Going solo as a mom-to-be is tough. The next nine months will be full of challenges and days of emotional breakdown.
Pregnancy is one of those experiences that you just can’t hold from the world. All the beautiful memories that come with the little life growing inside you are moments you want to record until the last day.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same experience.
Sometimes life takes a different turn, especially when you realize you are
doing it on your own for the very first time.
My first pregnancy was the best experience, but I can’t say
the same about my second. What I went through is an experience I wouldn’t wish
on any mom-to-be. There’s nothing worse like being pregnant and single. I was
seven days late and dating myself (my relationship just hit rock bottom).
The first month was tough because I couldn’t stop panicking,
and I had no one to share my feelings. Despite the mixed reactions that went
through my head, I chose to keep my unborn child, and it is a decision I can
never regret. My sons are my joy, and they add meaning to my life.
It was tough breaking the news to my family, but then I found
out there was no need to worry. I have the most supportive family, and I would
never trade them for anything. My feeling is justified though, being pregnant
and single stirs up a feeling from deep within that you wouldn’t expect. Never
had I expected to be pregnant and single.
Having a supportive family back at home has made me grow to
be the strong single mother I am today. Of course, I wouldn’t want to do it
over again, but given a chance, I would choose to have these amazing champs
running around my house every day.
If you are going through this tough step in your life – being
single and pregnant – here’s what you can expect. I’ve read numerous posts that
touch on the same topic, but I realized most of them don’t have the Kenyan
touch. So today, I share my experience, the common challenges I went through
and hope that I will be able to speak to another single mom-to-be.
The Single Mom with no Help
Don’t spend the better time of your pregnancy trying to bring
a man on board in an experience he isn’t interested in being part of. Doing
this will stress the hell out of you, and we all know this isn’t good for the
If you are more for keeping the baby than a grown man who
decided to walk away, then you need to make sure you stay as healthy as
possible for the sake of your unborn child.
I know it is essential for the father to play a role and be
present in his child’s life, but what’s the use if you are trying to force it.
This won’t turn out well for your unborn child when he/she joins this world, so
let him be.
If you are a new mom-to-be, get ready for interrupted sleep
without anyone to swap turns with. Be prepared to go for CWC (Child Welfare
Clinics) alone and giving birth alone. It’s a bit depressing to think about
these things, but it is the reality, and I want to keep it 100 percent real
with you, mama.
I went through the same, and I know hundreds of moms share
the same experience. While it appears normal these days, there is that feeling
of loneliness and the worry of doing everything alone. Instead of thinking
about all these and focusing your energy on things that pull you down, let me
give you something to distract your mind.
Gather all the information you need
By information, I mean you need to collect data about the
most affordable hospitals around you, daycares, and anything in between. Nine
months might seem a bit long, but it is not mama. From the months of feeling
nauseated to the late months when you eat almost anything, days will move faster
than you’d expect.
Hopefully, you are paying your monthly NHIF dues because it
will help you nine months down the line. I’m not sure about how the Free
Maternity Program works, but I’ve seen a few moms benefit from it.
The government had introduced this program back in 2013, but
there were some hiccups with hospitals complaining of late reimbursements. I
did a little research on the same in 2016, and I was advised to get an NHIF
cover. From the information I collected, pregnant moms would have NHIF cards topped
up with 6k that catered for maternity. You can fill me in on this because I
never used mine.
Have a plan underway because you never know whether you’ll
have a normal delivery or go the cesarean section way. I’d hoped for the normal
delivery, but it wasn’t the case. You might want to consider the possibility of
asking for child support.
Much as the dad isn’t physically involved, he may be able to
help, so don’t let your pride get in the way. This could make things a lot
easier, but if you can go without it, by all means, go without. Don’t file for
child support out of spite, do it because you genuinely need financial
It’s okay to be angry
No one will judge you if you are mad that this man wants
nothing to do with your unborn child. This is perfectly okay, and I had
experienced these feelings so many times when I was pregnant with my second
I understand that you feel frustrated because you have to go
through parenting alone. Don’t put all your energy on this though because it
isn’t good for the baby. There’s nothing good that will come out of your
resentment for him except more anger, frustration, and worse off, depression.
While you are busy sulking all day, this man (depending on
his nature) is somewhere doing something more productive (I hope). He is not
thinking about you, so get your act together and move on.
Spend this time preparing for your child and be ready to give
him enough love for two.
Build Your Support Group
While you feel you are entirely alone, I assure you that you
are not. Lots of moms are going through the same. I love Facebook Groups
because they make it possible to find an active support group. Whether single
or not, there are lots of pregnant women who are looking for support groups to
celebrate their joys and share their fears.
