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Teenage Pregnancy: Not The End Of The World!

General, Pregnancy January 7, 2017

By Sage Nyatsanga
I once came across a picture that said, ‘Dying doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else’. To some extent this is true. Dying was the first thing that came across my mind when I found out I was pregnant. It seemed like the best option at the time, followed by abortion. My train of thought was a very dark and bleak one. To most women pregnancy is much celebrated, to most teenage girls, it is not. It is a sign that something went horribly wrong and the only way to fix this wrong is to play God. But what right do we have to play God? The day I found out I had fallen pregnant everything fell apart, well it seemed like it had fallen apart. All the plans I had made for myself seemed to have fallen down the drain. I did not go through the motions very well. I cried and cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Slowly, I began withdrawing from the world, shutting people out. I felt ashamed of myself, what I had done and what this meant for my family. For the most part, I thought the ‘curse’ had caught up to me. The ‘curse’ was something my best friend and I nicknamed the constant teenage pregnancy syndrome that seemed to plague my line of the family. My great grandmother had her first child at 17, so did my grandmother and mother.

I was troubled and my family began to notice how withdrawn I had become, they started to enquire more about my life and I resorted to lying each time. After a couple of weeks I told my closest aunt about my predicament. She did not take it very well and made sure I knew the repercussions that were headed my way once my mother found out. Like my boyfriend, she was strongly against the idea of abortion. Did I feel proud of myself? Most certainly not. I was forced to come clean, so I did. My mother did not take it well; my father was the total opposite. She took it harder than I thought she would and I felt even more disappointed in myself. The relationship I had with my mother died in an instant. The first thing she asked me was if I had thought about the possibility of dying during labor due to my anemia.

I was certain in that moment she had already killed me in her head.

I felt more like a failure than I ever did in my life and I thought about ending it once again. At some point I even had a conversation with my then boyfriend about suicide, he was not happy. He asked me what I would stand to gain, how the people left behind would feel, if that decision did not feel remotely selfish. He told me that if I succeeded he would hate me and never ever visit my grave. This hurt me extremely because it was coming from someone I deeply cared for, someone I loved. From that day, I shelved all suicidal plans. As time progressed I slowly began accepting the new reality that was playing before me, I was going to become a mother in 2017, a scary and yet exciting prospect once I began to look at it positively.

My life was progressing at an alarmingly fast rate. Before I knew it I was already showing, people were asking about my due date, the baby shower and baby welcome. I felt overwhelmed, even more so when my boyfriend came to pay roora/lobola (bride price) for me. After everything I had said and done to him in my darkest moments, he still wanted to be with me. So, on the 1st of October we were customarily married, which was a step in a positive direction. The steps in my life plans were happening in a haphazard manner and I quickly had to adjust. Eight months into this pregnancy, I am now in a good space. Happily married, rebuilding relations with my mother, planning for the arrival of my baby girl and planning for my upcoming wedding. In all this I have not forsaken my academic studies, difficult as it had become I continued with my program and successfully finished my first year. Dropping out of school was and is never going to be an option, with or without this blessing that has been given to me.

With the coming of this child I am even more determined to do well in life and thrive to be a better person than I had initially intended to be. The main thing I have learnt this year was that if you dip your feet in water they will get wet. Everything has a consequence and that of being sexually active is eventually falling pregnant by chance or by choice. Being a pregnant teenager is not easy. It happens to the best and worst of us. Those who are strong will live with consequences of their actions and those who are weak will play God. Killing someone will rip away a bit of your soul and humanity; you will never be the same person. Killing yourself may end your pain but it will only increase the pain that those left behind were already feeling.

When things get overwhelming for me, I write letters to no one in particular to help me organize my thoughts and express my feelings. I feel so much better afterwards. This helps me distress, though once in a while I talk to an actual human being to get help and advice. The moment I started seeing my unplanned child as a blessing things became easier. Life did not end because I made a couple huge mistakes, it just changed direction and in it doing so I have to come up with ways to get to where we wanted to go initially. I have started learning to maneuver through life as someone responsible for another being and not as a single entity as I did before. My mother always tells me that the pregnancy will not be easy because people will judge you harshly and call you names, but once the baby comes they will be the first to want to hold it. So what’s a hellish nine months compared to a lifetime of memories with your little human?

