It’s been a long minute and it has been an interesting year!
You know, with every major milestone that I have experienced this year, I have drafted a blog in my mind and that is where it ends. I talk myself out of writing it or publishing it. So, I challenged a fellow quiet blogger to write a blog post before Christmas to break the silence. I have to say, even with that, it is past 1am on Christmas morning and I’m only just drafting this!
Back to my uncomfortable growth…..
It’s been a year filled with growth, lots of good news but also a lot of bad news. I found myself in some instances being happy and sad at the same time. It was frustrating. Can I celebrate my wins or should I be crying instead?
The irony is, now that I’m typing this, I can remember the good times very clearly, but only remember a handful of the bad times. I am thankful for being able to look back, and say boldly that in everything, God brought me through and I can truthfully say, I sailed through. I have lived by two mottos this year. They are pretty short and may mean nothing to you, but to me, they helped me a lot.
1. Living each day an hour at a time
2. Being thankful
This year was busy and certainly overwhelming. I had to let a lot of things go and also learn how to adapt my mindset to survive. I had very little capacity to deal with anything else. I was in survival mode. It’s funny, because speaking to even some of my close friends, this was not obvious to them and I was getting things done. As the saying goes, thank God we don’t look like what we have been through.
At some point, living each day at a time was just overwhelming and I found taking each hour as it comes more comforting. I felt more in control that way and I’m working my way back to taking each day at a time!
I got promoted at work a few months ago and the new managers were privileged to attend a conference that doubled up as a celebration event. We had a lady speak to us about mental health. Something that struck me about everything she said was how she highlighted that good news could result in the same amount of stress on an individual as bad news.
Often, with good news, it is less obvious that the person needs helps or support. Third parties can often look into such situation and say, “they prayed for”, “they worked hard for it”, “they deserve it”, “this is exciting”. Hardly will anyone ask you if you are up for the task. Certainly in my new position, it has been a steep learning curve with expectations increasing overnight. The first couple of months were certainly challenging, but I think I am at a place where I can lift up my head and ride the waves. Phew!
As another example, you buy a new house and most see you as wealthy, but they often forget buying a new house is a huge initial financial outlay that could some take months to recover from.
I am also extremely thankful for all the good that has come my way this year. I will never take it for granted. None of these things would have been achievable without an amazing support system that was sent my way when I needed them the most.
To conclude, if you take nothing away from this post but to remember that you are most likely not alone if you feel stressed even in good situations. I hope you will let yourself find someone you trust to provide the mental support you need to get through this temporary phase.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on advance!
*The examples in the blog below is in relation to female experiences. However, the concept and benefits of sharing should apply equally to men*
In the world we live in today, sharing knowledge or encouragement could often been seen as helping the competition of helping someone else become better than you are. However, I have come to realise that encouraging people who have discovered their purpose and are running with it, is way better than saving all the tips and encouragement for yourself. In addition, we say love is what the world needs, I see encouraging and sharing tips as one a way of expressing love. If you love someone, you won’t watch them do something wrong or not as effectively when you know of a better way they could have done it. There, I said it.
Applying this to businesses, if you look around you, you will find that there is hardly a business that is a monopoly. From coffee shops to bakeries to restaurants to law firms and so on. I remember when I was toying with different business ideas I was considering doing and while I was mulling over the details and discussing this with my friend, within a few days or sometimes on the same day, I would see on Instagram or another social media platform that another friend who I haven’t shared this dream or idea with is already doing something similar. I will be honest with you and say that this often discouraged me because I felt like, argh that was my idea, now she’s doing it, there is no point in me doing the same thing or something similar, she would think I copied her. I was more concerned about people thinking I copied their ideas, even though I genuinely think up similar ideas.
Like I have said several times, it is good to surround yourself with people that will encourage you, spur you on and would generally give you good positive advice. What a good friend said to me was filled with wisdom. She shared her own experiences with me and how seeing other people doing similar things has not stopped her in pursuing her goals and dreams. She said, it is possible for people to have similar ideas, however, what makes you different is your unique selling point. What else do you bring to this idea you both have that makes it special. Let me try to break it down. There are loads of bakeries out there, some are unique because their customers are in specific local areas, some because of the texture of the bread, the shape of the bread, or the bread is low in fat or not made with gluten and so on, I could go on. Basically, there are different wants to make bread and in most cases, each type of bread has a specific group of customers. So in as much as you have similar ideas, you will find that if you do your research well, you could be targeting completely different groups of customers and both be excelling in the same field.
