When You Catch The Bouquet.

Throwing and catching the bridal bouquet is common in many cultures and it is quite old. Even the ancient Romans and the Greeks both followed the practice. Due to how long the practice has been in existence, it is difficult to say with certainty where the practice really originated from or what the purpose was.

Tossing the bouquet signifies that it was no longer needed by the bride. However, to the woman who caught it, it was hoped that the luck would rub off on that woman. If it did, she’d be the next woman who’d be married.

The act of throwing the bouquet has become part of weddings in Africa as well during white weddings. Here in Ghana it is one of the fun moments of the ceremony apart from the food and fun at the wedding reception.

When I got married in 2017, I didn’t toss my bouquet to the single ladies who were at my wedding. I gave it out as a gift to my best friend Catherine.I wanted her to have it and no one else. I wanted for her to be the next to join the bridal train .

Two years down the line, my bestie is getting hitched and I couldn’t be more happy. On 14th of December my best friend will be exchanging marital vows. Words cannot explain my excitement.

My friend Catherine and I met when I moved to Accra, we met in church and we became friends right away in the year 2009.

We have done a lot together., and grown up together. We have both matured into great women.From helping me in choosing a business name for my company , chauffeuring me around town, assisting me during makeup gigs , encouraging me to pursue a Masters Degree. She bought and filled my application forms, did all the paper work when I was far away in South Africa for a training. She planned my wedding too and run most of the errands during my wedding. And a great support of my charity foundation Friends Of NICU She has been more than a friend to me. I love her just like a sister. That explains my excitement.

Congratulations to you Catherine and Eddie. I wish you guys the best that life can give. You both deserve happiness. I wish you all the blessings in marriage. May your marriage be a model to others.

I love you both so much .

cheers to a great future together.

A Letter To My Mother 20 Years On

“Slowly The Muddy Pool Becomes A River

Slowly My Mothers Illness Becomes Her Death

When Wood Breaks It Can Be Mended

But Ivory Breaks Forever

An Egg Falls To Reveal A Messy Secret

My Mother Went Long

She Had Gone Far-

We Look For Her In Vain

But When You See A Cob Antelope On The Way To The Farm

When You See A Cob Antelope On The Way To The River-

Leave Your Arrows In The Quiver

And Let The Dead Depart In Peace …!!!

Dear Mama,

It is still fresher in my mind the chronicles of events that led to your demise . After all these years; one will think that it will get any easier. Everybody said time is a healer; they lied . I still feel broken just as I did on 1st December 1999. I still miss you more than ever. More so now that I’m also a mother; I always long to have a shoulder to rest on. Someone to tell me it is ok to feel overwhelmed with motherhood. I really do miss you.

So far as I can remember, we had plans. We were all looking forward to the millennium and then you pulled a surprise on us. The pain never goes away. The feeling of emptiness has always been the same. Today I have decided to write to you.

On behalf of my sisters and myself. We miss you no less. We love you more each day. We long to see you again. If there was anything we could have done to make you stay, be rest assured we would have done so with all our might. We talk about you all the time. Reminding ourselves daily of the things you used to say, do and how you react to certain situations. That makes us feel closer to you and brings us some satisfaction and comfort.

Yes, it’s been 20 long and sorrowful years already but we still cherish every second of our time spent together when you were alive . So today, allow me to recount what my sisters and I remember about the short life you lived.

1) YOUR KINDNESS ;

You were our first example of how to show kindness to everyone. You never discriminated against anyone .

