Nightbirde: Courage, Optimism,Hope and Faith Personified

I chanced on a Tweet on the 21st of February on my drive to work. It had a picture of a beautiful young woman. Underneath the picture, the inscription was “Rest Well Jane #AGT”

I immediately headed to YouTube since I knew she must have been a contestant on Americans Got Talent (AGT ) show. I was honestly blown away by her voice. What stood out for me about her was her optimism.

During her audition she made it known that she had cancer in her lungs, spine and liver but it’s ok. When the judges tried to sympathize with her she said “it’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than some of the bad things that has happened to me”

She put up a brilliant performance of her original song called “It’s Okay” After her performance, Simon Cowell; one of the judges was amazed about how casually she hinted about her battle with cancer to which she responded “you can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy”

Her performance earned her a golden buzzer which meant she got to go straight to the Live shows . Doctors had told her she had 2% chance of survival but here is what she had to say about it “I have a 2% chance of survival but 2% is not 0%. 2% is something ;and I wish people knew how amazing it is” After the Live shows started, she had to drop out of the AGT competition due to her health.

It was not only her beautiful eyes that caught my attention but how beautiful she was both inside and out. How she held on to hope even if it was like holding unto a straw when you are drowning . I went ahead to watch a lot more of her interviews and each word she spoke symbolized her hope in life

Among the many interviews I watched, there was one with CNN’s Chris Cuomo where she admitted she had been having a pity party for her self due to the fact that the cancer was back . But she was still so very hopeful she was going to win that battle.

I don’t remember ever meeting someone who has gone through so much pain and still was this positive and optimistic as Jane. It broke my heart when I found out her husband left her in the middle of her fight with cancer. In spite of that, she kept on fighting .

Although she lost the fight on 19th of February 2022, there is so much I have learned from her life and persona . She embodied courage, optimism, faith and hope; and also had a strong believe in God. I believe we can all draw some inspiration from her .

We cannot wait until the rain stops before we decide to dance; try dancing in the rain. Always remember that no matter how hard the rain falls, the sun will surely shine again. If you are currently going through a tough time in your life, just don’t give up yet. Hold on a bit longer; the sun will surely shine again.

Continue to sleep well beautiful soul. Rest In Peace Jane, the Nightbirde .

Pregnant In The Midst Of A Pandemic – My Second Testimony

Once upon a time in February 2020, our second child was conceived. Just like the first, we were. excited and prayed for a “normal pregnancy”. Trust me this pregnancy was indeed different. In March 2020 Ghana recorded it’s first Covid 19 case and everything changed.

Life was so different. It was so scary for me to even step out of the house. Being pregnant even predisposes you to a lot of things because your immune system is not as strong as it used to be. Not only do you have to deal with morning sickness, backaches, swollen feet, cravings and tiredness; we also have to deal with the fact that our immune system is being lowered and leaving us at the mercy of common ailments such as cold.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that pre covid, I have always been a cleanliness(germs,bacteria) freak. My family has always said I had OCD; but that is ok. You can only imagine how “worse” I became when Covid hit. Thankfully during the first trimester which is always the worse, (that is what we say until we reach the 3rd trimester) we had some weeks of lockdown. I had to work from home most of the time; and so it was comforting to be in my safe space.

The Pregnant Trio

I struggled with going out for my doctor’s appointments because I always felt “naked” when I had to step out of my house. When I was about 16weeks gone, I eventually changed my hospital after my baby sister convinced me to. This pregnancy was also special because just like my first pregnancy; I shared this too with my sister Dufie and my friend Kate. It was a bit easy to draw strength from each other.

Fast forward to gender reveal; we were having a second girl. My husband and I were excited and had a name planned even before she arrived. The most exciting part was the fact that my original EDD (Expected Delivery Date) was Saturday 14th November;my late mother’s birthday. It just confirmed the name that we had in mind was just right.

Unfortunately having had a C Section with my first girl, my doctor advised it was unsafe to wait and go into labor else my womb could rapture and it could be fatal; so I was scheduled for my section 2 weeks earlier than my EDD . Then a date was booked for my section; 6th November, my birthday.I was closely monitored for any signs of contractions. (That would have had me go into emergency C Section regardless the date ) But I always came out fine.

