The ‘M’ word

This is every mum or mum-to-be least favourite word to talk about, but it is necessary for people to know that these things happen and if it happens to them, it is not because they did something wrong.

The M word I mean in this context is miscarriage. A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks. Before I got pregnant, I used to think miscarriages were very rare and only women with certain pasts (e.g previous abortions) or unhealthy habits (e.g chain smoking, drug addicts and heavy drinkers) were victims of miscarriages. 

It was not until I started bleeding a few weeks into my then pregnancy that I wondered why this was happening to me. My midwife, family doctor and early pregnancy nurses and doctors explained that it just happens and no one knows why. I did some more research and I was none the wiser as to why this had to happen to me. So after loads of tears and days of crying, I accepted my faith and we tried again, which thankfully lead to our now healthy and full of energy son.

So what did I find when I did my research? (Source: http://www.nhs.uk)

1. The cause of a miscarriage is not always known, particularly in early pregnancy. 

2. In majority of the cases, it is not caused by what the mum has done.

3. It’s thought most miscarriages are caused by abnormal chromosomes in the baby. Chromosomes are genetic “building blocks” that guide the development of a baby. If a baby has too many or not enough chromosomes, it won’t develop properly.

4. If a miscarriage happens during the second trimester of pregnancy (between weeks 14 and 26), it’s sometimes the result of an underlying health condition in the mother.

5. For most women, a miscarriage is a one-off event and they go on to have a successful pregnancy in the future.

6. Most miscarriages cannot be prevented but in the UK, if a woman has more than 3 miscarriages, the doctors try to see if any medication can help her carry her next pregnancy to term.

Most women don’t share or are encouraged not to share the news about their pregnancies in the first 12 weeks as miscarriage is very common during the first 12 weeks. It is a lot easier not to share the news then as imagine how painful it would be having to explain to all those people why there is no baby 9 months later or why you are not yet showing a few months later. 

In addition, what tends to happen is that once a woman experiences one or more miscarriages, she gets anxious in future pregnancies, remembering her past experiences. It is very sad and unfortunately, I have no tips on how to manage this as it is simply easier said than done. However, as a Christian, I know I can always go to God in prayer and live by faith and his words and that gives me comfort. 

I also know that a lot of women have miscarriage scares during their pregnancies as a member of BabyCentre’s birthboards, I know first hand that a few peoples pregnancies end in miscarriages, a few people have miscarriage scares and the majority of people have healthy pregnancies. However, there is always that one woman who posts on the birthboards about how she doesn’t like hearing about the losses and will stop reading the loss posts. I mean, I am sure the ladies posting about their losses don’t like posting about the fact they have just lost their pregnancy and they aren’t even asking for sympathy, they are just letting you know why they will no longer be active on the board and in most cases they never come back to comment, so saying that, I feel it is very insensitive.

Okay, rant over.

If you know anyone who has suffered from a miscarriage recently, give them your love. Don’t tell them they are lucky that it was earlier rather than later, or that it’s only been a few weeks, or that they escaped having an incompletely formed child. It may be tempting and it may make sense for you to say that or even logical, but please, “I’m sorry for your loss.” will do. 

So now that I have explained that these things happen, I would like you to know that the aim of this blog post was not to spread fear but to give you facts. The chances of having a successful pregnancy is very high, but at the same time, a few peoples pregnancies tend to lead to a miscarriage. Women who have had miscarriages can but have healthy babies. Stay healthy, take your vitamins and seek help when in doubt!

Is it time to move on from your current career?

A number of people ended up in their current careers by chance. I noticed in my generation (in particular, those in their late 20s – mid 30s), that only a handful of people went on to work in careers that relate directly to what they studied at university. I am one of those people! I studied chemical engineering and I am currently an International Tax Adviser (a tax accountant). One couldn’t differ more from the other. It all started out with me interning with my current employer and they retained me afterwards. It has now being nearly 6 and a half years. It was not too challenging transferring my skills as new trainees were required to pass both tax and accounting professional exams to qualify as a chartered tax account and a chartered accountant, so I got the necessary training.
This will usually be the case for others in my shoes. You join a big multinational firm, you are trained for weeks, months or years and also on the job, and then you are expected to get on with your work. For some, this is enough training but for others, they find themselves firefighting and struggling and not quite settling into the role. This often leads to not so good feedback during the appraisal process and little prospects of rising up the career ladder.

It is not only those with no background in their now chosen career that could face this challenge. It is also possible to have a strong affinity for something but not be very good at it. It isn’t good enough to like something, you also need to have the necessary skills to succeed at it, otherwise, you will either get frustrated, or you will be happy doing what you like without progressing!

Instead of feeling inadequate about where you are now, especially if you ended up there without much thought, I hope the suggested below will help take you to the next level where you can start feeling adequate and even become a trailblazer in what you do!

1. Self assess

Do a gap analysis. Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Spend time on yourself! Retreat somewhere nice and comfortable to do some thinking. It could be to a coffee shop, an early night so you can spend sometime on your bed thinking about what you want (ah! You thought I was going to encourage you to on a solo self finding holiday.. Think again). If you will rather do this with someone, arrange a catchup over lunch or dinner with a trusted friend and talk through this together. If you have a supporting partner, this could even replace pillow talk. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing what my husbands goals and aspirations are, I’m sure your supportive partner will be happy help you with this one. Just remember that at the end of it all, the decision on next steps should be all yours.

2. Focus on your findings from tip 1 above

Did the gap analysis result in you staying with your current employer? This is not impossible. If this is the case, focus on how you can improve on what you are currently doing or consider whether to stay with employer but to change roles or team.