EDITOR’S NOTE
Thank you for opening up and sharing your story with us. Too many times we fail to bring purpose to the pain we have endured and one way is by helping others in similar positions. Studies done in the US show that more pregnant women died as the result of suicide than as a result of the major causes of death during pregnancy which are hemorrhage/placenta previa, eclampsia/pre-eclampsia, amniotic fluid embolism, infection, substance abuse and poor general health. Teenage pregnancy is still taboo in most parts of Africa especially in Zimbabwe and difficulties in the economy don’t make it any easier on the people involved. childtrends.org reports that about 1 million teenagers fell pregnant in 2011 and that 43% of those pregnancies ended in abortion. That shows a problem with the amount of sexual activity with teens. Again, we do not have any local studies or statistics because abortions are only legal in cases of rape and even the few that come forward to report rape are not a true representation of the number of girls who are raped and fall pregnant. Some choose to keep silent and most ‘take care of it’ quietly.

Someone might say that this is not news and that it’s been going on for years. WELL THAT’S EXACTLY MY POINT! The fact that it’s been going on for years and being swept under the rug means it’s not being dealt with. In 2016 alone I heard of 5 pregnancies that ended in suicide, 3 of which were actual suicide and 2 which were attempted abortions that ended in death of the mother as well. If you are pregnant and this is the last place you want to be no matter what age you are, you are not alone and you will get through this! The fear, the shame, the disappointment, the pain and confusion and everything else you are feeling will go away! Fight for yourself, fight for your baby even if everyone around you turns their backs on you as long as you still have breath in your lungs and strength in your arms, get up and fight! Work hard, save more, spend less, register yourself at a local clinic and see this pregnancy through and if at the end of it you decide you cannot take care of that baby, talk to someone at the clinic about giving them up for adoption. There are families just waiting for the blessing that you’re carrying. Find support, inbox us, talk to someone. You have options! Keep your head up!

Share your experiences with us and share this with someone who needs to read this. Lets raise awareness, lets save lives!

The Boy In The Special Class

General, Parenting November 14, 2016

I attended a government school which was classified as a B school meaning that it was a sought after school by parents from middle to low income families. It was one of the rare cases when an affordable, actually, very affordable school still had good infrastructure and outstanding pass rates. I mean we had a functional swimming pool and a hockey team with sticks and fairly new kits so it was an ok school. I belabor this point and if you continue reading, you’ll understand why.

I started attending this school in grade 3 and on the very first day of school I was told to stay away from the boy in the special class… They said he had been rumored to chase girls into the girls toilet and press himself against them. I didn’t know what that meant at 8 years old but it sounded terrifying so i complied. Only to realise that this rumor was based on a single incident on his first day of school, a few years before I got there, where he mistakenly went into the girls toilet instead of the boys. Needless to say that the story had a pinch of salt added to it as it was retold to each new coming stream over the years.

At break time i saw the older boys form a circle around him. Taunting him till he screamed with frustration and chased them but because he couldn’t run as fast, the boys got away. Jeering and calling him names. This happened on most days until I finished grade 7. They made him the bad guy, the outsider, the laughing stock. Prefects didn’t help him. Teachers didn’t help him! They avoided him like a plague, like he was contagious. I wanted to know why. It just didn’t seem right! I’d also been told to avoid the special class. No-one really knew anything about this boy and his condition so their ignorance increased their fear. Students who shared the same corridor with the special class, would go round the block to get to the other side so as to avoid walking past that classroom. In fact it was a dark and dingy storage room turned classroom right next to the toilets!!!

After asking around I found out that the boy had Down-syndrome and that there were other children with different special needs in his class. I had always thought he was the only only one in the whole school and that was because the others were scared to come out of their classroom. They were afraid to be seen. Afraid to be treated differently and rightfully so! I also found out that there were children of different ages in that same class and this made me ask myself a few questions…

  • Why did the school that could afford to keep the swimming pool running, not have a decent classroom for children with special needs?
  • Did the school really teach children with special needs effectively if this boy who seemed much older than I was, was there when I got there and still there after I left? I understand that Children with DS develop at their own pace but surely putting him there with children much younger than him didn’t do much for his progress. This made me ask the following…
  • Did the teacher teach each child at their personal level or did they just do blanket lessons regardless of the child’s capabilities?
  • Could they not afford to hire a few more teachers skilled in teaching children with special needs then dividing the class accordingly?

The sad reality is that they could afford it but they chose to focus their funds elsewhere because it was just not a priority for them!

There is a serious need for workshops in schools that educate both students and teachers alike about various conditions affecting students among them and how best they can be assisted. Knowledge should lead to better integration. If you know of organisations in and around Zimbabwe or anywhere in the world that work with children who have special needs please comment with their details. We would like to have a page on our website with that information to help spread awareness! Also if you have any suggestions on how schools can improve services for children with special needs or if you simply want to share your experiences with us, feel free to comment below.