CTG
CTG

On my last but two hospital appointment, my doctor gave me weeks off work, I was so swollen especially my feet. That was a blessing in disguise. Covid hit my office in my absence and almost every staff got their share of it. This is how much I’m loved by God .

Ride to the Hospital

Finally, 5th of November came and I checked into the hospital. Everything was set for the procedure the following morning . I was wheeled to the the operating theater at about 8:30am. The good thing is that my husband was with me from start to finish.

The arrival

At about 9:25am, my baby was delivered. I was excited when I heard her cry. I missed out on my first daughter’s first cry because I was put under full anesthesia. This time it was different. I was awake through out the entire process and I was even having a conversation with the medical staff as the section was going on. The staff even sang happy birthday for me in the theater .

Theater

My heart sunk when my husband said they had taken the baby to the NICU to get checked. I asked myself why I had to endure the NICU again;thankfully she came out fine and was brought back to my bed side.

Baby’s First Cuddle With Daddy

So on Friday 6th November, 2020, I gave birth to my mother on my birthday.

Maame Efua Akyaa Gyang

It is has been a great experience raising her. She has out grown all the stages of development and the milestones . She made her first step when she was 7months old. She mastered walking by 8 months and now she is running already.

On the occasion of your first birthday Maame Efua Akyaa Gyang;( my mother and daughter) I wish you the very best today and always . We love you for the joy you bring to our lives .

The Gyangs

From Daddy,Mommy and Ewuradwoa we wish you Happy First Birthday .

The Unpredictable Game of Football

EPL Coaches

This weekend has been very entertaining for me. I know that same cannot be said for Manchester United Fans. This weekend’s EPL was filled with a lot of goals.On Saturday 23rd of October, Chelsea bagged 7 :0 against Norwich . Then Watford scored 5:2 against Everton. On Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United was defeated by 5:0 in their home by Liverpool. I must say it was an entertaining game to watch.

Let me quickly remind you that I’m still not an authority in football. I just love the game due to how unpredictable it can be. Also because my husband loves football so I always try to follow what’s new so we can have conversations about it. I also love to “play against” when his club Chelsea is playing.

Manchester United Coach

I clearly remember when Ole was given this coaching job in March 2019. After Mourinho was sacked from his role as a manager of Manchester United, everyone was singing praises to Ole for winning 14 out of 19 games at the time.

Fast forward to 2021/2022 season, Manchester United signed Cristiano Ronaldo and their season started off well with Ronaldo coming to their rescue in very tough games. Let’s be fair, the team is not at its best anymore, Man U has been struggling lately. This goes to show that individual brilliance does not translate to making a great team.

In recent times, there has been increased calls for the manager of the club to be sacked. But he continues to be at post; and I don’t know if anything will change after Sunday’s game.

The score line after first half was 4:0. You should have seen the frustration written all over the faces of the players and the coach.

Their woes worsened when Paul Pogba came into the game at the start of the second half but played only 15 minutes and was sent off with a red card after a cruel tackle against Keita that sent him out of the game.

Pogba’s Red Card Tackle

The game finally ended 5:0

Disappointed Man Utd Fans

The supporters started leaving the stadium even after the first half. And they won’t stop booing at the coach .

Some weeks back, It was Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta who was in this position but now the tables have turned and there is more pressure being mounted to get Ole sacked .

But the same way it was nice to watch Lampard try to sink the Chelsea’s ship, it is entertaining to watch Ole sink the Man U ship too. What do I care; a Leeds United fan . I’m just enjoying myself, watching the so called Big teams go into matches with so much expectations only to be trashed by “smaller” teams. Like Everton loosing 5 :2 against Watford .

This game is entertaining and adrenaline filled due to how unpredictable it can be. I always wonder if those who throw in their bet ever win anything at all. So far the 9 games played has been entertaining to watch . I’m looking forward to the rest of the games. We will see which clubs will make the top 4 and top 8 in the end.

In the meantime, I’m just having fun .

All Pictures Credit: Google

World Breastfeeding Week 2021

Credit : Google

I’m amazed at how time flies lately. It’s been a year already since I wrote a post about my breastfeeding experience in August 2020. You can click here to catch up with that post.

I became a mother for the second time in November 2020. Like my first birth, I was excited about breastfeeding exclusively for the second time.

