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

Winter ABC Challenge Day 9||Social Media Accounts I Love.

Before I became a mother, I used to follow so many beauty pages mainly because I have a side business in makeup artistry. I still do, but something else has taken over that spot of being number one priority since September 2018.

The birth of my daughter also gave birth to my foundation; Friends of NICU . She was born preterm and had to spend time at the NICU. After my NICU journey/experience my priorities changed. A foundation was created to support NICU’s in my country Ghana. We also raise awareness about premature birth and challenges. We have also been a supporter to others who are going through a similar experience.

As a result I looked out for similar pages in other parts of the world doing the same work as I am doing in Ghana. Pages with focus on raising awareness on Prematurity and NICU experiences worldwide. They are also parents who have experienced the same thing I had gone through as a Preemie Mom.

The following are just a few of such pages;

1) NICU Cheer

2) Our Little Preemie

3). PreemieHood

I know priorities change as we age; but my new found passion of raising awareness on premature birth and being a support system for others is here to stay.

#WinterABC

Winter ABC Challenge Day 8||A word To African Content Creators.

Ever heard the saying “the Pen is mightier than the sword?” Yes, it is. Allow me to add my own twist; now the computer is as powerful too. In the age that we find ourselves, digital media seem to be competing with traditional media.

This makes digital media just as powerful as the pen. Whatever is put out there must be well thought through. Therefore, before you hit the “Send” button ask yourself if whatever information you are sharing is authentic. Ask yourself if you can defend it till the end. Ask yourself the intended purpose. Ask yourself if it is of any benefit to anyone either than yourself. Ask yourself if it’s a good enough material that is worth sharing.

I have seen people in the past make some wild allegations against others; only to retract and apologize later. Mostly the harm caused by such publications are irreversible. An apology doesn’t always fix things.

With the power of technology, everything that is posted online is never lost even if it is pulled down.

So to my fellow Africans, do not be in a hurry to be the first with the news. But be concerned with verification and the accuracy of whatever we share

Let us not hide behind our computer screens and create chaos; remember that is also as powerful as the pen if not more powerful.

#AfroBloggers

#WinterABC Challenge

Winter ABC Challenge Day 7|| Shout Out To All Ghanaian Bloggers .

Some time back I joined a group of Female Bloggers in Ghana on Facebook . But I cannot remember the last time I was on that page. This is a reminder for me to look out for more Bloggers from home.

Today’s topic has opened my eyes to the fact that I do not know and follow a lot of Ghanaian Blogs. However I have quiet a number of African Bloggers that I follow and love. I met some of them last year through the Winter ABC Challenge.

Here are two bloggers who l look forward to receiving notifications from every time .

1) Joseyphina : I have always admired her writing. She is so consistent when it comes to blogging. I get at least one notification a day from her. I also enjoy reading her blog.

2) Everything Marriage: This Blog is mainly about relationships and marriage. I love the freshness it brings to the table with how he articulates his opinion .

To all the Ghanaian Bloggers out there, you are doing amazing. Let’s connect.

#WinterABC Challenge

Winter ABC Challenge Day 6 ||Things Social Media Has Taught Me.

Social media has currently become part of our everyday lives. It has come to stay for that matter. More often than not, there are always double sides to everything. Just like drugs that are supposed to cure a particular illness can still open people up to negative side effects. Social media is that guy. Depending on how you use it, it can be all good but it has negative sides too. Here are some of the things social Media has taught me.

Photo Credit :Google Search

1) Business/advertising : .Through the power of technology it is now very easy to start a business online. Some Social media platforms helps in bringing sellers and buyers together. Advertisement can be run to connect your business to the right customers . Be careful though, not every business on social media is genuine . I had to learn the hard way.

2) Can be addictive: Social media can be addictive. I have learned how to prioritize and make use of my time.

3)Not everything you see on social media is Real: Most people live the fake life on social media. With a lot of photo shop apps, people have perfected how to live a lie. Do not feel pressured to live your life based on what others are doing.

