The motherhood chronicles: “Don’t be quick to judge”

Most mothers will be familiar with this, “judging a mother or father consciously or unconsciously before you became infected by the parenthood bug.” When I take a look at myself now compared to the era of BK ( Before kids), I see a significant change in my perception to life and I have had to let go of certain habits to be a better mum and person.

Before………….

In the BK era, I couldn’t stand seeing disgusting things like people spitting, soiled washrooms and any disgusting image you can imagine. Almost everyone cannot stand these sights but mine was on a different level. The mere sight of any disgusting thing meant I had to brush my teeth or rinse my mouth plus psychologically get my mind to erase the picture. That would take hours before even daring to touch anything or eat. I could even stay hungry till the brainwash process was complete. I used to say that whenever I had a kid, I would hire someone to do that job (changing of diapers) for me. That was how bad it was.

After……….

You should see me now. Those things still disgust me though. People should be sanctioned for indiscriminate spitting, that really gets on my nerves. I remember the first stinky poop after the meconium (black sticky poop), I was about eating some red red (fried ripe plantain with beans stew) and had to change her diaper. I was torn between eating first (satisfying my selfish self) or changing her diaper (satisfying her at the risk of losing my appetite).  Was that even an option? We brought them into this world when they were sitting their somewhere (direct translation from twi). It  also actually looked similar to the beans stew. The BK me would have let the food pass but I went straight to chowing (eating) after changing her diaper and washing my hands.

You know the bible verse: Matthew 7:1 ‘Judge not that you be not judged.’ I used to wonder how people handled their phones to end up with scratches and looking like the cat had a scratch fight with it. I considered them careless because I could really keep a phone and it would still look almost new. Apologies to anyone I misjudged. You should see my phone in the AK era, the phone is really suffering. In fact if you find a phone with no cracks in my house then it’s probably brand new and yet to go through the initiation rites. Little boss lady drops it in water (don’t know what scientific hypothesis she wants to test) and throws it away in a fit of tantrum like she has been hired by the manufacturer to test its strength and durability.

I used to wonder what could make families consistently late to church. My idealist mind just couldn’t decipher this. I get it now. I am usually late to church about 10 to 30 minutes. One time we got to church and mass had almost ended, we just drove through the church and went back home. You wake up early though, but getting a kid ready for work or school is a difficult task. Imagine packing up for a 2 to 3 days trip, yup…..now that’s similar to packing your kids stuff just for a few hours away from home. I try packing a day before but the funny thing that still beats my mind is that I still end up spending the same time. Your CHILD might also keep you awake all night and you would end up waking up late to church. As for alarms forget it! Sometimes if it wasn’t for the snooze I would have concluded that my alarm was faulty. I probably need one of those slapping alarm devices to wake me up.

The BK me had time to go shopping for clothes or shoes for occasions but now even managing to look good is a luxury. Not forgetting getting to the office or church with food or dirt stains. Wig caps and crochet braids are now my best hair pals. No long Rasta things. Oh and before I forget, am still wearing old clothes and I keep lying to myself that a wardrobe change was needed about 2 years ago. I still tell myself this and never act on it. I however manage to miraculously make time to shop for my kids. 🙂

I like things to be perfect but I realised in the kingdom of children you should let your guard down, have fun and be perfectly imperfect.

OMT

Through all this, I have learnt not to prematurely form conclusions and judge others (not only parents) if I haven’t yet taken a step in their shoes.

What’s your story? What habits have you had to change for your kids sake? We would love to hear from you.

Also check out our post on Daily Struggles of a Mother: My Top 5 on the hubpages!

Maternity leave in Ghana (#6monthsmaternityleave)

I had this topic saved as a draft as far back as 10 October 2015 but never got around to completing it.The motivation to finally sit down to get it completed was after I saw an online petition requesting parliament’s approval for 6 months maternity leave. Just in case you are not aware yet, kindly check out the link to the petition and don’t forget to share. The greater the number of people talking about this, the better.

Days after seeing this petition circulating on social media, I received a call from a friend asking if it was true that parliament had finally approved the 6 months period of leave. Thoughts running through my mind were, if this turns out to be true would it have a prospective or retrospective effect? Would employers buy into this extension? I quickly googled and checked with my HR but sadly that was not the case. My excitement quickly died down, I was really looking forward to an extension as I am currently on maternity leave and coming to the less shocking realisation that the 3 months period is just too short!!