My Angel Has An Extra Chromosome- Part 7

Baby Care, Occassions April 6, 2016

The arrival of Zia brought anxieties, fears of the unknown but in all that, it also brought hope! Zia has resuscitated in me a bud of love and care. She has strengthened me spiritually and
emotionally. Many fears have been conqured through this little gift. I learned to accept, for God gave us the ability to procreate and not to create so what God has created is faultless. It was
God’s perfect will to give us the priviledge to have Zia in our lives and we thankful for that. My prayer is that God continues to guide and bless us, her family so we have the ability to raise her
such that she may grow into what God wants her to be. Sometimes I feel as though I am not doing enough for her but I know I have a lifetime to continually show my love for her. -Granny Cabbie

Dear Zia
From the moment I knew that I was going to be an uncle, I was happy. Your presence in my life has changed me a lot for the better! When I think about you Zia I get happy and determined to be a
better uncle. You have given a new purpose to this life and I am a happy man because of you nana. As we know that we are all unique but your uniqueness is more appreciated. It has taught us to put others before ourselves and taught us to think of you before our own desires. Seeing you happy makes it all worth while! It’s a blessing to have you in our lives. I love u my baby, just the way you are.
Love malume- Uncle Lucky Dube

When I learnt that my sister’s child has down syndrome a lot of negative thoughts came to mind. How was my sister going to manage with a special needs child? How would she cope? Why had God chosen my sister out of all the women? Why her??? How did the baby look? I must admit that all this was because I did not know much about DS… I got on a flight and knowing that the whole family would be waiting for me when I landed, including Zia, made me a little anxious. I did not know what to expect and how to react. It was a delicate situation. When I landed I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was this beautiful new life, a true bundle of joy! Beautiful and so adorable. I took over my sister’s motherly duties as I spent time there and quickly learnt that despite having DS, Zia was very normal.I bathed her, fed her, played with her and she responded well. Like any other child would. she wud smile when she was happy and complain when she did not like something.. not to mention all the times we went out and people wouldn’t stop complimenting her beauty. People who did not know about her condition. That made me a proud aunt. My baby made me realize that DS means developing at her own special pace and that’s perfectly fine. She is a blessing to her parents as they are the chosen ones by the Lord. God chose them for He knows she is safer with Chris and Molly. In that home she is getting the love He wants for her, the love she needs. God knew that Zia needed a patient mother! A golden hearted mother. She needed somene who she could look up to. A mother who would not take her condition as a sickness. I’m happy to say that my sister is that one of a kind mother and Zia is in good hands! I thank God for blessing my sis. -Aunty Sarah Dube

Being Zia’s caregiver is a big responsibility which I perform with all my heart! It means that I must take extra special care of her. I play with her and make her feel happy. I feed, bathe and
change her properly to make sure she is growing well and that she is always looking smart. Her mother has taught me how to take care of her well so that even when she is at work she knows her baby is safe and happy. I also know how to tell that she is not well so that I rush her to the hospital but she is a very healthy baby. Above all this, I give her love that every child needs. – Aunty
Agness

No to baby Dumping

Baby Care, Birth, Parenting, Pregnancy April 1, 2016

There has been a story going around on social media about a baby who was tied up in a plastic bag and flushed down the toilet only to be discovered after there was a blockage and plumbers came to sort it out. Now there has been a lot of cursing of the mother of this innocent child who, thank the Lord is still alive and any number of reasons could have led to the inexcusable act but this article is not for judging or acquitting the accused. Rather, the focus is on trying to spread the word that there are always more acceptable alternatives. This is in a bid to ensure that horrible acts such as this one, no longer happen. It’s just not right!

  1.  Abstain- If you are not ready to have a baby, the best way to avoid it is to just not have sex! Self explanatory.
  2. Contraception- If you can’t fight the urge then woman, please use a contraceptive! Condoms, loop, jadelle, depo and if you can’t afford these, for crying out loud, ask him to pull out! The excuse that religion does not allow you to use contraceptives does not apply here at all because honestly, contraception or baby dumping? It’s a no brainer!
  3. Lets say she was raped- Report the bugger. Let him get whats coming to him and have it taken care of. Anti abortionists will say its both killing but whats the lesser evil? We just don’t want to see any more dumped babies!
  4. Adoption- Fair and fine, adoption is not a very widely practiced custom in Africa with people concerned about blood lines and ancestral mysteries and all BUT there are people who do adopt. Seek out aid from adoption agencies or the Department of Social Welfare while you are still pregnant.
  5. If access to adoption agency or social welfare information is a challenge, have the baby and take them to an orphanage, a church, the nearest police station. They will assign a social worker to the case who will make sure the baby is taken care of.
  6.  OR, have the baby and run away from the clinic leaving the baby there if you must! Crazy, yes! But it’s not as crazy as tying them up and flushing them down the toilet!
  7. If you wanted the baby but your parents, guardians or whoever did not approve and will do this as an “intervention” or else they will kick you out, stop supporting you or whatever else they can threaten to do then pack what you own and walk out the door, baby in hand. The unknown is scary but you were able to have sex and carry a baby to full term so I’m assuming you are able bodied and can get a job. And none of this, “There are no jobs,” business. If you’re looking for a flashy high paying job from the get go dear woman you need to drastically scale down your expectations and look for a job that will feed you and your baby. It won’t be easy but you are not the first to go through this. You will survive! Again, a church may be a good place to offer your services in exchange for a place to stay and a meal or two while you get back on your feet. You may have to go to one away from your area if you fear ostracism and the likes.

