Motherhood

Pregnancy

This is certainly the easiest part of the motherhood journey. Being pregnant is a glorious, life changing experience, although some women would differ with the ‘glorious’ part. If ever I have to choose my gender during my reincarnation, I would choose female each time, just to experience special the journey of nurturing life inside of me.

Photoshoot at Arboretum at 39 weeks. I never realized my tummy was that big till afteward

Photoshoot at Arboretum at 39 weeks. I never realized my tummy was that big till afteward

Some people ask, how does it feel to be pregnant? It feels natural. Your body naturally adjusts as you go along, so you never realize just how big your tummy is, because it grows gradually. I had an app, which tracked the growth of the baby week by week, and I started to feel the kicks, I lived for them. I’d get to and from work in cramped matatus (how I fit through the doors and narrow spaces is another miracle πŸ˜€ ); and I’d just chill and watch my tummy make funny shapes (which scared my housemate!). Ah, I miss those times.

Also, pregnancy is easy because you don’t have to take care of the baby really, you only take care of yourself. The baby is never wet, never hungry, never cold.. he’s always fed, always warm, always with you.

Mother to newborn

The Swahili say, “kuzaa mwana si kazi, kazi ni kumlea” loosely translating to Giving birth is nothing, bringing up the child is the actual work. I agree completely.

My son J sleeping, 2 weeks old

My son J sleeping, 2 weeks old

Newborn babies are adorable, angelic, sweet-smelling, sleepy cherubs. But the few hours they are awake, they will cry maybe half the time. For a new mother, it was hard for me to know what to do. You are still recovering from the emotional and physical trauma of labour and childbirth, the baby is crying and you can’t remember the last time you slept or had a shower.

It’s at this point that many new mothers fall into post-natal depression. Suddenly, your sweet, sleeping baby is awake and no amount of changing, breastfeeding, cuddling, singing, swinging is calming him down. Do not be tempted to shake your baby! I am lucky I had support from my family, especially my mother. She was able to take care of him for a few hours so I could catch up on sleep. Let’s just say since he was born, I have had countable nights of 6-hour continuous sleep.

The breakthrough

The first few works are tough, the baby is tiny and delicate. Needs to be fed, changed, cleaned, breastfed, rocked, held (sometimes even when sleeping). The baby will sleep during the day and keep you awake at night. However, a magic moment happens. From around 6 weeks, my baby changed his pattern and started sleeping during the night. He cried less. He started smiling! That genuine, tear-jerking toothless smile. It makes worthwhile every decision that ever brought you to that particular moment. It’s a smile that everything will be alright mummy, it’s a smile that defines true happiness.

4 months old and jolly

4 months old and jolly

Now my son is almost 5 months old, and he hardly ever cries. He smiles, a lot. He laughs out loud. He wants to sit. He reaches for my S4, so he can put it in his mouth. He grabs at the newspaper, but only to tear it into pieces that he can put in his mouth. He kicks a lot when he’s lying on his back, he kicks when he’s on your lap- he’s literally a bouncing baby boy.

When I come home in the evening, he will suddenly realize it’s me and reach out for me.. he isn’t stretching his hands out yet, but if I don’t hold me in the next 5 minutes he will begin to complain.

And he's handsome too XD

And he’s handsome too XD

Visits to the clinic are routine, just to confirm he’s putting on weight, not losing it. Diaper changes are less often. 6-hour long stretches of sleep at night are possible.

Then you realize that yes, motherhood is not easy, but you can do it. You have what it takes. You have the strength of a woman.

Working Mother

It’s the hardest thing to tear yourself away from your sleeping son in the morning. He’s not awake when you kiss him bye but you know he will be reaching for you when he wakes up.

Co-workers, friends, ask me how it feels to be a mother. It’s the most natural feeling in the world. When you make sacrifices, you don’t even realize that you are doing it. When you put your baby first in every decision you make, it’s not something you force yourself to do. It doesn’t take effort to be a mother, I guess you just have to listen to your instinct.

