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NFP: Just another form of contraception? By Jeanette Alexander

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nfpContrary to popular belief, Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not “Catholic Contraception” like it is commonly misconstrued. It isn’t the outdated “calendar rhythm method” either, where a woman estimates when her fertile period is, based on information gleaned from her previous six cycles. This method is quite unreliable indeed. So what exactly is NFP and what’s all the fuss about?
Natural Family Planning or NFP is an umbrella term for scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies by observing the fertility signals of a woman’s body to determine the most likely days of conception in the month. Some methods of NFP include the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Creighton Model System of FertilityCare (CrMS), and the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM).
The BOM is the method taught locally at NFP Singapore. Essentially, NFP is an approach to fertility awareness and management; a way of life and responsible parenting.
Natural Family Planning vs Contraception
Contraception (“Contra” means against and “ception” refers to conception) is the deliberate use of artificial substances, methods and techniques to interrupt or sterilize an act of sexual intercourse with the use of a host of drugs and/or devices, to prevent pregnancy. The more common forms include the condom or sheath; the contraceptive pill, which contains synthetic sex hormones to prevent ovulation in the female; intrauterine devices (IUD) which prevent the fertilized ovum from implanting in the uterus; and male or female sterilization (vasectomy and tubal ligation).
In a very informative and enlightening interview on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), famed author and chastity speaker Jason Evert draws some clear distinctions between contraception and natural family planning and defines NFP as “the method of avoiding or achieving pregnancy based on observing the changes in a woman’s body that indicate her fertility. This method of planning a family, he explains, is scientifically endorsed by the British Medical Journal as 99% effective (with proper use), without the harmful effects of chemicals and devices. It is a “totally natural way to plan out one’s family if you have a good reason to space out your family,” says Evert.
He weaves in a great analogy about NFP vs Contraception being two women who want to maintain slim figures – one who’s dieting and the other who is bulimic. Both have the same goal of losing weight and keeping it off, he says, but their approaches and methods are entirely different. The woman who is dieting practises temperance by sacrificing and avoiding fatty foods while maintaining the discipline to exercise regularly. The bulimic woman, on the other hand, “binges on all kinds of fatty foods and then throws up to purge the weight-gaining effects of bingeing”. Contraception is like the woman who binges and throws up. NFP is the woman who practises temperance and sacrifice. Contraception is like bingeing on sex and then purging its life-giving effects, says the father of five, who is expecting his sixth with wife Crystalina Evert early next year.
NFP is Couple Orientated
NFP is also couple orientated and promotes sharing and joint responsibility in family planning. It helps cultivate intimacy in a marriage and enriches it, since the same qualities that make marriage work such as respect, patience, fidelity, regard, self-mastery, understanding and consultation are required and developed when a couple faithfully practises NFP. Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God’s design for married love. It is an entire approach to life.
Love and Responsibility
In his book Men, Women and the Mystery of Love (Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility), Dr Edward Sri highlights that according to the canonised Pope, contraception is not just immoral, it “destroys the love between a husband and wife in marriage”. He brings to light four important points St John Paul the Great made:
Accepting the Possibility of Parenthood: for sexual relations to become a true union of persons, it must be accompanied in the mind and will by the acceptance of the possibility of parenthood. Sexual union itself does not automatically bring about a true union of love. One of the key ingredients needed to make the bodily union between a man and woman an expression of an even deeper personal union of love is a willingness to accept the possibility that through the sexual act, “I may become a father” or “I may become a mother” (227-228). This openness to parenthood is crucial if love is to mature in a marriage. He adds: “When a husband and wife are truly open to life in their marital relations, it is as if they are looking each other in the eye and saying, ‘I love you so much I am even willing to embark on the adventure of parenthood with you’”.
Rejecting Parenthood, Rejecting one’s spouse: Contraceptive sex is not just a rejection of the possibility of parenthood, but a certain rejection of the other person, in that it prevents the physical union of marital intercourse from blossoming into a full personal union of love, says JPII (228). When spouses reject the possibility of becoming parents together in the marital act, the focus of their experience in sexual intercourse becomes merely “centered on sexual pleasure”. It is as if they are saying
“I want the sensual pleasure from this act, but I reject the possibility of you becoming a parent with me” (234).
Periodic Continence: While couples should never reject the possibility of parenthood in sexual intercourse, John Paul II teaches that they do not need to “positively desire to procreate on every occasion when they have intercourse” (233). Couples may face certain situations in which they desire to postpone the conception of a child. In those cases, they may choose to abstain from having sexual relations during the times the woman is most likely to be fertile.
Still open to life: According to St John Paul, the most important point to consider involves the couple’s attitude towards procreation. Periodic continence may be used to help regulate conception, but it should not be used to postpone having a family. The Pope explains, “We cannot therefore speak of continence as a virtue where the spouses take advantage of the periods of biological infertility exclusively for the purpose of avoiding parenthood altogether” (242), pointing out that the good of the family should be weighed seriously before practising periodic continence, as he notes that “giving children siblings can contribute in an important way to a child’s education and upbringing, since brothers and sisters form a natural community that helps shape the child”.
Fertility is a gift
Jason Evert puts it beautifully: “There is no reason to interrupt the sexual act at the moment we are supposed to be renewing our wedding vows. If we are going to come together as one flesh, it should be as God designed: in the love of husband and wife”.
After all, fertility is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love tends to be fruitful (CCC 2366).

Finding Myself; Finding Peace when he is gone…

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Candle

When someone loses a beloved one, it is very easy for us to call and say sorry, or type RIP in their social media, or call and give a word of encouragement. I know I have done it. One of my favorite quotes has been “They are not dead those who still live in the hearts of the living”. My encouraging words have been “May you find joy in appreciating that they lived, than mourn that they are gone.” Its been a month since my dad breathed his last. It’s been almost two years of him living with cancer, and though I find solace in knowing that he is in no more pain, accepting and following my own advice has not been easy. There is knowledge that he will be gone. Nothing prepares you for the reality that he is gone. That those we love are gone.

While I come to terms, while I cry and let my shower wash my tears, I learn to encourage myself, to walk the path of knowing that phone number will never be answered by the same voice, to see pictures on the wall are our memoirs, the advice he ever gave is all I have, the moments shared of love are all I hold on to, and I cry some more because its saying good bye every morning to the man who was so present in our lives.

It’s been a month of total loss. I am probably still a mess even if I smile at you. I may come to your office and will probably cry a bucket. Maybe more than a month, because since that diagnosis, in your head you know the eventuality. But isn’t death a reality we live with everyday?As I sit back and reflect, I choose today not to mourn, but to be thankful.

