My ovaries are giving me the silent treatment. I can feel them glaring at me. Giving me The Look. I catch snippets of their quiet accusations, ‘utterly disappointed’ and ‘wasted potential’ and ‘why do we even bother.’ I get it. Every month they fulfil their part of their bargain, with much drama, I should add. They aren’t quiet performers. They believe in grand entrances. And yet the next month rolls around and I have not delivered. Again. So they let out a big sigh and get to work. They are the perpetual long suffering bridesmaids, plastering on smiles as they brace themselves to catch the bouquet. You see, we really want children, my ovaries and I. Actually we want children more than anything else in the world. Anything. I say ‘we’ because it comforts me. Makes me feel like I am not alone. We are in this together. My ovaries and I. Tag teaming, despite their passive aggressive tendencies.
It’s always been this way. I have always wanted to be a mum. I see rounded bellies all around me and facebook albums full of mums and babies, and it seems like the easiest, most natural thing in the world. And yet I wonder. Will I ever have children. Sometimes the yearning feels like a clawing at my heart. Too raw. I try not to think about it, because the truth is, you can’t take it for granted. To be a mother, to have children is the greatest blessing of all. Not a right. A gift.
I wonder what my first child will be like. I imagine she will be a daughter. I wonder, will she have curly hair like mine, the kind of hair that swells like the clouds when it’s about to rain. Will she have the same little black beauty spot on her right shoulder that her mum and grandma has. Will she be quick to anger but quicker to forgive, or will she let the bitterness of emotion suck the fat off her bones. Will she view her world as a place of beauty, or will she view her beauty as her place in the world. Will she scratch at the ground to dig a path for ladybirds, or will she worry about getting dirt under her nails. What if she is really different from me. How do mums deal with that? How do they reconcile themselves to the fact that their children may grow up with fundamentally opposing perspectives on life. Like what if she hates to read. Gasp!
I think about the things we would do together. Perfect our booming giant voices as we read the BFG together. Move aside all the furniture in the living room for impromptu dance parties with deodorant cans as our makeshift mics. Build a tree house. Paint sprawling under the ocean wildlife parties on her bedroom walls. Do headstands so we could see the world all higgledy pigeldy as we figure out if it’s possible to drink water from a straw when you are upside down. Wander the forest and dance in the rain and jump in the puddles and bake cupcakes and create stories out of constellations and and and and…
I think about the things I would like to teach her. Like it’s never that serious. And to inhale the world in all its complicated glory and exhale out kindness. I would like to teach her kindness. That even when people are mean, it often comes from a place of hurt. That the most potent antidote to cruelty is kindness. That she is neither superior nor inferior to anyone else in the world. That she just is who she is. And that is all she needs to be. I would like to teach her to love her body. It is her first home. Her tool to experience life. I want her to teach me how to be a mum.
I ask mothers what it is like to have children. They tell me that life takes on greater meaning. Your existence ceases to be just about you. All of a sudden you are entrusted with this tiny human being who you guide into the world, into being the best person they can be. That it is exhausting. And the most fulfilling thing. And wondrous. I feel a little envious when I hear that. I want that. I want this love that consumes you and runs your life and brings the world into sharp focus.
And is the most important job in the world. One that shouldn’t have death as an occupational hazard.
Yet over 162,000 mothers in Kenya die every year from childbirth complications because they don’t have access to basic emergency care services.
That is over 162,000 mothers who will never get to feel their baby’s tiny hands in theirs.
That is over 162,000 mothers who will never get to answer questions about if birds get wet when it rains.
That is over 162,000 mothers who will never tie little shoelaces in preparation of the first day of school.
That is over 162,000 mothers who will never hear their child’s dreams and watch them come alive.
That is over 162,000 mothers who will never wipe tears of joy and calm hiccups of anguish.
That is over 162,000 children who may grow up without the love of a mother.
That is over 162,000. Every year. In Kenya.
It is unfair. It is unnecessary. It is unacceptable.
You can play a small role in changing this. Stand up for African Mothers. Join the Chase Group Foundation Walk on the 28th March at the Ngong Road Forest Sanctuary to raise funds to train new midwives in rural Kenya; the proceeds from last year’s walk went to training 1500 midwives.
To find out more visit,
Because to be a mother is a blessing. And never to be taken for granted.