My journey as a father is taking a new turn. I don’t know how much I have learnt over the last 2 years or since we discovered that we were pregnant with Ciiru. Its been a great ride all the same and I am loving every little bit of it. From the early mornings to fix formula for her to late night diaper changes, tantrums, and the all too funny baby talk.
We have now reached our first fuel stop and its time to take it to the next level. We are pregnant again! I remember my wife getting all tired and starting to look chubby all over again (after Ciiru had sacked her dry). I didnt think too much of it until one day she asked me to come home with the home testing pregnancy kit. At first I declined thinking she had just stopped breastfeeding – so pregnancy could not be it! We were planning for it but didn’t expect it to happen so soon. After a couple of days I gathered enough courage and bought the kit. 2 pink lines confirmed it was time to change gears for the next chapter in our lives. We were going to have another baby!
Like Brad Paisley sang, I remember sayin’ I don’t care either way Just as long as he or she is healthy I’m OK. Then the doctor pointed to the corner of the screen And said “Ya see that thing right there well ya know what that means” … And I started wondering who he was going to be. Will he be anything like me? And do all the things that boys do? climb a tree too tall, ride his bike too fast and end up every summer wearing something in a cast? He’s gonna throw a ball and break some glass in a window etc etc.
I know he will make me proud most days and some days I will loose my temper. He will probably get in fights and all those things boys do but I pray that in life he will be a warrior…a mighty man of fearless courage! A man who will not be bought or sold, a man who in his innermost soul is true and honest. A man who does not fear to call sin by its right name, a man whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole and a man who will stand for the right though the heavens fall!!
Ciiru is obviously not too happy to loose her dual status as a first and last born. But its time for to learn to love and to share. Its time for to share mummy and daddy with another precious soul who she will love and adore. Its going to be alot of work but one thing I have learnt … God is faithful. He has blessed as with these gifts and with the gifts He has given us strength and wisdom in abundantly! And for these we say thank you!!
I already dread the day he will leave home 😦 He’s going to hug his momma, shake my hand and act like he can’t wait to leave but as he drives out I know he’ll cry his eyes out … because we loved him!! I will love him as much as any father can love his son! I love you son and we cant wait to meet you come June-2014!!
Winter is not my favorite time of the year. It reminds me of the cold season in Nairobi when we were younger. I would wake up at night with a congested chest and a whiz, walk to my parents room and knock for an inhaler. My mum always had one handy (ventolin to be precise) that worked like magic. After struggling for the better part of the night 2 puffs would work the magic and I would quietly go back to sleep… happy!
Last month at the onset of winter, due to weather changes my wife and I got the flu which we promptly passed on to our little one 😦 This turned out to be a serous bout of flu for her- From coughing to blocked nose to running nose to fever … the works. Surprisingly though she was still up and about and eating well in spite of all the symptoms. We gave her CALPOL which took care of the fever and we had nasal drops for the congestion which did not always work. She had difficulties breathing because she could not breath through the nose and as a result she also struggled to breast feed.
The mucus accumulation in her chest made her cough as though to spit it out but she did not know how to get it out. So she would swallow it right back in. Usually while feeding her she vomited and it came out with a heavy supply of mucus which was a relief for her because soon after that she would eat without a hustle. Of-course this was not pleasant if it happened right at the end of a feed- that meant you start all over again as you cannot let her go to sleep hungry.
on the 2nd or 3rd evening while we were putting her down to sleep I heard the sound of a whiz from her chest. My wife heard it too and we were both terrified; for different reasons … my wife for fear that the cold and flu symptoms were getting worse and I for fear that she could have the asthma genes that my grandma, my mama and I have battled with. My heart sunk and I almost teared but I had to man up for my galz. My wife suggested that we take her to hospital. I did not object … Tip: Always trust your wife’s instincts. So we dressed her warm and headed to the nearest Medi-clinic.