28To be thankful to God for who he was to us. A man who loved his family, with a big bias to his daughters, of which he had many. He literally fought fights for his daughters. I remember some random guy who decided to abuse my sister with those vulgar unmentionable words. One day he was summoned and given a lecture of his life. Well let’s say it never happened again. I choose to thank God for the guy who not only instilled hard work as a character trait in us, but was hardworking himself. He was a pre-colonial man who never went to school, but he worked his way up the ladder as a professional driver for the public service, educated his children, built homes for the two families he had, supervised development projects at home and his dynamism and embrace of technology was such that by the time of his death could use a smart phone. He achieved much, am nowhere close to what he achieved. Hope someday I will. I choose to thank God for the sacrifices he made for us his family, his children. I choose to thank God for the discipline he instilled in us, for the advice he offered, for the shoulder we depended on especially at our weakest. I choose to thank God for the privilege of the moments of success and failure that we shared. For the support that he gave so we may live our dreams, for the tough love- he never shied away from telling you are making a stupid decision that will land you nowhere-, for the woman I am, for the relationships that we have with my sibling which he directly and indirectly contributed, for everything I learned from him, especially on friendships and how to live and interact with people- he believed in respecting everyone we encounter no matter how unworthy we thought of them (if that even makes sense) because there was something to learn from everyone. He was an exceptional planner who went for nothing less than excellence in what he organized, from when and how to pay for whose fees, which head teacher needs to be spoken to, which applications need to be proof read, which child is weak in which subject and what needs to be done, which one needs disciplining and how to discipline, which celebrations, who to hire, when to hire, who to speak and many more. He planned everything, to his grave. He left instructions on what to be done when he died. We only executed his plans at his death. He was a dad. I am not writing this because he was an angel. He was human. I am writing so that someday, my children who never met him will learn a few things from him. Hopefully they will ask questions about this grandfather who will forever indirectly influence the people they become.

I choose to appreciate those who traveled with me in the low moments. I give thanks to God because in all that we went through, we never lacked, materially, emotionally, spiritually. You and you and you, who prayed, who sent contributions, who traveled with me to see him, who came to cry with me, my spouse, my family,  my in-laws, my sisters and bffs, my godchildren, our God Parents, colleagues, priests, everyone. God knows you supported us and He will abundantly reward you. I still need you. We all still need each other.

FILE18592While I still walk this path of finding peace in his absence, it is easier to live with these memories. I will still cry every once in a while. However, I pray the peace of Christ that has been with us continue to be with us. May the knowledge that for him life is changed not ended console me. May I find peace in knowing he is in peace, he is not in pain anymore. He rests, totally. In death his face was at peace. His legacy lives in us, his candle burns in our lives, his influence is so much in us, his love for us we will always cherish. In his absence he lives because, they are not really dead those who still live in the hearts of the living. Fare thee well.

“Raha ya milele umpe, Eh Bwana, na mwanga wa milele umwangazie, Apumzike kwa amani- Amina”.

5 things to remember when your child gets a seizure/ Convulses

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Child

Mom monitoring a seizure in a child

The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.

A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-

  1. Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
  2. Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
  3. Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
  4. When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
  5. Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.

I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…

Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.

The 5 must-haves in that baby bag…

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Baby bagOnce a  mama realizes they are expecting, the next big thing is shopping (well, besides the regular check ups by your gynae or hospital clinic nurses). One item usually on top of the list is the baby bag. You have bought the baby bag, baby is here, you need to take baby to clinic, ow, what needs to go to the baby bag., there goes the first panic confusion.

I will highlight a few things that are important to pack in that baby bag, depending on the age of your child.

  1. Baby clothes:- In my short time of parenting, I have learnt that a baby will give you enough oops moments. You will undress the baby for weight checking and well, the freedom gives them a good feeling that they feel its time to relax all the muscles, including bowel and urinary tract ones. And they do it very excitedly, and smile at you afterwards. And he soils all his clothes. Grrrr. Well, no matter how close the clinic is from your house, make sure you pack a change of clothes. Two sets if your child is under six months and a set if he is above. Pack the same if you are going to church, to visit your friend, where baby goes, the sets of change of clothes go. A set for me was a roamper, and a onesie when they were under six, and a trouser, T-shirt and onesie now. When its cold, I add a vest to the set collection. I always carry one jacket, regardless of the weather. Even if you are staying for just one hour. The little angels have a way of surprising you.
  2. Diapers :- My baby is unwell, I take him to hospital and somewhere in the background a mama is asking if the hospital gives diapers. I look closely and she has an 8-10 month baby on her arms and no bag at all. I am not judging, but I want all of us to learn that children poop does not have a schedule and they pick an infection in a blink of an eye. Pack 4-5 diapers if your baby is under six months and 3 afterwards.
  3. Nappy liners:- But why and am not using nappies? Well, because you need something to wipe your baby, yourself and the person sitting next to you if baby spits or pukes. I find them very absorbent and light enough to carry around. Pack 2-3.
  4. Food:- When children are under six months, we worry when we leave them because we pack food (read breast milk) they will consume when they are away. When they are weaned, we worry when we carry them around, because you must have their meal plans in your bag, depending on age. Whatever you schedule for them to eat, pack it, if you have the insulation bags, the better, means food wont get cold. Breast milk is no longer enough and it is not a guarantee that you will be in a position to buy good baby friendly food wherever you are going. Its not much of a hustle, just pack, carry and feed baby when they demand. And yes, no one will chase you at of a restaurant for feeding baby with their packed food. The no food from outside does not apply here.
  5. Baby wrap:- By this, I do not mean toto wrap to carry baby around. I mean, something to cover baby with when they fall asleep. Not necessarily to do that but to place under them when you are changing. Be it a leso or shawl or cot sheet, something that baby can lie on when you are changing or sleep on when they are asleep and u are at your friend’s visiting.

But this is a lot to carry… Yes, it may seem a lot to carry and sometimes I find myself debating if I need all this when I am leaving the house, but I think of the oops moments and it is totally worth the heavy load. You may look like you carried the whole house and you are leaving for just two hours, but I have learnt that two hours for a child can be eternity. Be safe, or face the wrath of the community, when they yell at you. No, that shouldn’t be the reason, but you will be at peace and if the oops moment comes, because they do come,  you will be ready. All in all, we are used to carrying a lot of paraphernalia we don’t need in our hand bags. When baby is here, handbag is AOB, just make sure you have your wallet and hankie. Period.

Article 45 :- Permanent Birth Control- What you need to know about ESSURE

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Micro is not so micro

Micro-insert is not so micro

There are many systems in our human body.  Namely, Integumentary system (Skinhairnailssweat and other exocrine glands); Skeletal system (Bones supporting the body and its organs); Nervous system (Collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain and tells the muscles to contract to cause physical actions); Cardiovascular/Circulatory system (Circulates blood around the body via the heartarteries and veins, delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells and carrying their waste products away);Endocrine system (Provides chemical communications within the body using hormones)and; the Muscular system (Enables the body to move using muscles) . That is from Wikipedia. But none of them has been so deliberately tampered with like the female reproductive system in the name of birth control. In a previous article, I have highlighted the carcinogenic effects of the hormonal contraceptives among other general side effects. However, those (contraceptives) have all been classified as temporary since you get into them to avoid pregnancy, and then get off them, and hopefully, you will get pregnant again, and the cycle continues. In the constant search to “treat the reproductive system”, “permanent” methods have been developed. Note; permanent is in quotes, because pregnancies have occurred while on these birth control systems. The main surgical methods listed, according to healthywomen.org, for permanent birth control are tubal ligation and vasectomy. There are also non surgical procedures also called tubal occlusion. This procedure involves inserting a small insert in each fallopian tube. A natural barrier forms around the inserts in about three months, blocking the tubes.  Backup contraception is required until you have your three-month follow-up appointment to ensure the inserts are in place and the fallopian tubes are blocked. That insert is called essure
.