4) When it gets overwhelming, it is ok to take a break .

#WinterABC Challenge

Winter ABC Challenge Day 5|| The Class

Hello everyone, this may not be my first time doing this except that today’s class is going to be a bit different . I will try to keep it as short as possible so that nobody sleeps on me.

As a child, I was not sure what I wanted to do when I was older. I initially wanted to be a pilot but that changed when I couldn’t make peace with the Science subject.

It’s alright to go through life without knowing exactly what you want to do from the word go. Just keep an open mind put yourself in a position ready to grab every opportunity that comes your way.

Remember to live each day of your life like it was your last;strive to be the difference wherever you find yourself. You may not be able to change the entire world but you can change the world around you. It is never too late. Just spread love, the world needs more of that.

Thank you for your attention.

#WinterABC

Winter ABC Challenge Day 4|| A Biographical Piece

Out of the five children born to my mother, I was the only one who was not born in the city. I was born in my village. My grandmother always narrated her reaction when news reached her that her only daughter (my mother) had been taken to the village midwife because she was in labour . At the time my grandmother was returning from the farm; she dumped everything by the roadside and rushed to be by my mother’s side.

Four out of Five – Kwarkye Girls

I remember how my dad used to tell me about me being different and special even though I was not born in a big hospital like the rest of my sisters. Here in most part of Ghana, people are named by the day of the week in which they are born. I was born on Tuesday so automatically my name becomes Abena. (Girl born on Tuesday). I was named after one of my father’s aunts. My dad named me Nana Afriyie Nyamekye Kwarkye.

The name Nana means a queen/king. Afriyie usually refers to someone who was born in great times. Nyamekye also means God’s Gift. And Kwarkye is the family name.

At school going age, i used only Nana Afriyie Kwarkye. Since all these names are unisex in Ghana, my sex was always a subject for debate. At age 8, I asked a friend in class who was also called Abena to teach me how to spell the name. At that point I changed my name to Abena Afriyie Kwarkye without a word to my father.

Looking back, I have come to believe that I have always been the girl who made decisions on her own.

I was born to a very strict father and the most hardworking mother. I don’t remember ever seeing her sick;she was a super woman in my eyes. Now that I’m a mother myself, i realize that she did fall sick but she just couldn’t afford to act sick.

Growing up with an all girls siblings, we did what every family did. We will fight and makeup and life continued. My father made us believe he had a gun, so everyone in the neighborhood knew about it.

Our house was a no boys zone. No boys were welcome in there. That was my dad’s way of protecting us. We learned to do things that the boy child will normally do around the house such as fixing of light bulbs, and the like. My sisters and I were raised with the mindset of “you can do anything you want and gender should not be an excuse”

We always had a garden growing up. I remember how dad will allocate areas to everyone during vacation for us to weed. We did all the jobs that the boy child will normally have done in a typical African setting .That shaped me into becoming an all round person.

After loosing both parents, I moved to Accra, the capital of Ghana after my University education. Here I got a job, got a second degree, found a husband and now I’m a mother.

Do I wish anything was different, absolutely not. Who I’m I to question the work of the potter of my life; Jeremiah 18:6b. Every experience mattered in the making of who I am now.

I do miss my parents. I sometimes wonder how it will feel to grow up with both parents because I never had that.

Most people refer to me as a woman of many trades . I have a regular 9am to 5pm job with a Swedish Heavy Duty Vehicle manufacturer in charge of Workshop Standards and Service Contracts. I’m an entrepreneur, a founder of an NGO; Friends Of NICU. A happy wife and a happy mother.

The road to becoming who I am currently has not been smooth sailing. Tears have been shed , great laughter moments have evolved, beautiful memories made and a lot of lessons learned. I will have it no other way.

I respond to the name Mrs. Nana Abena Afriyie Kwarkye Gyang.

#WinterABC Challenge