I made plans to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. I planned to store up milk for future use when I returned to work after the 3 months maternity break. I had it all planned out, I was going to express at work as well, so in my mind everything was going to happen as planned. But no, life happened.

Even before I returned to work, I had issues with my body producing milk like my first birth. It normalized quickly and soon I started producing enough milk to feed baby and store as well.

Fast forward I returned to work in the middle of February 2021, and I did my best to express in the office whenever I had the chance. Work got more intense by the day. Tight deadlines, trying to meet my KPI’s and a whole lot of stress associated with work. From fitting into a new role to adjusting to the standards of a new boss. This made it tough for my body to keep doing it’s job of producing milk. I was constantly stressed and tired. Work schedules got crazier and I couldn’t get off work at 3pm like I’m supposed to.

My milk supply dropped drastically since April. Nothing I did will bring my supply back to normal. From increasing my carbohydrates intake to eating granola, to drinking stuff that is supposed to help increase milk supply, you name it and I will buy it. But nothing worked . With time, my milk dried up completely .

I went through the phase of feeling like a disappointment. I wanted to do same for my second daughter; just like I did for my first. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months. But my body said “no mom, I’m not having it” I struggled with my conscience for weeks.

Credit:Google

Finally I got to a place where I accepted the fact that what I had done was enough. I could finally forgive myself and accept the fact that my body was not going to support me exclusively breastfeeding for 6months. I accepted the fact that I did love my second daughter regardless, the same way I love my first even if I could not do same for her by way of breastfeeding.

I switched quickly to formula feeding and thankfully my daughter accepted it well after a few days of struggle . When it was time to introduce her to solids, she made the switch smoothly. She still enjoys her milk the same way she enjoys her food. She is healthy and growing well. It will amaze you to know that she made her first steps when she was 7months old. She is walking already at 9months. She has never been ill and she is the happiest baby ever.

This is to every mother out there, it is good to breast feed when you can. It is okay to forgive yourself when you cannot. There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula feeding. Your duty is to make sure that the feeding kit is well washed and sterilized to prevent your little one from getting infections.

Motherhood on its own is tough, don’t make it tougher by being hard on yourself. I know society has it’s own stereotypes about who a good mother is and all . But I believe in you, I know you love your baby more than anyone can describe. Forget what society thinks and focus on what works for you. You have got this Mama.

#breasfeedingweek #Worldbreastfeedingweek

The Magic In 150ml

I have exactly seven days left to return to work from my maternity leave. I usually start pumping and storing breastmilk three weeks before I resume work from leave.
With my first daughter, it was smooth sailing.
I had no issues producing milk. I used to pump dry my two breasts in the morning for her first two feeds before leaving for working.

And by the time I get through the morning meetings in the office around 9am, my breasts will be heavy and full of milk.
I sometimes pumped twice at the office before I got off work at 3pm.


With my second daughter, recovery has taken longer than I imagined. My body is not like it used to be. Lately my breast doesn’t produce a lot of milk to have me pump the extra and store.
I have had to fall on formula after I exhausted my stored up breastmilk.

I have struggled to deal with the guilt of my body not producing enough milk for my second daughter. And the desire to do same if not better for my second daughter just as I did for my first.
You need to be in my place to understand. It is not as if formula feeding is bad, but it is a personal preference to breastfeed.

Thankfully, with only a week left to return to work, my body is back to producing milk like before and I cannot express in writing how happy that makes me.
To be able to pump more than 120ml from one breast is unexplainable.

Freshly Pumped Breastmilk

I’m finally in a place where I have told myself that at any point before my daughter turns 6months if I need to supplement with formula,I’m still a good mother and I still love my second daughter just as much as I love my first.

Motherhood, the struggle is real.

Stored Up Breastmilk

ANXIETY

Anxiety;This is me right now. The best word that describes how I’m currently feeling.
The thought of returning to work from my maternity leave makes me anxious 😔😔😔

I do miss work and I’m excited to see all my colleagues again.

But the thought of returning to work has influenced my milk production.
I’m doing all the right things but supply has still dropped.
I have gone from breasts being engorged with milk everyday and wetting my breast pads to just enough to feed baby.


I need to produce more milk to be able to feed her each day before I resume work and also store enough for her feeding when I return to work.