There are always options! This article may seem a bit tough but it is just what someone out there needs to hear to discourage any future incidents like this one. Please share this. Help educate our sisters and save our future leaders!

Happy Birthday Zia

Occassions March 15, 2016

Dear Zia.

Now that you are one year old, mommy couldn’t be happier. God has blessed us with you. Though we didn’t expect things to turn out the way they did, we are ever so grateful that you are in our lives. When I had you and doctors told me about your special extra chromosome, I feared that you were never going to have a life, that you would always be that floppy baby that I held in the hospital room. Lack of knowledge almost destroyed me and that would have negatively impacted my ability to look after you. But I am happy to say that didn’t happen. I looked into your eyes as you gazed into mine and pulled myself together because I knew that you depended on me and I was determined never to let you down my princess!

I want you know that you are special not just to me but to daddy too. I know you will face challenges because you’re different but you should never let negativity bring you down. Always know that there is nothing wrong with you. You are not disabled but able in your own special way. Imagine if we were all the same? Life would be quite boring wouldn’t it? Our differences are what make us special and you, my baby, are irreplaceable! There is only one of you so never wish to be like anyone else. Work on being the best version of yourself and not a copy of someone else because it’s you we love with all our hearts! You are beautiful and so full love. And just as you have taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, there may be times that you will need to be strong for yourself when you face challenges. Don’t forget that you are never alone. Mommy and daddy are here for you!

Each time you wonder what life means, remind yourself that life is breathing in and out and having a heartbeat. God gave that to you but the rest is within you. You choose how you want to live your life. What you want to achieve and what will bring you joy. God sent you from heaven to earth so that you can be free to live. So do not let anyone or anything especially being different, limit your quality of life. Reach for the stars and I promise I will do all I can to give you the support you need to achieve your goals and to be truly happy. I know as your mom, I will make a few suggestions, give advice and a few requests, well maybe a lot, LOL. That’s because I love and want the best for you but I will never limit or hinder your progress! Remember, God didn’t send you here alone. Besides your daddy and I, you also have the bible to guide you and to encourage you.

With all the medical advancements around us, I am certain that there is nothing that Down syndrome can throw at you that cannot be dealt with to ensure you live a long, fulfilled life premarin pills. I don’t mean to to brag but to remind you how blessed you are because at your age more than 50% of babies with down syndrome would have been through about 3 heart operations or been in and out of hospital several times for one issue or another but you have been healthy and strong! As I watch you grow, I am so encouraged because I know you have a bright future ahead of you.

You were born an angel. I want you to live like one. An angel loves unconditionally, is always joyful, is beautiful inside and out and is always strong. An angel gives without expecting any rewards and reaches out to people in need. I know your life will have a positive impact on everyone around you. You may be too young to realize it right now but you have already changed my life for the better. I love you more than words can ever express!

Happy birthday my Zia Olerato Kachukiwa. Here’s to many many more!!!

Lots of Love

From Mommy

My Angel Has An Extra Chromosome- Part 4

Baby Care, General February 15, 2016

This article is about Zia’s developments so far and how proud I am of her.

Our challenges started the very day she was born. Zia was unable to latch onto the breast which meant that I could not feed her effectively. Initially I thought it was because I was a first time mom and was just not doing it right. Lactation experts and nurses at the hospital tried to show me the ropes but it became apparent that the set back was being caused by my baby girls muscle tone which was very poor. She was so floppy and the way she could bend so flexibly scared me quite a bit. I was worried she would hurt herself. At this point we were unaware that Zia had DS but the doctors had their suspicions. I expressed milk and bottle fed her for the first few months premarin tablet. She had no problems with the bottle and it was a blessing in disguise because it meant her daddy could also feed and bond with her in that way.