At the Medi-Clinic the doctor checked her chest and listened to her breathing and decided to nebulize her. A Nebulizer is a drug delivery device used to administer medication in the form of a mist inhaled into the lungs. Nebulizers are commonly used for the treatment of, asthma, COPD and other respiratory diseases (Wikipedia). Watching my baby with the Nebulizer mask over her faces tore my heart to pieces. I was so sad and prayed that God would not allow our daughter to suffer the same chest complications my mum and I have suffered for a long time. As I held her and as my wife and I praying over her she quietly slept as her chest opened up and her breathing became easier. She lay there peaceful and quiet … and in deep sleep.
Next we had to take her for X-rays to determine if there was any infection in the lungs. Obviously this woke her up as we undressed her and held her down amidst screams and kicks. We thank God there was no infection in the lungs. The doctors gave us medication for her and thereafter allowed us to head back home. We were shaken but happy that she was alright. Thank you God for healing her and keeping her safe. You are Jehovah Rapha – The Lord Who Heals!
nb: My mum and I have since stopped eating eggs and using animal milk. And as result we have no complications for as long as we can remember. I do not even have ventolin (Inhalers) at home for just incase. God healed me.
My in-laws came to visit my wife and I for the first time since we got married. Although I had no idea what to expect, we had great conversations and did fun activities to make all of us feel more at home in each other’s company.
#1 Have no expectations.
If you expect your in-laws to be nice, you may be disappointed by the little hurts that are normal in any family dynamic. If you expect them to be mean or demanding, you might miss out on the funny or sweet moments that explain who your spouse grew up to be. That’s why I recommend just keeping your eyes open to the good things about them, and not expecting anything at all.
#2 Make a plan and ask for their input.
A plan may sound a lot like having expectations, but it isn’t. Having a plan allows you to have some structure, if needed. Check out local tourist spots etc etc By knowing this information beforehand, you can make suggestions if it seems the day is starting to drag.
In preparation for my in-law’s recent visit, my wife and I made suggestions of ideas for activities. And what did they enjoy the most? Breakfast on Table Mountain, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, Open top tour bus and shopping the world in Canal Walk! (Girls will always be girls)
#3 Don’t completely abandon your normal routine.
Just because you are hosting your spouse’s parents doesn’t mean you suddenly have more patience and good cheer than usual. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. The more time you spend catering to their preferences, the more energy you expend by making things different from your customary methods.
My in-laws were great about understanding this. After a long day at work, I sorely missed the time I ordinarily get to spend with my wife and daughter sharing the days ups and down. SO I called my wife a-lot during the day to catch up with her, and then as much as I could I would join her in the kitchen to cook and clean- then we could talk ‘privately’ and gossip about our parents 🙂 Other times … actually most times we all helped around the house cooking and cleaning and feeding/entertaining the baby etc
Introduce your close friends
I have learnt that it is important for your parents know and meet your friends. This helps get rid of fears that most parents have about their children being lonely and in want of friends and family when they live far away from home. We are blessed to have many such friends who hosted our parents for dinners and lunches!
Your in-laws are coming to visit because family is important to them. Now, you are a part of their family. Offer them ideas on what you can do together, and listen attentively to their preferences while still asserting your own. These simple steps will help you to relax and enjoy the people who made your beloved spouse who he or she is today. Overall we had an awesome time together. We were blessed to have them over and I pray that we shall be blessed by many more such visits. Like they said to us … most people dont get to live with their parents for a month at a time after they leave home. SO this was a rare blessing to us!
So folks … dont you be scared of the In-Laws … or else pray that you get great in-laws like I did!!
Yesterday when I got home I was tired! The only place I wanted to be was home … with Keshi and Ciiru. They make me feel peaceful and safe. My wife makes me feel like a teenager because of how much I love her. And Ciiru …. Ciiru brings out all the childishness in me. She makes me feel like a baby again! I love watching her trying to put her hands together, rolling over, drooling, blubbering … the works! But yesterday they shocked me! When my wife opened the door for me I remained speechless for a while … there she was … my little angel in ‘matutas’ (English for that?! … corns I suppose) … For the 1st time in her 7 months of life she had her hair made! She looked like a new person to me. Like I was experiencing her for the very 1st time. She looked more like a girl than a baby now. My little angel is growing up fast and furious!! and it got me thinking.
