking on the doctor to confirm on appointments so that I wouldn’t miss any of them.
My daughter automatically became part of my budget. I would buy diapers, dresses, toys, baby bath stuff… all from my pocket money. I literally took care of her while at school.
At school, I remained focused on my studies; attending lectures, participating in group work and undertaking my assignments while ensuring I met all deadlines.
But my journey was not with its share of disappointments.
Then there were moments I had so much to balance that I felt my head would burst. I didn’t even have time for myself as I was constantly juggling between school, travels and taking care of my daughter. I felt as though I had so much on my plate. Many times I would find myself crying out of frustration.
It didn’t help much that Alice’s father wasn’t fully supportive. He came whenever he wished; he could even miss to be there for us when she was sick. There were moments I felt my head bursting I didn’t even have time for myself. It was really tough for me with all that on my plate. I used to cry most times, get angry and furious, but I always got back on my feet and kept on strong for my baby.
I forever remain grateful for my supportive family. I was young, but motherhood made me grow up and mature. I was going to be the best mother to my daughter.”
Read Part Three of Deborah’s Story HERE.
See Also: Oops! How I Became a Teen Mom -Again!
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