  • I still remember how you took in our cousin Nan Yaw and treated him just like all of us. He was about 4 years when we brought him to Kumasi . After we had experienced the maltreatment he endured at the hands of his step mother. We brought him to Kumasi from our vacation at Abura Dunkwa with our uncle; Nana Yaw’s father. He became the brother that we never had.
  • The kindness you showed the mad woman who used our backyard as a home. I remember you feeding her 3 times daily. I clearly remember that Dad objected to having a mad woman around especially because this woman cried all throughout the night because she had a boil around her breast. You still treated this mad woman like any other woman who needed help until she left on her own.
  • Your love for family. Your sacrifice for your family is non comparable
  • The many mouths you fed, our house was like a community restaurant. People will just walk by and ask what was cooking and then get free food. The house was always busy until you left Mama, then the once busy home turned into a ghost town.
  • Even though I was young at the time when you welcomed your mother-in-law into our home, I still remember how you took care of her during her last days until she passed. You were just so kind Mama
  • I cannot leave out the kindness you showed to your employees. You treated them like family. I remember Georgina’s husband was unemployed at the time, and you always gave Georgina food to take to her husband . Whenever anyone questioned why you were being too generous, you will simply tell them that tables could turn.
  • Our home played host to a lot of people especially my Dad’s family. I remember we growing up with Kofi Kyei, Wachizo, Afua Agyeiwaa and the like. Even my Dad’s junior brother Daa Kuma lived with us. Not forgetting you welcoming the many step children you inherited from our dad into our home whenever they felt like visiting.
  • Mama, we remember how you advised one of your workers Ama, not to terminate her pregnancy when she discovered it. Ama enjoyed extra pay, favours such as light duties, time off for hospital visits, more food for her, money for baby clothing among other things all to the displeasure of the other employees.
  • I know all your employees were from the Northern part of Ghana but you never discriminated . They were just like us; that was what you told us.

2) LIFE COACH

• You were our first teacher when it comes to life lessons. Who will come into contact with you without picking up something from your words of wisdom? You were a life coach to many and I could sometimes eavesdrop on you offering advice to people.

  • You helped to raise your best friend’s last born. She wanted to terminate that pregnancy because she didn’t want another child more so a boy. But Mama you encouraged her to keep the baby, and that you were gonna help raise that child. And you did just that until your passing.
  • Among some of the things you thought us, you did instill in us the sense of contentment. And so even though we were not the richest family at the time, you taught us to be satisfied and proud of everything we had . I remember when we picked loose items from the floor and bring them home, you will insist that we return to the exact spot where we picked it from.
  • You also taught us never to argue with anyone over money. Especially when the other party insists on not receiving any money from us. She always told us, that when it comes to misunderstandings about money, we should always take it that the other person is right. You said that many people have died due to argument about money.
  • We watched you wake up at 4am each day to work and be the last person to return to bed everyday. That taught us hard work. You will always advice that we work hard and enjoy the fruit of our labour .
  • I remember one time I asked you about why I couldn’t have certain parts of the chicken. Your answer was simple; work hard when you grow up and you can have any part of the chicken because you have worked for it. It all makes sense now Mama.
  • I have not forgotten the advice of not being too inquisitive to run into a mob action . You might be mistaken for the accused, you will say. In fact, minding our own business was the bottomline.
  • Again you will always preach to us about the need to save. You mentioned that it was better to eat everyday than eat once in a long while. That was you teaching us about saving today against tomorrow.
  • I smile now Mama because you mostly communicated your displeasure through body language. Your eyes were often used to communicate to us. And we all understood it clearly.

3) LIFE AS A WIFE

  • I do not remember you ever having a fight with our Dad. Probably because you never made us see anything of that sort. So in our eyes, you guys looked happy together and you got everything going on for you until your demise.
  • I remember how you stayed by Dad’s side when he was involved in a road accident in October 1996. Even when he lost the use of his legs and became bound to a wheel chair. The support you gave him and the care that he received until you passed away is commendable. No wonder he collapsed at the news of your death.

OUR MEMORY OF YOUR DEATH DAY

Serwaa and Agyeiwaa came in to visit you in the morning of the 1st Of December. According to them, you didn’t look well. But they were still hopeful you were gonna recover . We had prayed so hard the previous night for your quick recovery. But that never happened.

The last time I saw my mother alive was Monday 29th of November 1999. My dad had brought my little sister and I to visit Mom. She was at the D ward on the fifth floor. As soon as I found out, I got scared. I knew that ward housed those who were dying because their illness had reached that level.

As I saw my mother, she didn’t say much. She was excited to see us. I told her my Dad was downstairs because he couldn’t get to the 5th floor without the elevator working. I also reminded her that we never stopped praying for her. And she gave me a look that meant she appreciated it.

