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I See You in Every Little Thing

13 Mar

Wow! Six whole years have passed. I can’t believe it sometimes. Of course, my Demilade is always on my mind and this past year has been interesting, to say the least.

I found myself pregnant with baby number three at the beginning of fall last year. I promptly scheduled an OB visit to confirm. When I visited the doctor and he put me on the sonogram, the estimated due date read: March 13, 2019. My heart sunk. I quickly composed myself and made no mention of the significance of the date to the doctor. Although, I had just completed a form detailing my history, so that date appeared in those documents.

I thought, Wow! God has a funny sense of humor. What are the chances!? But, when the doctor left the room to print the picture from the sonogram and came back in to hand me my visit summary, he had, all of a sudden, changed the date to March 12th. Even the date on the picture was changed. This act alone did wonders for my nerves. Although I had seen what I saw with my own two eyes and heard with my own two ears, I decided to take this gracious act and run with it.

Now when I announced my pregnancy and interested parties wanted to know the due date, I’d plainly say the baby was due in March. By all accounts, this was a true statement, as I was not sure which day in March I’d give birth. In women with a history of preeclampsia, doctors will typically recommend induction in order to deliver the baby earlier than the date at which she is full term. This is to try and avoid complications with preeclampsia if it develops when the baby is already full term. This was the case with my son, it would be my reality with my daughter too.

As much as I thought I had grown in faith and trust in God, there was so much happening around me over the last four years that I wondered if I’d make it. Each and every year since March 2013 seemed to come with its own challenge. New hurt, new disappointments, less to be happy about. Some of the fears I thought I had conquered came back to haunt me and at unexpected times.  But God made sure to place angels around me to reassure me of His love and protection. Every time I second-guessed myself or over analyzed something, I had people in my corner praying for me and sending me encouraging words. Most times without me having to say how I was feeling.

When my daughter was born seven days ago, I  was thankful, relieved and overjoyed. I still am. Each of my children has taught me invaluable life lessons. Demilade taught me unconditional love, patience and brought me closer to God; Akinlabí has taught me perseverance, given me strength and courage and, showed me how to cherish every moment; and, Àmìolá has, so far, taught me to let go and trust God.

This year, I celebrate these lessons and remember my first son.

A Moment with us, Forever in our Hearts

13 Mar

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. It is on purpose. Life goes on and we have to live in the present  and hope in the future in order to really grow positively.

My sister was pregnant with her first and I thought long and hard about whether or not I’d write anything during that time. After a few months of pondering, I decided I would stay away from blogging for a while.

My sister and I are twins. She’s my best friend. The kind that knows and feels my pain and vice versa. It comes naturally. I couldn’t take the chance of causing her anguish or sadness at this important time in her life because of what I was still going through, so I decided to live in the moment. With her. And the new joy we were all anticipating.

I cannot lie. I was nervous. We are identical twins after all but, thank the good Lord all went well.

Over the passed nine months, I’m thankful for hope restored. My sister and my adorably handsome nephew give me hope.

There is still not one day that goes by that I don’t think of my Demilade. It is amazing that I carried the boy for eight months and only got to glance at his face for a few hours and yet, I can never go a day without thinking of him. If he was born breathing, he would be turning two years old today. It’s hard to imagine but I had already pictured him at different stages while he was still in my tummy. Those images don’t go away from your mind, but the sadness that usually accompanied them does wane.

Now my husband and I tease about how my genes were overruled. I guess my sister and I have weak genes. It’s not fair! :). I sometimes find myself chuckling about his flat feet and wide finger nail beds. I don’t know how he’d have ended up looking but I am so grateful for a visual.

As I remember my boy on the day I laid eyes on him, I am grateful for strength, new life and healing.

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May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month!

1 May

May if Preeclampsia Awareness Month

Know the Symptoms

If you experience any of the following symptoms during your pregnancy or after delivery, call your doctor or midwife right away. Having symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have preeclampsia, but they are cause for concern and require immediate medical evaluation.

