Womanhood is Boldness- Celebrating Women with Disabilities.

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women is boldness

Womanhood is a challenge in its own way. It never comes with a manual of how to maneuver. Worse still is when womanhood encounters a disability. I believe the strongest of us all are women who have their lives up the sleeves amidst challenges of whatever form of disability. We will be marking the international women’s day in a couple of days. This year’s theme being bold for change; we celebrate women who have boldly stood amidst adversities and shone hope and resilience, even when their circumstances have dictated otherwise. Meet Mercy Kinoti aka Mama Jennie, a teacher by profession. Mercy was born with a condition called Spina Bifida -and this is her story:

 

I’m told when I was born the doctor suggested I undergo a corrective surgery, that would have corrected the issue, but my grandmother was hesitant. She believed that correcting what God intended would have resulted into other sort of punishment. Therefore, I have lived with the condition that has progressively advanced with age,

I went to a regular school but it amidst tons of challenges. I did not  enjoy  much of my childhood  due to  stigma  from  other  children who made fun of me. I could not run around as they did. Neither could I play with them. However,  I thank  God  for  my family  who  gave  me all the  support.  My mom made sure I was comfortable.

My sexuality never came up in any discussion with my family.  It was a taboo and my mother made it clear that I should keep off from boys.

In high school  and  college  I did not socialize  much  with the  opposite  sex because  I really wanted  to  focus  on my  education  and  career. I always feared someone would take advantage of me.

After completing school I had my own uncertainties about relationships.

[Having a physical disability meant I had to have calipers and a clutch as a walking aid.} I was on and off relationships. I remember once I got this nice boyfriend who thought my condition was temporal and I think he was looking forward when I could heal and leave behind the clutches. When we began he didn’t ask why I was using a clutch, he assumed I had an accident because during our conversation I had mentioned I had an appointment at KNH, after several months of coffee dates he finally asked when I would leave the clutches behind and why it was taking so long to recover. I explained the nature of my disability and why I used the clutches, that evening he did not call to confirm if I arrived safely as usual and that was the end of our relationship.

This among other failed relationships made me suffer low self-esteem. I started doubting my womanhood and beauty. At times it hurt because  I compared  myself  with  other  girls  who wore heels  and  miniskirts  and  this  made me  feel  unattractive.

I recall once I passed by some guys behind me commented “huyo dame nimrembo, lakini” ako na disability. After all the struggles I finally accepted to date a close friend who I thought had always known me for some time. However, our  relationship  didn’t  end  well  since he thought  that  due  to  the  nature  of  my  disability  I could  not  perform  some  of  the  duties  as a wife  including  giving  birth.  He believed  that  I could  not  have  children  and  if I  did, probably  they could  inherit my  disability.

He always reminded me that he loved me but he had to get another woman to marry for the sake of getting children, these were the lowest moment of my life, because every time he reminded  me of my inabilities, my heart would bleed with pain yet I had to always hide my tears.

Fork on the Road

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I decided I had enough of pity partying and so we broke up. I made up my mind to live a single life.  However, I  felt there  was  emptiness  in me and  I so much  desired  to  have  a baby  of my own.  I had obsession  for  babies  and  I silently  asked  God to  help me get  out.

Finally, in 2015 I got pregnant, although this came with mixed reactions.  I was scared.  I didn’t  know  what  to  expect  and I felt I was  not  so ready  for  it. The imagination of all the tormenting comments of my ex-boyfriend was traumatizing and very alive in my mind. I was scared of so many things.  What would I tell my parents? Would they be mad at me?  Would they understand?  I got  stressed  because  I feared  what  the  outcome  would  be.  How would I cope?

I was  in denial  and kept  it a secret from my family  and  also  my closest  friends. I didn’t know what to do.  Being a first time mother was scaring.  No one had prepared me for this.  The first trimester was hell.  Struggling nausea and  morning  sickness  and  trying  to  hide my pregnancy  from  my colleagues and  friends. You can’t hide pregnancy forever. After  much struggle  I opened  up  to  my best friend  who  encouraged  me to  attend  antenatal  clinic. She walked with me each step of the way.

Thanks to Dr. Walfa who became not only a doctor but also a friend. I already  had  a job  so I had  to  organize  my finances  to ensure  the  new baby  was given  the  best.

I walked  in one hospital after  another struggling  to find  answers  about  the  effects  of spinal  bifida. One doctor  clearly  stated  that  he had never  dealt with  a similar  case but my condition was delicate and  pregnancy would put me at a risk of  me being  paralyzed  due to  excessive pressure.

 

I got  more  scared  as I wasn’t  sure  whether  I was  really  ready  for  the  outcome. The pressure was too much and I had to go for counseling. This  really  changed  my perception  as my therapist  helped me  appreciate  the gift of  my womb and  she  assured  me  that  things would  be well. My neurosurgeon Dr. Fazal together with Dr. Warfa  worked  tirelessly  to  ensure  that  was well  monitored  and  everything  worked  out  well. After 38 weeks  I was  scheduled  for  a cesarean procedure because with the weak lower limps I couldn’t push the baby and the positioning would be a challenge, within few hours I held the first fruit of my womb.

 

Over to you

Having a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t have children and a family. It’s  essential  for  parents  to assure  their  children  that  they  too can and give them moral support.

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