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!

 

Self-love

Self-love: noun meaning regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.

We often perceive this word to be synonymous with selfishness or even narcissism. However, this isn’t what I believe it means entirely. I believe the most unhappy people we come across in life are highly lacking in self-love. They are often emotionally unstable as they lack this important anchor.

The truth is, you can not give or radiate something you do not have. It is important for every individual to have some measure of self-love. If you have no regard for your own well-being, how can you truly care for others? If you do not love yourself, how can you expect others to? If when you look at yourself, all you see are your flaws, what then do you expect others to see? If you do not place a high value on yourself, how do you expect others to?

Sometimes when relationships end, you hear an aggrieved party saying how much sacrifices they made for the other at the expense of their own comfort. I think therein lies the problem. While we will all need to make sacrifices for people we care about from  time-time, I think the best relationships thrive when people meet in the middle somehow. This is what I think someone who has self-love realizes. They give and take. You are very unlikely to tolerate being maltreated if you love yourself.

When we meet new people, we often subconsciously size them up and have a mental summary of the person based on the cues we get. If you are a person lacking in self-love, you are very likely to be treated poorly because people know they can get away with it. So, sometimes it might be surprising to hear that an abusive ex- has remarried but isn’t abusing the new spouse.

So, dearest sisters, let us learn to love ourselves, look beyond your flaws. Treat yourself right. Appreciate yourself. It makes it easier for others to love you too.

Remember, we are all wonderfully and uniquely made. Have a self-loving weekend!

 

 

Wait it out

I am a very romantic person. I LOVE love. Its just one of the most beautiful experiences in life. My husband and I have a truly beautiful love story. We have simply been fortunate to share the kind of love and passion that we have. Even after all these years, he still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. However, the truth is, we once faltered.

When we dated, we were just two young people in love and focused solely on each other. Our worlds revolved around each other. I can hardly remember any serious quarrel we ever had. After we got married, somewhere along the line, we slipped and stopped being each other’s priority. We had some challenging times and we listened to voices outside our home and blemished our story. We got advice-solicited and unsolicited. The truth is, other voices can be very distracting whether their intentions are good or bad. In fact, without knowing it, you might start to view your partner through people’s eyes.

While we had simply thrived on making each other happy and enjoyed watching the other person’s eyes glow whenever we gave a gift, it suddenly became a lot of work. There were birthdays and anniversaries my husband failed to acknowledge. We forgot to just stare in each other’s eyes like we used to. I just couldn’t understand the change. It was heartbreaking.

Fortunately for us, God gave us the wisdom to realize we were losing each other. We worked our way back and learnt from our mistakes. We learnt that if it took just the two of us to fall in love, then maybe just the two of us could help us stay in love and work out any issues we have. We have learned, and are still learning to listen to just our own voices. We have also realized that we should never stop impressing each other. Being married doesn’t mean the conquest is over.

So if you are going through a rough patch in your relationship, sometimes, it’s a good idea to wait it out. I don’t know your unique situation and it would be unfair to judge you. All I know is, relationships, as with most things in life. are full of ups and downs. Recognize the ‘downs’ for what they are-phases. Of course this especially applies if things were once great between you too. It is also good to take stock and try to assess as realistically as possible, what you have going for you. Ask yourself what is good about your union. If you are getting abused, please this advice does not apply to your situation.

Also try to remember-especially if your marriage is new-that you are both trying to figure out your new roles. So give your spouse some stumbling room. I remember finding all the wedding day advice a little too much. It made me feel like I now had to look and act my role as a wife and look at my husband differently. I just wanted to be his beloved forever. Period. The branding which is associated with marriage can put you both under pressure to act a certain way and micro-examine your relationship.

Do not feel pressured to leave a good marriage because of a temporary phase. Tune out people’s voices. Take a critical look at yourself. Work on yourself. Be easy to love. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Learn not to sweat the small stuff. Pray for the wisdom required to have a successful marriage. Do your part. Don’t stop learning about yourself or your partner. If it feels very far from how it did when you just met, don’t give up so soon. Talk it out…wait it out.

God bless our homes. Have a great weekend!