So it is counter-intuitive to leave your very young baby in the hands of someone else for the better part of the day, but in the world we are living in, you have to make a living. I have to go out there and work my best to secure a good future (and present) for us. I have to provide a good education and good life for him; but I also have to maximize my potential and realize my academic and professional goals. It’s a hard thing to leave him every morning, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.

meandHim

Perhaps if I ever have another child, I’ll plan way ahead, so I can work from home or have a flexible schedule for say, the first 3 years before the baby starts school and needs me less.

On Single Parenthood

There are many situations that lead to single motherhood, but all of them boil down to the fact the the father of the baby just isn’t there. It’s never the ideal situation, but this is not a perfect world, we make the most of what we have. Sure, it’s nice to have someone with whom to make decisions and share financial responsibilities with, whether to take the 2-dose Rotavirus vaccine or the 3-dose one; whether to buy size M or L Rompers, whether we just forget formula and give cow milk, and future decisions like which school should the baby be enrolled in. But while the law can force a man to pay child support, it can never force him to be a dad. And I will play the role of both parents to my best.

Single_Parent_jpg

Is Single Motherhood a Trend?
The Sunday Nation a week back talked about Single Motherhood, and while I am contributing to the statistics; I do wonder why there is such stigma associated with “single motherhood”. The stigma (and accusing finger) should be pointed at the errant fathers that abandon responsibility.

I do know a few single fathers too.. somebody care to do a study?

Anyway, this isn’t a forum for discussion on the trends of parenthood in this country; this is a post about a celebration of motherhood. That life changing experience that gives meaning to life for most women. And I’m loving it.

BarCamp Nairobi 2013 is almost here!

BarCamp is an international network of user-generated unconferences primarily focused around technology and the Web. By definition, an unconference is a participant-driven meeting that tries to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.

Barcamp Nairobi 2013

Barcamp Nairobi 2013

BarCamps are open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants. The first BarCamps focused on early-stage web applications, and were related to open source technologies, social software, and open data formats.

BarCamp Nairobi 2013 will be held on the 24th of August 2013 between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm collectively at the iHub, NaiLab and mLab located at the Bishop Magua Centre off Ngong Road, Opposite Uchucmi Hyper. The theme for BarCamp Nairobi 2013 is β€˜The Next 50’. Barcamp Nairobi aims to get the conversation going on where tech in Kenya will be in the next 50 years.

As Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence this year, we have the unique and enviable opportunity to dream and contemplate what the next 50 years should look like and what role technology will play. As thinkers, technologists in various sectors, and citizens of Kenya we can begin the process of visualizing the future and shaping it.

Challenges such as access to healthcare, quality and equitable education, food security have their answers in technology and the possibilities are endless. There will come a time in the next 50 years when these issues will be non-issues so to speak. What will that future look like? What technologies will be pervasive? How will people interact and how will lives be affected and improved?

BarCamp Nairobi 2013 is 100% free to attend provided you register in good time either via the web site at www.barcamp.co.ke or on EventBrite

Update: the event registration is full; sold out πŸ™ However you can follow the conversation on twitter #barcampNBI.

Newsdrift: Your Local News App

I only read the hard copy newspaper on weekends, when I have time to browse through my favorite columns. However on weekdays, I catch up on news through the websites (most are mobile unfriendly), by going to the respective news websites. Most times actually, I find a trending news/topic shared on my facebook or twitter timeline and follow the links to the stories that way. That’s how I catch up on news.

But it sure is hectic opening numerous tabs and remembering the address of various news websites. I found a perfect solution: Newsdrift. Designed by a student in JKUAT (I’m generally proud of my alma mater), this app fetches all stories from the majors newspapers so you can just read everything in the one app.

The NewsDrift App..

The NewsDrift App..

News Sources

So far, it fetches the stories from Nation, Standard, Capital FM, The Star, Business Daily and tech news from the iHub blog.

The Star News in the app

The Star News in the app

Capital FM News

Capital FM News in the app

Capital FM News in the app

Categories

The news items aren’t just haphazard, they are in categories. They are fetched in real time but you can refresh the feed any time. You can also save favorite articles so you don’t have to have an active internet connection to read the news.

Among the categories are News (I guess general news), sports, technology, lifestyle, business etc.

