I unassembled my saxophone and kept it away in its case this morning. It was a very emotional moment for me because I don’t even know when I’ll ever be able to play again. I had a performance on Valentine’s Day—one I looked forward to and prepared for. I had a pounding headache when the day came, and my body felt 80. By the end of the performance, I was clinging to dear life to finish well and not abandon the event because it crossed my mind severally. Some men who operated the sound rightfully gave me feedback because I disappointed them and danced around less while I performed. I chuckled on the outside and told them I’d do better. Deep inside, though, I knew they’d never understand, even if I had explained, how hard that night had been for me, performing while growing a little human. I understand I’m among the few women who have had it easy —pregnancy— because of the horror stories I have heard from other women. But have I had it easy, though? Exhaustion has become my neighbour who invites themselves over unannounced and at the worst times possible. Pregnancy has no balance. One day I am living my best life, glowing and feeling so good, receiving compliments from all corners with ‘it must be a boy’ comments. The next day I might easily be writhing in pain at the hospital emergency section, only to be told later that I had less food in my system, and the baby decided to demonstrate. On hot sunny days, I lose my breath – thanks to Rwanda for planting trees that help break down the sun’s wrath. Heat comes with misery and unexplainable discomfort. My most active time at the office is before 3 pm because my body feels borrowed afterward. When I see people who work remotely, all I can say is, ‘Lord, when?’ I am actively collecting tips from the ladies who have been there before—how is this manageable? When female motivational speakers only talk about hard work and resilience, do they conveniently forget that one’s body seems to betray them at some point? What about female musicians? Can we address this without shyness? How do we remain creative when our bodies seem to have taken a break? Or how do we continually show up when we want every free moment to be shared with our beds? Just recently, on Women’s Day, I agreed to a performance because women must support women and celebrate together. Wrong decision. March 7 ended well. I even took a picture because I felt so good. By the end of the day, I had a slight discomfort, but I reminded myself that I had performed under sickness, touches of flu, and headaches. I indeed got this too. I woke up feeling like a zombie the next day — only zombies can walk straight, and I had been ripped off that ability. I was in excruciating pain and out of strength. I tried boosting myself with energy foods to regain strength, report to work on time, and do the performance later in the evening. Jokes on me because I was unable to leave my couch. I wound up hospitalised to be watched while getting help. I had to send my regrets to the event organisers. Later that night, I decided that the logical thing to do was to stop saying yes to performances for a while because something small, beautiful, and demanding had since taken over my system. And while I hung my gloves and kept my saxophone away, my only wish was that more women in Rwanda would pick up instruments so that while one saxophonist waits for their bundle of joy, another can fill the gap. The writer is Rwanda’s first female saxophonist.