Zia was born with a big fontanel and now it has divided into 3. Doctors said to give it up to 3 years to close completely where typical babies have a small fontanel and it takes about 18-24 months to close. This meant we had to be extra careful and to make sure we protected her head all the time as she was in a fragile state. It took some time to balance protecting her and truly being comfortable to play with her without the fear that we might injure her but seeing her smile and hearing her cackle when we did play made us more relaxed and less uptight. She was still just a baby after all. Needing protection, yes, but needing fun time just as much!

DS babies have weak immune systems and so at 4 months I introduced organic porridge that I bought from the pharmacy to boost her immune system as well as to encourage her growth. I made the porridge very runny so that it would be easy on her digestive system. I am happy to say that she has now fully transitioned to solids and like every other baby, she can be picky about new tastes and flavors but she does love her food. Read the article Fussy Eaters for ideas on how to get your little one to eat if you have been having trouble with that.

Round about 4 months is when typical babies start to learn how to sit but my angel was still working on strengthening her frame so she wasn’t ready for sitting. Support group reminded us that Zia would reach developmental milestones in her own time so we were patient, we prayed, continued with baby massages and we started going for physiotherapy. Between 6 and 7 months, she was able to sit although learning forward and eventually rolling over. This was a sign that she was getting stronger. By 8 months she was sitting all on her own. What an achievement!

Zia is 11 months old now and getting stronger by the day. She enjoys her physiotherapy sessions and we adore our therapist. She is very patient and loving and always has a positive attitude. She has had many patients in the past and their success stories encourage me because I know that there are ways that I can help my daughter and that with time she has a chance of growing to become a fully independent young lady.

Since 5 months she has been showing signs of teething but no teeth yet. She has developed her own version of crawling which is laying on her tummy and using her arms to pull herself forward. She does however, stand holding onto something with one hand, playing with the other. The important thing is not to focus on the development of her age mates around us but to celebrate her achievements. I love watching my little angel grow and I look forward to sharing more of her achievements with you. Chris Brown sang,

We’ll crawl ’til we can walk again. Then we’ll run until we’re strong enough to jump. Then we’ll fly until there is no wind. So lets crawl, crawl, crawl…

Crawl my darling Zia. One day I know you will fly!

Bleeding Gums and Pregnancy

Medical, Pregnancy February 8, 2016

Dental care is generally very important but more so when you are pregnant because pregnancy hormones may cause the gums to be very sensitive, inflamed or even bleed.This is also known as gingivitis and is common from about the 15th week of pregnancy onward.

How to stop bleeding gums.

  • See your Dentist regularly.
  • Although brushing does initially make the gums bleed, brushing teeth twice a day, morning and evening eliminates plaque which makes the gums more prone to bleeding so keep your teeth clean.
  • Brush your tongue. This helps to minimize bacteria in the mouth.
  • Use mouthwash twice a day. Ask your dentist which one is safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Brush or at least rinse your mouth after you throw up if you’re experiencing morning sickness. This removes acid and bacteria in your mouth which can lead to bleeding gums.
  • Use dental floss three times a week to remove food that gets caught between your teeth.
  • Skip the sweets and dried fruit especially if you can’t brush right after. Opt for nuts (if you’re not allergic). They have antibacterial properties.
  • Gum disease is more common in people who have diabetes so keep your blood sugar levels under control.
  • Smoking makes gum disease worse so you may want to give that up. You are not supposed to be smoking while pregnant anyway.

Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which weakens the tissue and bone that keep your teeth anchored in your jaw meaning you could possibly lose a tooth or two. This only happens when the disease is left untreated until it gets to an advanced stage so see your dentist as soon as you notice bleeding and tender gums. Make sure to tell the dentist that you are pregnant so you do not have any xrays unless you urgently need one and if you need a local anesthetic for dental work, anytime during pregnancy experts say it is safe.

Some experts seem to think that there is a link between gum disease and premature delivery and low birth weight however research has shown differing opinions on that. Rather stay on the safe side and keep your teeth and gums clean!

Zika Alert

Medical, Pregnancy February 4, 2016

Zika is a virus that is usually mild ie slight fever, joint pain, rash and less common are headaches and vomiting. These symptoms can last up to a week. Zika is however a concern in pregnant women as it has been reported to cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a small head and underdeveloped brain).

Zika is transmitted through mosquito bites and can pass from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Blood tests are done if one suspects that they have the virus based on the above mentioned symptoms.

There is no known cure for Zika but a doctor will probably recommend that you get plenty rest, drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and will prescribe something to relieve the pain and fever. Remember not to take any drugs when pregnant without permission from your doctor.