It was a shock to return from school on Wednesday the 1st Of December to a house full of people who were all weeping so hard. Serwaa came out to hug me and she confirmed that you were indeed gone. For a moment I saw life crumbling down at my feet but I could just watch because there was nothing I could do. Our mother was gone for real? Serwaa mentioned amidst wailing the fact that we prayed so hard the night before, yet God refused to listen. We were broken . You had left this world at age 45 and left behind your young children to the mercy of this cruel world.

Mama, we still do miss you. Your death created a vacuum in our hearts which can never be replaced. We know you look down on us all the time. And you are proud of the women we have become. The family keeps growing but one thing you can be sure of is that, we always talk about you. Continue to sleep well; until we meet again.

Love,

Nana

(On behalf of all your children)

My NICU Experience

November is dedicated towards awareness creating on the issue of Premature Babies. Did you know that 1 in every 10 births is born prematurely? Did you also know that NICU is a place where preterm babies are taken care of?

In case you are wondering what NICU is; it is an abbreviation for Neonatal (Newborn) Intensive Care Unit. This unit within any medical center specializes in the care of ill or premature babies.

This write up seeks to chronicle my encounter at the NICU when I had a preterm baby a year ago.

My pregnancy journey was a tough one as I have already shared in my previous post .

My doctor had already psyched me up to the possibility of my daughter being born preterm and spending time at the NICU. But I was still in for a surprise.

As I walked into the NICU on Wednesday 26th of September 2018 with my husband; we were greeted with “its not time for the mothers to come and see their babies”

I gathered every bit of strength left in my voice and I told the nurse I had her on Monday and I had not seen her till that day because I was not fit to walk to the NICU all this while. Then she replies ” ok you have 5 minutes”

The warmth that I felt when I finally saw my daughter for the first time cannot be described. She had my name on the bracelet which she wore on the left wrist, with details about time and date of birth and her birth weight .

Visiting time to the NICU for mothers was 9am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm. The routine for visiting our babies was to queue up at the entrance of the NICU until we are asked to come in. Every mother is required to wash and towel dry their hands at the entrance before we enter any of the cubicles to touch our babies .

There are different cubicles for different babies. First cubicle houses very small babies who are kept in the incubators. Cubicle two is home to babies who are a little bit bigger than their mates in the first. Babies in cubicle three are not in incubators, so mothers who had babies in this cubicle had to breastfeed their babies during the visit. The rule in that cubicle is to grab a plastic seat, find a place to sit, sanitize your hands (because you could have picked germs from the chair ) before you touch your baby.

It is hard to have a restricted time to feed babies. There are times when the baby is asleep the whole time, but you need to tap their feet so hard to get them to cry and wake them up to eat.

During each visit, we have an hour to breastfeed, change diaper and bond with our babies before the time is up. Babies are bathed twice a week; and that is on Tuesdays and Fridays during the 9am visit . On those days, we walk into cubicle 3 as usual and after all the hygienic procedure is followed, mothers will be given a bowl of warm water with a towel which has soap rubbed in it for cleaning baby from hair to toe; before breastfeeding .

In the third cubicle, since the babies there are not places in incubators, they are supposed to be clothed but there is hardly enough clothes in there for all the babies. My daughter was covered in sheets all the time. I had no idea the mothers had to “fight” over the clothes. I never bothered because spending time with my daughter was more important . The temperature in that cubicle was always 16 degrees .

The NICU provides baby formula for babies who’s mothers miss the planned visits. Again if a mother has no milk supply, the mother can request for a cup of formula to feed the baby. Here is the catch, you will have to prove it by squeezing your nipple to the nurse on duty to show that your milk supply has not started flowing.

One afternoon I walked into the NICU to see my daughter’s cot stained with a lot of blood. I queried the student doctor in the cubicle and she says “sorry her infusion came off without anyone noticing ” I was fuming at the explanation but I told myself it was only temporary.

My daughter had Neonatal Jaundice at the NICU and so she spent time under the light. Usually their eyes are covered with a gauze and plaster . My daughter’s own had come off one time when I went in, I politely asked the nurse to replace it because the UV light is not safe for eyes. She rudely told me to put her back under the light and that she will fix it later. So I turned the UV light off and left my naked baby in there. That was one of the days I cried so hard and asked God to protect my daughter.