  • What they tell you: – In essure.com they will tell you that Essure is the only permanent birth control you can get with a nonsurgical procedure. It can help you stop worrying about an unplanned pregnancy; that the Essure procedure is usually completed in about 10 minutes and can be performed right in your doctor’s office; that most women return to normal activities within a day or two; that it is non-hormonal; that it is over 99% effective at permanently preventing pregnancy; has been available for over 10 years and is approved by ()FDA; and that is widely used especially in America, Europe and most recently, Australia has started using it and finally that you must continue to use another form of birth control until you receive confirmation from your doctor that the inserts are correctly placed and your tubes are blocked. Only then can you start depending on Essure for birth control. The Essure website also highlights a few complications that may occur which includes puncturing of the fallopian tubes, migration and breakage of the device and chronic pelvic pain.
  • What they don’t tell you:- Essure is a pharmaceutical product and like any other product, it must be marketed at all costs. It is therefore available to teens and any woman who requests for a long term birth control method. The complication with this is that, it is an irreversible process. Once the device is inserted, the only way to remove it is through hysterectomy. According to http://essureproblems.webs.com/essure-removal-information , If Essure is correctly positioned; the coils span the utero tubal junction, and about 3-8 turns of the outer coil trail into the uterus. The devices need to be removed intact, no cutting, or pulling, or stretching. This means that in most situations, the uterus and tubes need to be removed intact to get the devices out complete. There are specialists, who are skilled at removing the devices without breaking them, and leaving your uterus and or tubes, if you desire. But you MUST go to a specialist for this. Leaving fragments of Essure behind is NOT desirable! “Teasing” the coils out of the uterus, in most cases, will leave you with fragments or (Polyethylene terephthalate) PET fibers. Vaginal hysterectomy makes it very difficult to reach the entire tubes, most often part of the tube and coil is left behind. So do not opt for vaginal hysterectomy. So PLEASE, read as MUCH as you can on proper removal. You only get one chance at getting Essure out correctly the first time. Going back for a second or third or fourth surgery to retrieve fragments, or adhesions, is not fun! So a teen walks into a hospital, the device in inserted and at 21 has a full hysterectomy. So much for a non surgical procedure that is rated as reversible. Sad.

EssureWhy are women crying for removal of essure, from their bodies and from the market? Recently Senator David Fitzpatrick -US- took a motion to parliament to have essure banned from the American market. This was brought about by an outcry of over 24000 women who have had the essure device and has made their lives a living hell on earth. The side effects of the device are so many, as listed in the essure problems website and as follows: –

  1. Gynecological: – Cramping, Sharp/Stabbing Pelvic Pain, Abnormal menses, Period stops, Ovarian cysts, Uterine cysts, Fallopian tube cysts, Pregnancy (yes, I have seen several E babies, in their website, testimonies of many women), Bacterial vaginosis, Constant spotting, Discharge (Odor/No Odor), Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Miscarriage, Hot flashes, Cervical Cancer/ Dysplasia, Hydrosalpinx (Fluid in the Fallopian Tubes), Fallopian Tube Fibroids, PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), Cysts at the Vaginal Opening (Bartholin’s Cyst), PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), Uterine Fibroids, Uterine Inflammation, Uterine Infection, Excessive Bleeding During Period (Menorrhagia), Painful Ovulation (Mittelschmerz), Night Sweats, Loss of Libido, Hot Flashes, Bleeding/Spotting After Sex, Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea), Painful Intercourse (Dyspareunia), Bleeding Between Periods (Metrorrhagia), Early Menopause, Incontinence, Long Menstrual Cycles (Polymenorrhea), Sexual Dysfunction (Unable to Orgasm or Feel Pleasure), Lack of Menstrual Cycle (Amenorrhea), Yeast Infections (Candida), Bacterial Vaginosis, Urgent/Frequent Urination, UTI (urinary tract infection), bladder infection, Cervicitis/Vaginitis (Swelling, Inflamation, Infection of  the Cervix or Vagina), Itching, Burning, Stinging, Stabbing of Vaginal Entrance, (Vulvodynia), Breast Pain/Tenderness, Abdominal Spasms/ Twitching/ Fluttering, Pain, Back, joint, chest, leg, breast, neck, spine, hip, Chronic Pelvic Pain, Face pain (Trigrinal Neuralgia)…
  2. Gastrointestinal:- Nausea, vomiting, gas, constipation, diarrhea, Severe bloating, Metallic taste in mouth, Heartburn, Bowel issues…
  3. Neurological:- Mental Health, Headaches or migraines, Dizziness, Tingling sensations, Numbness, Brain shocks, Nerve pain, Brain fog – cloudiness, forgetfulness, Anxiety/Panic Attacks, Mood swings, Seizures Stroke Symptoms, Depression (Sadness/Suicidal Thoughts), Ringing In Ears (Pulsatile Tinnitus), Black Out Spells/ Fainting, Diminished brain function (brain fog, confusion, cloudiness, forgetfulness, short term memory loss), Mood Disorders, PTSD (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder), Numbness in Thigh (Meralgia Parethetica), Numbness/Tingling in Extremeties (Hands/Feet), Sensation of Burning, Stinging, Tickling or Prickling of Skin (Paresthesia), Nerve Pain, Tremors/Shakiness, Dizziness…
  4. Blood Issues:- Anemia/ Iron Deficiency/Low Ferritin, Blood Clots, High Blood Pressure, Vitamin D Deficiency, Unexplained/Easily Bruising, Vitamin B-12 Deficiency, Elevated Blood Counts, Inability to Maintain Blood Sugars (Hypoglycemia), Pulmonary embolism, Autoimmune Disorders like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Raynaud’s Syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis…
  5. Allergies/Sensitivities:- Chemical and food sensitivities, Metal Allergies (Nickel), Heightened Allergies/ Allergic Reactions, Food Allergies, Gluten Sensitivity, Allergic reactions, Hives, rashes, Cysts, boils, acne, Skin Irritation/Itching,
  6. Heart Issues:- First Degree Heart Block (Maybe due to the blood clots), Heart palpitations,
  7. Coils/Device Issues:- Perforation of the tubes by the coils, Coil migrations, Coils becoming embedded in other tissues/organs,  Broken and/or missing Coils…
  8. Others:- Swelling of legs or feet, Hair loss or changes, Hair growth in new places, Organs fusing to other organs, Dental issues, Insomnia, Thyroid Disease (Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid), Degenerative Bone Disease, ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura), Seroma, Gallbladder issues (Gallstones/Removal), Liver Problems, Weight Issues (Loss/ Gain),Adrenal Problems, Sleep Apnea, Adhesions (Scar Tissue in Abdomen), Swollen Glands, Swelling/Numbness in Jaws/Lips, Unexplained Fevers, Swelling of Legs/Feet, Muscle Spasms, Vision Problems (Floaters, Blurred Vision, Decreased Vision), Excessive Sweating, Dry Skin/Hair/Eyes, Severe Bloating, Blood in Urine…
  9. Did I mention that women get pregnant with the device anyway, in spite of it being named as a permanent method of birth control?
  10. And finally, the testimonies of many families breaking due to the pressure imposed on them by the side effects are many. I read daily from the Essure problems face book page. Many will debate this, that family problems have many underlying issues, yes. But maybe, just maybe, the essure is the spark that lights up this fire to the point of no extinguishing the flames…

This many side effects have caused questioning of the clinical trials listed on the website. Further to that the doctors doing the procedures coerce women to have it, and then they denounce the side effects when their patients come to them (marketing aspect).

Why am I writing this? I am not an American and Essure is not yet in Africa. Or is it not? I have never seen anything with so many side effects. I also know that Bayer, the company attributed to manufacture and distribution of Essure has had its activities in Kenya, most recently promoting birth control in universities. I also know that most items banned abroad, usually find a place in our Kenyan markets, for example Depo-Provera, it is only a matter of time before essure lands in Africa with a bang.