When planning to travel to areas where Zika has been reported such as South America and Tropical Africa, you need to take safety precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

  • Use insect repellent which is safe during pregnancy
  • Wear long sleeves and pants
  • Sleep under a treated mosquito net

Information about Zika is evolving everyday as it is still being studied. No cases have been reported in Southern Africa as yet but you are all advised to take the necessary precautions. Keep watching for more Zika Alert updates.

Heartburn During Pregnancy

General February 3, 2016

Heartburn though not harmful to you or your baby, can be very uncomfortable and more than half of all pregnant women report to suffer from it especially in the second and third trimester. It is caused by the relaxing of the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus which then allows acid reflux or acid to come back up to the esophagus.It is also caused by the enlarged uterus crowding the abdomen and pushing stomach acid upward.

Prevention

  • Avoid fatty foods premarin dosage. These take longer to digest and increase the chances of experiencing heartburn
  • Avoid citrus and spicy foods
  • Cut down on caffeinated drinks. Besides causing heartburn it is recommended that you cut down on them while pregnant anyway
  • Alcohol causes heartburn. You should’t be drinking any for next few months actually!
  • There is no hard and fast rule about foods that cause heartburn so something that normally wouldn’t give you the discomfort may start to do so during pregnancy because of the changing hormones that affect digestion so watch what you eat and eliminate foods that you think might be triggering heartburn
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently and eat slowly
  • Do not drink while you eat
  • Avoid lying down soon after eating
  • Put a pillow under your shoulders. Being slighty elavated will allow gravity to help keep the acid down

Treatment

If you’re already at the mercy of heartburn you may want to-

  • Speak to your doctor about taking a liquid antacid which is safe during pregnancy and is effective as it lines the stomach
  • Wear loose fitting clothes as tight fitting ones increase pressure on your stomach and abdomen

Cheer up mommy. Heartburn usually goes away after childbirth.

My Angel Has An Extra Chromosome- Part 3

Baby Care, Parenting February 2, 2016

On my page l once wrote that it takes a a community to raise child and it takes the very same community to raise a child with special needs. Every parent in this position needs support and yet what they usually get is pity and weird looks and no one deserves that. It could be out of ignorance about the condition or just simply not knowing how to respond and that is why I have decided to share our experiences and hopefully this will raise awareness on down-syndrome and make a difference.

Support groups provide a lot of help . They taught us how to care for our little girl by massaging her to help her physical development along, the kind of toys she needs, how to carry her with her legs are crossed because she is very flexible so that helps them stay in place and keep her comfortable. They also teach us how to tell people around us about the special newest addition to the family. To help them understand the difference between the special one and typical ones and how best they can help to make your angels life as normal as possible. I am sure you are wondering why am I saying typical when referring to children without DS instead of normal. Well we are all different and unique, so normal doesn’t exist to me. It is a very relative term. Although DS children require special attention, it is also very important for them to be treated like all other children when it comes to issues of discipline. That means having rules just like everyone else and being told NO when necessary. If they need a time out or naughty corner for breaking rules then that’s what ought to be done so be firm when necessary. If you don’t discipline that little one you are going to have a child that is out of control. I wouldn’t have known that if it wasn’t for the support group. It’s great how people who have gone through the same situation avail a wealth of wisdom for us  who are new to it. Having the knowledge equips us to raise her better.

Special little ones need love, they are very sensitive so patience is important. I took a 7 month leave after my baby was born and in this time we developed a special bond. When I had to return to work, I prayed for a helper who would be just as patient and loving as I was with my daughter and God sent me a guardian angel. I work as a chef and that means long hours but thankfully I get to spend all morning with Zia and by the time I come back from work she is fast asleep but I am assured that she has been well taken care of in my absence. That gives me peace of mind. Join me next week for Part 4 of this wonderful journey.

 

Ectopic Pregnancy

Medical, Pregnancy February 1, 2016

sisusami_ectopic_pregnancyEctopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg does not move to the uterus but stays in the Fallopian tube.It is usually discovered by the 8th week of pregnancy and can be frightening and life threatening and so emergency treatment is required.

Symptoms

  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting with pain
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Sharp abdominal cramps
  • Pain on one side of your body
  • Dizziness or weakness/ fainting
  • Pain in your shoulder, neck, or rectum
  • Severe bleeding meaning the Fallopian tube has likely ruptured

If you experience any of these symptoms it is important that you pay your doctor a visit immediately. A quick response reduces the chance of
hemorrhaging/severe bleeding and preserves your fertility.