I remembered Susan Engel saying “When they’re little they sit on your lap; when they’re big they sit on your heart” … Apparently having little kids is a breeze. As long as you hug them a lot and make good food, things seemed to be, for the most part, O.K. You can fix many problems, and distract them from others. Your home can be a haven from all that might be painful and difficult in the world beyond.
All of that changes when they are grown. They fall in love, break their hearts, apply for jobs, leave or lose the jobs, choose new homes, can’t pay the rent for those new homes and question their choice of profession. They forge their way, all just outside of your helping reach. Then, when bad things happen, they need you like crazy, but you discover that the kind of help you’ve spent years learning how to give is no longer helpful.
This poem by Brad Anderson came to my mind:
Can I Carry You?
I guess I can hold you one more time before you grow
And tell you that I love you so that you will always know
Please let me feed you again,One day you’ll feed yourself
And when you think back to this time, I hope it’s love I’ve shown
Can I help you put your coat on? Can I please mush your food?
Can I swing you around in my arms? Can I pick you out a treat?
One day you might just care for me,so let me care for you
I want to be a part of every little thing you do
Tonight could I please wash your hair? Can I put toys in the bath?
Can I help you count your small ten toes before I teach you math?
And one more time can I stand near to make sure you don’t fall?
Let’s take another space-ship ride Up to a distant planet
Before our Cardboard Rocket doesn’t fit us anymore
Please let me help you up the hill while you’re still too small to climb
And let me read you stories while you’re young and have the time
I know the day will come when you will do these things alone
Will you recall the shoulder rides and all the balls we’ve thrown?
I want you to grow stronger than your Dad could ever be
And when you find success there will be no soul more proud than me
So will you let me carry you? One day you’ll walk alone
I cannot bear to miss one day from now until you’ve grown!
Today my wife and I turn 7 months as parents. And for the first time in my life I really do care about the outcome of the Kenya General Election. I was in Kenya during the 2007/08 post election violence and would not like to see what happened then repeated. Being in the diaspora, obviously I have no vote but I care about the Kenya I will one day be bring my children to. Whoever wins, I hope they will deliver on their pre-election promises… whatever they are. They are always good anyway.
Meanwhile, Ciiru is 7 months today- how fast time flies … it was 6 months just the other day! And look what she can do … She Turns towards sounds and voices, imitates sounds, rolls in both directions, reaches for objects and mouths them and sits without support!Am afraid soon she will crawling … then all hell will break loose 🙂
She is also getting cheeky and enjoys playing ‘picaboo'(A game for a small child in which one covers one’s face, then revealing it and saying Boo! or Peekaboo!) … my diction grows everyday … what did we used to call it anyway?!. She now understands that when you are out of sight you don”t cease to exist … and so when she cant see you she starts looking for you in anticipation.
Ciiru is also reaching for things with a sweeping motion and is Imitating speech sounds (babbles) and is Banging objects together. One author had the guts to suggest home implements are very useful at this stage … pots and pans and all such utensils. Our home is slowly turning into a bedlam of noise …
In the last 7 months I have seen my wife transform literally right before my eyes. I wish I could do a time lapse … I have seen her move from girlfriend to wife to mum with such grace that I say “thank you God” at every thought of her. Ciiru is lucky to have such a mum and am blessed to have her for a wife!
So here’s to the coolest wife … and I can speak for Ciiru … “here’s to the coolest mum!!”
Aunty Kakash will teach you to be simple, caring and loving especially to children! She will teach you to laugh alot and to make merry. She has a generous supply of cousins for you … so you will never be without friends!
Uncle Mwaura lives very far away and is dad to your very beautiful cousin Waithera. He works for a big multinational and is a true global citizen. Traditionally he is your only uncle – the rest are your “small fathers” – If you ever choose to go corporate he will teach you the ropes. He will teach you to be honest and how to get up there without forgetting where you came from.
Uncle Mitch is the smooth one in the family. He will teach you the queens English having lived there long enough to master the language. He will spoil you, teach you to be fashionable and show you to appreciate the good things in life!
Uncle Mitch tall will teach you how to make every penny count. He will also teach you not to forget your roots and not to be too fussy about stuff… to live a day at a time and to keep a gentle spirit
Aunty Carol is Ms Intelligence. She is very caring and loving and I know you will enjoy sleeping over at her house and to play with cousin Leiyan. She is also very generous and will spoil you with lots of goodies. She will be your port of call if you want to join politics and become famous. If you ever want to be the Obama of your generation, keep her close.
