Breastfeeding twins: Does double feeding means double trouble?

When I was expecting Jabali, I needed a support group. A friend recommended Pregnant Mom Support Group then one day as I was going through the posts; I stumbled into a post asking all those whose EDD is May/June 2015 to drop their numbers so that they can be added into a Whatup group.

‘Brilliant’ I thought to myself. And without wasting more time, 0720 97…3 was dropped.

‘Welcome Lourdes, how many weeks are you? When is your EDD?’ said the ever warm admin called Tancredi (Tan) whose words became the group’s signature welcoming statement.

A slasher here and a tarimbo there left the group with 37 awesome diamonds. Close knit friends who were brought together by social media and equalized by pregnancy and motherhood. We fight, we resolve, we laugh together, cry together and give each other both virtual and real hugsT…it is such a beautiful story that needs to be told in a separate post I promise I will.

 

MUMS AND BABIES

 

Awesome Diamonds

 

 

Long story short, I came to learn that Sandy is also the admin of the group. Sandy is our big sister. She will answer your distress call at 2am. She cools the temperature when emotions and hormones speedometer is reading ‘very high’. She is a special and strong mother of Twins- Zuri and Zuriel (say aaaw!) Please hold you glasses of champagne and let’s toss as Sandy shares her experience breastfeeding twins. Please enjoy the read!

From the time I found out I was pregnant for the third time, I instinctively tuned my mind to breastfeed exclusively for six months as I had done before with my older children and continue thereafter until when they were at least 2 yrs old. Being a third time mum this sounded easy because I had done it 2 times before. Uncle Google & all the support groups on social media were also a click away.

Come the day for my first ultrasound scan at 8 weeks ahem!!! The sonographer first asked me how many children I had and I said 2. Then she said it casually more of a joke “mama prepare for twins” and I asked her my eyes popping “really?” she answered “we aren’t even started yet.” She asked me again “What would you do if you found out you are carrying more than one baby?” I told her jokingly “who am I to do anything if God saw it fit to double or triple bless me?” She looked at me as this strong & courageous woman, not minding raising more than three children; I wish she knew how inside I was busy telling God to please let it be a singleton lol.

 

Zuriel and Zuri

 

Zuriel and Zuri at one

 

 

God must have been looking at me smiling saying “huyu mama yuko na jokes” as one of my friends would say. She then dropped the bomb on me this time for real “then prepare for 2 more because I can see two heartbeats” I didn’t know how to react, I just stared at her with mixed emotions our earlier conversation playing in my head. When I found words I asked her if she was sure and she turned the monitoring screen towards me carefully monitoring my facial reactions & voice to try & pick what I was thinking. From the moment I saw the tiny movements of heartbeats on the ultrasound screen I fell even more in love with my soon to be bundles of joy. I finally felt so strong & told myself “with God on my side I can do this” I swore to do anything within my capability to take good care of the pregnancy & soon babies. It took my husband a few days to wrap his head around this and accept that God had indeed given us a double blessing.

Sandy

Funny thing I had never been anywhere near newborn multiples. I had to learn about raising multiples from scratch. I was lucky to find a group by the name ‘Multiple Blessings’ and the ‘Multiples to Multiples Society’ both founded by the awesome Dr. Elizabeth Wala, who herself is a mother of triplets. Here I found parents and guardians of multiples from twins to quadruples, you name it.

I drew a lot of strength from this group, knowing that I wasn’t alone in this walk. It was the only place where I could get answers to questions only a parent of multiples understood. It is here where I learnt it is possible to exclusively breastfeed multiples for the first six months just as you’d do singletons but with increased dedication and extra work.

I became more determined than ever to exclusively breastfeed because I believed it was doable. The preparations began, I bought almost all the necessary accessories for breastfeeding, from a breast pump to feeding bottles, twin breastfeeding pillow to nursing bras you name it! I also watched, read & asked questions in tandem with nursing on YouTube, web pages & social media support groups for multiple parents.

 

Young Zuri and Zuriel

 

Zuriel and Zuri at birth

 

 

The day finally came I finally met my munchkins at 38 weeks. They were tiny and delicate, weighing 2.2kgs and 2.4kgs respectively. That weight to multiple parents is a big blessing because the babies will not need to be in the neonatal intensive care unit not unless there are other complications and this also means shortened hospital stay.

I knew breastfeeding was the first sure way to boost their immunity & help them gain weight. I was lucky I had milk trickling within few hours of giving birth. As soon as I was fully awake and completely recovered from anesthesia since I had a cesarean section, my babies were brought for our first meeting. Aaaaaw it felt so beautiful bonding for the first time outside the womb, and what more could we cement the bond with other than breast milk?

At first I found it difficult latching both of them together and maintain a good posture owing to pain on the CS incision. I developed sore nipples but luckily the obstetrician /gynecologist & pediatrician I was under came to my aid. They were both so determined to see me breastfeed and did everything they could to make sure I nursed correctly.