Like anything marketed, no one tells you the negative side. Now, we know; do we want to make the same mistakes? I cry for the women who have a part of their body system removed. It is easu to declare that you are E-Free, because the E device has taken you to E-hell and back. I don’t even know how it would make me feel if I had my uterus removed, especially if it is as a result of side effects of some insert. I weep for the children who are diagnosed with cervical cancer at a tender age and have to have their wombs removed to forestall or stop the spread of cancer. I weep for the women who have to have their wombs removed because of essure. I weep because the device is attributed to causing some cancers.  Many tears…

On the other hand, you can have the whole reproductive system, and still be a woman of dreams, be open to life, and postpone pregnancies whenever wherever. Is this treatment to our Reproductive System, subjected to us every day justified? Can we just work with it as opposed to working against it? Life is a choice, and as my father always says, you only have one chance to become whatever you are. You have one chance of being a girl, one chance of being a woman, one chance of being whatever God blesses you to be. Choose to live a happy life, whatever your definition of happiness is.

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Article 44:- The gift of Sex…

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I have always wanted to write about this. I do believe that sex is indeed beautiful, in the context of marriage, otherwise it is profaned. I also believe that there are two functions of sex that are not mutually exclusive, that is the unitive, and the pro-creative. I also know that in our selfish motives, humanity has magnified the unitive aspects and struggled a lot to frustrate the pro creative aspects. However, I recently read this post from Pastor Antonio Vance and I don’t think I could have brought it out better than he expressed.

So I will share the read here.

Most times when sex is mentioned among believers, what you normally hear is what singles should not do until marriage or what husbands and wives should not do outside of marriage. You rarely ever hear that sex is a beautiful gift that God created to be fully enjoyed. Now it’s true this is only to be done within the confinements of marriage between husband and wife, but the point is too many talk about the perversion of sex while very little address the beautiful gift of sex.

Sex is a gift from God and according to the word, any gift from God is good. So sex is good. Can you even fix your mouth to say that? “Sex is good”! And not only is sex good but sex is a blessing! Yes we know fornication is bad because fornication is sin. And we also know that adultery is bad because adultery is sin. But sex, (making love, being intimate with each other, whichever you like to call it), is good because it is holy, intimate, an act of worship and a gift from God.

God is the one who made us and He made us to be attracted to the opposite sex. He didn’t make several different types of sex’s as the word says, “He made them (us) “male and female” (Gen 2:6) and He made male to be attracted to female and female to be attracted to male. What kind of attraction? SEXUAL attraction.

Contrary to popular beliefs and teachings in the Christian community, it is not a sin for a man to be sexually attracted to a woman nor is it a sin for a woman to be sexually attracted to a man. God Himself gave us these desires and He gave us these desires so that we could enjoy His gift of sex to us. The only requirement to operate in this beautiful gift is that a man takes a woman to be his wife, FOR LIFE! That’s it! This gift is so intimate that it’s actually a part of what joins man and wife as one. So it’s time for believers to stop downplaying sex and see it for the beautiful gift that it really is.

And that means you cannot separate marriage from sex nor sex from marriage. You can’t talk honorably about marriage yet talk down about sex. Why? Because God made sex and gifted it to every man and woman who marries. So if sex is only for a man and woman who’s married, and marriage is honorable, and sex comes only with what’s honorable (marriage), then it is safe to say that marriage which includes sex is honorable.

Now it’s true that you can be married and not have sex for whatever reason and your marriage would still be honorable, but the gift of sex is still available to you whether you use it or not. I remember once a single Christian man asked us, “What’s sex other than sweating, grunting and climaxing”? It was actually somewhat sad that a single believing man had such a distorted view of a gift created by our Heavenly Father. Who knows how many other singles view sex in this same way? If more believers had balance in this area where they would learn not only about the sin of sex but the blessing of sex as well, then maybe there would be less fornication among single believers, less sexual problems in marriage among newlyweds, less adultery among confessing believers and more sex between husbands and wives.

But instead, the sin is talked about more than the blessing, so what most believers know is what not to do instead of what they can do. And then couples are too embarrassed to ask anything about the gift of sex because it’s been made to be shameful not realizing that sex is also apart of love…in marriage.

Too many married couples struggle with sex because all they ever heard when it came to sex while they were single was how sex before marriage was a sin. But what about what’s not sin? Is sin all there is? Scripture says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom/liberty” (2 Cor 3:17 ), so in this case and for this situation that means that believing married couples should be able to freely learn about this this gift from other believing married couples without restraint, embarrassment or condemnation. When the brethren truly come together to learn in the freedom of Christ about whatever the topic is, you won’t have so many of God’s people in bondage in their marriages. There are actually many believing newlyweds who know so much about marriage but don’t know much about sex. So they struggle because all they know is what not to do and since talking about sex is so taboo, they are afraid to ask older couples in the Lord for fear of embarrassment. So now wives aren’t being pleased and are hurting, husbands don’t know their wives aren’t being pleased or hurting and in the end couples do this for years and miss the fullness of this beautiful gift. Yet the scriptures say that the younger should teach the older and Titus 2 even goes so far as to say the older wives should teach the younger wives “…how to love their husbands…” Well, did you know in marriage loving your spouse includes sex?

The gift of sex in marriage is to please each other sexually while worshiping God spiritually. Yes sex is an act of worship and God is pleased when husband and wife come together sexually. He doesn’t leave the room when married couples make love to each other. He doesn’t turn His back when husbands and wives are sexually intimate. In fact God approves of couples engaging in the very gift that He created just for them! When a Father gives a gift to his children, he wants his children to enjoy that gift and take pleasure in it. And one of the amazing things about this gift of sex is, it has wonderful benefits for both husband and wife. What benefits? Glad you asked!

Some of the benefits of sex in marriage are, it relieves stress which has been medically proven, it brings forth children which are blessings and a heritage of the Lord. It brings couples closer together and causes them to become one. It’s one way husband and wife can express their true love for each other. Yes sex shows TRUE LOVE which is rarely ever talked about. How so? Because this deeply intimate gift is to be shared with husband and wife only and when couples partake in this blessing with each other only, it displays that, “No one else can partake in this gift with me but YOU”. Don’t you see? It’s just that private and just that personal that no one can share in this gift with a husband but his wife and no one can share in this gift with a wife but her husband.

It is very rare if ever that you find a believing married couple who understand the gift of sex, involved in any sexual activities outside of their marriage or even divorcing. When believing couples understand this gift, they won’t have to be told that adultery is sin because they will understand just how sacred this gift from God is.

So let’s stop talking bad about something that is good and is from God. Marriage is honorable and marriage includes sex. Let us who are married partake in this beautiful gift as often as we agree to and let those of us who are single look forward to this gift in the sanctity of marriage. Let us no longer be afraid to talk about this blessing as long as it is for edification and and education among the brethren and let us also understand that sex is a beautiful gift from God to husbands and wives.

1 Cor 7:3 (GWT), “Husbands and wives should satisfy each other’s [sexual] needs”.

The scripture shows that both husband and wife have sexual needs that must be fulfilled by each other. Sex in marriage is a need and that is the way God made it.

