I was born and brought up in Nyeri County in a family of three. I am the firstborn. I attended Nyeri primary school before proceeding to Chinga Girls High School in Nyeri. I joined Daystar University after high school,” says Grace while introducing herself.
Grace is mother to twins Nuru Wanjugu and Pendo Gathoni, born when she was 22 and a university student. A very outgoing person, Grace served in various student groups at university and was well known for her faith in God, which she publicly confessed. As a Christian Union leader, she was charged with the responsibility of orienting first year students. She was having a great time at the university but all this changed in December 2009 when learnt she was pregnant. This news hit her like thunder, leaving a cloud of shame hanging over her head. She was in her final semester at university and the news was, to say the least, devastating.
RELATIONSHIP GONE SOUR…
Grace was crushed to the core due to a broken relationship, leaving her to handle the situation alone while wallowing in self-pity. I was sceptical about disclosing the news to anyone for fear of being ridiculed and rejected. I went into solitude to try and figure out my next move. I was just about to start an internship, a requirement before graduation in June 2010, and I didn’t know how I was going to handle that,” she says of the pregnancy that changed her life. Grace was terribly afraid at first but she gathered courage in her second month of pregnancy and disclosed her situation to her parents. She was afraid of what their reaction would be but was pleasantly surprised when they did not condemn her.
“My parents were very understanding and supportive, and assured me that they would be by my side all through. Although I felt ashamed for letting down my parents and my fellow Christian Union members, I was encouraged by my parents’ support. It helped me start off the long and difficult journey of preparing myself both mentally and physically for motherhood,” says Grace.
With encouragement from her parents, she shared the news with her friends. Some helped her get over the fears and uncertainty she was going through. She felt ill equipped for motherhood but the love and support from her family and friends kept her going.
DEALING WITH GUILT
“I had many low moments, especially when self-blame wouldn’t go away. In such moments I turned to God for strength. I constantly prayed, seeking repentance and forgiveness. I started journaling my feelings, fears and hopes as a way of releasing the strong emotions that at times threatened to overcome me. Strangely enough, abortion did not cross my mind. I was scared stiff of the consequences and also did not have money to meet the doctor’s charges. My faith convinced me abortion was wrong, its consequences serious and painful, and in any case two wrongs didn’t make a right,” recalls Grace.
TWO IN ONE
“The pregnancy was without complications. My mother helped me watch my diet and generally took care of me. I was attending pre-natal clinics. In the fifth month of pregnancy, an ultra sound scan revealed that I was carrying twins. This was stressful news – I was just adjusting to the idea of a child but now had to think of two! It was through God’s grace that the tears in my eyes dried. I never seemed to stop crying. My supportive parents were excited about the prospect of the double joy of being grandparents of two in one go. The joy in my father’s voice when I called him with the news was so comforting. I don’t know how I would have gone through this without the support of my parents,” says Grace.
“I also became self-conscious of my body as the bump grew and this came with loss of confidence. My growing bump was fodder for gossip amongst my peers but I found strength from God and my parents’ support helped me to ignore whatever was being said behind my back. Seeing the rollercoaster of emotions I was going through, my parents counselled me, advising me that stress was not good for pregnancy and I should avoid it as much as I could. From their advice, I resolved not to care about what people said and focus my attention on myself and my growing babies,” recalls Grace.
“Because of the betrayal I felt from the father of the children, I went through a phase where I hated men. I regarded them as untrustworthy. However, I had my caring father to remind me that not all men were bad – indeed, my father is such a special man and I believe there are many men like him out there,” says Grace.
Things did not get better when she went for her internship. Most of her relatives were shocked to see her pregnant as they knew her as a good Christian girl. There was also too much talk around her that she was even scared of going to church for fear of being judged and condemned. Her father encouraged her to accept her pregnancy and not to worry about what people said. He also encouraged her to join the family worship in church on Sundays.
After a while, the healing started and she looked forward to motherhood. “My twins were born in July 2010, a month after my graduation. I went through the natural process of birth without any hitches. Nuru and Pendo were born strong and healthy and they have been a great blessing in our family. Their grandparents dote on them. I stayed with my babies for one and a half years and then relocated to Nairobi leaving them in Nyeri with my parents and their wonderful nanny, Nancy. I am job hunting and hopefully God will bless me with a job so that I can give my babies a good life. I see them every weekend. Nuru and Pendo are fraternal twins; interestingly they keep switching their personalities. Initially, Pendo was the outgoing, playful one and Nuru was laid back but now its vice versa,” Grace says of her children.
HOPE FOR MARRIAGE?
“I have moved on and my hate for men is no longer there. I realise I was just unlucky and not all men are bad. I am now more mature and live my life with a purpose. My focus right now is on my children, but of course like every girl I dream of getting married one day. I am now a better and wiser woman and have worked on my character. I am in a loving relationship with a very special man and we take each day at a time. Prayer has been my weapon and I constantly seek God’s will in my life and that of my children,” says Grace.
“The most important lesson I have learnt is that God’s purpose for our life does not change when we fall into sin. I have come to understand that without God, I have no life. He is the sole reason for my being. Family and genuine friends are crucial in life. They stood with me through thick and thin and I have no words to express my gratitude to them, especially my parents. They did not judge or condemn me, but in my filthiness helped me see their love and God’s love in my life.
They are special to me and I respect them greatly. My siblings have also been there for me; they play with my children, feed them and generally enjoy their company,” Grace says. Grace was made to apologise and confess her sins in front of the church elders as a condition for her children to be baptised. She found this extremely humiliating and demoralising but had to do it for the sake of her children. She was genuinely remorseful and did not see the reason for being asked to repent her sins all over again since God had already forgiven her. Grace knows the value of forgiveness and this is why she found it in her heart
to forgive the father of her children.
“Forgiveness is key. It helps one get rid of all the unnecessary bitterness in order to move on with life.,” she says. She adds that if it should ever become necessary for her children to know their father, she will introduce them. Her father and a few of her male friends for now remain the male figures in her children’s lives.
“I believe in secondary virginity because when God forgives, He gives one a new beginning. I have purposed to lead a moral life, knowing that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within me. I am accountable to God for my behaviour,” says Grace.
ADVISE TO SINGLE MOTHERS
“No matter what circumstances led you to single motherhood, all is not lost, arise from your suffering and discover your worth. Do not stay down for too long. Always remember that motherhood is a gift from God regardless of how it happens. A child may be born out of sin, but he still remains God’s treasure. I urge all men to take responsibility for their actions. They should offer emotional, spiritual as well as financial support. Single mothers should not judge themselves harshly, instead they should love and appreciate themselves,” Grace advises. “With hindsight and wisdom harshly gained, my genuine advice to young women is to abstain from sex until marriage. God honours that. When you find yourself in a compromising situation, flee because you can easily fall into sexual sin,’’ she concludes with these words of wisdom.