So I decided to do a brief write-up on this and possibly suggest some potential win-win alternatives.

What is maternity leave?

Maternity leave according to the Oxford dictionary, is defined as a period of absence from work granted to a mother prior to and post childbirth.

The hustle with planning one’s leave can be likened to balancing a scale where weights on either sides are uneven. You wish for rest for your exhausted self prior to delivery but that also eats into your already insufficient 3 months (12 weeks). There are situations where ladies go into labour at work…….no worries they always drive to and from work with their hospital bag in the boot,so just like the boys’ scouts and girl guides, they are always prepared!

Why is maternity leave considered essential?

Paid parental leave (this includes paternity leave which some companies have started granting to fathers) based on research can have substantial positive effects on both the mother and child.

It gives the mother some time to readjust plus allow parents some time to bond with the baby. The most important is to give the baby the opportunity to be exclusively breastfed for 6 months.

We currently have day care centres that enroll kids as early as 3 months so the argument would be why not just pack some milk and bundle the little one to daycare. That should be easy! It’s not that easy breezy, pumping of breast milk is no small task and not all working mothers are endowed with abundant milk supply like others and the hours spent at work with no place to extract milk might eventually deplete the already scanty baby chopbox. Our 6 months exclusivity KPI then goes down the drain!

What research reveals……………….

In a study by Chatterji and Markowitz (2012) on the impact of family leave after birth on the maternal health, it was concluded that having more than 8 or 12 weeks of maternity leave resulted in a lower likelihood of depression occurring and improves the maternal health with a positive impact on the child’s health and well-being.

According to the study, there is however limited research on the impact of paternity leave on the health of the mother and the baby.

My wish is for more research to be conducted on the impact of paternity leave on the family. Should you find any relevant article kindly do share with me (omtsdigest@gmail.com).

What the Labour act states

According to the Ghana Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) the following are entitlements of nursing mothers:

  • At least 12 weeks of maternity paid leave after which annual leave days could be added;
  • Additional 2 weeks for abnormal (eg. Is birth via c-section) confinements or multiple births;
  • Any other medical reasons attested to by a medical practitioner resulting from the confinement;
  • An hour a day to nurse the baby.

Note the underlined and boldened text. The Act states a minimum of 12 weeks paid, there is however no limitation on an employer to make this their maximum as is mostly the case. Employers can change the status quo without waiting on parliament’s approval especially if their values includes work-life balance and maximising contributions of women in the work place.

Views on maternity leave

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has been advocating for some time now on the below:

  • extension of maternity leave from the current 3 months to 6 months to encourage working mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the 6 months period
  • mandatory nurseries set up in both public and private institutions

It is the view that although this would be costly to the employer, in terms of the overall impact employers should see the benefits from the long-term perspective in terms of human resource development (ie. Allowing mothers time to effectively raise well-trained and healthy children who would be the future workforce of the country) (Awadzi, 2013).

Others view maternity leave as a form of discrimination. What is their argument? They are of the opinion that having a child is a personal decision and  an employer is not obligated to pay you for charting this course.

What can I say? Sadly I have come to the realisation that one cannot have it all. You either excel at work at the expense of your family and vice versa. A colleague once confided in me on how devastated she felt when she did not get promoted. Mind you, this is a very hardworking person but due to her absence from being on maternity leave, she lost out. But as I always tell my friends, its your choice on whether you prefer work or family to suffer.

Examples from other countries

 Maternity leave days range from as low as 12 weeks to as high as 420 days. Will not delve into details but if you have the time, you can access details on maternity leave by countries from the International Labour Organisation’s website.

My views

 

I am strongly for 6 months of paid maternity leave, which mother would not want this? In as much as we would wish for this the best option would be to reach a common ground where employers do not feel it’s a cost to pay an employee on maternity leave for 6  months. Granting this might in the long-term result in discrimination towards ladies in the workplace and especially in the quest to search for a job.