Pawns…

Musings…
Why do we feel the need to drag children into the mess we create as parents?
If/when ugliness creeps in, why should children be made to choose sides?
Most marriages start out beautifully but unfortunately along the line, sometimes, ugliness creeps in . It can be gut-wrenching and often creates bitterness in one or both people involved and understandably so.
Strategies of ‘war’ have proven that the more allies you have, the better your odds of ‘winning’. This is where children come into play.
Children are innocent but often, parents-especially mothers-often use them as tools to wage war. I believe sometimes, they don’t do it deliberately. As they say, ‘hell hath no fury…’, so an angry woman oozes hurt and anger from her pores. Children, bless them, are naturally able to pick on mothers’ emotions and sometimes, even share these emotions. Most women also have a quite caustic tongue and lash out verbally when unhappy or angry. Children hear these words and get swayed.
On the other hand, there are women who also deliberately manipulate children. There are ugly stories they have in their archives which they dig out from time-time to let the children know how awful their father is. Considering how much time we spend with children and how much emotional control we have over them, this is an easily achievable feat for women.
I know it’s unfair to judge someone if you haven’t walked in their shoes. However, I believe, it’s very unfair to put children in such difficult position. Children are better served when they have a healthy relationship with both parents. Parents should encourage this except if the other parent is harmful to them. Bitterness and other negative sentiments should be suppressed. While it might be difficult to watch someone who was so unkind to you idolized by your children, you have to realize that there is a role in their lives your partner can play better than you can.
The truth is that if left alone, children are a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. In time if your partner is truly a terrible person, the children will eventually figure it out without your help anyway. They have a right to know and have a relationship with both parents and should be allowed to do so.
So whether you are splitting from your partner, genuinely trying to make it work or you know all hope is lost but you are keeping up appearances just so you don’t get labelled, please don’t use your children to fight your battles. Put their welfare and happiness before yours. They won’t be happier or better for it and you won’t too.
Bad husbands/partners don’t necessarily translate to bad fathers!  

Love on my mind…

Sweeter than honey is this love of ours, My heart flutters when you are near, When you look in my eyes, fireworks erupt in the fit of my belly. I sense you even before I see you. With you, I am fearless.

Warmer than a thick blanket on a cold winter night is your embrace my love, Joy is incomplete until I have shared it with you, Worries disappear when you are near. In your presence, I am comforted. With you, I know a reality that has eclipsed my fantasies.

Beautiful and unashamed is my adoration for you my love. Your hands are mine to hold. My heart speaks your name. The lines of your face are etched in my memory. When we are apart, I pine for you. For without you, I am incomplete.

Songs have been written and ballads sung about this affliction of mine. I was made for you, and you for me. In your arms, I am home. I am loved perfectly, in the way I want to be loved. Time stands still for us, and the rest of the world melts away.

God bless us.

(Written somewhere in S/Wales for my love on 24/12/2015)

Goods?

Decadence: n, meaning moral degeneration or decay.

I just watched a musical video and I must ask a question that nags me often. Why do we as women allow ourselves to be seen as a collection of body parts? People have risen to fame singing about our sexual body parts…made a fortune from explicitly describing our bodies why we dance and display them barely covered. Why do we present ourselves in this manner?

I doubt that when God created us so beautifully he intended for us to be commodities. A lot of movies show bare breasted women. So much so it has become the norm. Sex sells. I am sure that’s what most people reading are thinking. But if that’s the only reason, then there should be more movies showing the male genitals as well. There should be more music videos showing naked/near-naked men as well. We rarely see that. Why is there a mismatch? Why do we sell out so easily? Why is less price placed on our nudity? Why aren’t more men ‘twerking’ or jiggling body parts (Magic Mike proved they can) in videos? Talk about gender equality.

I pondered and came up with possible explanations. One of them is that women have been considered sex objects from time immemorial. It was their job to entertain men by dancing seductively amongst other things. When you look at it from that angle, it may seem like progress that they can now at least ask for payment for doing so. Hmmn. We have made a lot of progress advocating for gender equality and liberating women. We have come a long way but maybe this belief that we are forms of entertainment is a timeless one.