-Swelling of the hands and face, especially around the eyes (swelling of the feet is more common in late pregnancy and probably not a sign of preeclampsia)

-Weight gain of more than five pounds in a week

-Headache that won’t go away, even after taking medication such as acetaminophen

-Changes in vision like seeing spots or flashing lights; partial or total loss of eyesight

-Nausea or throwing up, especially suddenly, after mid pregnancy (not the morning sickness that many women experience in early pregnancy)

-Upper right belly pain, sometimes mistaken for indigestion or the flu

-Difficulty breathing, gasping, or panting

It’s also important to know that some women with preeclampsia have NO symptoms or they “just don’t feel right.” If you have a sense that something’s wrong, even without symptoms, trust yourself and contact your healthcare provider immediately.

http://www.preeclampsia.org/en/PreAM

Loss, one year later

13 Mar

I’ve heard people say that a parent never wants to experience a child’s death.

I didn’t understand how a natural part of life could be so devastating as to cause one not to want to live anymore.

I didn’t understand it when my mother died when I was 11 years old.

I didn’t really understand when my maternal grandmother refused to eat and was overcome with depression when the 7th (as far as I know) of her 8 children died before she did.

I didn’t understand the sense of hopelessness and doubt that takes over when one has lost a child. I didn’t understand it all until I lost Demilade.

I’ve never been the type to talk about all of the things that I have been through. I am certain most people look at me and immediately think that I have been lucky in life. We all do this. We look at someone who seems like a great package and has it all figured out and we stand in awe and admiration; and sometimes we envy, not considering all the hardships they may have had to endure and the scars that are too deep for all to see.

I relatively do count myself lucky. But as lucky as I am, its been a tough life.

I know loss. My older brother died in 2004. Even though I had lost my mother at a young age, when my brother died, I experienced the finality of death. When the body of your loved one is lowered into the ground and covered with earth, there is nothing more final. That is the end. There is nothing left but memories.

Last year when we buried my boy, I can not tell you all of the thoughts that ran through my mind. Some are too disturbing for me to tap into again, but the one thought that stayed with me was that this was the end of my journey with him. I had only gotten one day to look at him. I’d never see him again. Although lifeless, I felt a sense of comfort having gazed upon his face, holding him and confirming who he looked like. Knowing that he was the spitting image of his dad. I was comforted by the fact that although the worst happened, my 33 weeks with him were not just a figment of my imagination.

All the day dreams I was having of him growing, laughing, crawling, even running were just dreams now. I’d never experience these things with him but he was indeed real. All of these things were  marked final by the earth that would cover him.

So now I would say I understand a bit what it is to lose a child. I can literally walk through the sequence of events in my mind from the moment I was told there was no heart beat in the wee hours of March 13th, 2013, to the moment he was buried on March 18th. Everything flashes before your eyes over and over again.

I still see the flashes, the only difference is that I am not as defeated, hopeless and doubtful as I was one year ago and over this last year.

Losing a child is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced and I now know why people say that a parent never wants to experience a child’s death. The emptiness and longing that results is something I have felt every single day of this past year.

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Peace which surpasses understanding

14 Oct

Philippians 4:7 (KJV) 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

7 months.

Today is my birthday. On this day last year as I awoke, I was greeted by an email from the Baby Bump alerting me to the 3rd month of my pregnancy.

Yesterday marked the 7th month since Demilade Christian left us. I can finally say and think this without feeling like the ground has been pulled from under me.

Earlier this week something profound happened to me. I was on a work trip driving from Kitwe to Lusaka (Zambia) along with two colleagues when one of them suggested that we stop and visit the site where Dag Hammerskjold’s flight crashed. Hammerskjold was the 2nd United Nations Secretary General. I had no previous knowledge  of this history and when I looked at the untarred road that led to the site, was not the least bit interested in finding out more about this wreckage site or the man who made it so significant.