With my first daughter, milk production was not much of a problem, I also used to pump and store at work.
The trick was pump in the morning before I leave for the office. That was her first feed of the day, and then the stored milk is thawed,warmed and used in her subsequent feeds. And then pumped twice at work when the day is not so crazy; before I get off work at 3pm.

I’m sure someone is asking why I’m stress about breastmilk when there is another option in variety of baby formulas??

My answer is ; personal choices.

I do not fault anyone who makes the choice to formula feed her baby nor anyone who decides to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding.

Trust me; I know breastfeeding is hard work; but I choose to do it.

There is this kind of guilt mothers feel especially when they have more than one child.
You cannot help but want to do same for each child if not more than you did for the older ones.
That is where I am right now.
I just want to do six months exclusive breastfeeding just like I did for my first daughter.

So help me God.

#breastfeeding

#motherhood

This Far By Grace

If anyone should ask me about how I did it, I will never be able to say how. Two years ago I didn’t know how my life could change after the birth of my daughter. No, I didn’t have it all figured out before she arrived. Yes, motherhood was new to me too. Motherhood is such that no matter how much you think you have read or heard, you are always in for surprises.

Ewuradwoa and Mom

The birth of my daughter introduced me to the NICU world too. My doctor had told me about the possibility of having a preterm baby and the possibility that she was going to spend time at the NICU. Truth be told, I always prayed for her to be born full term. I simply didn’t want her to be taken to the NICU. I had not read a lot about the place, but from the little I had read,I just knew I didn’t want anything to do with the NICU.

Typical Scene At The NICU
Typical Scene At The NICU

God had His plans though. On the 24th of September 2018, at 2:44pm my daughter was born after 36weeks. Regardless the steroid injections my doctor gave me just so her lungs could develop faster and increase the probability of not needing the NICU, she still ended up there.

I met my daughter on 26th of September for the first time after she was born on 24th. That was when I had the energy to walk from my ward on the 6th floor to the 3rd floor where the NICU is located . (Because wheelchairs are not allowed in the NICU) It was love at first sight.I just couldn’t help it, she was so tiny but so perfect.

On her birthday my foundation was born. My encounter with the NICU gave birth to Friends of NICU . I have dedicated my life to Awareness creation about the NICU, soliciting for support for NICU’s in Ghana, Paying NICU bills of needy parents and also being a support system to NICU parents.

As my daughter turns two today, Friends of NICU is also 2years. With a grateful heart, I say we have come this far by the Grace of God.

Ewuradwoa

Happy Birthday to my NICU miracle.

My First fruit… my daughter Ewuradwoa. I love you so much. I’m grateful that you chose me to be your mother. And your birth gave me another purpose in life.

Ewuradwoa
Ewuradwoa
Ewuradwoa
The Gyang Family

Happy 2nd anniversary to Friends of NICU.

Ewuradwoa

#FriendsofNICU #HappyBirthdayEwuradwoa

World Breastfeeding Week

Credit:Google

World breastfeeding week 2020 was from 1st to 7th August. This year’s theme is “Support Breastfeeding For A Healthier Planet” Before I became a mother, I do not remember topics such as this catching my attention not to think of writing about it.

Motherhood indeed changes people. You pour out so much love into a new life.You care so much for the new born and protect the little one with everything you have got.

Due to the fact that my daughter was born early and so spent time at the NICU,she developed neonatal jaundice. Even though she was put under the light as part of her treatment , breastfeeding her worked magic in clearing the jaundice completely. Adequate amounts of breast milk increases a baby’s bowel movements, which help secrete the buildup of bilirubin.

At the NICU we had specific visit hours for mothers/fathers. The time was an hour to breastfeed, change diapers if necessary and bond with your baby. I always took advantage of that 1 hour. There were times my baby will be asleep during the visit and there was nothing I could do to get her to feed.

The nurses encouraged us to express milk and leave it behind for our babies. I never did because I was unsure of how the milk was was going to be handled. (My paranoid self)

My Baby In The First Month of Birth
When My Baby Started Gaining Weight

I watched my 2.1kg baby girl more than double her birth weight after we left the NICU in just a matter of days.

I was constantly concerned about eating right and how my body will produce enough milk to feed my little one.

Soon my 3 months maternity was almost over and I just had to intensify my pumping routine. I started storing milk towards my return to work.When I returned to work I always tried to find time to pump at the office. It was really tough I kid you not.