Another of my ideas is that maybe we believe it is a form of power and relish being able to captivate men by wielding it. A whole industry seems to have sprung forth from this power. The truth is, while I might flinch when I see certain things, the females jiggling away are getting paid. That is their profession. There is a huge market for what they are selling. The more skin they bare, the better the video seems to do.

Another idea is that maybe this decadence itself is as a result of our new found liberation. Women have more freedom today than ever before. We can do anything we want and hold our heads up high. We have broken barriers, penetrated professions that used to be forbidden to us. We now own our bodies and minds like never before. So I guess if we want to clothe or bare our skins, we can very well do so now. It’s totally up to us!!!

Whatever angle we look at it from, this one is totally on us. We can’t blame men for this unfortunately. Not today. Most of these girls are not being forced. In most episodes of Jerry Springer’s show, a girl gets up at some point during the show and voluntarily bares her chest while viewers cheer her on. I haven’t seen any guy take his pants off just for fun.

Anyway, maybe I am just a little too old school. Why shouldn’t a gorgeous body be flaunted…and maybe pay some bills in the process??? Bare as you dare is the new school.

Hmmn. Have a lovely week everyone!!!

Woman, chin up!

On days when my spirits are low,

and the devil tries to sow seeds of self doubt in my mind,

I remind myself,

I am made by a perfect God, who makes no mistakes,

His works are perfection, and I am his work,

I was born, raised and mentored by a queen,

I am the descendant of great women and I shall eclipse them,

I am my queen’s priceless jewel,

I am my husband’s beloved lover,

Life has spewed forth from my body,

I am my children’s mother,

I am an endless pocket of love and kindness,

I am daughter, sister, wife, mum and friend,

I am woman, and I am freaking awesome!!!

 

Have a great new week everyone!

 

‘Multiplying’ with caution (pt 2)

Moving on to the topic of erecting your ‘road block’. If you do decide to start using contraception, view it as a you would a restaurant menu. You may get lucky and like your first choice, but if you don’t, there is a wide array of options to sample as you search for the one best suited to your body and situation.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING(safe period)-99% effective if used correctly.This method aims to help women achieve contraception by simply knowing what times of the month to avoid sex. Acts by using body signs and symptoms like: daily body temperature which must be measured at the same time everyday with a special kind of thermometer. A temperature spike of 3 days in a row is watched out for. This spike takes place right after ovulation. Cervical mucus secretions which is wetter, clearer and slippery right before ovulation. Advantages -this is a method for women with regular menstrual cycles. It has no side effects and is acceptable to most cultures and faiths.Disadvantages-it takes 3-6 cycles to learn properly. Requires days of abstinence. Failure rates are quite high as certain factors-stress, travel or illness- may alter the menstrual cycle. Also often used incorrectly. If you absolutely do not want to get pregnant, this method isn’t for you.

Other methods can be permanent(irreversible) i.e sterilisation or temporary(reversible).

CONDOMS-98% effective. These act by simply creating a physical barrier between the sperm and the egg. Advantage– it prevents STIs and has no medical side effects. Disadvantage– some people may be allergic to latex. May split or tear if not used properly.

THE HORMONALS are the remaining group and mostly act by using the hormones(oestrogen, progesterone or both) to thicken the cervical mucus, hence making it difficult for sperm to penetrate the womb and reach an egg, or by thinning the lining of the womb, or in the case of the implants, stop the release of egg from the ovary.

1-Combined oral contraceptives(the pill) >99% effective. Contains oestrogen and progesterone. Advantages-makes bleeding regular, lighter and less painful. Reduces risk of cancers of the ovaries, womb and colon. Reduces fibroids and cysts. Disadvantages-can increase blood pressure. Does not protect against STIs. Must be used daily. Can be made less effective by use of some other medications e.g antibiotics.

2- Progestogen-only pill >99% effective. Advantages– safe for use while breastfeeding. good for women who can’t use the combined pill. Disadvantages-may cause irregular period. daily use. may cause ovarian cysts.

3- Intrauterine devices-(Copper or Mirena) >99% effective. Stops the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or tube. Advantages-lasts 5-10years. Can be used in breastfeeding women. Fertility returns almost immediately. Disadvantages– no protection against STIs. May cause ectopic pregnancy. Mirena causes less vaginal bleeding(may stop completely). Copper can cause pain and bleeding.

