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Article 37:- Hormonal Contraceptive-The female Poison…

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download (1) “I am not ready for a child right now…” We all would assume that this is a statement for the unmarried sexually active people. Or newly weds who are still trying to figure out their dreams and where a child/children fits in all those dreams. But if the sad reality portrayed sometimes back by the abortion survey, whether real or imagined, is true, then this is a statement most human beings tend to make every once in a while; every sexually active human being, both male and female. Due to this fact, the contemporary world has tried to come up with solutions to ensure that this statement is realized and the baby doesn’t come to the picture for as long as the statement shall remain true. One of the greatest inventions of this contemporary world is the hormonal pill.

The hormonal pills were first marketed in the USA in 1990 and have thereafter spread throughout the world as a highly recommended birth control mechanism. It is a drug that that uses artificial hormones to keep woman from getting pregnant by interfering with normal fertility cycle. There are two major groups of these pills namely the combination pills and the progestin-only “minipill”. The combination pills contains 2 artificial steroids which when taken mimic effects of natural hormones i.e. estrogen & progesterone. It ideally interferes with several normal functions of fertility for instance suppression of ovulation, inhibit implantation and impede sperm migration hence stopping pregnancy. Stoppage of pregnancy is either through inhibition of conception or implantation. When they inhibit conception then they are contraceptives, when they inhibit implantation, they are arbotifacients.

In as much as over sixty million women worldwide uses the hormonal pills, 50% of women taking the Pill discontinue it within the first year because of the side effects. Through the mainstream media hormonal contraceptives are presented as a boon for women. The serious side effects reported in mainstream scientific literature tends to be overlooked. Regularly taking powerful steroids, which are what hormonal contraceptives from the pill to injectable Depo-Provera are, has powerful varied effects on the human body. The general ones include, tiredness, digestive system problems, menopausal symptoms (hot flushes and sweating), hair thinning, effects on your muscles and bonesweight gain, headaches, memory problems, a loss of sexual desire,  breast tenderness, mood swings and depression. Other are increased risk of thrombosis, migraine, strokes, hypertension, heart attacks, sore breasts, breast lumps, sore legs, leg cramps, pulmonary emboli, irregular vaginal bleeding (some increased risk of unplanned pregnancy) or no periods, post-pill infertility (sometimes increasing use of In vitro Fertilization (IVF) for pregnancy), miscarriages of subsequent pregnancies and bleeding which may be heavy (menorrhagia).

All the above side effects are physiological and, well, for most women manageable. One of the most serious side effects of the pill is the increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots that can potentially become fatal. According to the Guardian (March 6, 2009), Britain’s most prominent left-wing newspaper, some versions of the pill increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis by 5 times, as reported by the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The pill further doubles the risk of having a stroke.

Hormonal Contraceptives such as the pill have been labeled as class A carcinogens by the World Health Organization (WHO). The pill increases the risk of cancer in women of childbearing age. “Teenagers and young women are especially vulnerable to breast cancer risk because their breasts are growing,” says the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute. However, the risk level goes back to normal 10 years or more after discontinuing oral contraceptive use. Oral contraceptive use is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer and liver tumours.  This is according to National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health in USA. In a research done to establish the co relationship of the contraceptives with brain cancer, the researchers establish the background for their study by pointing out that use of hormonal contraceptives “increases” the risk of several types of cancer, including cervical cancer, breast cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The findings indicated that “Long-term use of hormonal contraceptives was associated with an increased risk of brain glioma that increased with duration of use.” This was printed in British Journal of Pharmacology in October 26, 2014.

Pill steroid hormones also change immunity resulting in increases in infections – viral, bacterial and fungal infections (e.g. thrush), sexually transmitted diseases like HPV (associated with cervix cancer) and PID (pelvic inflammatory disease). A recent study in Kenya linked use of the hormonal Depo Provera to an increase in the rate of HIV infection. The findings of the research done by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) revealed that Depo Provera, a contraceptive used by many women risks them being infected by HIV and AIDS. The pill was found to have more chemicals suspected to make women more prone to HIV infection.  Other diseases one becomes prone to are endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts (including polycystic ovaries), autoimmune diseases and a variety of other conditions. In children there is an increased risk of behavioral and developmental abnormalities including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism (Dr. Ellen CG Grant research done between 1988 and 1998). This is linked to toxic metals and the zinc and magnesium deficiencies associated with these hormones.

This may not be all that comes with the pills. There could be more. The side effects highlighted above applies to all hormonal intra uterine devices and injectibles. I believe that there is a far bigger risk in using the hormonal pills than getting pregnant and bringing forth a child.

Spacing of births is possible without the use of hormonal pills. There are scientifically proven methods that allow couples to work with their fertility cycle to allow them to postpone or achieve pregnancy. It calls for discipline, a lot of discipline, and active involvement of the parties involved. (This is a story for another day).download

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Article 35:- The pains only a mother can feel…

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There are some verses in the bible  that have always left me baffled; wondering what Christ was trying to imply. For example, Luke 23:29, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!‘ This contradicts the belief that a child is a blessing. It contradicts ‘Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalms 127:3-4)’.

