My name is Jerusha and in July 2010, I found out I was pregnant. First thing that came to mind, was how my folks were going to crucify me. Here I was, in the middle of my semester as a 2nd year student, debating whether to wait and tell them after my exams in August or to just go ahead and tell them. A few weeks later, I just went right up to them and told them the truth. As expected, they were disappointed, mad; I could see they felt let down. The damage had already been done and I had to think of what to do next. I decided to look for a job, any job, I wasn’t going to wallow in self pity considering there was a baby on the way and he had no idea about the circumstance in which, he was going to be brought into the world.
After a bit of asking around, I applied for a job as a waitress. Out of sheer luck, I got it. After 2 days of working as a waitress, my boss approached me and said he wanted to move me into office administration since he had looked at my C.V. and thought I was somewhat qualified. One month down the line, I wasn’t satisfied, the pay was too little, and the working hours were long and endless. I wasn’t getting enough rest, I was missing classes, and didn’t have time to prepare for my exams. It was just getting too much for me. Just before completing my second month I decided to quit. This was in early September 2011, so I was just around 3months pregnant.
By this time, it had already dawned on me that I was going to be a single mum. But all that mattered to me was that my baby finds me prepared. Looking for another job was proving difficult, and as the months passed by, my pregnancy grew more and more visible. Eventually, I gave up looking. After all, no one was going to give me a job in my condition.
I had previously learnt how to use the Adobe CS5 design suite (just from watching my dad) so I now aggressively looked for clients who wanted business cards, fliers, event posters etc With the little income from this business, I slowly started to save up for my baby. All this I did during the day and when it got to 5:30pm, I was settled in class.
Up until 2 days before I went to deliver my baby, I attended my lectures. I could see that all eyes were on me, but that didn’t bother me much. On March 22nd 2011, I got my bundle of joy. This process put me through a total transformation, a renewal of the mind. Realizing that I had given life to someone and that he was totally dependent on me changed my whole mindset. By this time, I was still on session (Jan-April Semester). You know how normally women deliver and are required to have as much rest as possible? Well for me, after leaving the hospital, I was determined to recover as quickly as possible so 1-2 weeks after delivery, I was out and about looking for notes for the classes I had missed and going to the library to borrow books, trying to prepare for my exams.
It may seem like I was putting too much effort on my education and neglecting my baby but this was not the case. I stayed up all night, tried to read as much as I could, with the baby’s constant crying, having to take breaks to breastfeed, change his diapers and rock him to sleep. I made sure never to spend more than 2 hours away from him. This was my routine for 6 months. I spent the whole day with him, and only left to go to class, after which I went straight back home. For the few hours I left him under the care of my mum or sister (and occasionally my dad), I made sure to leave bottles of expressed breast milk. I can proudly say despite the challenges, I managed to breastfeed my baby exclusively for 6 months – no formula milk, no water, just breast milk.
I was now used to the routine, but I wasn’t going to burden my parents to take care of both me and my son. By November 2011, I got another job, with a comfortable pay, and which is just 15 minutes from home, and around the same from class. So now my new routine is: work from 9-5pm and from 5:30-8pm, I’m in class. Before I leave the house, I breastfeed my baby, and prepare all the meals that he’s going to have within the day. This is my way of ensuring that the nanny’s full attention will be on the baby. By the time I get back home, however tired I am, I spend time playing and bonding with him. Seems like a lot to deal with, but it’s not. I’m a firm believer that if you really want something to work, you have to be patient and you must persevere and things will work out.
I hope my story helps in you in some way and that you get strength from it. Feel free to communicate with me via the ATB Facebook Group. I am there, under the name, Jerusha TheEmpress
Yours, Jerusha Wambui (proud mother of Jamal)