Based on the above, I would suggest the following:

  • How about an employee setting the pace in Ghana by granting 6 months paid leave, after all the 3 months is just the minimum so why go low when you can go high?
  • Employers could have options available to enable an employee to decide bearing in mind the minimum 3 months period. Examples could be 3 months (full salary) + next 3 months (50% or whatever percentage is agreed on), 3 months (full salary) + 3 months (full salary to work from home) this is dependent on the nature of the work
  • Incorporating flexible working hours for nursing mothers
  • Maintain the minimum 3 months and set up a nursery within the vicinity of the workplace, with payments to be deducted from source. This would enable mothers have the peace of mind and also succeed with exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. Before this option is punched down because of costs, the other alternative would be to partner with a day care close to the workplace (employer can even negotiate a discount).

What are your thoughts and experiences? What are other companies doing that others could emulate or learn from?

Just in case you forgot to sign the petition with the link I provided earlier. No need to scroll up, you can access it: change.org (petition for maternity leave in Ghana to be extended to 6 months)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Further reading
Anon., n.d. Section – 57 – Maternity, Annual and Sick Leave.. [Online]
Available at: http://laws.ghanalegal.com/acts/id/162/section/57/Maternity,_Annual_And_Sick_Leave
[Accessed 16 April 2017].
Awadzi, H., 2013. Six months maternity leave is a must. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2013/07/15/six-months-maternity-leave-is-a-must/
[Accessed 23 March 2017].
Chatterji, P. & Markowitz, S., 2012. Family Leave After Childbirth and the Mental Health of New Mothers. The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, Volume 15, pp. 61-76.
Oxford University Press, 2017. Definition of maternity leave in English. [Online]
Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/maternity_leave
[Accessed 18 March 2017].
Women&&Tech, 2017. Paid maternity leave. [Online]
Available at: http://womenandtech.com/infographic-paid-maternity-leave/
[Accessed 17 April 2017].

 

The shattered joy of parenthood

This short piece is specially dedicated to all parents who have either lost their kids at a young age or the expectant parents who did not get the opportunity to meet their precious angels. May God continue to grant you strength and may the beautiful and precious souls of these little angels rest in perfect piece.

I WONDER

Sometimes I sit in deep thoughts and wonder, what would have been the best;

For you to have never given me any hope of your possible existence, my dearest.

Or the thought of knowing that although you left too early,  I was blessed with the opportunity of knowing how it feels to be a mother,

It hurts that I never experienced the opportunity to know how you were going to be a sweet bother,

For you to grow within and feel your kicks as the days go by,

Only for you to leave without a proper goodbye;

At least I caught a glimpse of you, but would have loved to touch and cradle you for a little longer,

Sometimes I try to picture how you would look growing up but since you are gone, does it really matter?

Sometimes I feel sorry and saddened especially for those who left too early in the developmental stage,

How could their parents even create beautiful memories to fill their minds pages;

What of those who bonded well but got devastated as you spent a shorter time with them on earth,

That could potentially stop a mothers’ breath,

No amount of words, what ifs or had I known would bring you back,

How I wish I got the opportunity to hold you more and spend time with you,

But I hear it’s best this way because if we had bonded, it would have been difficult to easily let go of you,

Sometimes I wonder which is best: to have spent a short time with you on earth after the long nine months or to have you leave without completing your full sentence of nine-months.

However, am grateful you left. 

Because of you I started a journey of positive self discovery,

I discovered talents I never knew existed,

I discovered an inner strength that I knew not of,

I began to reset my priorities,

I became a motivation and mentor for other mothers,

I discovered new passions,

Your absence brought us closer and forged an unbreakable bond,

And most importantly I knew God hadn’t failed me yet, he needed to reposition us on the correct path before blessing us with another,

MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!

Value what you have and make time for the things you value. You never know when it will be too late to go back.

Piece is inspired by Jordan and Jayden who never experienced life on earth and Jesse who lived for a short while. You are eternally etched in our memories. Lots of love from mom, dad and Janessa.

FOREVER GRATEFUL TO GOD!

“My experience as a mother”-Recounted by Mawuena

This weeks #superheroine is my lovely cousin, doctor and mother Mawuena (my namessake too). You will come across some medical terms which is understandable so be prepared to be referring to google.Just in you missed our previous #superheroine Eunice’s story, you can check it out here!

Story begins…………………………………………..

I know a lot of mother’s will mostly recount the lovely aspects of motherhood. Those moments sure are a blessing and helps so much to deal with the difficult aspects of motherhood.