Causes

  • A damaged Fallopian tube that does not allow the fertilized egg into the ovary
  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Conception while an IUD is in place
  • Using fertility medications
  • Previous pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • Unsuccessful tubal sterilization
  • Maternal age of 35-44

Treatment
If the pregnancy had not progressed far and the Fallopian tube has not raptured laparoscopic surgery will be conducted to remove the embryo. In some cases, medication may be given to stop the growth of the pregnancy tissue. If the doctor suspects that the Fallopian tube has been ruptured emergency surgery is needed to stop the bleeding and in some cases the tube and ovary may have to be removed. After treatment blood tests that detect hCG level (the hormone produced during pregnancy) will be done to ensure that the procedure was successful.

Ectopic pregnancies happens in about 1 of every 50 pregnancies and most women who experience it go on to have successful pregnancies and births in the future even if one falopian tube has been removed. Doctors recommend waiting between 3-6 months before attempting to get pregnant again. If the ectopic pregnancy was caused by illness, treatment of the illness and healing of the body is necessary before giving it another go. You may also want to consider counselling to help you cope with the loss before trying again.

Weaning and Sleeping Through The Night

Baby Care, Parenting January 18, 2016

Mothers all over the world who have newborns have a common struggle and that is sleepless nights. Some opt for sleep training as early as 6 weeks to get babies to sleep through the night but experts advise against that as breast or bottle fed babies should not go more that 4 hours without a feed. This is because their tummies are small so frequent feeding is needed. The good news is that as they grow older and solid food is introduced, they can go a few more hours in between each feed.

I’ve heard it being said that once you wean your child then they are more likely to sleep through the night and based on my experience I can safely say that that is true. The reason being that they no longer wake up looking for milk. It does not happen right away and they may still wake up out of habit but give it a few days and your bambino will be sleeping for a good 8-10 uninterrupted hours. You may even find yourself waking up just to check on them because your body is so used to getting up intermittently.

I weaned my son at 20 months and within a week he was sleeping through the night. No crying, no fussing. For ideas on how to wean read Weaning- When??? and do share your experiences with sleep or lack of it in the comments below.

My Angel Has An Extra Chromosome- Part 2

Baby Care January 15, 2016

After I found out that my daughter has an extra chromosome I was crushed. Fear and lack of understanding about the condition made it worse. I was unsure about what kind of life and future my daughter Zia had laid ahead of her. When I was pregnant I had read a lot about baby’s developmental milestones so having to erase those expectations from my mind was very difficult but necessary as accepting that my daughter would develop at her own pace was the first step to embracing her condition. It took me  a while to seek help because I thought no one would understand how I felt. Initially I thought only people over a certain age had babies with DS (down-syndrome) so I was very confused as to why it had happened to us. I was 23 and her dad was 30 when we had her. We were also very fit and healthy. I then started reading a lot about DS looking for answers. It was also at that point that I got the courage to seek help. I contacted the  Down Syndrome Association and from that time they have been supportive. Here is some information that they gave me.

DS is a genetic condition caused by part or all of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with growth delays and intellectual challenges. The extra chromosome occurs by random chance and so the parents are typically genetically normal though they may carry it in their blood. If the father’s blood contains it then there is a 12% chance that the condition will happen again in his other children. If the mother has it then that number trebles to 36% so it is important that these tests are done before planning to have more children so as to make an informed decision. We went for these tests and none of us have it and so while there is a chance that it may happen again, those chances are very small.

DS affects people on different levels, severe, mild or balanced. If it is balanced then it is present in your blood but does not affect you at all. Although there are higher chances of a little one being born with down syndrome the older their mom is, the condition is really very random. It happens in about one in every 1000 babies born each year. There is no prevention and no cure and while it is possible to find out if the baby you’re carrying has DS through prenatal screening followed by diagnostic testing, this is not standard prenatal testing procedure. There are also no symptoms that may prompt someone to get these tests done while they are pregnant. Most people find out after baby is born like we did.

After getting in touch with the DSA we were encouraged to join a support group of other parents who have special little ones like Zia. This has helped a lot as we get counselling and advice. I’m happy to say that I am no longer afraid nor uncertain about my daughter’s future because I know that with proper help she can live and enjoy a good life.

Fussy Eaters

Baby Care, Dieting, Parenting January 14, 2016

When babies gradually transition from milk to solids, many parents have difficulties with getting them to eat or to try new foods. Here are a few tips on how to deal with fussy eaters to make meal times less of a headache for both you and baby.