During the afternoon visit, the replacement had not been done. Her eyes were still exposed to the UV light . Thankfully there was another team on duty so I asked for the replacement and I got it immediately to cover her eyes.

Walking into the NICU every time was scary because you never know what awaits you. An empty cot was the worse that could happen. As I walked into cubicle 3, my baby was not at her usual spot. That moment I died and resurrected. I asked the nurse about where my baby was; her cot had been shifted away to a different location….Sigh

Some mothers are encouraged to do the Kangaroo Mother Care. (KMC), sometimes called skin-to-skin contact. This is a technique of newborn care where babies are kept chest-to-chest and skin-to-skin with a parent, typically their mother. It is most commonly used for low birth-weight preterm babies, who are more likely to suffer from hypothermia while admitted to the NICU to keep the baby warm and support early breastfeeding

Through my stay at the NICU I realized how under resourced the unit was. That led to the founding of my charity project Friends Of NICU .

We provide both medical and non medical support to NICU’s in Ghana. Again we help mothers who are not able to pay their hospital bills. We started of by donating to Korlebu Teaching Hospital in December 2018. So far, we have had two donation exercises and the third is coming up this Christmas.

We are gradually extending help to other regions in Ghana. This December the Bono East Region will have their first donation in Techiman.

World Prematurity Day is Marked Worldwide yearly on the 17th of November. The celebration started in 2008 and it has been celebrated as such ever since.

The color for prematurity is Purple which signifies sensitivity (of preemie babies) and exceptionality (they are fighters, worriers and special)

Every child born before 37 weeks is considered preterm. Worldwide about 15million children are born prematurely every year . Over 1 million do not survive.

Here in Ghana, 144,000 children are born preterm every year. Out of this figure, about 9,000 do not survive.

The theme for 2019 celebration is “ Born too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.“

ANALYZING THEME

Providing Right Care ; In Europe, any baby who is born from 23 weeks (6 months) upwards has the chance to survive because they are advanced in their health care service .

Whereas here in Ghana, it is 28weeks ( 7 months) and older. This means that if a baby arrives earlier than 28 weeks, it is considered late miscarriage in Ghana.

There is still room for improvement; by way of research, education and continuous improvement.

Right Time: when it comes to taking care of preemies, every second counts that determines if the baby will survive or not .

Right Place; the facilities we have are inadequate and over stretched .

The reason we need more hands on deck to support our NICU’s to be able to take care of preemies.

You can show your support to Preemies today 17th of November by wearing Purple.

Follow our social media pages; take a picture of yourself wearing purple and tag us on Facebook and Instagram

You can also support our charity project by contacting us on +233262385519. or through email friendsofnicuworldwide@gmail.com

Be a a Friend Of NICU today .

Support us to put smiles on the faces of some mothers in our December donation.

No contribution is too small.

#worldprematurityday

#friendsofNICU

#17November

This Is My Testimony

“Where did the year go?” might sound a bit cliche when we talk about how fast time flies. But for me. I really cannot believe that it’s been a year already. God has been extremely merciful to my family and I

Before I met my husband, I had battled with fibroids since 2013. My doctor advised that instead of having a Myomectomy, I start a family immediately.

Did I want to have a child only because the doctor said so? I asked myself several times. I made a decision to wait.

Fast forward I met my husband in 2016, and he was not bothered about what the medical report said. That is the man I call “the King” in our palace. (Home) I got married on 18th of November 2017. To a man who I totally adore. When we talk about mister right, he is every sense of the word and more

In February 2018, we found out we were going to be parents. First time parents if I may add. We were excited to enjoy all the milestones of my pregnancy. Finding out the expected delivery date, hearing the heart beat of our baby for the first time, kicks, the great gender reveal and all the ultrasound appointments . We were looking forward to all of that including all the strange cravings and morning sickness.

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out as we expected. My pregnancy was filled with unbearable pain because of degeneration of the fibroids. I was in constant pain throughout most of the months . The kind of pain that makes it unbearable to even get out of bed. I always needed help to get up from bed. As a result, my doctor put me on strict bed rest.