I am now going to apply this same idea to our personal lives. The general (key word here being general) pathway of life is this. You are born, you go to school, you get a job, get married, have kids and then at some point we all die. However, even as most of us have similar experiences in life with a few differences here and there, in my experience, I find that we only share selective life lessons with each other, in most cases, the good and interesting parts of our lives as opposed to the challenging parts. I’m not fully sure why this is the case. One of my biggest flaw and assets is the fact I am an open book. I love to share, particularly because I wished more people shared with me before I got into certain situations.
Reading books and watching movies often feed us with this perfect idea of life and how things work. Our friends and family could also, unconciously give away the same vibe. I remember my wedding night, oh my goodness. Nothing people told me and nothing I watched on tv/read in books could have prepared me for what was going to happen. However, when you watch movies and speak to some friends, it sounds like having sex just involves the both of you laying down and viola the deed is done. I learnt the hard way it doesn’t just happen like that. Of course after this experience, I was quick to let my friends behind me know it is not as easy as it looks or sounds and it could take several attempts. Of course it gets better eventually and easier. I initially thought after my own experience that I was weird or the odd one out but soon after, my friends had similar experiences and I stopped feeling weird!
Moving swiftly on from that. What about childbirth? This was a whole different case. Once again, no one can prepare you for this and every woman’s experience is different, however, the process is usually the same. I always encourage first time mums to have an open mind while doing their research and to also speak to people who are willing to share their own experience. It is also important that you don’t narrow your research early on. For example, for ladies who do not want to have a Caesarian section, it is still useful to research into what is involved with this. This is because childbirth can be very unpredictable and some ladies start off having a natural birth and things change so quickly they find themselves in a theatre. It is in the same way it is important for ladies who do not want epidural or pain killers to also do some research into pain killers because you will find that often, a lot of women change their minds when they are in pain. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you are to make an informed decision. For example, epidural can o ky be administered at certain stages during labour. Some women find that by the time they ask for it, it is too late. If you have this informstion before hand and you decide you want epidural, at least you will know to ask for it sooner rather than later, or ask for your midwife’s opinion on when to get it.
Still on childbirth, I didn’t realise until I was pregnant, that pushing out a baby was by the end of it. No one told me before I stumbled on the information on an online community that I would also have to push out the placenta. To be fair, the work involved with this is not as bad as pushing a baby out but it is still uncomfortable. You can either choose to push out the placenta naturally, or your midwife can give you an injection to speed up the process. Totally up to you.
I also did not know, until it happened to me that for days after birth, I would still be contracting. I understand this is because your uterus is shrinking back to its original size, or trying to. I was glad when this stopped though. Another thing I did not know was that for up to six weeks after childbirth, you are encouraged to take it easy and not do anything too tasking to allow the body heal. Tasking activities, my friends, includes sex. How does one even prepare for this?
I won’t say anymore on childbirth but I think I have shared most of what I can remember anyway. Having a child is a beautiful thing, but if I knew these things at least I would have been mentally prepared for what was coming my way. Some friends I have shared my experience with have been very grateful for my honesty and my willingness to discuss the gory details with them.
I know most of what I have shared today has been about the childbirthing process, but the concept of sharing equally applies to everything really – from tips to applying for jobs to things to do while on holiday.
We are often too much in a hurry or too engrossed in our own lives (or smart phones) to share our experiences or notice that the person right next to us is struggling and needs our help. But we can change that today by making a concious effort to care more and share more appropriately.
I hope this encourages someone out there to share!
Around the time my son turned two, people, used to comment about the fact he was now a terrible two. I have extracted a definition of what the phrase terrible twos mean from the Mayo clinic website below for your information.
