From the Human Factor: The moments we become parents: Personal stories of love, fear and hope.
Written from the perspective of a mom, Mathabang Mohlamonyane and her partner and father to her child, Mahlatse Makgabudi, the below is the story of their journey to parenthood.
Even now, when I close my eyes, I can still see it happening in front of me: while I was in the hospital waiting room, the lady sitting next to me went into labour. Her water broke and she was in a lot of pain. But the nursing staff just ignored her and her baby died. I was also heavily pregnant – in my tenth month of pregnancy – and about to give birth. I panicked. All I could think was, ‘what if this happens to us?’” – Mathabang
“The pregnancy wasn’t planned. The news came as a shock – it was sooner than we had planned, and we were not married yet. But, it was also a blessing. We always said we wanted many children. I wanted to be there and support Mathabang, but it was tough. She was staying far away in Germiston and I was working at the mines in Witbank, so we couldn’t see each other whenever we wanted, but we used every chance we got.” – Mahlatse
“You know what it is like when you are at a government hospital? You should say nothing because they know everything. They will just look at you, without even checking, and say, ‘that baby is still fine, you sit down. So you are too scared to say anything. But they did not treat me as badly as they did the woman next to me. My mother was there when I went in to give birth, which helped and comforted me a lot, but Mahlatse couldn’t be there.”
“The feeling of being a father came when Mathabang was still pregnant. I had to sit down, and I had to plan because life was not only about me anymore. I knew that every decision I made – good or bad – would affect someone’s life from then on. I was at work when Mathabang went to the hospital and only when I saw the pictures of Thatego did it become real to me.”
“After Thatego was born, I wasn’t allowed to walk because whenever I stood up the operation scar would reopen. I wasn’t even allowed to carry him. My wound became infected and another surgery was performed. My mother, who was looking after Thatego, would send me pictures of him. I ached for him. Thatego was nearly three months old when I got to hold him properly for the first time.”
“Being a parent is not just about having a child. You have to connect with the baby. The bond between the three of us is very strong. I feel good every time I see my child. Now that he’s running all over the place, he reminds me of myself at his age. When I call, I can hear Thatego speaking in the background and I know he recognises from my voice that I am his dad. That makes me happy.”
“Wherever I go, I carry my child – he goes everywhere with me. In the beginning, I was perhaps a bit overprotective after everything that had happened to us. Mahlatse comes to see Thatego, who is now 19 months old, about every three weeks. It is difficult to be separated, but Mahlatse is working very hard to bring us together as a family – he has just bought us a house in Witbank. But the experience of Thatego’s birth has made us give up on the idea of having a big family. It has also affected how we raise Thatego. He is everything to us.”
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.
Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
WhatsApp: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325
Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com