Never in my life had I seen any man teach someone how to nurse because naturally, nursing is a female affair but ah ah! Dr.Odawa did it so well God bless him; Dr. Mirriam Karanja was of great help too. On our second day in hospital the twins were found to have jaundice. They were put under phototherapy treatment and I was encouraged by the pediatrician to breastfeed them more, to increase their bowel movement which helps secrete the buildup of bilirubin. I did this diligently amidst fatigue.

We got discharged from hospital after 7 days and now it was time to face the real world. During the first few days, the babies were constantly hungry and it seemed like all we did all day was breastfeeding and pumping. I couldn’t keep a nursing schedule and this became very frustrating, I was almost going into depression but I am grateful for my husband’s support. I learnt to stop having unrealistic expectations of things because there is no guarantee that whatever I read or experiences shared with me must match 100%. I learnt to eat right and keep myself hydrated, accept whatever amount of help from relatives and friends which in turn allowed me to have more physical and mental rest which is crucial in milk production and live each day at a time.

 

Sandy and the Twns having a good time

 

Sandy and the twins having a good time

 

 

Though I did not manage to exclusively breastfeed for six months because of health issues we still breastfeed even after weaning. We are 16 months old now and breastfeed on demand.

Double feeding does not necessarily mean double feeding trouble. With the right attitude, determination and sacrifice I believe exclusive breastfeeding of multiples is manageable and achievable.

 

Sandy's children

 

Sandy’s Children: Nicole, Zuriel, Jaeda and Zuri

 

 

Thanks Sandy for sharing your story.

7 Golden Truths about Breast Milk

 

MILK STORAGE 2

Frozen breast Milk- an intelligent idea!

 

The term ‘liquid gold’ is very common to breastfeeding mums. I guess most mums especially those active on social media have used that term at some point…I used it a lot when Jabali was younger and when I was so determined to exclusively breastfeed him. I jealously guarded my liquid gold that I didn’t want even a drop to go to waste. Blackouts literary gave me malaria especially thinking that my liquid gold will thwart and therefore rubbish all my pumping effort. There was, this time, I had said should the blackout go for more than five hours, I would carry Jabali and go cry at the KPLC’s boss office- those were postpartum hormones talking hahaha!

So in my reading escapades yesterday, I came across a blog post by World Vision and that term was used. Nostalgia is an understatement- I guess I am already missing breastfeeding a newborn- anyway, let Jabali have his field day until 24 months then I will see how it goes (Wahala!!).

Back to the blog post by World Vision, the headline was the same as that on this post ‘7 Golden Truths about Breast Milk’ and the information therein was simple yet mind blowing. I have copy pasted the post as it was please have a read:

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, 2016. It’s designed by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide. 

As global citizens, we want to applaud mums who breastfeed. They are paving a way for healthy futures.

Did you know breast milk is considered liquid gold for babies? Exclusive breastfeeding provides all the water, nutrition and immunology a baby needs. Not only is breastfeeding good for the baby, but it’s good for mum too! In honour of Breastfeeding week, ready learn more about breastfeeding? Here are 7 Golden Truths about Breast Milk:

  1. Breast milk is free and universally available, even in very resource-constrained settings.
  2. Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3-month-old is different than for a 9-month-old).  Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration.
  3. Breast milk contains endorphins which soothe and calm babies during times of stress.
  4. Breastfed children have at least six times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children.
  5. Breast milk is filled with disease fighting bacteria that keep baby’s digestive systems functioning properly.
  6. It is safer, easier and less expensive to give the mother more food than to expose the baby to risks associated with breast milk substitutes.
  7. In the long term, breastfeeding reduces type 2 diabetes and cancers like breast, uterine and ovarian for the mother.

Mind blowing, right? It’s no wonder why this Liquid Goal is crucial for a child’s nutritional development in the first 1,000 Days of life and is key in making a #HungerFree world possible.

MILK STORAGE

I hope you enjoyed these golden truths as much as I did.

#BreastfeedForHealthyFuture

#Worldbreasfeedingweek

 

Easy? I wish I knew how easy: A first-time mum breastfeeding chronicle

Reading about breastfeeding is one thing. Doing it on your own is something else. To be true to myself and to you my reader, breastfeeding can be challenging but the benefits of it override the challenges. In the spirit of marking the World Breastfeeding Week, I asked Roselyne aka Mama Tamara to share her breastfeeding experience and challenge as a first-time mum. What melts my heart is that she hacked exclusive breastfeeding regardless. Please read on…

 

 

roselyne and Allan

Roselyne and her husband Allan

 

Right after six hours of intense labour, she joined my world. I have never been this blown away in my life!. She couldn’t hide the excitement either, I saw her trying to open her gorgeous eyes to get a glance of me and that of the world. She then started licking her tiny lips as if thinking of something. Me being me, the lip licking reminded me of her father, Lord have mercy!. ‘Well, baby needs a feed’ the midwife said as if reading my mind. ‘ooh that’s easy’ I thought.