1 Cor 7:4 (NIV), “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife”.

Another way to say yield is ‘to give’. So in other words, the wife gives her body to her husband for his sexual pleasure and to be pleased in return just as the husband gives his body to his wife for her sexual pleasure and to be pleased in return. No one else can have each other’s bodies but one another.

1 Cor 7:5 (NLT), “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control”.

Because sex is a need of both husband and wife, God has made it clear in His word that both have to agree to refrain from sexual intimacy to pray (or fast) and that it be only for a limited time. Then after that time, God instructs husband and wife to come together again so that Satan won’t tempt either of them. Satan does not always tempt husband or wife with another man or woman, but often times he tempts them with obscene pictures and videos, masturbation which is self-pleasure/self-gratification without your spouse and/or lusting after the same sex. In other words, God gave instructions along with the gift of sex to both husband and wife and when those instructions (His word) are applied correctly, there is pleasure for both husband and wife, less temptation, closeness experienced, an act of worship before the Lord, conception of children, healing from past sexual hurts and more!

Prov 5:15-19, “Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in public, having sex with just anyone? You should reserve it for yourselves. Don’t share it with strangers. Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love”.

Food for ingestion and digestion…

Article 42:- Breastfeeding/Nursing – What to wear…

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Nursing mum in a nursing top

Ya mama, ya bamba…

One of the very fascinating things we women love to do is look in our wardrobes, choose a set what to wear; wear it; look at ourselves in the mirror then decide; Nooo! I don’t look great enough for the day ahead; so we goes back into the wardrobe, chooses another set, and the cycle goes on until we can find something perfect for that day. Frustration comes when what your choices are limited, because you are a few days post partum and in your new baby-fat weight you can only fit in 2% of what is in your wardrobe and hey, you are breastfeeding, so whatever you wear must be able to accommodate that. Most of us end up in wearing old oversize tees and buggy trousers most probably belonging to our spouses (if they are bigger than you).

Anyhow, when I started breastfeeding getting what to wear was really frustrating. It always got more complicated when going to church. I used to look at my dresses and wonder, why oh why can’t I wear any of them. Well it’s because at some point in the middle of mass, your baby will cry needing a feed. And there begins the struggle of boob extraction, trying to cover your back so that you are not exposed, trying to calm the baby with the boob and not choke them in the rush, then try and cover your boob too. Drama! Oh what goes first! By the time you are done, you have a minimum of ten pairs of eyes staring at you because you and baby just disrupted the juiciest part of the sermon. All I ended up wearing was two skirts I could still fit in and a few blouses and always a sweater on top, irregardless of the weather (so u ensure your back is sorted). Few churches provide for a baby place where mothers can go and nurse, once its done you can go back to church. Its sad because, maybe that which you  miss in the process is what was meant to be food for your soul that week.

When I could extract myself from 100% baby bonding and could do something else, I went on-line searching for options that would allow me to do this noble responsibility comfortably and still look good while at it. I developed my own solutions and I hope a mama can be helped out there.

First of all when I got expectant, I custom made my own pregnancy skirts. I knew that growing was inevitable, so I designed something with a stretchy fabric at the waist line and straight all the way down. I wore my skirts all through my pregnancy. I also designed them in a way that I could dart them and wear them post pregnancy. I was a perfect solution for the time when weight gain is overnight-literally and weight loss is drastic.  Also had one dress I designed when I was around 2 months pregnant. It could take in my weight all through. I still wear it, 1.5 years post partum.

Second,  I also discovered that alternatives design for clothes exist for breastfeeding women, both dresses and tops. I currently have stocked a couple and are available for sale. They allow you to nurse comfortably without having to expose your boob or back. They can also be worn to work as part of that suit and allow you to express comfortably. You can custom make your own dress that you will wear during your pregnancy, breastfeed in it, go to work in it and express and wear them to those casual outings and be comfortable and look good. The beauty of it is, you can dress your bump in the same wear, and wear it post partum.

simple_pregancy_women_wear_nursing_clothing_cheap  simple_pregancy_women_wear_nursing_clothing_cheap 1

long_sleeve_pregnant_dress_nursing_formal_dresses (1) long_sleeve_pregnant_dress_nursing_formal_dresses

Dress your bump, breastfeed with it later ( The beauty of elasthane)

I will attach a few sample photos and allow you to look at the beautiful side of breastfeeding where you can look fabulous and breastfeed. The trick is getting the right fabric. (Photos courtesy of Angel Solutions)

Casual outfit for nursing mum

Casual, ready for outdoor activity with baby

Nursing top, casual setting

Casual

Official in nursing top ready t express

Official and ready to express, hurray working mum!

20150914_195124

Lets get some work done…

Cheers mums to wonderful moments with your child.

Article 41 :- Exclusive Breastfeeding…

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Ya-mama-ta-bamba-image-1

One time you are walking like a duck because your tummy is quite big, you can never imagine you will ever touch your toes again; next moment, you have this little, most beautiful littlest human being in your arms and somewhere in your subconscious, you hear a nurse tell you, “mama, you need to breastfeed your baby”. And breastfeed you must, not because there is a manual on how to breastfeed, but because somehow, deep in your soul, you know how it is done, and you bring your baby to your breast, and they begin to nurse, and there begins your six month journey of you and baby and being the only sole provider of its first fastest food.

Deep in my heart, I knew I always wanted to be someone’s mum. Deep in my heart, I always knew, I would exclusively breastfeed, not because I knew the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding but because I knew it’s one of the best bonding moments between a mother and child. It was a special thing that only my child and I could experience. When you look into those innocent eyes and discover the true meaning of ultimate trust. When you know that, when they sit on your lap and lay their head in the crook of your arms, it’s the most comfortable position they know and in their minds they can stay there forever, and the clingy ones actually do try that forever, when the only world they know is the brightness in your eyes and the smell of your clothing, and for them that is enough. That is the magic of breastfeeding!

WHO and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months (26 weeks) to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.

Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness. Numerous studies from around the world have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal infection and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula, or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protection). According to Baby Center the main immune factor at work here is a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) that’s present in large amounts in colostrum, the first milk your body produces for your baby. (Secretory IgA is present in lower concentrations in mature breast milk.) The substance guards against invading germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes in your baby’s intestines, nose, and throat. Breastfeeding our little ones also allows for development of a protective layer along their intestinal tract preventing food allergies caused by inflammations. This layer’s growth cannot be facilitated by even formula; the substance, whatever scientists call it is only found in colostrums. Breastfeeding protects a child from obesity. This can be attributed to the following; Breastfed babies have more leptin in their system, a hormone that researchers believe plays a role in regulating appetite and fat; Breast milk contains less insulin than formula. (Insulin stimulates the creation of fat.) Breastfed babies are better at eating until their hunger is satisfied, leading to healthier eating patterns as they grow; and finally, just like breast milk of a specific mother is specific to their child in terms of nutrient constitution, they say a mother’s body can respond to its child when it is full (debatable), so it stops producing more milk . It implies that, a child can latch for an hour but breast milk stops flowing when the child is satisfied, the other part of latching is solely for bonding.

For mothers, breastfeeding leads more rapid maternal weight loss after birth, lowers stress levels hence lower risks of post partum depression (many women report feeling relaxed while breastfeeding. That’s because nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. Numerous studies in animals and humans have found that oxytocin promotes nurturing and relaxation), reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer, and delayed return of menstrual periods. Other obvious benefits are It’s free; It’s available whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed; It’s the right temperature; It builds a strong physical and emotional bond between mother and baby. Finally, Breast milk adapts as your baby grows to meet your baby’s changing needs.

