The journey to motherhood is paved with fears, cravings, anticipation and sometimes anxiety. At hallmark, the D-day usually marks the beginning of yet another beautiful journey for most mums. However, for Chantelle Petit, it marked the first page of her Fistula survival story. An obstetric fistula occurs if a mother has prolonged obstructed labor but lacks access to emergency C-section leaving holes in the tissue sections between the mother’s vagina and her bladder or rectum. This can go on for days leading to the death of the child. In rare cases, like Chantelle’s case the child survives not without complications.
Chantelle Petit is a 28-year old single mum of one beautiful baby, Summer, suffered a third degree, fistula corrected via surgery. She is a content creator on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. The thriving mama is also a budding entrepreneur running two SMEs Ella Summers and another one which will soon be launched in the course of this week. A digital marketer by profession, she ventured into entrepreneurship to eek a living because of how hard it is to find jobs in Kenya.
For Chantelle, her journey to motherhood has been a rollercoaster and a half. There is a certain uncertainty that comes with being a first-time parent where you are unsure of so many things. Will you be able to show up as a mother and kick ass at it? Her fears were rooted from the traumatic birth experience she had and whether, she and her daughter Summer would recover. The impact that whole ordeal had on her finances threw her off completely.
However, she had these women she looked up to. Those who reminded her to keep going, that there was indeed light after darkness. Her mum was and still is one of them. She tirelessly stood by her in the ward room, waited outside the theatre halls and held her baby when she was in so much pain at the time. Chrissy Teigen who had a very bad tear at birth, gave her strength and hope while Ciara’s story of finding true love after journeying through single motherhood made her believe the sun would shine again. During her pregnancy and recovery, finding the right information was hard. So, she took up to the course. To be a source of right information for first time mums. Looking back, she wishes she knew half of the things she knows now while she was pregnant.
Different mums have different pregnancy experiences. While some experience morning sickness, others like Chantelle did not. For her, she was extremely tired during her first trimester. She would randomly blackout for twelve hours and wake up confused. Like many mothers, the cravings came and she fell into the bandwagon, craving snickers and lemon chilli fries. She muses she probably bought enough to get shares in the company.
The toughest bit was the antenatal clinics. These appointments are important and a must. They help the paramedics monitor you and the baby’s progress throughout the pregnancy. Like most mums visiting the ANC, Chantelle had to endure long sitting hours or long queues. It almost got unbearable towards the end of her pregnancy. Even though Chantelle had a normal delivery at the hospital with no epidural, she wanted a home birth. Home births are common in developed countries, but barely in Kenya.
“If there is anything motherhood has taught as a mom of one, is to enjoy the small things because they can bring happiness, ” Chantelle says. Through observing her daughter, who would find joy in the smallest of things like entertaining herself with just a bottle top, she got a different life perspective. This simplified the complexity of life and made her realize just how simple it is. This was all because she had to uncover her hidden strength heal from fistula-related injuries, and still be there for her daughter through treatment for her condition.
“I cried a lot, and questioned why God chose us to go through such a rough journey!” Lamented Chantelle. She decided to give it her best by going for all the hospital visits, listening to what the doctors had to say and pray. Before finding the right doctor for Summer, she had to go through several doctors. She at least visited over ten different doctors to find the right one for her. Infact, the content creator went through five doctors before finding her gynecologist. It was a painful journey, of which her family stood by her, encouraging and strengthening her. Nearly two years past this ordeal, Chantelle and Summer are faring well now. They are taking the time to heal. “Healing is not overnight. It takes time. It takes a lot of patience, and grace too”, she explains. She has had to put all her energy in creating a positive environment for healing.
When the world around you does not understand your pain, they stigmatize you for going through that pain. Every single mother, goes through stigma. While societies celebrate mums for being great at what they do and the sacrifice they put in raising children, single mothers have been criticized and shunned for having kids with irresponsible men and or trapping them. Whenever these mothers need support from the fathers of their children, they are termed as materialistic and often crazy. Chantelle was no different either. She faced a different side of this stigma where people claimed she was lying about being a single mother. Before, it bothered her. Over time, she grew a thick skin and realized that those were just opinions from the naysayers which needed to be given a deaf ear.
Her motherhood journey has been one of bravery and strength with a stint of glow up.
My role is to pass on all the information I have learnt and I am still learning from my journey as a mother, as well as showing that life still goes on becoming beautiful after a birth trauma while taking on the single mum role. I want to be an example that you can make it. After all the lemons life throws, it is up to you as an individual to create the life you imagine. I also make sure my platform is a safe space for mums and others, commonly known as ‘the tribe’ to feel comfy to share their experiences if need be through my discussions on both my stories and timeline posts.”Chantelle Petit