If you gap analysis requires you to move, do your research!! Don’t fall into another per chance job. If you must, make sure it is one that you enjoy and can thrive in. You will be surprised how much information Google has! As there is currently no pressure to change jobs (seeing as you haven’t been fired!), take your time to do your research. However, set yourself a reasonable deadline and be accountable to a trusted person so that you don’t convince yourself you are okay where you are because you can’t be bothered to look or change jobs!

Speak to people who are currently in that industry and instead of focusing on the pros of the job or industry, focus on the cons. That will help you make a more informed decision. I got this tip from a really close friend recently. She said, and I am paraphrasing, it is okay to check out some of the people who currently are employed by the company you are looking work for on LinkedIn. I mean we check people out on Facebook and Instagram and so on, so why not for professional reasons! Look at their career profile, how long they have been at the company and whether they have changed roles since joining. This gives an indication of what career progression is like at the company and also its ability to retain its staff.

Short list the potential industries or employers that fit your bill.

3. What is your main driver?

Is it finances? Is it flexible hours? Is it more experience? Are you looking for something more longer term? These and other important factors are what you should be thinking about at this stage. Once you have decided what is important to you, it is now time to see if any of the industries or employers you have shortlisted above will satisfy your main drivers.

Consider also whether your skills be easily transferred to this new role.  Do you see yourself excelling in this new job after you are settled in? You don’t want a job that requires no thinking at all. You will still want to challenge yourself a little, so a new job where you still have things to learn will reduce your chances of getting bored and unaccomplished, and having to go through this process again.

It doesn’t matter if you are moving from a technical position to a managerial or administrative position. I was speaking to a friend currently at this stage recently and she is considering moving to a less technical role. I encouraged her and said every successful business has a team of people at the management level. From the chairman to the CEO to the CFO, to the chief marketing officer and so on, not everyone is technical. However they are all needed to keep the wheel well oiled. Without them the business cannot be successful.

4. Speak to recruiters 

I know recruiters can be a pain sometimes, especially when they call you at your desk at work, in the middle of your afternoon when your boss is sitting right next to you!

However, they have their role in society. They know who is recruiting and if they do their job well, they will only shortlist you for jobs they know you will do well in. However, beware of recruiters who haven’t done heir home work. For example, I got promoted to manager in October but some recruiters are still offiering my assistant manager roles and I’m like err NO!

This is another area where your LinkedIn account could work for you. Recruiters often head hunt on linked in and even HR departments in various companies have also contacted people in the last offering them a chance to discuss opportunities in their companies.

I’m sure you would have received one or two or more of such. Remember when you are contacted, you are in the driving seat and so you have control. Ask questions. Ask them direct questions, particularly tailored around the reason you are thinking of leaving your current job so that you don’t end up with a new boss but the same problem. It is a no obligation contact.

This is cheeky but even if you decide you don’t want to work for a company, it doesn’t hurt to get some interview practice. Who knows, you may decide at the interview that you actually like them and want to work for them. Worse case you have had some practice.

As always, good luck!

How are you doing 2016?

 Another year has just started! Can you believe it?

We are currently on vacation, hence the short break from the blog. However, as I’m sitting here in our apartment, counting down to dinner, I can’t help but think about the new year!

I’m not a huge fan of new year resolutions because I cannot honestly tell you that I have ever truly completed any, or know any one that has! However, I see the reason behind them as they help you focus and align your thoughts towards your goals, albeit in most cases temporarily.

So, I am asking, what would you like to have achieved in a years time (notice how I haven’t used the words new year resolution above!)? If like me you like writing in notebooks, get out your 2016 notebook and write down your goals for the year. If you do not know what your goals are yet, spend the next week thinking about this and then dedicate about 30 minutes, while it is still fresh in your head, writing this down.

Your goals do not have to be groundbreaking or sound impressive, sometimes, it is righting the small things that helps us to achieve greatness. You know yourself better than anyone else, be honest with yourself and make sure your goals are focused on areas you know you can improve on. Your goals should stretch you and shouldn’t be something you can accomplish in a day. Don’t think about it as a new year resolution, but as investing in yourself as a person and in your future. Pick goals that will contribute in building you up personally or professionally. A number of people tend to go for loosing weight or dieting in the new year, if that is you and you have never been to the gym before, give it a few months before committing financially long term to a gym. It is very possible to lose weight without going to a gym. Join a local boot camp, by an exercise dvd that costs way less than a gym membership, research on eating clean and healthy, make these small changes, build up your stamina and then if you are still disciplined enough to follow through with a gym membership, go for it.  This is just a tip as I have fallen for this before, joined a gym, hardly ever went and I was locked into a 12 months contract!

Finally, for this to be effective, you need to be accountable to someone you trust. We all have a number of friends with different personality traits. Pick one that you know will genuinely help you on this journey and be accountable to each other.

As for me, I have quite a few things I will like to accomplish by the end of the year, but in the spirit of accountability I will share one. I need to get my finances on lock down! I need to spend less and save more. I’m a kind of person that if something needs to be done, I just do it without thinking too much of the financial repercussions, from birthday presents for friends and family to gifts for different occasions and just generally buying nice to haves for myself and friends. 2016 for me is the year to find other thoughtful ways to be nice and cut down drastically on nice to haves and focus on need to haves where necessary!

I will definitely keep you posted and my plan is to reflect on how I am getting on monthly. This is going to be a huge challenge for me, but I pray that I will be able to discipline myself enough to go through with it as it will be very worthwhile!

I wish you all the best as you embark on this journey! Have a blessed and fulfilling year ahead!