We drove 4 kilometers to the site and it seemed to have taken ages. I had no idea what to expect except maybe the wreckage itself  at the original point of impact. I mean it was in the middle of bushes and hardly any community around it as far as I could tell. What we found, however, was a beautiful forest of foreign trees; firmly planted on the grounds where the plane carrying 16 individuals had crashed many years ago.

I jumped out of the car and was immediately met with a sense of calm. Perhaps because I was on grounds dedicated to the departed which, to me, are sacred. I took a huge breath in and walked toward the hill with a gazebo atop it. Apparently, this is the site where Hammerskjod’s body was found. I felt uneasy being there but, I proceeded to walk up the stairs that led to the gazebo and once I reached, sat on a bench. I wanted to cry. The image of my son had crept into my mind. and vividly so. But something told me it was alright. I called out my boy’s name under my breath and smiled. I closed my eyes. The wind blew ever so softly and I felt like a burden had been lifted off of my spirit. In that moment I felt peace.

For the short time I was there surveying the memorial site, the thought of my child did not cause anguish or pain. I just was.

During the last 7 months, I have not felt the calm, peace, and joy that I felt in those few moments. I didn’t know how to describe it or where it came from but, was reminded of the scripture above. Truly, I do not understand it and surely, it must come from only one place.

I prayed for peace daily at the beginning. I know I’m achieving it but wasn’t quite convinced. That moment gave me vigor to continue seeking peace of mind. It is possible after all.

I said a prayer for the lives lost and I left the memorial grounds praying that they are at peace. I thanked God for the life of my little boy and thanked Him for this unexpected moment.

Da Hammerskjold Memorial site - Zambia

Da Hammerskjold Memorial site – Zambia

Not Again!

14 Jul

I have been sleeping OK for the last couple of weeks. I no longer wake up in fear and panic over small things three or four times per night. I can finally say I’m getting uninterrupted sleep (even if its only 4-6 hours).

It has become normal for me to not fall asleep until after midnight and if I don’t force myself, I can be wide awake way into the early morning hours. The inconvenience to my daily routine is noticeable. I can hardly leave my home for work by 8:30 am. This is not sustainable. Something has to give.

I woke up at 4:00 am this morning for no particular reason. Heart racing, head pounding and an uneasiness that I can not explain but, it keeps me up. Wide awake. Its been a few weeks since this kind of episode and after falling asleep early at midnight, I looked forward to sleeping straight through to 6:30 am or 7:00 am.

Immediately, I ask when it will end. When will I go back to my 8-hour- per night sleep pattern? There are few things that frustrate me and not being able to sleep is at the top of this list.

One thing is for sure, I have come a long way from March 13th, 2013 when my world was shaken and changed forever but, I am gradually working on becoming “normal” again.

My symptoms

8 Jul

One of the main reasons for starting this blog was to share my experience while I was pregnant with Demilade so that others might have a reference to help them decide when to take action if experiencing similar symptoms. When I lost my baby boy, I was hopeless and I was angry. Angry at my doctors; angry at myself; and eventually, angry at everyone who could have counseled me and didn’t. Women can lose their child and their lives due to pregnancy complications. We don’t like to think about it and definitely don’t want to talk about but, it happens and these realities should be shared when the information is there.

Preeclampsia occurs in 5-8% of all pregnancies  and still births occur in 1 in 160 pregnancies (of which preeclampsia is just one possible cause).  These seem like small numbers but, for those of us who experience it, it is too many and a far too traumatic experience to not be explored further.

I share my symptoms and experience keeping in mind that not everyone will go through the same exact pattern of events as I did and, that some of these events mean nothing for some pregnant women. It is important to be diligent about our own health listen to our own instincts. There is no one who knows how you are feeling but you, no matter how many abbreviations come after the names of so called experts.

I’ll start from the beginning because it might help to piece together the the final diagnosis.