The terrible twos are a normal stage in a toddler’s development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word “no.” The terrible twos typically occur when toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence
Basically, in lay man terms, this just means a lot of screaming, misbehaving, mood swings and making mummy and daddy look like they have taught you absolutely no manners!
When people passed this comment to me about my son, the Nigerian Christian in me was rebuking and saying it was not my portion or his and he would skip this phase. However, within 2 -3 months after he turned two, I couldn’t deny that my son was exhibiting the characteristics of what was a terrible two! So many times I just stare at him like are you being serious! I will give you an example.
Our son is normal 2 year old toddler, he pushes boundaries, but which male (and some female) toddler doesn’t. He knows to say please, thank you and sorry at the right times and if you tell him off for doing something once (e.g picking things up from the floor and eating it), he would in most cases pick them up and bring them to you to take away this temptation from him lol. If he wants a snack or water or to eat he knows how to ask and if he has a dirty nappy he will 80% of the time come and tell you he has a dirty nappy or even bring you his baby bag so you can change him. So there is a background to this lovey young chap.
Imagine my surprise and genuine shock the first time he throws himself on the floor crying like he has been beaten or just fallen down. I rush to him to ask what the matter was but he just kept crying. Eventually I offered him some apple or crackers and he stops crying and says crackers. In my head I’m thinking, why didn’t you just ask, why did you need to cry or scream! So this happens on and off and if it isn’t water he wants, it is a snack or he wants you to get up and play with him. It is something he would normally, in his own way articulate.
How do I deal with this I ask myself? I try so hard not to lose patience and to deal with the situation as positively as I can. However, when I can’t deal with it positively, I simply ignore him because I know he is fine and he is not in harm’s way. So I simply ignore the screams, carry on with what I am doing while he rolls on the floor or throws his tantrum in whatever way he chooses on that day. On some occassions he eventually comes to me by himself for a cuddle shortly after which he would stop crying. Other times, I go to him eventually and offer him one of the usual culprits or give him a cuddle. On a few occasions, I have made funny faces at him or mimicked him crying and he often starts laughing. This doesn’t always work though.
I find that it helps to know you are not the only mum going through this and a number of toddlers go through this stage. I have extracted a little bit more information from the Mayo clinic website below that nicely summarises what they are going through and why they respond in the way they do below.
While the terrible twos can be difficult for parents and caregivers to navigate, keep in mind that 2-year-olds are undergoing major motor, intellectual, social and emotional changes. Their vocabularies are growing, they’re eager to do things on their own, and they’re beginning to discover that they’re expected to follow certain rules. However, most 2-year-olds still aren’t able to move as swiftly as they’d like, clearly communicate their needs or control their feelings. This can lead to frustration and misbehavior — in other words, the terrible twos.
Like I said earlier, I try to be patient and understanding, but I am also very concious that he is beginning to learn that there are rules and consequences. I am therefore careful to make sure that however I decide to handle his tantrums positively, I am not undoing the good work instilled in him already. It is ultimately important that when these episodes happen, we are not coming across to our child or children as reinforcing bad behaviour. Therefore, it seems ignoring them until they calm down or until you feel it is appropriate, may be the best way to deal with this. This is obviously easier said than done, but I constantly pray for the grace and strength I need!
It is particularly hard to curb these tantrums when you are in a public place. My least favourite activity to do with my son is going to the supermarket because he wants everything and ends up crying because I don’t give it to him. On the fruit aisle he wants banana, then he wants ham then he wants cheese and so on, you get the gist. It is a frustrating experience for the two of us. In as much as I want to give him exposure to the supermarket and point out things to him and teach him what they are, I’m afraid at this stage, all he wants to do is eat them! As a result, where possible, I leave him at home with a responsible adult and go on my errands. If I must take him along, I pack his own snacks with me and give him those instead at various intervals. This seems to work for the majority of the time. I would like to shout out the men and women out there who see a mum struggling with a toddler throwing a tantrum in public and try to help in their own way by making funny faces at the toddler or by speaking reassuringly to the toddler. This usually distracts the little one and could even result in the toddler laughing. Worse case scenario, they keep crying, at least the kind stranger tried to help.
