From the Human Factor: The moments we become parents: Personal stories of love, fear and hope.
I found out I was pregnant six weeks into the pregnancy. I felt tired every day and wondered what was wrong.
After a positive pregnancy test, I went to the doctor. I didn’t believe the test, and when he confirmed it, I didn’t believe him either.
My pregnancy was not planned. I was invited by someone from work, who I didn’t know very well, for dinner and he drugged and took advantage of me.
I have spent so much time blaming myself for going there, for not feeling mistrustful, for not expecting to be raped by someone who I thought liked me.
I tried to reach out to him when I found out I was pregnant, but I discovered that he was no longer with the company.
I also found out that he was married.
I was 25 years old and had just started a great new job that I was excited about.
Who starts a new job and then falls pregnant?
I seriously considered abortion, but I could not think straight about it.
I did not know where the father was or how to reach him, or how I would take care of a baby on just my salary.
I am a Christian and I value life, but I was not ready to be a parent. And physically, I was just so exhausted all the time. So I kept on delaying.
One day I made up my mind to go through with the abortion. I went to a gynae and he asked why I was there. I said, “I believe this is what you do…”
I could see he did not want to do it. He said, “OK, let’s reach an agreement… There are only a few months left.
Please go home and have the baby and then you bring it here again. It was of course just a strategy to let me think about the implications of what I wanted to do.
It was too late for an abortion. I cried bitterly. I thought of suicide. But after that, I began to accept that this was going to happen.
I still felt that I had let myself and my family down, though.
When Lesedi was born, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions, from the joy of knowing ‘she’s real, she’s mine, she’s cute and I love her’, to the fear of doing this alone and the guilt of not having wanted this person.
I think that is what caused the postnatal depression, the guilt: why did I want to do this to such an adorable human being?
What if she knows it somehow?
When depression happens to you, it can be hard to self-diagnose.
I told a colleague who was checking up on me because I was crying so much and was sad all the time, and she immediately said I had postnatal depression.
I was relieved to find out that postnatal depression was a thing and that it can be dealt with.
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It helps when you have the knowledge and awareness that your stress affects the baby, so it’s important to have good friends, colleagues and lots of support.
I struggled with the changes that being a parent brought with it. Keeping up with my friends was a challenge. My lifestyle had changed a lot.
Being a single parent means you just have to be strong. You can’t be tired – the show must always go on. It’s a readjustment that never stops.
Lesedi is a teenager now and she thinks she knows everything.
Over the years I have learnt that the best you can do is to live, to enjoy and love your kids, and to get rid of any guilt you may have, as it goes back to them.
They take everything in! Explain to them the reality of life. You cannot shield them from pain, but you can teach them how to cope with it.”
This article forms part of DGMT’s Human Factor publication. Issue 2 explores the power of parents as their children's first educators and their right to continue to champion their children’s education throughout schooling. Read it online or request a printed copy at dgmt.co.za/the-human-factor.
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