Breastfeeding is natural – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. In fact, most mothers will tell you it is not easy. From little or no milk, to sore breasts, to outright fatigue for those whose babies are great feeders like my boy.  Being a working mother doubles the challenge. Complications at birth that make it hard for a mother to breastfeed the first few hours post partum which contributes immensely to breast milk flow messes things up further, making mothers have little milk, hence opting for formula or early weaning.  However, amidst all these challenges, many women have risen to the challenge and managed to feed their children for six months exclusively on breast milk and avoid giving their babies packet/cow milk for up to one year. Mad respect to women ha! Yes, mad respect to the women who have to content with expressing, stocking, pouring out when power fails and milk thaws, rushing home at much to just do this noble curse, eat very funny tasting foods and drinks in the name of boosting this one substance very necessary for their babies, the wars they will fight for privacy in the office to express, and even amid all the hustles is the realization that stored milk cannot equal the directly suckled milk, there is loss of nutrients in freezing, thawing and of course in warming; a toast to all of us for the selflessness.

For those who did not make it, and will not make it, due to factors beyond their control, well, children are beyond us. They have a creator who watches over them. We are just His custodians. They are with us on a temporary custody, before they go to fulfill the mission they were created to; all we can ever do is our best for them. And one thing I am sure is, we do our best as mothers, always…

In as much as there is no manual on how to breastfeed, when that child land on our hands, lets breastfeed breastfeed, breastfeed. I remember the nurses who kept telling me to keep breastfeeding a few minutes after delivery, yes, a few minutes, and I thank them because my flow, in as much as it was not “fresian”, it was sufficient for my boy for those first crucial months.

Finally, there is a difference between exclusive breastfeeding, and exclusive feeding on breast milk. When I started out, I wanted to achieve the former but then again, I am a working mom so, most of us end up doing the latter. Meaning, we express, then feed from a bottle, or cup and spoon. I pen off…

Article 40 :- The things my mother teaches me…

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I have not put up anything for a while. It’s been a hectic several months. I changed jobs and for some time I was working for two employers; not easy at all. Then I went home, to the village. My rural home is very refreshing, so you don’t what to go there and carry technology with you. There you go to rejuvenate yourself and refill that which was draining empty. Other than the lush green and fresh air, I always learn something new from my mother. So, this break is also a learning experience from this very wise woman. Today I just want to share few things among the many I have learnt from her, in the hope that I may inspire someone somehow. That’s the whole reason behind sharing knowledge, right?

The importance of discipline: – According to Miriam Webster On-line Dictionary, Discipline is among other things, training that corrects, molds or perfects moral character; self control or suppression of base desires. It is a way of life that is molded by continuous control gained by requiring that rules and orders be obeyed and bad behavior is punished. Sometimes the training may not be by instruction; that is being sat down and given a lecture on how to behave. Many are the times this instruction is by example, though once in a while words are inevitable. As long as I can remember, my mother has always gone to church every Sunday, no matter how early the mass is; she will always rise a few minutes past 6 am, she will do her chores- her house has always been sparkling clean and clothes, to date, are washed daily in her house-, she will go to work (informal kind of work), cook family meals, ensure everyone has had a bath, whichever way one likes it, warm-u get warm and otherwise. She will go for small Christian community. Whatever she puts her heart to achieve, she goes for it; she dedicates her mind and energy to accomplishing that task and rests when it’s done. She gives herself deadlines. She beats them. Her rules are reasonable and when you break them, you really feel guilty for doing it, because she gives you freedom to do the right thing. She is a woman of few words, so her training has been mostly by actions. Discipline. With the example she has set in molding herself, adhering to her own rules, I have learned to make my own rules too; rules to live by. The rules are not cast in stone, they are flexible but I have learnt the importance of setting standards of your own life and living by them. For her, most of the standards are guided by the teachings of her faith in God; for instance, if you don’t work you should not eat. For that, she works hard and enjoys the fruit of her labor. Adhering to your own rules make you principled. It means you cannot be easily swayed to do things just because people are doing them. It means you have a stand on many issues because if you don’t then you can fall for anything. It means you have standards that you are not willing to have compromised unless those standards go against the will of God. It means you have a voice of your own whether anyone ever hears it or not. It means you are your own person. She taught me to become my own person; exhibiting my own uniqueness, whether in strength or weakness. She taught me the importance of character. She taught me to be self guided, self motivated, self reliant, innovative and identify my own paths in life and diligently follow them and actualize myself in those dreams that I seek to pursue.

Commitment to prayer for our children: – My mother is a very prayerful person and most of the time I tell her I accord where I am to the many prayers she has said for me and all of us. I know I have gotten into trouble (I have a knack for that) and gotten out mysteriously/miraculously. I know I have been to through hard times that only she as a mother understands, and come through. I have seen God in my life in so many ways. I wouldn’t say am a prayerful person, but I know my mother prays for me. I thanked her on this last visit and I told her, I honestly believe that I am where I am because God favored her and answered her prayers and she told me that when we were young she would kneel before God and tell Him to hold our hands and guide us to live good lives. I thank God for the people we have become. I pray to God to grant me the same energy, strength and resilience to always remember my children in my prayers. I hope I can pray for them with the same zeal. But more so I hope I can teach them how to pray for themselves just like she taught me in the foot of her bed as a young girl.

Do good for goodness sake: – A famous Kiswahili saying “tenda wema nenda zako”- Do good and go your way. Most of us perform acts of charity so that we may be recognized, or praised by those who see us or so that those who we are kind to can be indebted to us and when they do not return the favor we get angry and throw tantrums. There is no God’s teaching that says love so that you are loved. Christ commands us to love-period. Whether the love is reciprocated or not should never determine our acts of love. I have witnessed so many kind deeds from her I am astounded. The Kenya Post Election Violence was hard on us (disregard the myths of who suffered most) and especially on me. But picture this woman returning from an IDP camp, someone who lost everything, passes by this house of one regarded as an enemy, finds some Irish potato seeds this lady wants to go plant on her farm, but in her kindness, this frenemy gives the seeds to her, I don’t even know if she left some for herself. For her it is the only hope she can give this hopeless person who is returning to rebuild her life that, if you plant this seed, at some time-T you will harvest and have some livelihood for you and your children. It may not be much, but it was a beginning. Case 2:- you have a relative who lives a hopeless life somewhere, but you go your way to till their land, plant, weed, and do all appertains to crop maintenance, just to make sure this family has a livelihood. I have seen the selfless acts she does and every time I tell myself, if I ever become a fraction of the woman she is, then I will not have lived in vain. Well, may God bless her kind soul, and may she never tire doing good deeds.

Blessed is he who finds a good wife: – When we think of a good wife, we think of proverbs 31. I remember being told to read it by very good small Christian community members that it be my guide in my married life. It’s a small caption from a father to a son on what the father’s mother taught him on character of a good wife. I can summarize thus:-

A good wife brings good to her man, nurturing confidence in him, earning him respect among his peers; She works hard to provide for her family and all those who depend on her; She is an innovative entrepreneur; She is kind, giving to the poor; She is a good planner, ensuring her family is provided for in all seasons, all basic needs; She has dignity, self respect and is disciplined; She is wise; Most importantly; a good wife she fears the Lord.