Most of all, regardless of what they do, as mums, we will always love our children. It is important that we communicate this to them often, especially at this difficult time. We should keep trying to help them understand better ways to communicate. I know they are still building their language skills and may not understand what you are saying, but I have been so pleasantly surprised by the amount of what I say my son understands. He may not be able to speak to me clearly but I know he understands me majority of the time. So, don’t underestimate your little genius!
If like me you are in the same shoes, hang in there (I know I am, sometimes by a thin thread!). This phase too will be over soon enough. I hear by the time they are 4, we are in the clear!
Enjoy the rest of your week and don’t forget to share your experiences and tips (if any).
Good day darling readers!
It’s been a busy few weeks with a poorly toddler. Finally, the light is so bright at the end of the tunnel! It’s amazing how they pick up all sorts of virus from nursery! I can only hope his immune system is being developed to be extremely sturdy so in future he is sickness proof!
So now that we are over the sick spell, it is time for us to start planning for a few holidays we have coming up over the next few weeks. I remember the second time we travelled with our son, he was 9 months old then. We were only flying less than 2 hours to Nice for a long weekend and we packed the whole world! I think it is safe to say we have since picked up a few tips here and there for more efficient travelling with a baby/toddler.
Here are a few tips which were useful for us. As always, feel free to share your tips as well.
1. Where are you going?
I know this sounds like a silly question. However, whether you pack the whole world because you are travelling with a child or just enough, for us, depends on where we are going. If we are having a city break, travelling to the states or to Europe, or to a country where we are staying with family members who have kids, we tend to pack more conservatively. This is because, often you find you can pop into the local supermarket to top up on essentials if you happen to run out of supplies.
However, if you are going on an adventurous holiday or to a country you have never been to before and you don’t have family there, my rule of thumb is – I’ll rather be safe than sorry. Pack as much as you can for your baby or toddler, within reason of course.
2. Ditch the hand luggage!
I remember the first time my sister-in-laws suggested this, I looked at them like, what are they saying? How can I ditch my hand luggage? However, the last couple of trips we have taken with our son has been a lot better without hand luggage or with minimal hand-luggage. Let’s break this down a little.
Imagine you are at the airport, for the ladies, you have your handbag and a hand-luggage to wheel around. If you are travelling with your partner, he too maybe has a laptop bag, and a hand luggage to wheel about. Between the both of you, you have a child in a push-chair, who also has a baby bag with his nappies and food and toys and change of clothes in. Now tell me, how do you intend on juggling all of your luggage with a cranky toddler? Exactly, I thought so too.
Ditch the hand-luggage or limit it to two pieces so one person can handle the luggage while another handles your kid(s). It is even more important when you are travelling alone with your kid(s). If you can get away with travelling with just your baby bag, just do it! This can obviously change when you have a child old enough to carry his own luggage. Good luck!
3. Are your kid(s) diesease proof?
Are you kids up to date with their jabs/immunisation? If for whatever reason you are anti-immunisation, I’m not even going to argue with you. Just ask yourself if the country you are going to may impose serious health risks. If the answer is yes, either change your plans or get the child the jab! I should add that the fact you are up to date with your jabs does not necessarily mean that your child will not fall ill. However, it reduces the chances of contacting anything serious. I remember the first time my son went back to Nigeria with us, I think that was the day he started being weary of going to the doctor’s surgery as he had to get three jabs in one day. Did I enjoy seeing him go through all that? No. Was I happy I had done everything in my power to make sure he was protected for his upcoming trip, yes. Better safe than sorry.
4. Snack up!
Most kids snack inbetween meals anyway. However, I find that being prepared with a variety of snacks in my son’s baby bag helps pass time and keeps him busy while waiting to board the plane / during the flights. We have never been fans of giving kids sugary snacks (except they are natural sugars). This is not to say he hasn’t had the odd one here and there but we encourage him to have snacks like breadsticks, raisins and fruits instead. He is more than happy with these. So, his baby bag is always prepared with small bowls of fruits, raisins and breadsticks snapped into two. Some kids also enjoy vegetables like carrot sticks and cucumber sticks. However, I haven’t been lucky enough to receive the OK response from my son when I tried this (I won’t give up though).