My BreastMilk Stock

Sometimes work got so overwhelming that I returned home with two heavy and painful breasts full of milk.

I was determined to at least do 6 months exclusive breastfeeding. I saw how much weight my daughter gained month after month. She never got sick through out her first early year. And so I support the idea of breastfeeding; if only you have the supply, and you are in a place to do so and baby also accepts the milk.

Truth be told that breastfeeding is no child’s play. The struggle of eating right,trying to stay in the right frame of mind so that your body can produce enough milk is real.

I had a friend whose baby really ate a lot. Supply of her stock of breast milk run out quickly when she returned to work. It was really tough on her because her baby always rejected formula. She tried every brand on the market but her baby rejected it.

She was constantly stressed and her body could not meet the demand needs at a point.

Breastfeeding is not an easy job but worth the hustle.

You need carbohydrate rich diet to increase your milk supply; and that can make most women gain weight.When you gain weight people make unwelcome comments about your weight gain.

I have another friend whose body over produces milk so supply is not a headache for her at all. There are several women who have shared stories of how their babies weaned themselves off breast milk before they clocked 6months old.

I understand that everyone’s motherhood journey is different, so is breastfeeding. It is therefore unfair to try to shame any woman who makes the choice to do 6 months exclusive breastfeeding,formula feed her baby or combine both.

Do not judge if you have not walked a mile in anyone’s shoes. The most important thing here is the love being emptied from the mother to her baby.

Remember that your body produced a miracle; and brought forth another life.To any new Mom out there, you are doing amazing already. Ignore all the critics and keep up the good work.

Happy Breastfeeding Week To Every Woman out there.

#BreastfeedingWeek

Winter ABC Day 11|| Proverbs

Proverbs are wise sayings that are password guided . It often needs to be decoded with wisdom before the ordinary mind can understand. If the literal translation is used, it makes less sense until it is decoded to the understanding of everyone. That is when the true meaning is appreciated. Africa is known for its Proverbs. Here are a few from Ghana.

1) Woforo Dua Pa a Na Ye Pia Wo:

Literal Meaning: It is when you climb a good tree that we push you.

Meaning Decoded: Society supports a good course not a bad one and so if you need support chart a good course. Basically, Society supports and identifies with good deeds.

2) Tikro Nkoro Nko Agyina :

Literal Meaning: One head (or person) does not hold council.

Meaning Decoded : We cannot refer to one person discussing an issue with himself as a meeting. We need a group of people to hold a meeting. This proverb is similar to the English one that says “two heads are better than one.”

3)Hu m’ani so ma me nti na atwe mmienu nam:

Literal Meaning: It is because of “blow the dust off my eyes” that two antelopes walk together.

Meaning Decoded : Two is better than one. The benefit of having a supporter with you is enough to see you through. Thus this idea of collaboration rather than competition is the message being communicated here.

4) Aboa bi beka wo a, ne ofiri wo ntoma mu :

Literal Meaning: If an animal will bite you, it will be from your cloth.

Meaning Decoded : It is likely that the people who will harm you are those close to you.

5) Anoma anntu a, obua da :

Literal Meaning: if a bird does not fly, it goes to bed hungry.

Meaning Decoded: If you want to make a living, you must make a move or take action. You cannot do nothing and expect not to go hungry. It can also be understood as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” for the bird takes risk by flying, yet, without that there will be no hope of finding food and starving will kill it. This applies to us men too.

In conclusion our Proverbs as Africans makes us different. I remember I read some Nigerian books in my Literature class and it was filled with proverbs. That makes us unique. We the new generation of Africans should endeavor to pass it on so that it is never lost.

#AftoBloggers

#WinterABCChallenge

Winter ABC Challenge Day 10|| My Favorite Brand

The birth of my daughter in 2018 opened my eyes to the Preemie and NICU World . Since then I have been passionate about everything that concerns Prematurity and life at the NICU.

If I’m giving the chance, I would love to work with any Baby brand that focuses on Preemies.

My focus will be helping design affordable preemie friendly outfits, diapers, clinical nests, toys, comforters and anything that will make lives a little bit easier on Preemies and their parents.

So far Cuski Baby a UK brand, has been doing amazing with their work and their products for preemies; and so I will love to work with them.

#WinterABC