At about 6 weeks into my pregnancy I had severe abdominal cramps which took the wind out of me and knocked me out. The cramps crept up on me and within about 5 minutes because so severe that I could not walk and eventually blacked out. My husband had to throw me over his shoulder to the emergency room. By the time the nurses and doctors in the ER had checked me out, the pain had gone and I felt fine again. Blood tests were done and ultrasounds performed and none of it came back with any conclusive information. I was released to go home about 6 hours later and didn’t experience this again.

At about 4 months, I noticed that I had hardly gained any weight. I mean, I couldn’t keep anything down for the first 3 months but, at 13/14 weeks I was slowly getting my appetite back so I expected some weight gain. When I raised this concern with my OB, I was reassured that it is normal. Especially when a woman is so sick in the first trimester.

At 5 months, I had gained 10 pounds between the previous month and at this point. I remembered reading the weekly pregnancy blogs and being told that more than 2 lbs in weight gain per week was a cause for some concern, so I made sure to mention it to my OB. She again reassured me that this was normal. This is also the time I started experiencing sleepless nights. When I also brought up this concern, I was told that it was to be expected. In all honesty, every other mother I encountered and who gave me that precious unsolicited advice corroborated the doctor’s assessment that the sleepless nights are to be expected. But, what about the fact that I felt like something was sitting on my chest. Or that my poor sister would take midnight walks with me just so that I could feel tired enough to try and close my eyes when I laid down. And when I could close my eyes, I would abruptly wake up multiple times every night, heart racing and sweating profusely. For about two months, I could not calm myself enough to sleep more than 3 or 5 hours every night. I was tired and I was frustrated and it still was not enough of to raise concern from my health care provider.

At 25 weeks I went to the ER yet again. This time preterm contractions were the cause. Unlike the usual interruptions to my sleep, I was awakened this day by what felt like cramping in my abdomen. I knew there would be stretching and shifting so I wasn’t immediately alarmed. When I finally got out of bed to head to work, the pain was still there and constant but nothing alarming. It was not until about 12:00N that day that I realized I was having contractions. They have a rhythm you know. I asked a friend of mine at work who had just had a baby if these could be Braxton-Hicks contractions and she immediately let me know that if they were, they would not hurt.

Contractions are supposed to feel like very bad cramping, this is what I’ve been told for the longest. But how is one supposed to measure the pain when the regular menstrual cramps are a horror to go through. The thing is, I’ve had cramps that leave incapacitated and when I compare the contractions I was having that pain would rank at a 5. My 10 is extreme.  Later that afternoon I went to the ER and was hooked up to a heart monitor for Demilade and then given fluids via IV. For about 5 or 6 hours the contractions were relentless and showed no signs of stopping. Dehydration wasn’t the problem and the baby was not in distress but the contractions kept going strong. Finally after I had been in the ER for about 5 hours a nurse came to tell me that they would give me something to stop them. She gave me one shot of Terbutaline. The most they can give is 3 shots with some time lapsing in between each shot. Nothing happened. The contractions were still steady. 30 minutes later, I was given a second shot. This time the contractions slowed and stayed that way for the next 30-40 minutes. The nurses were confident that they would eventually stop soon and discharged.

The moment my husband and I got back home and prepared to sleep (it was now after 2AM), the contractions came back to the same level they had been all day. They did not end until late afternoon this day. At this point I had had them for over 36 hours.

The next episode was what happened two days before I lost my child. I had all of the symptoms you will find if you google Preeclampsia.

  • Headache for 3 days straight
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in my chest (under rib cage) and back at what seemed like the mirrored spot
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarhea
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Lower back pain
  • Swelling

Other than my trips to the ER, I suffered from sleepless nights and fatigue as a result. I had occasional swelling of my feet but they always returned to normal. Some of my colleagues said my skin looked grey and eyes yellowed. I felt a great amount of stress all of the time. Much more than I ever have.

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and seek guidance and/or treatment. If a doctor can’t put it together, it is good to know the signs so that you can seek life saving action sooner.

The Preeclampsia Foundation is a great source of information regarding this disease.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

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