Uncle George is the musician and arty one! I hope you will learn art from him and maybe how to sing and enjoy good gospel music. He will teach you to love the Lord and serve Him all the days of your life.
Uncle Eli is Mr Swag! He loves to have a good time and be on the social scene. He is a peacemaker and is very caring. He especially cares about your grandma and of all things you can learn from him, I hope you will learn how to care for your family and love your mother the most!
Uncle Shawn is Mr Ambition! He wants to make a lot of money and be rich – and he will be. I hope one day he will teach you how to make money – Money cannot buy happiness but you will need it to be happy! Everyone needs a rich uncle someday – I hope he will be your rich uncle!
Rookie dad has survived the 1st 3 months of parenthood! This calls for a celebration – pop some grape juice?! My app tells me that my little angel should have mastered Laughing, holding her head steady and recognize our faces and scent. She has aced the 3 month test! She can do all that with ease … genius material!
Ciiru has also gone ahead of her time and has some noticeable emerging Skills (half of children can do this at her age) … she squeals, gurgles, coos, Recognises your voice and does mini-pushups
And she aint scared of nobody … she takes ém head on!!
she is now developing some advanced Skills … she is reading books … picture books
few children can do this at her age 🙂
I love you little angel!
God bless you and mummy dear!
The following thoughts were conceived here at the Platekloof view point (picture below) as we contemplated the last 3 months of our life… and roles were reversed… I became the model and my dear wife took over the camera 🙂
*Photography by Mrs Gathua aka Mama Ciiru … Love you my apprentice*
When our daughter was born we had lots of visitors come to see the baby. More than two thirds of these didn’t know what to do/ bring but they wanted to support us, so they would ask “If there is anything I can do for you please do not hesitate to tell me …” I didn’t know what I wanted them to do for us either but having gone through this phase I can now throw in a few suggestions for those who are clueless like I was … This list does not work for everyone (this is my own list):
1. Make dinner for them: The new baby comes with so much work you literally have no time for anything else apart from feed the baby, change poop, sing lullabies and sleep when the baby sleeps. We were lucky to have friends who made dinner for us everyday for a month and later on days when did not have a house-help
2. Wash your hands before holding the baby!! You pushed a supermarket trolley, drove to our house and spent your day typing away on a dirty keyboard!
3. Compliment the new dad and mum for a job well-done … especially how pretty the baby is (act as though she is the cutest thing you have ever feasted your eyes on 🙂
4. Don’t expect lunch, dinner or them to make you tea. Please ask to fix yourself something. They are too tired to do anything … (Thanks @kaireitukuma254 for saving the day on the Sunday we catered for an entire women’s guild)
5. Don’t expect to or demand to hold the baby especially if you found her sleeping). Remember, the new parents haven’t had much time with the baby yet either. This is the new parents’ time to bond with their baby. You will have plenty of chances to hold the baby once things have settled down. Your visit should focus more on supporting the new parents than hogging the baby
6. Go easy on the parenting advice unless you are family or close friends. Chances are the last person to visit gave the opposite advice you are about to give. Be supportive of the new parents no matter your opinions … (To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? To dummie or not to dummie? To sleep with the baby or to sleep her in her own bed/cot?)
7. Ideas for gifts: Clothes are always welcome (try buy for the future … usually they have stocked up on newborn baby clothes), blankets, toys, picture frames, books … but the best gift you can give is time. Spend time with them and help around
8. Be on time. It is quite a big production to prep a baby for visitors; tasks include: timing the feeding so that the baby’s in a good mood for you, changing her, cleaning her and calming her; and, let’s not forget the work involved with the parents trying to decently spruce up themselves and the home. If you’re late 30 minutes, it’s like tossing half of that work out the window
9. Don’t stay too long. Anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours, depending on the stress level in the air… Read the signs; Mom may very well want you to leave when she says: “Well, we should probably put her to bed now” or “I have to go breastfeed.” These statements should prompt an “Oh, sorry, we’ll get going now.” not “Oh, OK, go ahead, take your time.” *shoot you dead!!*
Happy visiting folks!!