 

tamara 2

Little Tamara- I love her eyes!

 

 

I held her but somehow her tiny self could not reach out to the breast and neither could her mother’s ‘tiny’ brain figure out how this would happen. Just then my mother walked in, ‘mum how do I do this?’ I asked already frustrated. ‘First calm down, relax and be comfortable. She put a pillow to support my back, showed me how to hold the baby and bingo the tiny us were all good or so we thought.

Wait a minute, ‘what is that pain?’ I thought. ‘mum am I in labor again?’ I asked rather scared than concerned. She called a nurse who assured me that it was the uterus going back in place hence the contractions, ‘what has my breast got to do with my uterus?’ I murmured and the nurse thought that was hilarious, wow! This woman should learn to take women with contractions seriously! I thought. So here I am baby suckling but no milk. I could not figure out how my baby would survive, my baby depended on my breasts and not only breasts but milk in my breasts. The nurses then made it their job to press my breasts like their end month pay cheques depended on it, the pain!.They only squeezed out little amount of water and the nurse assured me that that was enough for her, I did not believe her.

 

roselne and her daughter Tamara

Roselyne and her daughter Tamara

 

I started taking hot drinks one mug after the other but milk was not happening. All I had to show for the many mugs was a bursting bladder and never mind an episiotomy. It was frustrating. ‘Did you ring your bell?’, ‘yes I did’, I think the baby is hungry please pick her and give her formula’. She picked her with a concerned look on. I prayed to God once we got home and asked Him for milk, it did not take long, I could hear my baby gulping. I was so happy.

After a few days home my breasts were in pain, they were all red with engorgement. The nipples had cracked and breast feeding was a nightmare. I remember one night baby could not stop crying, she was hungry but I could not withstand the pain, I cried with her but finally closed my eyes and endured the pain. I had had enough of it.

All through my pregnancy journey, I walked with a group of amazing women whom we met on Facebook. I talked to them about my predicament and one of them came to my house for a little mother training which helped a great deal. She felt my pain, we used hot water to ‘burn’ the breasts which eased the engorgement slightly. I had a baby but I did not know how to breast feed her, she was asleep then and she used a teddy bear for demo. ‘Make sure you support your back to avoid back pains’, ‘at all times let the baby’s stomach and yours lock’, ’make sure the baby’s neck is well supported’ she went on. I was so keen, you should have thought it was a PHD class but I needed this badly. She then advised on the things that would make it easier, a breastfeeding pillow, nipple cream, breast pump and feeding bottles. After the session, my husband bought what we needed and all my problems were gone! We breastfed exclusively for six months and it was a wonderful journey. I am glad I asked for help. God bless you Brenda Asiko.

 

Tamara

Tamara at one

 

Breast feeding is an art. Looks simple but once done wrongly it brings with it complications. The nurses, midwifes, doctors and older mothers should take time to teach first time mothers the art of breastfeeding. My thinking was ‘nipple in the mouth, milk, baby full, sleep. The shock I got! We still breastfeed up to date, we are 14 months and it is our all-time favorite. We now can breastfeed however and we wake up ten times every night for ‘nyonyo’. When mum ignores, ’I know where to get it’. You really don’t know easy until you make it easy.

I celebrate all breastfeeding mothers, Keep up the great work!

Thanks Roselyne for sharing your story. I celebrate you for exclusively breastfeeding Tamara despite the challenges on the runway. Thanks Brenda Asiko for always being there for the first time mums and all the mums under the 37 Diamonds umbrella please know we all appreciate you.

It is World Breastfeeding Week!

This is my favourite week! I am so excited! Not because it is payday and therefore my purchasing muscles have been empowered; well am excited about that too but what excites me more is because it is World Breastfeeding Week. As a maternal, newborn and children health advocate, I will have an opportunity of speaking and writing in depth and breadth matters breastfeeding and thus increase awareness of breastfeeding and its related benefits to the baby, the mother and the country in general.

JABALI

 

Lil Jabali enjoying his feed

 

I naturally love breastfeeding especially when my Jabali looks straight into my eyes partially smiling as he suckles. Jabali is 15 months and loves ‘nyonyo’ so much and acknowledges it is his right to breastfeed. I love this boy because immediately I enter the house, he will run to me, give me a tight hug and say ‘mama, titi’ aaaaaw! He cries when I delay him because as a rule, I must wash my hands and my breasts before we get into that serious business. For the records, I intend to continue breastfeeding him until he is 24 months so, 9 more months to go!
The experience of breastfeeding is special for a woman for so many reasons for example:

  • The joyful closeness and bonding with your baby
  • The specific and special nutrition only you can provide for your baby
  • The cost savings since it is FREE
  • You miss less work because breastfed babies are sick fewer timesLOGO

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week will run from 1st through to 7th August with the theme Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development. This theme is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share.

