Do you have a partner?

In the past 4 years, writing/blogging has had to take the considerable back seat in my chaotic life. I had to prioritize finishing a hectic training program and exams designed to destroy the faint-at-heart. Failing was a luxury I could not afford because I have 2 young children. It would have meant prolonging the program and getting double the torture.

In my local residency group of about 30, only a few of us did the program full time. I was the only married person who finished the program full time. To achieve this, it meant the home front made a great deal of sacrifices. I was not known in the children’s school. I did not pack school lunches and I hardly attended any school meetings. I was out of the house first and arrived last.

Today my emphasis is on having a partner that understands your dreams, and partners with you to get to your destination. Partners who give you a boost. Partners who tell you to spread your wings and soar!

My husband is a Nigerian man who comes from a fairly comfortable background and the privileges that come with it. He grew up the youngest son, with servants around. He was not taught to lift a finger or have designated chores. When I arrived in Canada, his mum was still doing his laundry and coming over to clean his flat.

In the years of my residency training, he stepped up in a manner his upbringing did not prepare him for. He played a predominant role in childcare and parenting. We paid for a cleaner but he mostly took care of school runs, football matches and other clubs as well as school meetings.

We were lucky because his job as a software engineer means his career was more flexible than mine. We were lucky because he focused on the bigger picture. A progressive thinking man. Not some man who thinks his destiny is tied to eating fresh stew everyday. Not some fragile-ego’d man who believes it’s beneath him to put his own dish in the sink after eating.

While I might make jokes about being the one who actually raised him, I am aware that I struck luck. I can brag about being uncompromising about the need for us to both participate in house chores (which I was), but I am equally aware of how much harder life would have been for us both and for our children if he had proven unreasonable. Weekends found us- and continues to find us- dividing and conquering tasks.

Since finishing, I now work part time. We are in a much better place financially as a result of those sacrifices. We had a weekly cleaner during my training which we have kept. I am able to do school runs twice a week. I know our teachers. I am more actively involved in activities.

So do you have a partner? Are you a partner? A partner focuses on the bigger picture. A partner understands that the end justifies the means. A partner is a destiny builder. A partner focuses on what will get the family to a better place. Not what people think. Sacrifices can be physical or financial.

Your testicles won’t vanish if you bathe your own kids, feed them or put them to bed. You won’t become a woman because you cook or wash dishes. If you are a wife and you are privileged to be able to provide financial support to help your husband, do so. Pay no mind to what family or society thinks as long as you have a partner who isn’t trying to take advantage of you.

So do you have a dream? Ask yourself, do you have a partner? That’s half the job done.

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Broken road

I had a midday ultrasound at one of the biggest hospitals in the city. It was at least an hour away from where I lived so I always took a book to read on the long ride. I didn’t really like that I had to travel so far but I was 10 weeks pregnant and my obstetrician had decided I needed a high risk antenatal program because of my ‘bad obstetric history’ and this was the closest to where I lived. I was anxious but hopeful. I was required to have serial ultrasound scans, hormone measurements and insert progesterone into my body. I hated the progesterone but I did it anyway. I read my book and listened to music on the ipod, completely oblivious to the heartbreak that awaited me at the hospital.

A few hours later…’Sweet heart, we are so sorry. We can’t hear any heart beat today’.It was July 10th. I was lying spread eagled on an ultrasound bed staring with complete disbelief and lack of comprehension as the doctor and the sonographer both explained. I had done everything I was asked to. I had even accepted a copy of one of the previous scans at 8 weeks just after the smiling sonographer had suggested we could put it in the baby’s album. I gave up my coffee once they said I should cut down on caffeine. Anything not to lose this one.

I withdraw when I am in  pain. So for days, the tears didn’t come. I had been booked for an evacuation 3 days later. I walked around like a ghost. My husband’s birthday was in 2 days time and this completely ruined it. Flash back to 6 months before. I had finally joined my husband after 3 years of ‘love across the ocean’. We were finally living together as a couple should and it was simply beautiful but I still missed my mum and my brother and was very lonely. I had just my husband and his family. No friend or family of my own.

