The babies, somewhat, cry in intervals. At first, I hear a shrill cry from one of the rooms behind the living room. “That is the young one,” the mother says.
Just as his or her cries gradually subsides, another picks up. You would think Lavender Kiyingi (three months) had passed the buck to Trevor Kiyingi (21 months).
“Lavender has woken up and when she does she also wakes the brother up,” the mother explains. She carries Trevor as I help with the younger one. However, the fight for breast milk is another “mess” for the mother to sort out. Lavender wants to suckle but Trevor insists he also wants to be carried.
Puzzled, the mother looks at them both because as much as she doesn’t want Trevor to feel ignored Lavender is hungry and needs to feed.
Though Trevor initially weaned himself, looking at Lavender enjoy the breast has rejuvenated the desire in him.
Funny thing, the longing always dies as soon as he puts his lips on the nipple—the mother must keep guessing the best method to apply.
This is Gift Kiyingi’s daily life as she battles to mother two babies that are almost of the same age. At feeding time, you can equate her to a mother of twins.
After listening to the doctor’s advice that women should give birth by 30 years, she chose to give birth at close intervals. Now 30, Gift says the experience has been so tedious that she is reconsidering never bearing another child.
“I call them my little terrors because they exhaust me so much that by the end of the day, I’m feeling dizzy,” she says.
Her advice to women planning to take her route is that they have “as much help as possible” because the experience is not for the fainthearted.
Her original plan was to have four children in five years.
However, the experience so far has made her reconsider.
Change of mind
The belief that mothers rest when their baby is sleeping doesn’t apply to Kiyingi because when one is sleeping, the other is awake. “I never get time to rest and yet my day starts as early as 5am when Lavender wakes up and ends at 9pm,” she says.
The most challenging moments, she says, are those when both children cry to be carried at the same time. When Trevor’s cries to be carried do not yield, he asks the mother to play football with him yet she is carrying Lavender.
With such a small age difference, you would expect Trevor to hate his baby sister but he instead keeps showering her with kisses and laughing out loud when she makes the cooing sound.
Gift says when she learnt that she was pregnant, she immediately sought professional help and was advised to start preparing Trevor for the coming baby.
“When I was pregnant, I kept telling him baby was coming and would ask him to touch baby. So, when I gave birth, I told him baby was finally here and he smiled.”
She added, “When I didn’t have a maid, my husband used to help me make Trevor’s porridge and bath the two babies’ before going to work. When he would come back, he would help carry Trevor as I make us supper.”
With Lavender now three months old, the self-employed mother says they are planning to take Trevor to day-care because she feels that handling the two children might be so overwhelming for the maids.
“When spacing is under two years, it stands to reason that an older sibling loses parental time and attention. She says babies may not get enough care and the mother may experience blood loss as rushed in pregnancies don’t allow the body to regain its normalcy.
It is worse for people who deliver through C-section. A woman who conceives before her first period may experience silent rapture of the abdomen hence risk internal bleeding. However, a lot of body-building foods for the children and mothers who find themselves in such a scenario would be helpful.”
Sarah Nampijja, Midwife at Rubaga Hospital.