Well, motherhood for me began quite unexpectedly. I got married in February and by March that same year, I was throwing up all over. Yea I was happy when I got to know I was pregnant. Thought it wouldn’t come so soon because I thought I had a window period of about a month or two before pregnancy would be possible (so unscientific right?). Well don’t blame me, my mum took two months to get pregnant after she got married and my elder sister after a month.

So here I was in the hottest season in Tamale, Ghana. Living every day in temperatures of 40 degrees and above, vomiting whenever I see an advert of food or oil on the television, or anytime I smelled food around me. And boy, was my sense of smell heightened. I was always on edge, my husband had to hide to eat, and I couldn’t believe human beings could actually bring themselves to eat foods prior to pregnancy, I loved so much. This was my life for the first 16months after marriage.

cravings-run

Source: pregnancyhumor.com

Of course my marriage got stressed. I couldn’t do anything for myself and my husband didn’t know me to be like that. Sometimes, he thought I was faking it. Hahaha, how divorce seemed like such a good option to me then. Thank God for patience. Hmmm, I even went as far as questioning God for making me feel like I was dying everyday while other people were on TV dancing to alcohol adverts. I ate nothing and yet my baby was growing well. Some of the miracles yet to be understood. My wish then was to feel like a human being again and walk on the streets like a healthy person. That alone would have made me feel good.

I ate nothing and yet my baby was growing well. Some of the miracles yet to be understood.

Throughout the day I was on intravenous dextrose infusions hung up by my husband at home, in the bedroom and in the hall. Wherever I could crawl to.

Then like magic, that period came to an end. Now came the ‘I don’t know what I want to eat but I’m very hungry period’. All I wanted to eat were food I saw in magazines. Boy, did my husband suffer. Different restaurants and yet they didn’t meet my expectations.

Then came the waking up about five times at night to pee. What a disturbance in sleep for a person who loves her sleep so much. (Didn’t know actually nursing a baby could be worse. lol). I experienced what is called symphysis pubis dysfunction since my baby fixed quite early in my pelvis. My husband had to hold my panties down to my feet for me while I held onto his head and painfully lifted one foot at a time just to put on my underwear. Anytime I was tired of lying down on one side of my body, he had to wake up and turn me to my other side.

Alas! My baby was term and had a good weight via ultrasonic scan so I opted for induction of labour because I was so tired. What an experience that was. The labour was so painful I cried out for a caesarean section but the doctor refused. Thank God! Finally my baby’s head was out of my cervix and ready to come out and that was the end of my pain. It was like a joke. I felt nothing apart from the urge to push something foreign out of my body. I pushed my baby boy out within a minute or two with great encouragement from my husband. My mum who was waiting just outside my delivery room and praying thought I died when I suddenly stopped screaming. She didn’t know I was busily pushing my boy out.

Thank God! Finally my baby’s head was out of my cervix and ready to come out and that was the end of my pain.

To cut a long story short, I love my baby boy like crazy, but he made me quite crazy within his first eighteen months. I was so sleep deprived I couldn’t function well. He wouldn’t allow himself to be left alone for a minute. I couldn’t wait for the time he would start talking to me, give me kisses all over my face, tell me he loves me and hug me tight. Now he does all that and sometimes I wish he would just keep quiet. (Really, what do human beings want? Lol)

Managing work with family………

It is tough though, combining work and family. Thing is, though we preach exclusive breastfeeding, yet I have never been able to practice it. After my first three months was over, I was back to work on twelve hour duties at the accident and emergency department in my hospital back to back for two weeks continuously. My breast milk virtually stopped. Everyone was telling me to try different things. My bosses didn’t care cos the duties had to be done. Yes, I started formula feeding naturally. What could I do? Thank God it all worked out.

I thought after one baby, God had done so well for me so that was all I wanted. When my son was a year old, I was the one to ask my husband for another baby. Yea. I wanted my baby to have someone to play with at home.

Well, I thought, why not be stressed now and enjoy later right? But the stress is real.

Well, now I have three children, two boys and a girl, all very different in character. I am on my twelfth nanny and hopefully the last I pray. Both parent are still workaholics. Gone are the days when all one had to do was to give birth and hand over to their mothers. (What sweet times!)