Of course, your family and closest friends are the best and
most supportive people, but it doesn’t hurt to check out and join groups of
women going through the same experience as you are. I remember joining The
December Babies WhatsApp Group via Pregnant and Nursing Moms Facebook Group.
I loved it because most of us were single moms, and it was so
encouraging learning from moms who had been through the same situation more
than once. There were days we would complain about our men and days when we
would thank them for giving us the best gifts.
Well aside from this, we would talk about shopping (baby
clothes of course), the most affordable hospitals in town, and then there were
those days when we would talk about the sex cravings. It was a fantastic group.
Before this group, I felt so lonely and depressed 90 percent
of the time. I would cry myself to sleep and refuse to get out of bed in the
morning. You need such a support group if you want to pull through the next few
It’s Time to go Shopping
Don’t worry because I’ll be touching on the most affordable
items you’ll need as a new mom. If you are on a tight budget, you might want to
consider buying second-hand clothes.
Muthurwa and Gikomba have the best yet affordable baby
clothes in Nairobi. I’m not sure about other towns, but I was lucky to find
some cute Mitumba clothes in Naivasha for my son.
You can also go for the hand-me-down clothes (my mother is so
good at keeping baby clothes that my first son was lucky to wear a few of my
brother’s hand-me-downs). There are a few items like diapers that you can get
a good deal if you consider buying them in bulk.
Here are the Essential Items you will need at the Hospital
for you and your newborn baby
- 2 packets of baby diapers – newborn size (I’d recommend you go for Pampers the first time, but this depends on your budget)
- Diaper bag
- Baby powder
- Vaseline (always good for newborns)
- Mild baby soap
- 4 baby vests
- 2 sweaters
- 1 Baby blanket
- 3 Baby Shawls
- 4-6 Rompers
- 2 baby hats
- 6 pairs of socks
- 2 pairs of mittens
- 2 lesos
- Cotton wool
- A few maternity clothes
Find Out Your Due Date
You’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor to find
out your due date. This is very important because you want to be ready when the
time comes. I used My Period Calendar App to track my progress and keep up to
date with the current months as my baby grew slowly in my womb.
If you are in good terms with your baby’s father, you can
bring him along when the time comes. It’s still okay if you go alone. My family
was with me all the time, and I always had someone to help me out.
I went to all my doctor’s appointments alone, and at times I
wish I had someone to give me the emotional support I needed or share in my joy
as I had my first Ultra Sound or when I first found out my baby’s gender. If
you can lean on any family member during these times, please do so.
Don’t Ignore the Common Symptoms of Depression
Depression is a common occurrence amongst most women during
pregnancy, and it may be worse if you are pregnant and single. You don’t have
to suffer in silence if you are going through a phase. Most women may not even
realize if they are suffering from depression. Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disrupted sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of emptiness
- Lack of energy
- Suicidal thoughts
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you have these
Dealing with “Where is the Dad” Question
I don’t understand why this question comes up a lot. How well
can you handle the question? Do you have the right answer for it? Expect to
deal with it throughout pregnancy and even as you raise your child.
Here is a pro tip: the more confident you’ll appear, the less likely you’ll hear this question. I read some excellent books on parenting and motivation, including Ryuho Okawa’s Laws of Courage and Wale Akinyemi’s book on Creative Thinking that gave me a boost of confidence as days flew by.
Don’t Struggle to do it all
Parenting is tough, and single parenting is tougher because
there are a lot of things you have to do alone. Much as you will be a super mom
in your child’s eyes, don’t feel the pressure to play two roles.
Don’t try to be both a mom and dad at the same time. This
will only make you feel overworked and overtired. You’ve got a whole village so
don’t push away anyone willing to offer a helping hand.
It’s okay to ask for help, and it is equally healthy to
recharge once in a while. In the meantime, though, focus on being the best
single mom, you can be to your child and don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Surviving on a single income
Budgeting is tough, but you have to do it if you want to
survive. Be smart, tough, and do your best to get all your finances in order.
If you do not rely on any other financial support, then money will stress you
out. You have to worry about paying the bills, buying food and saving money.
If you are having a hard time making ends meet, you might
want to try out some work-at-home jobs that do not require a lot of money to
start. Try to live within your means and cut your expenses as much as you can.
Save enough money that will cover your maternity costs and keep away enough to
see you in the first few months before you resume work.
Being pregnant and single is tough. There are days when you
will feel like giving up. Other days, you will fall into depression, but I know
you can do it. Being a single mom isn’t tough if you know what to expect.
Things would be a lot easier if he accepted taking this new step with you, but
unfortunately, he didn’t. Don’t let this be the end of you – remember you need
to keep your stress level in check for the sake of your baby.