My mother may not be all these things, literally, but she has taught me to try and be there for my family in my own little ways. My dad has been unwell in the recent past and the dedication I have seen as she takes care of him is humbling. She has slept in hospital chairs just to be at his side in those lonely nights he is in a lot of pain. In his weakest moment, she has been his strength, in his desperate moments she has been his hope, in those moments when he cannot pray, she has been that prayer he most needed. When work took him away from his family, she stood firm and ensured the family run well, she was the father and mother to her children. I can go on and on. I have listened to many men rant on radio shows of how women are bad, gold diggers, crazy, and how they only deserve so little worth; on the other hand I have listened to women who have been mistreated by the same people who have loved them for the better and the worst times of their lives. All I can say to all that is, blessed is he who finds a good wife, a Proverbs 31 wife. Surprisingly, it was lessons from a mother too.

Love your children unconditionally: – Children are a blessing from God, regardless of their capacities, character and abilities. A long time ago, when I was 8 years old or thereabouts, my younger brother passed on. He was physically challenged. His doctors never expected him to get to 5 years, but he died a month to his 6th birthday. Every time I listen to my mother talk about him, I cannot help but cry. She talks very fondly about him. I may not remember much about him, but I know he was an ever smiling boy. Making him happy was very easy. He could laugh a hearty laughter. He was very smart for his age. He was friendly to all. He had a knack for getting injuries but hat never made him grumpy at all. And he died in her arms. At our time and age, when technology can allow us to predict whether our children are “normal” or not, most women opt to terminate little lives just because they do not fit our definition of a “perfect child”. We all grow up and become different people, sometimes not what our parents envisioned we will become. My brothers, sister and I have different characters and all of us have given her enough bile juice at some point in time. We have made our mistakes, we have fallen, and we have done crazy things that have made her hair stand. We will still drive her crazy. That has and I believe will never make her love us less. May we celebrate our children with the same zeal, love and dedication to their lives regardless of who they become.

Irrespective of my age, I am still a young person. I am still learning especially from the people I encounter every day. I have picked a lot from this woman who God graced to be my mother, some I can never get to finish writing about. I pray for blessings upon her for the life she has lived, for the examples she has set but more so I forever thank her for the prayers she has prayed for me. I hope that someday when my children look back, they will find fond things to say about the woman who was their mother. I don’t live for that though, I live for the love I can give them and the values I can teach them, but more so I live in hope that I can teach them to know the precepts f the lord in those precepts they can find their way in life and become the very best of themselves. 

Article 39:- Hormonal Contraceptive-The Viable Alternatives…

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In my previous article, Hormonal Contraceptives-The female poison, I have highlighted the various side effects of the hormonal contraceptives. It is evident that its harm outweighs its value. So what next for women of child bearing age – Married women?

The contemporary world has reduced the term family planning to mean the spacing of births. It has also convinced most if not all of us that the only way to space births is to objectify oneself by using the several modes of contraceptives namely, the barrier methods, Intra-uterine devices and hormonal pills. However, there are scientifically proven methods that respect the dignity of the human person, are free of charge and have no side effects. For the purpose of this article we shall call it Natural Methods of spacing or achieving births or Natural Family Planning (NFP).

Disclaimer:-

  • NFP is not counting your menstrual calendar days;
  • NFP is not withdrawal before ejaculation during the conjugal act;
  • NFP is not the use of barrier methods during fertile days of a woman’s fertility cycle.

So what is NFP?

According to usccb.org, Natural Family Planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) natures of the conjugal act in marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife. This aspect of NFP also then supports God’s design for married love.

NFP is based on scientific facts about fertility. The methods are developed from research about women’s menstrual cycles and the signs of female fertility. Over a century ago, scientists discovered cyclic changes in cervical mucus and their relation to ovulation. In the 1920s, scientists identified the temperature rise that signals ovulation. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that scientists developed programs to teach others how to observe and interpret these fertility signs. Today, ongoing research continues to refine the methods of NFP. Any married couple can use NFP.  A woman need not have “regular” cycles. NFP education helps couples to fully understand and interpret their combined fertility, so that they can discern when to postpone or try to attempt pregnancy. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. The key to the successful use of NFP is cooperation and communication between husband and wife, a shared commitment. It is unique among methods of family planning because it enables its users to work with the body rather than against it. Fertility is viewed as a gift and a reality to live, not a problem to be solved.

Fertility cycle NFP practice is pegged on four facts about the fertility of man and woman:

  • A woman ovulates at only one time during her cycle, and an ovum can survive for only 12–24 hours;
  • Spermatozoa live only one to three days in the presence of fertile mucus, with survival up to five days being rare;
  • Cervical mucus enabling healthy sperm cells to navigate the genital tract is necessary for fertility (fertile Mucus);
  • A man is fertile from puberty till his death;
  • Fertility cycle is a function of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

What are the methods of NFP?

A woman’s fertility cycle (not menstrual) has four phases; Menstruation phase; First phase of infertility(Basic Infertile Pttern-BIP); fertile phase; and the second phase of infertility. While in her fertile years, a woman’s body provides several basic ways to identify the fertile and infertile times of her menstrual cycle. The rise and fall of reproductive hormones is responsible for these signs. Recognizing the pattern of those physical signs forms the basis for all methods of NFP. Each NFP method is focused on one or more signs of female fertility. They can be grouped into three categories;

  1. Billings Ovulation Method (BOM):-

BOM was developed by Drs John (1918–2007) and Evelyn Billings, validated by eminent international scientists and successfully tried by the World Health Organization. It uses cervical mucus/vaginal discharge consistency in identifying the fertile and infertile phases of the fertility cycle already highlighted above. Mucus CharacteristicsThis method can be used to achieve or postpone pregnancy during regular or irregular cycles throughout all stages of reproductive life, including breastfeeding, and peri-menopause.

What to obseveThe cervical mucus changes in viscosity and consistency with each phase of the fertility cycle. These changes are consistent with the phases of fertility. In NFP education, a woman learns how to identify the normal, healthy, cervical mucus which indicates the days that sexual intercourse is most likely to result in pregnancy (the fertile phase).  Keen observation of the cervical mucus can tell when a woman is ovulating. Once the couple can identify when the woman is very fertile, they can choose to abstain from sexual intercourse and genital contact if they are postponing pregnancy or engage in the conjugal act when they want to achieve a pregnancy.

More sophisticated trainers teach on how to observe the character of the cervix. It is based on the fact that the cervix opens only three times in a woman’s life; during menstruation; during ovulation; and at childbirth.

                     2. Basal Body Temperature Method (BBTM)

Basal Body Temparature chartBasal body temperature is the lowest body temperature attained during rest (usually during sleep). It is generally measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity has been undertaken.  Ovulation causes an increase of one-half to one degree Fahrenheit (one-quarter to one-half degree Celsius) in basal body temperature. The tendency of a woman to have lower temperatures before ovulation, and higher temperatures afterwards, is known as a biphasic pattern. This method is used to pinpoint the ovulation time thus enabling a couple identify when to avoid or engage in the conjugal act depending on whether they are postponing or achieving a pregnancy. Its only weakness is that it identifies post ovulation infertility phase.

 3. Symptom-Thermal Methods (STM)

STM typically combines charting of the Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and (Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) of cervical mucus observation with other optional indicators, such as changes in the cervix and secondary fertility signs to identify when a woman is fertile. With this method, a couple can chart the pre ovulation infertility phase and the post ovulation fertility phase, and of course ovulation.