My husband has been a great support. Well, now my slogan is IUCD (Intrauterine contraceptive device) till menopause, and that’s what’s up!

The kids are brilliant and noisy and lovely and annoying and adorable. But I still can’t wait till they can do a lot of things for themselves so I can feel like me again and enjoy my man anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Right now, it’s still all about my loves.

Definitely waiting to see how life will be when I start residency training but I know Jesus has got my back.

The END!

Share your stories with other young mothers by sending an email to omtsdigest@gmail.com. You can opt to be anonymous if you would be uncomfortable sharing your personal information.

Join the family on twitter with the hashtag #moderndaysuperheroines #omtsdigest #superheroines

You never know, but the simplest of life experiences can just be the strong motivational force in the life of another. Sharing makes the difference…..

OMT

“Share your life with others. You will have a joyful life.” 

― Lailah Gifty Akita

My experiences as a mum- Eunice

If you missed the first post, it’s not too late to catch up…………Naana’s story.

Our mother for this week is Eunice Abbey and her story is surely worth the read. After reading her story, you have no RIGHT to give up on pursuing your dreams just because you are married and have a family………..

Her story begins………………..

Two weeks after my marriage, I had the opportunity to pursue my Master’s Degree in Norway. Whilst I had the unflinching support of husband to go, there were others who saw this as a ‘taboo’. How do you leave your husband behind after just two weeks of marriage? Well, I finally left and God being so good, he opened the same door for my husband a month later so we were finally reunited as a couple in Europe for two years.

I must say I was lucky to have escaped the pressure to give birth almost immediately after marriage given that, no baby was coming after almost four years into my marriage. I had my miracle baby girl second year into my PhD program in one of the universities in Hong Kong. I was in Ghana for data collection then and so I had the enormous support of my family taking care of the baby.

I was ‘slapped’ in the face with the realities of motherhood when I had to return to Hong Kong for studies. Should I leave my baby behind or not? She was only five months then and still breast-feeding. Again, many voices came in. Many said I could not cope with studies and motherhood so I should leave the baby behind.  I completely ruled out the possibility of deferring as the program was and still is no easy task. Deferring also meant losing my scholarship as I would not be able to complete within my given period. Deferral was out for me. Every new mum knows that feeling of being separated from your baby, I just could not deal with that.  I followed my heart, trusted God and took my baby along without knowing how it would all turn out. All these while, office duties had carried my husband outside Ghana so there was no way he could be of help physically.

Alone with my baby with no assistance from anyone, it took two weeks for us to settle in our new environment. I did my shopping in bits as I had to carry my daughter with me everywhere I went. My hands were full all the time, my schedules were tighter, I gave up most of my hobbies but none of these could surpass the joy of being with my baby.

I went to classes with my little scholar and attended every seminar with her, my supervisor and classmates were super helpful during these periods. They were tolerant when her ‘babyish’ syndrome set in. I had a friend who baby sat her for two hours whilst I did my second key presentation which I had only two days to prepare for. I did an excellent job by God’s grace. This meant a lot to me as I could not proceed to the next academic level without this presentation.

There were few times when I cried but most of the times, I laughed and was very happy with this whole experience. I did no academic work during the day time. It was completely dedicated to watching cartoons, learning rhymes, picking strolls and playing with my baby. My serious and effective academic works were from midnight onward when she went on her long sleep. My sleeping hours depreciated significantly as well.

Now in my final year and still on every move with my baby, I have not regretted bringing her along with me to Hong Kong. It was worth it, I have bonded well with her and God has been faithful. As I wrap up for the last ‘blast’ of my PhD somewhere next year, I am so used to my new routine which has also become my new hobby. I am so loving my experience as a new mum, honestly stressing but also a blessing.

To all new mums, potential mums and everyone reading this, never say it is impossible when you have not started or tried it. Follow your heart, trust God and you can do all things!

Eunice Adusei

Share your stories with other young mothers by sending an email to omtsdigest@gmail.com. You can opt to be anonymous if you would be uncomfortable sharing your personal information.

Join the family on twitter with the hashtag #moderndaysuperheroines

You never know, but the simplest of life experiences can just be the strong motivational force in the life of another. Sharing makes the difference…..

OMT

“Share your life with others. You will have a joyful life.” 

― Lailah Gifty Akita