This year, the focus is on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Governments around the world have agreed to achieve by 2030.The SDGs aspire to tackle the root causes of poverty and offer a vision of development that works for all people, everywhere.
Objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2016

  • To inform people about the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they relate to breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)
  • To firmly anchor breastfeeding as a key component of sustainable development
  • To galvanise a variety of actions at all levels on breastfeeding and IYCF in the new era of the SDGs
  • To engage and collaborate with a wider range of actors around promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding

Tomorrow, I will share with you individual links between each of SDG with Breastfeeding. Ensure you Click, read, share and follow this blog lourdesdiary.wordpress.com for more insights on matters breastfeeding and maternal health in general.
Remember, breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s healthy development; it is also the foundation of a country’s development…Support it!!!!

War elevates maternal and children mortality rates

That war negatively affects maternal and children health and reproductive health in general is not news; it is true and real. Simply put, war and improved maternal and children health is mutually exclusive!!!!

Displacement

A woman fleeing from war in Sudan

I have tried to bury my head from the looming war in South Sudan but I am unable. There was photo that made rounds on whats up and other social media platforms last week of South Sudanese children praying for peace in their motherland. The children were in tears. My heart broke in to 1001 pieces. I felt sorry for these children. My question is: why are our leaders selfish? Why aren’t they at least compassionate for children and women?

Let me give you a brief background so that at least we are on the same wavelength. A fresh wave of violence erupted in Juba on 8th July just one day before the country’s five-year anniversary of independence. The clashes killed more than 300 people over the course of a few days. By now, you must have seen some of the Kenyans returning home from Sudan- that is the effect of this fresh war.

Since the conflict began, it has been observed that 1 in 5 people in South Sudan have been displaced. More than 2.3 million citizens have been forced to flee their homes. Just over 720,000 people have escaped to neighboring countries in search of safety, but most are trapped inside the warring nation.

It may be a battle of supremacy to the leaders involved but to women and children, it means termination of destinies. What do I mean? Where there is war or violence, maternal and children mortality is high. It is no wonder countries like Somalia and DR Congo were named the worst countries to be a mother; at position 179 and 178 respectively according to Save the Children’s 2015 Mothers’ Index. What is common between these two countries is the presence of war.

According to World Health Organization, Somalia’s health indicators continue to be some of the worst in the world. More than 350 000 Somalis are refugees and a further 400 000 are internally displaced- displacement alone may impede a woman’s access to a health facility.

Syria is another good example of what war can do. Before the civil war, 96% of mothers in Syria gave birth with the help of trained medical assistant but 3 years of civil war caused hospitals and routine health care to collapse and medical services for women almost nonexistent.

Although fighting affects nearly the entire country, the truth is it affects women and children the most.

Where there is war, deteriorating impact on health infrastructure is expected to increase the relative risk that women die from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

south-sudan-mother and her twins...

A Sudanese woman with her newborn twins- photo courtesy of ICRC

Violence, displacement and killings during conflict means non-existent healthcare system meaning women who are delivering are not delivering into safe hands. As people are displaced, health workers are displaced too meaning health facilities remain closed. Lack of manpower, lack of hospitals and clinics and lack of roads creates delays in getting help. In obstetrics and maternal health, any delay may mean death of the mother, the baby or both!

To the two factions of South Sudan government: who will you lead if people continue to die and get displaced? Remember a successful leader is the one who leads a healthy peaceful nation and what makes a healthy nation is healthy babies plus healthy mothers…kazi kwenu!!!!!

 

 

Fare thee well Natalie…

Winnie and Vincent by the graveside

Vincent, Winnie and a relative by the graveside

Being a mum and a maternal, newborn and children health advocate has made me celebrate even the tiniest milestones in friends, relatives and even strangers’ pregnancies and child (ren) development. It is no wonder I gladly answer to calls to grace first birthday parties which, to me, are a celebration for making it through the first year of colic, burping, cries and fevers that come with jabs, stress that comes with weaning and the rambunctiousness that comes with crawling and first steps.

Most Saturdays of May and June have been spent singing birthday songs and sampling different flavours and shapes of birthday cakes all of which always remind me of God’s faithfulness, love and fulfillment of His promises towards these future voters.

Jabali’s first birthday was registered as well- We invited friends and families to celebrate with us. It was a small intimate affair with family and friends, more for the memories to show him when he’s older how much he meant to us and meant to so many people that were there to celebrate his big day.

The first week of July, 2nd July to be precise was not going to be any different for Natalie Mwende, the first and only child to my colleague Winnie Makau and her husband Vincent Makau. Natalie had clocked exactly one year and she was to blow her first birthday candle. But no, it never happened because baby Natalie fell ill on 30th June and had to be taken to Machakos level 5 hospital on 2nd July and she was admitted.