Fibroid pregnancy is associated with these symptoms. Pain,bleeding or both . And this can result in a miscarriage even after you pass the 12weeks period. Again my doctor suggested a preventive procedure; Cervical cerclage. Unfortunately he could not carry out the procedure because of the location of some of the fibroids. I remember how much I wept that day knowing that I could loose my baby anytime if she arrives any time earlier that 28 weeks. In the European countries babies born at 24 weeks old can survive. Here in Ghana, it is 28 weeks.

A friend of mine ( we were both pregnant) blessed me with a book at this point. Supernatural Childbirth ; this book moved my faith to a different level. I started declaring to my child everyday that she was not going to come out before her time. And I believed every word of it.

Then when I was 27 weeks gone, almost through the danger zone; I started bleeding. That was a sign of a late miscarriage. I didn’t panic. As I sat on the toilet seat, I reminded God of His promise to me. I told Him I was not casting my fruit (baby) before her time. I asked Him to do what only He can do because I was not gonna go to the hospital . I also told Him that because I’m a wife too, I was going to the kitchen that moment. I didn’t tell my husband about the bleeding I didn’t want him to talk me into going to the hospital because I was Just tired of all the visits. I didn’t tell anyone; BUT GOD. And the bleeding stopped that moment.

Let me chip in the fact that I got pregnant in my last semester of my Masters program . I missed all the lectures because I was on bed rest. My friends from school were helpful. They will send me learning materials and voice-notes to explain the various topics to me. I gathered the strength to write the final exams even though I was in so much pain. I remember I could only sit for an hour and a half in a 3 hour paper. The school provided me with a comfortable seat and a leg rest, but it was still not easy. I told God, I had done what was humanly possible and I left the rest to Him. Oh yes, I passed and graduated.

I made weekly visits to my doctor every Monday. Sometimes I was detained because I was having contractions and I couldn’t even tell because of the constant pain I was in. I had to be given a dose of steroid injections to help my baby’s lungs develop quicker. My doctor wanted for her to breath on her own when she comes out early .

On one of my visits, I expressed concerns about the fact that my baby was located at my lower left side of the uterus and she couldn’t get space to move up because of the fibroids. The doctor told me it was normal and that my daughter was going to be fine. The worse case scenario she will have curved legs because of the lack of movement space; but it could be corrected after birth.

I counted the weeks as I slowly clocked 35 weeks. My doctor scheduled me for a cesarean section the following week . 36 weeks was still not considered a full term birth. At this point the fibroids had grown so much that it occupied all the space in my uterus so my baby was being squeezed. We agreed to have the doctor take her out at 36 weeks.

On the 24th of September 2018, at 2:44pm my daughter was born weighing 2.4kg . I was in surgery for over 3 hours after my daughter was delivered to remove the fibroids. The fibroids were so huge like 6 times the size of my baby. The reason my baby bump was so huge. I woke up around 8:00pm to find that my daughter had to be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for further care.

I asked my husband if he had seen the baby and if she was alright. At this point I was unsure if she was alive or not. I can still remember clearly how I wish I could see and hold her. I could not gather the strength to walk from the 6th floor to the NICU because wheelchairs were not allowed in there. On Wednesday the 26th of September I just couldn’t wait a day longer. I insisted that my husband helps me get to the 3rd floor ( location of the NICU) so I could see my baby. Amidst all the pain, I just had to do it. I remember how warming it felt to see and touch her.

On 28th of September, I was discharged from the hospital but my baby was still at the NICU. I wept so hard the whole time . I had to make the NICU visits anyway even though I had not fully recovered from the 2 in 1 procedure that I had. (C – Section and Myomectomy)

My daughter got jaundice at the NICU and had to spend time under the uv light and undergo photo therapy. She weighed 2.1kg by the time we left the NICU on 30th September 2018.

Through this experience, my relationship with God changed, I experienced God on a different level. My faith increased and I have had a better walk with God knowing that He listens to prayers and He is a covenant honoring God.

I want to send a huge thank you to my support system. To my family and friends, thank you for always being there for me. I love you all very much.