Business Category News

Business Category News

The technology category news seem scanty.. perhaps my tech blog feed should be added? πŸ™‚ Though I don’t do news per se.

Technology news feeds

Technology news feeds

In Featured, the developer showcases other apps he has built. I’ll check them out soon.

Featured apps by the developer, Abel

Featured apps by the developer, Abel

Recommendation

Newsdrift is one app I’d recommend for anyone who wants to keep in touch with current affairs. The question is, who doesn’t?

Ake, The Years of Childhood: Book Review

I was walking through the Prestige Bookshop on Mama Ngina St. browsing though the titles, looking for books by an African author. I asked if “There was a country” by the late Chinua Achebe which I intended to buy for a friend. The book was out of stock, despite Wole Soyinka’s opinion that it was a book that should not have seen the light of day. So I asked myself, who is this Wole Soyinka to judge Chinua Achebe? I’d read all of Achebe’s novels but none by Wole Soyinka and I decided that well, this was a high time. This post is really about Wole Soyinka’s book and less about Chinua Achebe and how, despite his literary achievements, never got accorded the Nobel prize for literature. (RIP Achebe)

Ake, The Years of Childhood

Ake, The Years of Childhood

In Ake, Wole Soyinka tells of his growing up in West Africa in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Many of us have spent some part of our lives in rural Africa and can relate with some of the tales and lifestyle. There is the mixture of traditional beliefs and Christianity that characterize religion in Africa even to this day.

Wole grew up an inquisitive and bright boy. He nicknamed his mother Wild Christian and called his father Essay. He has a big sister, Tinu, and a small brother, Dipo. His father was indulgent of his argumentative ways while his mother tried to instill discipline in him, all with tender love.

There is no doubt that Wole is a master of the written word. He describes places, the sight, sounds and smells that transport you from a drab room in Nairobi today or a crowded matatu/train into the wide open fields and parsonage that was Ake in the 1930’s. He has the ability to make you see what he saw, live the life he lived as a young boy. You feel what he felt, and I did sniff back a tear when he was describing the death of Folasade, their youngest sister that lived for only a year.

The first page of the book is a description of the Ake parsonage and it’s tedious, but once the first page is done with, the book flows with the story, is full of humour and vivid descriptions of some of the defining events of Wole Soyinka’s early life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I’m now looking for another of his memoirs: The Man Died. I think he’s talking about his father’s death, something already hinted at in the Ake memoir.

The book ends with him having sat for exams to get a scholarship to go to the Government College. Did he ever get the scholarship, I wonder? Okay, let me just Google and wonder no more.

Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.

The Social Media Awards Gala

The inaugural social media awards was a success, I can proudly report. While I was not an organizer, I was one of the judges who had to narrow down the nominees in each category to 5; and then the public voted for the winners.

The gala dinner was held at Laico Regency on Friday 9th August and when we walked in, the set up was perfect. The lighting was good, the decor added the touch of glamour. Heineken, the official drinks sponsor, was all out with free beer for everybody. No, I haven’t resumed drinking so no matter how tempting free beer is, I turned it down in favour of various fruit juices.

The beer :)

The beer πŸ™‚

The buffet dinner soon kicked off with starter soup, a reasonable variety of main dishes, and dessert on offer. The DJ played the music while we settled in with our meals, and the MC did such a great job that although the event started an hour later than scheduled, it ended on time.

Our laden dinner table

Our laden dinner table

There was entertainment by the likes of Chipukeezy (on Churchill Show) and those two clowns who sing by melting one song into the other.

The awards got underway, and in the corporate category, Safaricom outshone them all. As far as social media strategy is concerned really, Safaricom is setting the pace. Other winners included NTv, Homerun on Easy FM, and Pulse in the digital channels, radio channel and print magazine categories respectively. In the personality category, Julie Gichuru (check out the website, designed by my friend @murayakamau and some help from me) won the media personality award, among other winners. Check out the full list of nominees and winners.

The social media awards recognized and celebrated trendsetters in the social media space who offer a positive influence to Kenyans (individuals and corporates) online. I am already looking forward to next year’s event, which can only be bigger and better.