 

Lat days of Natalie in Hospital

Last days of Natalie in hospital

On 3rd July at exactly 7.30am, Natalie passed on having lived in this world for just one year, one day; she never lived to see her 5th birthday. Reports indicate that about 108,000 children die annually in Kenya before their fifth birthday with 65 per cent of them dying before they celebrate their first birthday.

So on Tuesday, 12th July 2016 we went to bury the bubbly Natalie in Katangi, Machakos County. It was a befitting yet painful send off with so many attendances from within and without. It was a weekday but her aunties, uncles, cousins, neighbours, and even politicians all came to give her a warm send off on that cold Tuesday.

Inside the grave

Natalie in her final resting place

Anytime I looked at her small pure white casket, my heart ached so badly. I may not have interacted so much with Natalie but Winnie and I were expectant almost the same time. Pregnant mamas are always buddies; they have a way of clicking with each other I think because they see themselves through the same lens as far as pregnancy experience is concern. Even after babies come, we still share the same experience- motherhood and the challenges that come with it. The news of Natalie’s demise saddened me. I imagined my Jabali and how he has occupied the greatest part of my life and tears just kept flowing freely because to be honest, I cannot envision life without my kababa.

My mind kept flash-backing on the many one-year-olds’ birthday parties I have attended in the past 2 months. The birthday celebrations were filled with so much joy and laughter. I was almost tempted to ask why Natalie? Why on her birthday? But again found refuge in my bible which says in Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The bubbly Natalie

The bubbly Natalie

Natalie was a baby, a cute bubbly angel of God who was blameless and sinless. I know she is resting in a better place, a place of milk and honey; a place where she will praise God with the other angles.

Winnie and Vincent by the graveside
Winnie and Vincent, It was evidently so painful for a mother to bury her daughter and even more painful for a father to see the little casket carrying the remains of her daughter, probably the bearer of her mother’s name being lowered to the grave. Dear ones, Be encouraged with Psalm 34:18 which says: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

The presiding priest

The burial rites Presiding Priest

I conclude with words from one of Natalie’s grandfathers in his speech ‘Life is pleasant, death is peaceful, it is only the transition that matters’

Fare thee well Natalie, there is no doubt your parents really loved you…

‘Seek help’ advises Fifty-seven year old Grace Kambini who battled infertility

Many couples struggle with infertility and though infertility is not always a woman’s problem, it is often thought of as only a women’s condition. The African society places passionate premium on procreation in any family setting. The woman’s place in marriage remains precarious till confirmed through child bearing. In the society, a woman has to prove her womanhood through motherhood. The man also has to confirm his manhood in same fashion.
As a woman battling infertility, what should you do amid societal stigmatization? Today, Merck more than a Mother shares part one of Grace Kambini’s story of infertility. Her advice, ‘seek help’! Please read on and stay put for part two of her story.

 

Grace 1

“I ask myself every day – ‘Who I am in this world? Is this the life I was meant to live?’ there is no one to love or help me” – Grace Kambini.

Fifty-seven year old Grace Kambini popularly known as Mama Chips says she got married out of societal expectations, whereby women are expected to get married to earn respect from their communities.
After nine years in her marriage, she realized that she could not give birth. Both her husband and his relatives started abusing and insulting Grace.
The abuse and insults extended to her home where she was tortured and frequently denied food for weeks at a time. Her husband did not care about her woes.

 

“I remember asking my husband, how long I will continue to live this misery. He replied -You refuse to leave my house as if your parents are dead, if they are dead you should ask them to open their grave so you may join them. You are of no use to me-. Every time I remember his insult or talk about it, I feel faint and out of breath. Due to the stress I endured I suffered hypertension and Diabetes, now my life is about injecting insulin day and night.” Grace said crying.

She had nowhere to go. Unfortunately, Grace has no living relatives on her mother’s side and her in-laws did not seem to care about her suffering. At one point, Grace’s husband even asked her to go back to her late parent’s home and wake them from their graves so they can accommodate her.

 

Grace says that she did not have money but she soldiered on. There was a point in her marriage where she missed her periods for a month. The following month she started bleeding excessively instead of getting her period. She was also vomiting profusely.
She decided to seek medical advice to find out what was wrong with her. The doctor advised her to go for an operation since she was pregnant and the fetus was developing in her fallopian tubes instead of the uterus.
Her husband of ten years has divorced her and she started living alone with no one to support or advise her. Life became harder with each passing day.
“I still ask myself “Who I am in this world? Is this the life I was meant to live?” There is no one to love or help me; I have nowhere to go when I travel to the village my brothers’ wives constantly insult me”. She described her desperate situation.

Grace at her vegetable stand

Grace at her vegetable stand

She started her own small business selling chips by the roadside to help sustain her – hence the nickname “Mama Chips”.
Grace advises young couples to visit hospitals regularly and seek solutions as a couple saying, “If I was younger with the knowledge that I have now, I would have explored better fertility options to better my life, but now I am too old”.