Today Ciiru is 2 months! How time flies. People tell you that babies grow fast but when you are changing diapers at 3am and singing lullabies well into the morning that sounds far-fetched. You feel like your life is a never-ending nightmare (pun intended)! It’s now been 2 months of parenting and I can say am glad its starts so difficult because things get better every day. Have I learnt anything?
Lesson 1: If she’s asleep, leave her alone
The odd thing about newborn babies is that they do not move when they’re asleep and bundled. This caused me grave concern because, being the paranoid person that I am, I thought my baby had stopped breathing and had become victim to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).So after she fell asleep, my wife and I would bend over her crib and try to hear her breathing, or feel her heartbeat with the palm of my hand, or try to move her – which of course would wake her up, wailing, and we would have to put her back to sleep again. And then check again if she was still alive, waking her up, and so on. An endless cycle that drove us nearly insane.
Tip: Leave her alone! Check occasionally if you’re freaked out, but generally speaking, your baby will be fine. She’ll call for you when she needs you.
Lesson 2: Teamwork and tears
My wife and I developed a system of taking turns with the baby. When I couldn’t make her stop crying, I’d pass her over. When my wife couldn’t comfort her, she’d pass the baby back to me (we still do that). But there were times when neither of us could do a thing and our mutual frustration rendered us as helpless as the infant. The baby was crying, my wife was crying, I was crying, There will be nights when there is nothing else you can do but weather out the storm. Remember that your wife is not superhuman by default, and that your role did not end when you bought the baby cot. It’s important that you both remain allies and not point a finger at each other.
Tip: It’s not wrong to feel frustrated. It’s not wrong to cry. But no matter how miserable the three of you feel, it will pass. Well, until the next time. But you will survive.
At the end of the day, when I hold my little girl in my arms and see her look at me with her big eyes, everything makes sense and my troubles melt away. Do I think of myself as a great dad? Not yet, but I’m getting there. And with a little preparation, patience, sacrifice and a lot of love, so will you.
When we found out that we were going to have a girl, for a moment I felt like Rookie-dad Sean “It’s A Girl! Wait… Oh my, it’s a girl. I don’t know anything about girls…” … In those few seconds I did a time travel- I thought boobs, periods, love, heartbreaks, girl games etc … really what do I know about girls?! For the larger part of my life I have lived around boys- 5 brothers, a boys boarding high school, a 90% male campus and only 1 girl in my architecture class … for 6 years!! To add salt to injury I work in a male dominated field and our office is all male save for the receptionist and accountant. So really I have spent my entire lifetime mastering being MALE… yet now I have to get as much understanding as I can possibly get about the female existence because I want to know about my little princess and help her along as much as possible.
Contented little baby:
My wife and I purposed in our hearts to make our baby as comfortable as possible. We therefore armed ourselves to the tooth for a much anticipated face off with first-time-parents challenges. We stocked up our library with Gina Ford’s book “the contented little baby” … “What to expect in the First year”, among other books and many conversations with been-there-done-that parents. But when the exam came it reminded me of my 2nd year at varsity when as a class we signed a petition not to sit a Geometry exam after seeing the questions claiming that we had not covered the material in class. The last 4 weeks have felt alot like that Geometry exam.
1st night at the hospital:
When all the visitors left, I moved my girls (that sounds nice) to a private ward where I could also be accommodated for the night as I could not imagine leaving them at the hospital. My wife was tired … (more like exhausted) and still all wired up with medicated drips (pain killers). Little princess Gaila on the other hand was swaddled and safely put to sleep in her hospital cot between our beds. I cannot tell at what point I blacked out only to be woken up by a little girl crying. Both of us woke up, looked at baby, and then back at each other full of question marks. Almost instinctively we reached out for the nurse call but common sense got the better of us … “this is our baby … she is crying … we need to find out why and do something about it…” and right there we had our first very nervous and shaky diaper change! Did I mention babies have black poo to start with? There is a whole science behind it but that is not my area of expertise 🙂
The rest of the night was rescued by the very friendly nurses who took the baby to the nursery to allow us some sleep after the veeery long day we had had.