Yours truly presenting the award to Collins Nabiswa of NTv for digital channel of the year

Yours truly presenting the award to Collins Nabiswa of NTv for digital channel of the year

For the rest of the photos of the evening from Niaje, please check out their facebook album.

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Always Platinum – Why You Should Get It

Always Platinum was launched in Kenya at a colourful event at Sankara, where yours truly made an appearance. While everybody was in dresses and heels, I missed the memo on dress code and appeared in jeans and flats hence you will not be seeing any pictures of me from that event!

P n G staff pose with the Always Platinum product

P n G staff pose with the Always Platinum product

So what’s so different with the new product? Well for once, the top sheet of the pad is made of a silk-like soft and dry material that feels great, not like the (sometimes sticky) plastic of the ordinary pads that’s precursor to the dreaded rash after long use.

In addition, it has new technology which locks odor and powerful core with specifically designed absorbed gelling material. And no, it doesn’t emit any scents like those scented pads do (while the scented pads emit a fairly pleasant smell, it’s a signature scent that lets everyone around you know it IS that time of the month).

Having used it, I can say that this product lives up to its expectations. It feels luxurious, and comfortable too. No more leakage, even for a heavy flow. (At this point, I feel like bursting into that check-check song). Always has always been superior on quality, and Always Platinum feels (and is) quality. If you’re going for pads really, this is the best there is in the market.

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Conveniences of the Online World

With internet costs in Kenya quite high and suspicion about trading online on the same level, not many people are transacting online. However, for me, it’s a regular thing. I can’t tell you what a convenience online transactions have been for me, I’ll just illustrate with a few examples:

Smart Baby

I don’t remember who introduced me to Smart Baby facebook page but I am grateful they did. They stock really nice clothes – that you can’t find on the overrated Biashara Street. I usually go through the Facebook page, select what I like and order through email. My order is delivered the following day to the office, where I pay cash on delivery. I could have them delivered at home but since I live way out of town, the delivery charges will be too high. I pay Ksh. 150 for delivery to Upperhill. Quite affordable, no? Update: They actually deliver for only Ksh 200 to places like Mlolongo.

Some of the clothes on offer at Smart Baby

Some of the clothes on offer at Smart Baby

They actually have a website now and it’s much easier to browse through stuff. You can pay through M-Pesa. I think next month I will shop through the website. (Although it currently says: THIS IS A DEMO STORE- PLEASE DO NOT PLACE ANY ORDERS). My son tends to outgrow clothes fast (as do most babies) so I buy new outfits each new month or so. If you are going to buy clothes from there, buy one or two sizes bigger. The clothes might say 3 months but they fit a 0-month old baby (at least for my baby).

And for those who prefer old school shopping, please have a _. And then head to their shop in Kileleshwa (which opened well after the online shop).

Elegantly African

This is a shopping website for fashion accessories. I need a new watch and when I saw the pictures of the watches they have I wanted one.

A photo of the new watch. The glasses though, I had to go to Optica for the checkup. If only I could do it online too..

A photo of the new watch. The glasses though, I had to go to Optica for the checkup. If only I could do it online too..

I got it for Ksh. 1,000, paid through my Visa Debit card and it was delivered free to my office. So Elegant. So African. (Seems the watches are out of stock at the moment, just checked their site).

Diapers

For my diaper shopping, I was going to Biashara Street to buy them, so I can buy them at Ksh 50 bob cheaper than at the supermarkets. A colleague at work gave me the distributor’s number, I called them, made an order, paid through their M-Pesa paybill number and they delivered to my office free of charge. Okay, it’s not online shopping, more of over-the-phone shopping but it’s still quite convenient. You have to buy in Bulk though.

Huggies Gold Diapers, they're rather expensive but they've become my favorite brand

Huggies Gold Diapers, they’re rather expensive but they’ve become my favorite brand

Imperial Bank

I finally signed up for online banking so I can check my statements and do some transactions. I have accounts with both Equity (it has its advantages) and Imperial Banks and they both have online banking services. With Imperial, the forms were sent to me via email, I then filled and dropped them off. I’m sure I can download internet-banking forms online from the Equity site so I shall sign up soon.

Who doesn't do this anymore?