 

About Merck more than a Mother campaign

“Merck more than a Mother” campaign seeks to reduce the stigmatization and social suffering of infertile women in Africa.

“The “Merck more than a Mother” campaign launched the “Empowering Berna” initiative at the recently concluded CSW60, and it aims to empower underprivileged infertile women who have past the stage of receiving treatment. The initiative helps them establish their own small business and build their own independent lives.” Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.

Stay tuned to see what happened to Grace after Meeting “Merck More than a Mother” and how “Empowering Berna” project has changed her life. If you would like to share your story, please contact mystory@merckmorethanamother.com.

Let your voice be heard and Join the conversation on social media:

Twitter: @MerckandMothers

Facebook: Merck more than a Mother

Youtube: Merck more than a Mother

Website: www.merckmorethanamother.com

For more information about infertility, please read here.

Thanks for taking your time to visit my blog.

‘I checked in to deliver, but checked out empty handed’. Here is Mama Amara’s story of loss.

A story of a loss of a child or a mother during or shortly after birth always sinks my heart and breaks it into a thousand and one pieces. These stories propel me to advocate for maternal and children health with every fibre of my being because I know the pain too well. I wrote about my story Here . You can also access the story Here as published by the Daily Nation.

Sad man
As a parent, you’ll never really “get over” the loss of your baby- gestation period notwithstanding-. But with time, you will learn to live without his or her physical presence and, eventually, integrate your loss into your life’s experience.

looking sad image
Since sharing is a process of healing, I will be posting stories from women and men who have gone through a loss or losses. It is my hope that by these women and men sharing their stories in their own words, it will help them cope with loss and also encourage those in the phase of disbelief or pain following a loss. Above all, I believe it will activate their quest to stand up for maternal and children health in their individual capacities.

 
Today, Mama Amara shares her story of loss…Please read on.

 
Sunday, 27th March, 2016. That is a day that will forever be etched in my memory. I remember waking up at around 7a.m. with some on and off cramps. I was 36 weeks pregnant but being a first timer, I only knew as much as I had read on Google and other websites so I knew that the baby was well within her time since my estimated due date was 20th April, 2016.

 

I got to the hospital just in time as my water broke. The pains had escalated and had it not been for my mum who was rubbing my lower back, I would have lost my sanity. My doctor met us at the emergency entrance of the hospital and rushed us to the maternity ward. I had not realized I was bleeding till he questioned me when it had begun. I was in too much pain to capture the urgency in his voice as he rushed the nurses to assist him.

 
At first I thought I had imagined the doctor’s words. There was no way he would say such things. Was it a test? Was that what doctors told women who were in labour to help them cope with the physical pain?
‘Mum, we need you to be strong. We will induce you to remove the baby but we need you to help us here.’ The doctor’s voice sounded so distant and far away. I didn’t want to hear him anymore. He had already passed my death sentence several seconds earlier when he said the dreaded words, ‘We can’t find the baby’s heartbeat.’

 

The pain of his words made my physical pain worse; as if someone was slowly breaking my bones one by one yet the tears would not come out. I swore under my breath as another pain rocked me into a dizzy spell.

 

Everything had happened too fast for me to comprehend and I just hoped the doctor would come back and say that they had initially not checked properly or that the ultrasound equipment they had used was faulty…I wanted an assurance that my baby was very OK.

 
I bit my lower lip as a pain management tactic. No, I would not cry. Tears would mean I believed his words… Something I didn’t want to.

 
The nurse that came to hook me on the labour induction drip kept telling me how strong I was and how much I needed to remain so. Was I really strong? What was strength in the face of all that was happening? What was the need of going through all the pain with no baby to take home with me?

 

It was the longest period of pain I will forever remember. Pain that I could not stop, a hundred times worse because I knew I was not only fighting for my life but I had lost another precious life. I had lost her.

 
‘Mum, we need you to help us help you. Right now your blood pressure is very high. I cannot take you for surgery because of your unstable pressure so just remain strong and bear the pain. It will soon be over. We are here for you.’

 

The doctor’s words no longer made sense for me. I had already lost the most important battle and I just wanted to rest.

 
Nothing had prepared me for this. No one had even hinted at it… It had always been positive messages. So how was I going to handle this? How was I going through labour like a normal mother but only to birth a dead baby?

 

Till date I think had I not been in that intense physical pain, I would have gone crazy. No one prepares you for a loss. Not even my own body knew how to deal with that level of pain so it shut down.

 
Between the time the labour peaked and my being taken to the birthing room, I was in a bubble of emotions. Anger at everyone and everything, anger at God for letting it happen; guilt for not being able to save my little girl; embarrassment for what I thought was a failure as a mother and the one feeling that at that moment I didn’t know would plague me for a long time, Loneliness.

 

I felt alone. Ironically, I had had my mum with me the whole time. She had been with me right from the onset of the labour and had not left my side at any point. Yet I felt like I was completely alone. It would take weeks before I finally understood why I felt that much intense loneliness.