The night before the evacuation, I broke. I didn’t just cry. I howled and howled like an injured dog throughout the night. My husband couldn’t get me to stop. Where was my God? How could he let this happen to me again? I still had a room filled with baby things from my stillbirth son. What was wrong with my body? Why couldn’t I bring a baby out alive? Did God see me? Did he hear me? Would I ever be a mum? I wanted my mummy so bad. I would call her just to cry out my heart. I hurt everywhere. My breasts hurt. My heart hurt.

So the poking and probing started. The doctors had tons of tests for me to do to find out what could be responsible for the losses. I wanted to know too. It was endless but at the end, they found nothing wrong. All tests came out normal. I received the news with mixed feelings because if they couldn’t find what was broken, how could they fix it?

3 months later, I was pregnant again and God decided it was his own time to fix me. He made it beautiful and perfect in his own way and at his own time. He made me a mum. My sad stories are now scars and no more wounds. No more clouds.

The sweet is a little sweeter because we have tasted the bitter. So don’t give up. Try again. It just might be right this time!


Deafening silence

This is a story about patience, triumph, and faith in a God that makes things right in his own way, at his own time.

It was February 16th. It started out as a day full of promise. How could it not? I had beside me a remarkable man with whom I shared a love story more beautiful than any book ever written. To crown it all, our first child had just let me know he was ready to be born. As I remember it, the sun shined a little brighter for us…or so thought. You see, I was as excited as any first mum would be to finally have the baby but it was more than that for me.

Flashback to the previous year. My boyfriend and childhood love was leaving the country in 6 months. Out of the blue, one day he lifted me up high in the air as he often did and asked me to marry him. It was all so perfect. Our plans however did not include a pregnancy but it happened. I was 23 and in my final year…my husband was leaving. It seemed like the worst timing ever. I had mixed feelings. I missed my husband terribly, I couldn’t afford to give in to the pregnancy symptoms because I had studying to do. My body was changing uncontrollably. It was all stress. Till the baby started moving. I remember falling in love as it dawned on me that a life was growing inside me. It felt awesome! I talked to him. It came naturally.

As my due date approached I got excited. I was finally going to meet this stranger I had been talking to…who had taken over my body for the past months. My husband was coming home to witness his son’s birth. Shopping for baby things was so much fun.

I fell in labour in the early hours of the morning. We called my mum and my brother. They insisted on coming over to drive us to the hospital. My brother and I are the closest siblings ever, different as we are. He was so excited he rambled on throughout the ride. He would be the baby’s mentor. He would groom his nephew in his image. Him and my husband argued over who the baby would look like. He just couldn’t stop talking.

Just before 5 pm, I was told to start pushing. Out came the baby. It was a stillborn. Where did it go wrong? When did it go wrong? Why did it go wrong? How did it go wrong? These are questions that plagued and still plague me. Where there should have been a cry, there was silence. Deafening silence. That’s how I will forever remember that minute. My arms were empty.

My brother had the unpleasant task of burying the nephew he had been so eager to have. He describes it to date as the worst day of his life. My husband and I couldn’t do it. I remember losing days. The pit of grief yawned wide, swallowing me. I was lost in it. I did nothing to fight it. I nodded when people talked but heard nothing they said. Sleep eluded me. My milk came in. It hurt terribly. My husband, my mum and my brother. They watched me suffer. They were at loss for what to do. They suffered with me.

Eventually I looked at them. I learned to talk to them. I felt angry…disgraced…guilty…defeated. The rug had been pulled out from under my feet. Everyone around me was having babies. It was so easy for them and this made me feel like a failure. Why hadn’t I been able to accomplish this seemingly easy task?