Who doesn’t do this anymore?

Dash2Do.com

Have you ever had an errand that required you to attend to it during working hours? Things like banking, registration of births (etc), picking documents from one place to another..

I started the birth certificate application for my son. I had to steal some time off work to do it. I filled in the forms, then was told to come later to pay for the processing (they do the verification for almost a week!). When I went to pay, they had run out of receipts so I walked back to the office in frustration. When I went the second time to pay, it was 2 p.m. and I found a huge crowd of people by the entrance waiting. If I was to wait with that crowd, I’d lose more than an hour of working so again I walked back to the office in frustration and decided I’d come earlier. Going back the 3rd time to pay, I was there by 8:30 a.m. only to be told the offices open at 9 a.m. I couldn’t stand around for another 30 minutes considering I’d left work. Can you spell F.R.U.S.T.R.A.T.I.O.N

A dasher. No, this is not Emily.

A dasher. No, this is not Emily.

Enter dash2do.com. You sign up, you load your account with some money from your debit/credit card, and then you can request for errand doers – stating the errand the amount you are willing to offer. Someone is assigned to the errand, and give you a call. You also get a text telling you who has been assigned. That’s how Emily from dash2do.com contacted me and finally sorted out this lining up to pay business. I was so relieved. Now to wait for about two weeks to go pick the certificate. I also had many other errands which she ran satisfactorily for me.

Once a task is complete, you go back to the dash2do.com website and pay the agreed amount. They also offer other services like phone tracking, luggage keeping etc.

Old Mutual

I am trying to invest. I know, I also laugh at the joke that is that statement. This means if there’s anything left in my account at the end of the month, I try to siphon it off to these guys, they have this fund which you can top up with any amount from 1,000. You can top up via M-Pesa or through bank deposits (scan and send the slip after depositing). You can liquidate any time. Although you can’t check statements online on the website, they are sent to me via email. The fund manager is available via email for any discussions etc.

Free Old Mutual Calendar

Free Old Mutual Calendar

I got a free calendar when I signed πŸ™‚ I keep it on my workspace.

P.S.

All these guys I’ve mentioned should pay me for marketing them πŸ™‚ Tell me you’re not convinced

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The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoyevsky : Book Review

This is one among the many free e-books available in the Aldiko reader installed on my Samsung S4 (just saying). I made several attempts at starting the book; the setting is strange at least to me, since I don’t know much about Russia except their notoriety at emotional coldness, (especially to Africans), their love for vodka and Leo Tolstoy (whom I am yet to read). The characters had hard-to-pronounce names and they (the characters) were numerous and seemed to be introduced all at once. However, one thing about me is that once I get a book started, I have to make sure I finish it. I am glad I persevered with this one.

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov

The book revolves around the story of three brothers: the tempestuous first born Mitya, the philosophical Ivan and the last of the brothers, Alyosha, whose character is, I would say, saintly. Their father, who is a big (non)influence in their lives is also a central character.

Through the book, we get to see Russia in the 1880’s, as it changes from a traditional society to a modern one where ideas about religion and politics are challenged. We get to discover why Russians are so passionate about their country, you almost want to hop on a plane and take a tour of Russia.

The book has numerous side-characters who add charm to the story; there is a sad, brave boy called Ilusha who is dying (sob sob) and his school friends. Alyosha (the saintly brother) makes friends with them and that’s how they come to be a part of the story. There is Aloysha’s elder Zossima. An elder is someone with who you trusted your soul; see Alyosha lived in a monastery with the elder and other monks and monks-to-be. He wasn’t a monk really and isn’t going to be. The story of the elder is told in detail and his ideas on man, religion and God are told extensively. Of course, these are really the author’s ideas put forth through his characters but done so eloquently.

After the introduction of the characters, comes the real tragedy. There’s a woman whom both the first born son Mitya and the dad, Fyodor Pavlovitch are in love with. Then there is a murder, which in the end brings the brothers together in one of the saddest endings I’ve read.

This book is worth every effort it took to get past the first few pages. If you have a smartphone/e-book reader, get the Aldiko book reader; if you don’t do it the old school way, I’m sure it will be available in a bookshop somewhere.

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