 
‘Mum, we need you to remain strong for your baby. This is the one thing you can do for her.’ The nurse kept telling me as I was taken through the birthing process. After the first push, my will gave in and I felt my whole being giving up. What was the use of it all? My whole system was shutting down. The doctor and the nurses kept urging me on but I just couldn’t. I was not ready to let her go. She had been a part of me for 9 months. My little Princess.

 

‘She is losing blood fast.’ I heard the nurse say.

My energy level was very low and I was not sure if I would be able to push during the ensuing contractions. What was I going to tell him? What was I going to tell the one person who was so much a part of everything happening in that hospital room yet so physically far away? What was I going to tell the father to my little girl? My last message to him had been ‘I guess it is time, serious pain.’

 

I could feel the fear taking over and I was ready to slide into the relaxing warmth that had begun covering me.

‘Get her some glucose syrup.’ The doctor ordered.
‘Mum, you need to listen to your body during the next contractions… ‘The voice faded as the pain took over.

They had said I needed to be strong. I started saying her name over and over again in my mind. Amara… Amara… Amara. In less than five minutes she was out. My little Princess came as an angel and I knew I would never be the same again. I was a childless mother.

 
Between the time we arrived at the emergency and I began bleeding to getting me to the maternity unit, a little less than 3 minutes, she was already gone. It happened so fast that it was only a week later during my doctor’s appointment did I finally understand what had happened. I had High Blood Pressure which led to a placental abruption.

 
I look back at that day’s happenings and I can’t stop wondering what I should have done differently. My baby was laid to rest but in me I still seek that peace of mind. Through a very strong support system of my partner, close and extended family, friends and support groups, I am trying to pick up the pieces and even seek counseling.

 
Amara, the whole family misses you. Daddy still calls you his little girl and your big sister always asks when you are coming home. You will always be in our hearts, always.

 
Rest our little angel, till we meet again.

rest in peace son
Thank you for sharing your story Mama Amara…May God give you peace and make things beautiful for you. May your lil princess, baby Amara Serem rest with the angels.

About Placental Abruption (Source, baby center)

placenta abruption
A placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta partially or completely separates from your uterus before your baby’s born.

The condition can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients, and cause severe bleeding that can be dangerous to mother and baby. A placental abruption also increases the risk that your baby will have growth problems (if the abruption is small and goes unnoticed), be born prematurely or be stillborn.

 
Placental abruption happens in about one in 150 pregnancies. It’s most common in the third trimester but can happen any time after 20 weeks.

 
In most cases, you’ll have some vaginal bleeding, ranging from a small amount to an obvious and sudden gush. Sometimes, though, the blood stays in the uterus behind the placenta, so you might not see any bleeding at all.

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these signs:
• Vaginal bleeding or spotting, or if your water breaks and the fluid is bloody
• Cramping, uterine tenderness, abdominal pain, or back pain
• Frequent contractions or a contraction that doesn’t end
• Your baby isn’t moving as much as before

Do you want to share your story? reach me on lourdeswalusala@yahoo.com OR 0720 972 893

MY JABALI IS ONE!!!!!!!!

PG ALONE COLOURED

My Rainbow baby, my little piece of heaven, my perfect piece of art from God Himself is finally one today!!!! Why should I keep calm? Why shouldn’t I raise my voice and sing a joyful and thank you song to God the giver of ALL good things Jabali included??
It was just a minute, just the other at exactly 6.55am on Monday the 18th May 2015, I gave birth to Jabali via CS…I look at my CS wound and smile, Oooh! What a badge of honour! A badge that reminds me the price I had to pay to have him, a priceless gift that came to wipe away my tears and bring the best side of me a side I never ever knew existed till Jabali happened.

young jabali

Jabali at 2 days old

Jabali is just perfect, even with the sleepless nights due to his love for nyonyo, he is still perfect….
Even with his biting when am not paying attention, my Kababa is just perfect…
Even when he insists of calling daaaad!…daddy! baba! baaaaaaa! When he should be alternating between calling Daaad! and Maaam! kababa is just perfect…
Even when he hides keys especially daddy’s car keys and throws books from the book shelf, and katata newspapers in an effort to read them, Jabali is just perfect…..

And after 12 months in the minor leagues my Jabali has finally hit the big ONE! Hold your glasses of Champagne and let’s toss to happy birthday!

NOV JABALI 2
Dear Lord, there is no way you can miss in this tribute. You and I know us very well and that is why I thank you for Jabali, your beloved child. Thank you father for the gift of his young life and thank you for his life in old age.
JABALI, May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May His face shine upon you;
May you receive unmeasured bounty of God’s Grace;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace;
May wickedness or evil never come even 1 centimeter near you my boy;
Son may you be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Prince Jabali
Dear son, today you are only one but I know you will have so many other birthdays to celebrate. You may not read this now, you may not even understand for now but I want to post it online because I know internet never forgets. Baba, when you feel that life is giving you such a hard time, just come to me and I will give you a tight hug. I promise to protect you and fight your battles even in my death. No matter how old you will become, for me, you will always be my little boy!