I eventually became a mother, four years and another pregnancy loss later. My road to motherhood was a broken and bumpy one. Today, I liken this experience to a scar and not a wound. It doesn’t hurt as much. I will always have unanswered questions. I still have those unused baby things. I stilI struggle with insomnia. When I am pregnant, I am anxious till the baby comes out alive. I still wish I hadn’t gone through such a painful experience. No woman should have to. But that cloud is gone and I am grateful that even though it will never make sense to me, God had good plans for me.

Dance your turn… then rest

We are not immortal. As we cruise through life, we often neglect this unfortunate fact. I believe what ends up happening due to our negligence is that we wake up one day and the realization strikes us in the face that with or without our consent, time has indeed gone by. Some dreams will not be actualized…some actions cannot be undone…some plans cannot be carried out. We have run out of energy, time or opportunity.

What ends up happening is that sometimes we attempt to live these dreams through our children. There is nothing wrong in wanting the best for our children. In fact as parents, I think we owe it to our kids to make sure we guide them right and save them the agony of poor choices. However, there is a difference between this selfless desire to protect an offspring from bad decisions and the selfish desire for a child to achieve a feat we failed to achieve ourselves and share in the glory.

Live your dreams. Try your best to knock out the barriers between you and your dreams. Try your best. If at the end you still cannot achieve your goal, then let it be. Do not put unnecessary pressure on children to be everything that you are not. To everything there is a season. This applies to our lives as well. Now is your season. If there is a career choice you like, go for it. Go be it. Don’t give up and plan to impose that choice on your kids. If you are married, try to create a home you like…build and run your home the way you like. This is your own playground to make the choices you want. Don’t plan to run your children’s homes after they are married and make decisions for them. If you have a house, design and decorate it the way you want. Your kids and their spouses may have different plans when it’s their turn because it’s THEIR turn.

We owe our children the freedom to make their own decisions. Hopefully, they make sensible ones and ask for our counsel from time to time. They will make mistakes whether we like it or not. Hopefully the mistakes make and not maim them. We shouldn’t shackle them with the burdens of our unfinished plans or dreams.

To sum up, realize that YOUR time is now. It’s the only time that will ever truly be yours to use(or not use) and design. If there is anything you are unable to do, make your peace and accept that fact. Don’t plan to borrow.

The music is playing for you right now. This dance is yours. So dance.

A mother is born

At the end of a successful pregnancy, two wonderful things happen- a child is born, and a mother is born as well.

No words can adequately describe the feeling of holding your baby for the first time..standing in awe of the squishy little bundle you hope has gotten all the best of your traits and your partner’s. You know so much about this stranger, having shared a connection that is incomparable to any other, and you finally get to meet him/her. You have loved, even before meeting this child and now  you fall in love over again, in a way you never have before..fiercely, protectively. A mother is born.

The journey to this beautiful birth however can sometimes be a story on its own. For some, it’s a straight road. For others, it’s a bumpy ride, fraught with difficulties and heartbreaks at different stages. A seemingly easy task for others, yet difficult and in some cases almost impossible for others. Whichever path life takes you through, this is definitely one situation where ‘the end justifies the means’.

So many adventures lie ahead for you both. As your child learns about the world and grows, you will learn and grow too. Taking baby steps together. They don’t come with a manual and so you mostly learn on the job, faltering sometimes -hopefully not significantly- doing the best you can everyday. You try to make decisions that you hope are best and beneficial.

You will in time, be surprised at the little things you find rewarding..a burp, potty training, a few spoonfuls of the food you’ve been trying to introduce for the past one week finally accepted..the list is endless. You will catch yourself watching your child sleep and be surprised at how satisfying this is.

So much has been said about motherhood yet, somehow the actual experience is still full of surprises and evokes emotions you wouldn’t believe you are capable of feeling. What a beautiful day it is when a mother is born!

Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here for an hour I would have died for you
This is the miracle of life

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