On Monday morning I woke up to go to work. (I wanted to take my paternity leave once they were out of hospital). Late in the morning I got a call from my very shaken wife. She was all tears and could not speak. All she could say was, “there has been drama at the hospital!! …. sob … sob … sob … ” … then silence. She managed a “I’ll call you back sweet… ” in between sobs. “Is Ciiru ok?” …”yes she’s fine now” … The next 5 minutes were the most agonizing in my life… ever! I wondered what could have happened. I was shaking at my desk as I had never heard my wife shaken like that before (she is a strong Nyeri-blooded-Kikuyu woman). I called her back as I walked to the parking lot in a rush.
That morning, while Ciiru slept she chocked on some kind of sputum. Her face had turned purplish and was having a strained cough while kicking and desperately gasping for air (I could be exaggerating here but that is the picture my wife painted). My wife jumped from her bed reached out for the nurse call and ran to the nurse station outside shouting “nurse! nurse! nurse!”. Remember my wife was a 100m champion at Nairobi River primary school and won medals at the national levels (
only the school lost their certificates) … sorry I digress. The nurses came running and quickly turned the baby on her stomach while smacking her back and then took the baby to the nursery, my wife in toe. Here they used some tubes inserted through the mouth to help the baby get rid of the mucous. All the while tears flowed freely. After they were done they handed the baby over to my wife who refused to take her (My heart sunk when she told me this … where was I ?????). It took several nurses to calm my wife and luckily on that day our Gynae was around to give some much need reassurance. When I arrived all we could do was hug for a long time. We sat in silence as we absorbed what had just happened and thanked God it wasn’t something worse and that it did not happen at home.
Leaving mummy and baby at the hospital:
Needless to say I could not leave my sweetheart in that state. I stayed with her and by the end of that day she had come round. In the evening I had to go home. I had spent 2 nights at the hospital and and needed to make sure everything was alright at home to welcome our new addition. Daddy’s visitation ours end at 8pm, but I managed to push it to 11pm in light of what had happened earlier in the day. Before I left we shut the door to pray. This was the first time I fervently prayed for my daughter and wife. My tear ducts were on overdrive as I asked God to take care of them through the night and to shield and protect them from in more drama! When we were done we could feel the presence of the Lord in that room. My wife was even stronger than I was after that prayer. She said to me, “honey go home. We will be ok.” With that reassurance I hugged and kissed them and drove out into the cold quiet winter night playing our usual favorite Linda Randel CD … “God of the mountain is still God in the valley ….”
Now its been almost a month since Ciiru graced our home with her presence. And she has made her presence felt. For those contemplating having babies … sleepless nights are not a myth, and more than 3-4 hours of continuous sleep is a distant memory. Between feeds, diaper changes, and the many own compositions we have managed some level of sanity. It is so difficult to watch your little girl cry. Your heart breaks just a little for every whimper and tear that falls. And you will do absolutely anything to bring her comfort. I have found myself rushing home at 5 to catch some much needed sleep before we start another long night of baby stories and out of tune Kikuyu lullabies… “tiga kurira mwana, tiga kuriraa … oga munyonyi mwana, tiga kurira mwana….”
Angels with food:
In-between all the challenges we have faced our love has remained steadfast and God has been merciful towards us. He has sent us angels with food almost every evening for the last 3 weeks. We feel alot like Elijah being fed by ravens and Abraham and Lot that got visits from angels in their homes. My sister Muthoni, the Koech family, Joe & Beryl, Steph & Peter, and Mama and baba Sierra have been our amazing angels. I have learnt that family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile. These have made our transition to parenthood much easier and their support has been immense. These angels have supported us, fed us, prayed with us and loved us immensely! For their friendship we are truly grateful! I cannot fail to mention all the friends and family who through their SMSes and phone calls have offered very insightful advice to first time parents … but that’s a post for another day – parenting 101; advice from friends and family coming soon!
Ciiru is 1 month old tomorrow…! (Can you imagine that?). And now we have settled into some kind of routine. I hope to blog more consistently and regulary on this journey that we are taking together with my wife and daughter!