PG AND BABES BLACK AND WHITE
Today, Daddy and I promise you unending love, undivided attention, eternal pampering, everlasting affection and endless care. Stay happy and have a happy birthday my Mighty Jabali!
In the same breathe, I want to wish Jabali’s birthday mates a very happy birthday. Baby Ariana, baby Hansel and Baby Tamara, your mummies and I are buddies. We met when you guys were in our wombs and the friendship has grown and flourished to date…by the way we call ourselves WoJ when you grow up, remind me to tell you the acronym in full lool (Remind me about lool too- I know the phrase will be so outdated by the time you understand things lool) May God favour you dear children. May He cause His light to shine over you. May He order your steps and connect you to your destiny helpers.

MUMS AND BABIES

Girls and Women between 15 and 49 years to receive FREE Tetanus Vaccine from 16th to 22nd May!

From Monday 16th to Tuesday 24th May 2016, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and other partners will conduct a nationwide campaign on Measles and Rubella and a Tetanus campaign in selected counties. Yesterday I wrote about measles rubella campaign. You can read about it Here just in case you missed the post.

As promised yesterday, today my focal point will be Tetanus campaign. Just like Measles and Rubella, Tetanus campaign will also be conducted from 16th to 24th May 2016. The target for this campaign is girls and women of reproductive ages i.e. 15-49 years in Kilifi, Mombasa, Meru, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Narok counties. Vaccination will be provided in all public health facilities in these counties and temporary posts set as immunization facilities. Ensure you visit any immunization posts near you for this life saving vaccine.
Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a toxin produced by bacteria called clostridium tetani which is found worldwide in soil, dust, feacal waste and manure. It is characterized by painful muscle stiffness and results in death if not timely and appropriately treated. Please note that tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.

People get infected when the bacterial spores enter the body through open wounds; multiply and produce toxins that cause tetanus. Although tetanus infects people of all ages, newborn babies are more at risk to tetanus due to the umbilical cord wound and weak immunity.

Maternal and neonatal tetanus is a deadly disease that can occur as a result of unclean baby deliveries or abortions and unhygienic umbilical cord practices like applying cow dung, soil or ashes to the wound and cutting the cord with unclean instruments e.g. dirty razor blades and knives. Neonatal and Maternal Tetanus deaths can be easily prevented through vaccination.

The specific sub counties targeted by this campaign are Rabai, Magharini, Changamwe, Likoni, Meru Central, Tigania East, Lafey, Banisa, Wajir North, Wajir West, Wajir South, Eldas, Dadaab, Hulugho, Marigat, Mogotio, West Pokot, Pokot South, Turkana West, Turkana East, Loima, Samburu North, Transmara East and Transmara West.
Why these specific sub counties?

The Ministry of Health monitors the number of cases of Maternal and Neonatal tetanus occurring in each sub county. Each case of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus is reported to the Ministry of Health and using this information those 24 high risk sub counties were identified and therefore they are targeted for the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus campaign.

Why Does this Campaign Only Target Girls and Women?
Maternal and neonatal tetanus are common fatal consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices. Vaccinating women protects them and their babies from tetanus. When girls and mothers are vaccinated, they pass the immunity to future babies.

Neonatal tetanus is called ‘the silent killer’ because the disease and death occur within the first 28 days of life; most infants suffer and die at home, without ever coming in contact with a health provider. The baby suddenly stops suckling, his/her body becomes stiff and irritable. The stiffness can be so strong that it may break the child’s spine and death follows in most cases.

Tetanus vaccine therefore protects against tetanus when a full dose is taken at specified time intervals. A girl or woman will need a full dose of 5 vaccinations whereas children should get at least three doses of the tetanus vaccine given in combination with other vaccines at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks for maximum protection.

Tetanus vaccine is very safe, however few and mild side effects such as redness and swelling at the injection site, slight pain from the injection and slight fever may occur in rare situations.

Globally in order to eliminate tetanus the following strategies are used:
Routine vaccination of women during ante-natal clinic visits
Vaccination of babies.
Supplemental immunizations that target girls and women of child bearing age and – promotion of more hygienic deliveries and vaccination of babies.
Promotion of hygienic and safe deliveries.

According to the immunization programme administrative data (2015), coverage of Tetanus vaccination in pregnant women stands at 61%. In order to achieve the goal of eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus disease, the country must reach coverage of above 90%. This campaigns aims at increasing this low coverage.

My appeal today is for husbands, parents, guardians, teachers and all members of the public in those sub counties to support this activity and ensure that all girls and women aged 15 to 49 years are vaccinated against Tetanus disease.

#Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby Healthy Nation
#Every Mama and child counts!

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