  1. Persistence- Keep reintroducing the food that baby seems to frown at or make funny faces when  first tasting. Don’t assume that they don’t like it and give up that reinforces picky habits. It also helps not to stare at them in order to see their reaction. That may make baby self conscious and refuse to eat.
  2.  Veges First- Introduce vegetables before sweet things. If done the other way round, children tend to develop a stronger liking to sweet tastes and may then refuse to eat their greens.
  3. Texture-  When baby has teeth, try offering the food in different textures; mashed, cubed, blended. they may refuse boiled apples but enjoy small diced ones. You may also let them feed themselves but keep a close eye to avoid choking.
  4. Meal Plan-  Monitor their eating habbits over a few days. Are they perhaps filled up on in  between meal snacks that their simply not hungry at meal time? That could result  in a seemingly fussy eater. Try to stick to a scheduled meal plan to regulate  their appetite for better results look at here now.
  5. Independence- As children come out of the toddler stage they become more assertive  and allowing them to decide what food for example, vegetables, they would like for supper or  allowing them to dish for themselves may make them more likely to eat. Letting  them help you prepare the meal will also make them look forward to eating the  food because they were part of the process of preparing it.
  6. Food Art- Make the food look appealing. Try different colors, smiley faces and  different plates and cutlery.
  7. Eat with your children where possible- Making meal time social makes them less self  conscious. It is also a great time to start teaching about names of the food  their eating.
  8. A good example- If you know other kids who are about the same age and don’t  struggle with eating, you could invite them over for a meal. Your child seeing  them eat with no fuss may encourage him/her to do the same.

Remember, as long as their eating from the 4 main groups which are Protein, Fruits  and Veges, Milk and dairy products and starch then don’t worry if its always the  same favorites. You can gradually reintroduce new foods that they make have  rejected before. Please do share any other tips you may have to help our little ones look forward to eating and eating healthy, in the comments below.

C-section Recovery Tips

Birth January 12, 2016

A C-section is a major abdominal surgery so recovery will take a while. Experts say it takes about 2 years for total recovery and that is why women hoping to try for a vaginal birth after c-section or VBAC, are advised to wait 2 years after surgery before falling pregnant. Here are some tips to get you well on your way to recovery mommy.

 

  1. Be Active- Slow movements like wiggling your toes and rotating your ankles as soon as you come out of surgery is a great place to start. As soon as 24 hrs after surgery you should take walks to the bathroom. You will probably need the nurse’s assistance the first few times so don’t try to get up on your own. Slow movements though painful at first will actually help relieve the pain and decrease the chance of blood clots. It also gets the digestive system going again.
  2. Watch Your Diet- If you’re having or had an elective C-section your doctor may have advised you to eat semi-liquid food such as porridge, oats and soup from about 48 hours before the surgery is scheduled. These are easier for the intestines to digest thereby reducing post surgery gas which can be uncomfortable and hurt quite a bit. You can continue with these semi-liquid foods after surgery for the same reasons and also try to avoid constipation causing foods such as dairy products, potatoes and other carbs until after your first bowl movement. A stool softener will prescribed to you when you leave hospital (I took mine but the first bowel movement still hurt like crazy so help the process along by eating right.)
  3. Urinate Regularly- You’ll also be drinking a lot of water to avoid constipation so urinating regularly will ease the pressure of a full bladder on your wound.
  4. Prescribed Pain Medication- When you leave the hospital you will be given a prescription for a painkiller and after about a week you will be able to transition to an over-the-counter painkiller as the pain lessens. If you’re breastfeeding, don’t take aspirin or drugs containing acetylsalicylic acid.
  5. Take It Easy- You will need to get some extra hands to help you when you go home as you are advised not to lift anything heavier than your baby for 2 weeks. You are also not advised to drive until about 10 days after surgery. If you can avoid it for even longer that’s better. Stay away from heavy duty housework and avoid stair climbing as well.
  6. Watch For Signs Of Infection- warmth, redness, swelling, or oozing at the incision site, worsening pain or sudden onset of pain, any fever even if your incision looks fine, foul smelling vaginal discharge, pain or burning when urinating, the urge to pee frequently when not a lot comes out, or urine that is dark and scanty or bloody. Contact you doctor immediately if you notice any of these. Your vaginal bleeding and discharge should be diminishing, though it may last up to six weeks. It should gradually turn from bright red to pink and then yellow-white. If menstrual-type bleeding continues past the first four days after delivery or comes back after slowing, call your healthcare provider. You’ll also need to call your caregiver immediately if you have any signs of a blood clot such as severe or persistent pain or tenderness and warmth in one area of your leg, or one leg that is more swollen than the other.
  7. Fitness- It will be about 89 weeks before you can begin moderate exercise regime but get the go ahead from your caregiver. Don’t rush it. Continue with short walks in the mean time and you’ll be better in no time!

Happy Recovery…

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