During my time at the NICU, I realized how under resourced the unit was. That moved me to form a foundation called Friends of NICU which supports the Korlebu Hospital Nicu with both medical and non medical supplies. ( We will be moving to other regions soon) We have had 2 donation exercises already. And we look forward to our December 2019 donation drive. I will be knocking on your doors for help too.

As I recount this whole encounter, I have to relive the cocktail of emotions that I had to endure. If you never knew my PAIN you will never understand my PRAISE

So today, I celebrate the one I call a miracle, an answer to a prayer, proof of God’s faithful. Ewuradwoa the fighter, my daughter the NICU worrier. She came out perfect. She picked out her own due date, made a dramatic entrance and rocked the NICU like a boss.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU MY LOVE.

REFLECTION- LIFE

I cannot get enough words to describe how I feel right now. I have been sober and reflecting on life through out my journey home from work today.

I have been traveling the Tema motorway for years. I always see the wreck that has happened by the roadside. I hardly witness it happen.

Today the 10th of September 2019, I boarded a bus en route home. It started as a normal trip home. When we were less than 10 minutes through the trip, I heard the other passengers on board shout about an accident just about 2 vehicles away.

My eyes were locked on my phone so I did not see it happen. All I saw was a lot of dust in the air. All the vehicles ahead of us and behind us stopped immediately; and our driver did same.

A Kia mini truck with 2 occupants on board lost control. The truck flew off the bridge and landed upside down into the bridge .

The driver was saved because he had his seat belt on. But the other guy on the passenger end was thrown out of the truck and he died on the spot.

Almost everyone went to their aid to get the trapped and injured driver out of the truck.

I have been feeling down since the encounter. I have been thinking about life this whole time.

What is really the essence of life?

Is it about waking up early every morning just so we can afford to have a three square meal, clothes on our back and a place to call home?

Or is it about caring for the people around us ? Shouldn’t our focus in life be about showing Love and Compassion towards each other?

Hmmmm….Life! Today we are here,

Tomorrow we are gone.

Let us make use of the fact that we have life now and let love lead.

And The Chips Fell Where They May.

African Cup of Nations (AFCON ) started in June this year. Ghana qualified to this tournament. At the group stages, Ghana drew their first two matches and won their third. Ghanaians were not even hopeful the team was going to qualify to the round 16 stage. Not only did they qualify, they finished tops in their group.

Ghana was scheduled to play Tunisia on Monday the 8th of July. The game was tough. Ghana scored first but the goal was disallowed by the South African referee who claimed it was a hand ball. (It was not a handball if you ask me 🙄)

At about the 74th minute, Tunisia scored their first goal. They played the delay tactics game until the 90mins ended. Injury time was added and Tunisia scored an own goal and so the scoreline was Ghana 1 Tunisia 1.

The 30 minutes extra time of play came to an end without any of the teams scoring so it had to go to penalties. The game ended 5:4 in favor of Tunisia. Ghana is officially out of the competition now. The chips have fallen where they may.

This year’s AFCON has been thrilling. We have seen Madagascar being debutants, beat Nigeria and finish top in the group stages . They went on to beat Dr Congo in the round of 16. South Africa kicked out Egypt and that has caused an “quake” in their Football Association (F.A) Their coach got fired and the F.A President resigned afterward.

Football is an interesting game. So unpredictable. Anything can happen in this game. Ghana is out, but I’m rooting for Madagascar. I want them to go far in this competition and make history .

Is God Interested In The Game Of Football?

Let me speak to the situation in Ghana currently. African cup of Nations is on. Ghana has played two games already and drawn.

Ghana badly needs a win in their match against Guinea Bissau in the group stages if they want to remain in the game .

I just tuned into a radio station 30mins before kick off and they are praying and asking for God to intervene.

So I ask, what if Guinea Bissau also prays; who will God listen to?

Do you think God is interested in the game of football??

I’m only thinking out loud. I guess if God was to answer to this rhetorical question his answer will be “NO”

I can only wish the Black Stars well. Play your hearts out guys and let the chips fall where they may.

All the best

Go Ghana. Go Black Stars