During the flights when your child is getting restless, offer them snacks. It is always best when these are snacks they recognise, like and are used to. There is no point trying something new when you are thousands of feet in the sky.
You should also pack enough of these snacks (not necessarily fruits as I’m sure you can buy these everywhere) to last you your entire trip and the flight back home.
5. Prepare for ear popping
Some people have issues with their ears when they fly, particularly at take off and landing. I know there have been some occassions when my ears would just feel really blocked or hurt during these periods. An adult will usually try a series of things including sucking on a sweet. As sugar is not really encouraged in kids (as it can make them over active particularly if you are trying to keep them calm during a flight), you could invest in some sugar-free sweets for kids that are old enough to have sweets. For younger kids, babies for example, you could either breastfeed them, or give them their bottle of milk during take off and landing, so that they are doing the sucking motion at this time which will help their ears if necessary.
I’m sorry to admit that I don’t really have any tips for kids who aren’t old enough for sweets but too old for milk! Maybe when my son is at that age I will be forced to be innovative and share then!
6. Capol? Check!, Nurofen? Check! Thermometer? Check! Make sure you have travel insurance!
Kids are unpredictable. In as much as we never pray or plan for them to fall ill, you wouldn’t want to be unprepared. Pack a bottle of capol and nurofen and your thermometer just in case. If things get worse (hopefully it won’t) contact your travel insurance company to see what your medical options are before you head back home.
7. Pack for all weather
If you are going on a sunny break, pack a few long sleeve tops and trousers for the kids as often, in the evenings, it gets windy and colder than during the day. Also, you may want to go on a boat trip or something similar which usually involves cold winds.
I remember on one occasion, we went to South Africa at the beginning of their summer. The plan was to stay in Johannesburg but plans quickly changed which meant we got to spend a couple of days in Cape Town. It was equally warm however, as tourists, we found ourselves at the top of the Table Moutain, which is 1,085m above sea level, with our then 9 months old son, in his summery outfit! Of course it was colder up there. Thankfully we had all sorts of outfits in his baby bag. We quickly layered him up and wore a pair of socks for him as gloves! It was a great experience though. I can’t wait to tell him the story when he is much older.
8. Pack their favourite toy or activity
To the extent their favourite toy or activity is portable, take it with you on your trip, you won’t regret it. Our son loved his toddle bike which we took everywhere with us. When he outgrew that, he got a foldable tricycle from his uncle or Christmas which we now take anytime we travel. He loves riding on it when he gets bored during our vacations. I also pack his bath toys and a couple of books to read at bed time.
Obviously, I’m aware kids are entitled to limited luggage space when they travel. I happily sacrifice some of my own luggage space for him because I know if he is okay and happy, I too will have a lovely time.
9. Room service is your best friend
Now, South Africa was the first trip we made with our son and I have to say we learnt a lot on that trip. I remember naively planning to have dinner out in restaurants after his bed time, thinking it will be lovely as a couple. We quickly learnt that there is nothing lovely about a cranky crying baby in a restaurant at dinner time! We soon learnt to either have dinner and ensure we are back at our hotel before 7pm, or order room service. This way, our son could also be in bed at his usual bed time.
Also, for breakfast, we find it is worth the investment paying the extra 5 pounds or whatever the equivalent is to have breakfast in our room. This is because I don’t have to worry about my son running around in the breakfast room at the hotel, or disturbing other people who are trying to eat. In the comfort of our room, he can make as much of a mess he wants, as much noise as he wants and eat at his own pace. This has absolutely worked for us and I would recommend this tip in particular for anyone who can afford it.
10. Manage your expectations
Remember that travelling as a couple or alone is completely different from travelling with a child. Children need to be entertained, children have their routine and often struggle when this changes. Children will also often get bored by activities that adults enjoy. So I encourage you to manage your expectations. Try to plan a balanced routine that both you and your kids will enjoy. Leave the more mature outings for when you travel without the kids. If you are lucky enough to be able to afford travelling with your nanny, do your mature activities while your nanny babysit your kids. However, remember you are all on holiday together as a family and so don’t go off by yourselves too often, no matter how tempting this may be!
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.
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!