4 Implant->99% effective. Small tube inserted under the arm. Advantages-lasts 3years. Safe for breastfeeding. Fertility returns after removal. May decrease heavy/painful periods. Disadvantages– disrupts periods. May lessen sex drive. Mood changes.

5-Injections->99% effective. Commonest is the depo provera. Lasts 12 weeks. Advantages-safe for breastfeeding. May decrease heavy/painful periods. Disadvantages– there may be a year delay of return to fertility. No protection against STIs. May cause weight gain and bone thinning.

6-Contraceptive patch->99% effective. Each patch lasts for a week, you change the patch weekly for 3 weeks and have a week off without a patch. Advantage-easy to use. Makes periods lighter, regular and less painful. Disadvantages-may cause skin irritation, itching and soreness. No protection against STIs. Can cause bleeding between periods.

STERILISATION– This is a permanent and surgical method of contraception for both sexes. Men can undergo vasectomy and women can undergo tubal ligation. Advantages-it is >99% effective. does not affect hormones or sex drive. Disadvantages– offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases(STIs). It is difficult to reverse.

Less common methods not covered in this discussion include vaginal ring, diaphragm, female condoms and caps. Also not discussed is emergency contraceptive methods.

A more detailed conversation on your chosen method will probably be given by your healthcare provider. This is a guide to help you choose and not a substitute for their advice.

I personally had to sample some of these before finding what suits me while some women I know chose one and got it right away. What works for someone else might not suit you. Just listen to your body.

Good luck as you find your way to planned parenthood!

(pls check http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/contraception-guide/Pages/vaginal-ring.aspx for further reading)

‘Multiplying’ with caution (pt 1 )

Contraception: noun- deliberate prevention of conception or pregnancy.

I personally love babies. Their smell, the look in their eyes, the love they somehow draw from the depths of you and the blind, shameless trust they display in us as their parents. I wish I could have a dozen of them…my own little village. This is however an unreasonable desire. With this trust and blessing comes a great responsibility. You have been entrusted to care and provide the best for them. YOU and no one else.

A little arithmetic is needed in this multiplication business. Depending on what your dreams are for your children, you can make a fairly reliable projection- based on your income- of how many kids you can provide for. This plan can be revisited if your financial status improves.

In the past, it was quite common practice to have as many kids as you are blessed with the intention of raising them on the generosity of friends and family members. Things are rapidly changing. These days it is rare to find people willing to take in nephews, nieces and cousins. Rather than have their intentions misinterpreted, they would rather hire a domestic staff if they need one. I also think it is quite unfair for a couple to deliberately have just two kids and then be expected to raise 4 other kids for family members. They shouldn’t be judged for not giving up their vacations abroad because you are behind on children’s school fees. I want to believe all parents intend to provide the best for kids. The definition of this best is relative however and people should be able to buy/do whatever they want for their kids without being worried about what others will say or think as long as they can afford it.

It’s called family planning for a reason. There is no rigid figure for all. For you, 6 kids might be ideal, for someone else it might be 2. I also think besides finances, affection should be put into consideration as well. How far can you stretch your love as well. Every child should be loved and made to feel special. I don’t know how easy that can be with many kids. You don’t want a child who feels like he’s been lost in the mix somehow. Some parents are able to bond with each child despite having 7 kids while some hardly have enough attention for one child. It’s all about meeting their emotional and financial needs as they deserve.

It’s not very responsible to continue having children despite being in a bad financial condition. I understand and respect that some religions and cultures are against contraception for different reasons. To each, his own. I feel this is an issue worth giving some thought for all women. I also believe the time to give it a thought is before and not after an unplanned pregnancy. It’s your body, take charge. Contraception is cheaper, safer, and definitely more reasonable than having an abortion too!

Most health care centers have facilities for contraception but I will discuss the various methods in the next part. When to begin? If you are single, sexually active but not ready to be a parent yet, the time to begin is as soon as possible. If your intention is for child spacing, then you should ideally start within 6 weeks after you’ve had a baby as your next ovulation can be very unpredictable. If you are open to having another baby anytime, then of course this doesn’t apply to you.

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.

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