With the development of ovulation prediction kits (or OPKs), the rise of certain reproductive hormones such as estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) can be observed. Other optional signs, such as breast tenderness or minor abdominal pain at the time of ovulation, can also be observed by the woman.

How it Differs from contraception

There is an inherent inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal act. The connection between the two aspects of the conjugal act is in fact such, that the destruction of its procreative reference necessarily destroys it’s unitive and personal significance. Why? Because the conjugal act has a significance that goes beyond the expression of affection and pleasure it offers. The conjugal act does not in any way lose its full meaning and value if one knows that a conception is out of the question, as when age, an inevitable operation for the sake of health, or pregnancy exclude it. The knowledge that a conception is not in question does not in any way taint the conjugal act with irreverence. This act in such a marriage, if it is the expression of a deep love anchored in Christ, will rank even higher in its quality and its purity than that in a marriage in which the love is less deep and not formed by Christ even though it leads to a conception. Yet even when, for good and valid reasons (such as the endangering of life or grave economic misery), conception should as far as possible be avoided, the marital act, whose meaning and value is the actualization of an ultimate union, in no way loses its raison d’etre. The intention to avoid conception does not imply irreverence as long as one does not actively interfere in order to frustrate the link existing between the conjugal act and a possible conception. Nor is the use of natural family planning in order to avoid conception in any way irreverent, because the very fact of the possibility of natural family planning, that is to say, the fact that conception is limited to a short period, includes also a God‐given institution. This also has a meaning, and it is definitely reverent to accept the opportunity which God offers to those spouses for whom the avoidance of conception is imperative! That conception is restricted to a short time also implies a word of God. It not only confirms that the bodily union of the spouses has a meaning and value in itself apart from procreation but it also leaves open the possibility of avoiding conception if this is imperative for serious reasons. To make use of natural family planning is not to imply the slightest irreverence or rebellion against God’s institution and the wonderful link between the love union and procreation; it is in no way a subterfuge, as some people tend to believe. On the contrary, it is a grateful acceptance of the possibility granted by God to avoid conception, if this is imperative, without frustrating the expression and fulfilment of spousal love in the bodily union. As soon as we see the abyss which separates the use of natural family planning from artificial contraception, we have answered the rhetorical question: “Why should artificial contraception be a sin if the use of natural family planning is allowed?” And as soon as we see clearly the sinfulness of artificial contraception, we can and must clearly repudiate the suggestion that this is the proper means to avert the threat of overpopulation. No evil in the world, great as it may be, entitles us to use a means for avoiding it which is sinful. To commit a sin in order to avoid an evil would involve adhering to the ignominious principle, “the end justifies the means” (Dr. Vincent Njuguna- St. Matia Mulumba Mission Hospital)

NFP represents a unique approach to responsible parenthood because it  calls for shared responsibility by husband and wife; is based on scientific research about the signs of fertility; treats each menstrual cycle as unique (from experience, it is unique); teaches husband and wife to daily observe the signs of fertility; has no harmful side effects; maximizes the possibility of achieving pregnancy when intercourse takes place during the fertile phase of the wife’s menstrual cycle; is effective for postponing pregnancy when intercourse takes place during the infertile phase of the wife’s menstrual cycle and; respects the unitive and procreative nature of conjugal love. In NFP both husband and wife are taught to understand and live God’s design for married love—this will give them countless blessings.

The various benefits of NFP cannot be exhausted but some include that NFP methods promote a holistic approach to family planning which both respects procreation and has the potential to deepen the intimacy of husband and wife in that it is open to the life giving nature of the marriage act; NFP methods support reproductive health. They are good for the body. The natural methods have none of the harmful side effects caused by contraception, especially chemical contraceptives (e.g., pill, injection, etc.). For the woman, NFP charting can even assist in the diagnosis of underlying medical problems. And, if a couple find they are having trouble conceiving, NFP information can help them pinpoint the most fertile time of the wife’s cycle. NFP methods can be marriage strengthening. NFP relies on couple communication and behaviour change. NFP methods require husband and wife to cooperate with each other in the most intimate area of their lives. During times of periodic sexual abstinence, husband and wife live a renewed courtship as they discover non-sexual ways to express their love for each other. On a practical level, husbands are encouraged to “tune into” their wives’ cycles, and both spouses are encouraged to speak openly and frankly about their sexual desires, hopes for number of children, and prayerful discernment of God’s will for their marriage. When living the NFP lifestyle, husband and wife learn that they have a shared responsibility for safeguarding God’s gifts of human sexuality, marriage and family. They also grow in their understanding of God’s will for their family size. NFP has the potential to make good marriages great. NFP is also free. In Kenya, training of couples is free, and exercising it accrues no costs whatsoever.

A number of NFP providers teach a variety of approaches to NFP. In Kenya, in addition to the Catholic Church, we have Human Life International Kenya among other organizations. It is endowed with doctors-physicians and gynecologists- and volunteer couples who are users of the methods. On-line courses are offered by Couple to Couple League, WOOMB International and most catholic dioceses all over the world.

The big question that comes when this is raised is, does it even work? What are the success rates? Well, from a users point of view, (we-my spouse and I- are users of the BOM) it depends on what you are trying to do. Are you trying to achieve pregnancy? Then yes it is successful, but remember, children come from God and are blessed unto us when God sees it fit to bless us with children. It is always for his glory. Are you trying to postpone pregnancy? Then yes it is. Currently rated at 99%. You just have to remember the fact that sex during fertile days can result to a pregnancy.

What makes it not work? Most of us have grown up in a world that glorifies sex and believes that sex is any time anywhere as long as there is a woman and man. Premarital sex is celebrated and those who choose to abstain till marriage as viewed as abnormal. Transfer the same attitude to a marriage situation and parties in a couple, believe that since they are married they are free to engage in the conjugal act any time but are not willing to embrace the fact that sex is both unitive and procreative, functions that are not mutually exclusive. Couples thus will seek to frustrate/treat the procreative aspect of the woman by letting her be responsible for her fertility and willingly frustrate it by taking the hormonal pills, implants and having intra-uterine devices inserted in her womb. The other major reason is fertility is viewed as a woman problem and should be fixed. Most men, not all, tend to abstain from responsibility of the procreative aspect of sex. Sex thus attains a selfish end as opposed to the unitive end that it was ordained to have. NFP introduces to the couples the value of joint responsibility in this key part of their married life; their sexual life; where each party appreciates and accepts the whole person and does not try whether medically or otherwise try to suppress any body functioning.

The biggest challenge I find is the attitude. How are we going to change this attitude that NFP does not work, bearing in mind even the medical practitioners who interact with families daily do not even want to think of this as an option because it is a concept out of this world. How do we even try to change a concept that is far-fetched because the other options are a multi-billion business enterprises that any other information that contradicts that which they advocate for will kill their business? Are we going to be brave enough to go against the norm? Or will we be complacent and keep failing to teach what is the best option? Are we going to watch as the cases of cervical and breast cancers rise and cower because we are too afraid to face this multi billionaires? Well the choice is mine, especially as a woman to abstain from the chemicals or to keep the poison in our systems. Either way, someday we shall all live the consequences of our decisions. I have always said, sexual matters are very key to the woman, and whatever is contrary to that which we believe in can be avoided by ensuring that the people we choose respect us and value that which we value.

Can we please stand up!

Acknowledgement:-

I acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Vincent Njuguna of St Matia Mulumba Mission Hospital and Augustine Richard Kakeeto, Lecturer at Catholic University of Eastern Africa- Kenya. 

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