I may not know what Christ implied, but for sure there are pains that only a mother can feel. This statement he said during his journey to crucifixion when he met women who were weeping for him, and he told them to weep for themselves instead. I picture Mary, his mother, accompanying him in this journey. We watch this in the bible story movies and those of us who are weepy will definitely cry but there is a pain that only she felt. The pains of watching your child suffer… There is no mother who won’t wince when a child falls. There is no mother who won’t turn away at the sound of a crying baby. There is no mother who won’t get irked when they hear that there is rampage on a certain university. I remember my mother telling me sometimes back when Moi University went on strike and my brother was a student there that she could not sleep until he arrived home at 4am. How he got home is a story only he can tell. I don’t know of a mother who won’t call their child in this Nairobi if a bomb explodes somewhere. This remnds me of the August 7th 1998 Bomb blast at the American Embassy in Ufundi Plaza(the site is currently August 7thMemorial Park). I heard the news of the twin blast in Nairobi and Dares Salaam. It didn’t strike me as alarming until my parents asked me twice what I really heard and mentioned that she was praying all my siblings were well wherever they were; Reality check. I know I have been disturbed by a sight of a child being beaten ever since I was a child myself. A friend of mine keeps telling me that she was willing to carpet her house wall to wall because her child kept falling and hurting herself. The default button when you are a parent is to imagine the worst and always hope and pray that it does not happen to your child. When they go out you worry, when they are in the house you worry, when you are expectant you worry and when they are all grown with their own families you worry. When they make mistakes, you live the mistake…

Children make mistakes and most of us did make our own mistakes. The things we never realize the mistakes we make are a double edged sword to our parents, one they experience pain for the mistake and they suffer the consequences with us. Not because they will literally contribute in any way, but because they walk the journey with us. All of us probably have these two fears; fear of imminent pain, and fear of imminent death-I know I fear pain. That is why news of a cancer diagnosis will probably sound like a last nail into the coffin. Fear drives us to do crazy things. For a teen daughter, it is the fear of labour, sleepless nights, a child bringing up another child, support, provision, unknown future, terminated dreams, making it, what type of child will be brought up, the desperation of holding a sick child, the pain of watching your child make mistakes, the double edged sword that you embrace by being a parent… The list of worries is endless. One of the key is the death of the dreams you actually had for this daughter of yours. I believe that is the initial hurt. This is followed by many psychological self induced hurts fuelled by the fears I have stated above. Imagination is a crazy driver. Every time you hear of a child molested, you imagine that that could be your child, if a child is mistreated by their caregiver, if they are raped, stripped, beaten, shot, it all comes to you, and you share in the pain of that mother. When they leave your house, you have probably imagined all things that could go wrong and when they are not home on time, your heart will skip beats when your phone rings fearing for the worst. And of course when you see a little coffin, you can only weep.

That is all theory until it happens to you. I am a mother to many daughters and most of those who know me know that I have cried many tears for and with them. There is just that sword that cuts through you. I am a great advocate of life. I have recently learnt that one of the mistakes that cuts through a mother’s heart and shreds it to pieces is the realization that their child is sexually active and in the sexual activity, a child was conceived. Whoever said “it’s just sex” lied (my opinion), because no matter what we do, sexual roles that is the native and procreative functions will always manifests themselves at some point in time and the consequences of both must be born, whether if it is through heart breaks for unitive and pregnancy for procreative.  I will scream at the top of my lungs that you keep your pregnancy, because that child is a key to many blessings in your life. I will advice you that it is not the end of life when you are teenager, and you have made that one mistake that will make you a teen mom. I will give you a dozen examples of successful teen mums who chose to against all odds live this life with the fruit of their wombs. I will give you a dozen more successful influential people who made a difference in this world but they are abortion survivors. I have cried for the unborn children that never see the beauty of this earth and experience the joy of overcoming challenges. But recently I have learnt that I can tell you the reasons why a sane man and woman would actually advice you to procure an abortion, especially when that person is the woman who bore you. I have learnt to appreciate why mothers would banish their children for ages and refuse to be associated with their grand children. I have learnt that sometimes it is not the child’s mistake parse that scares the parents but the consequences of the mistakes and the fear of the impact of those consequences on their lives. They say that every mother goes to labor with their daughters; they nurture their children with them; cry when they cry; celebrate when they do; and most of all they parent these children with them. Why is this so, because they have been there, done that literally.

While the fears and worries may be justified, I still believe that, as my friend Agatha says, the cross that comes our way will never be so heavy that we cannot bear. God knows His children before they are born and God for sure takes care of the child when they come. He never promised that life will be easy, but He sure promised to be there for us, to travel with us to the end of time. So there comes a time when our own selfishness, which is what drives these fears must be set aside and the good of another be made important. We have to somehow, amidst this confusion of creative imagination, sort the fears and bury them and start living positive steps. We must celebrate life. We must embrace life. We must fight for life. We must fight fear and live in hope. It is good to go down the pain road, but it not good to let pain dictate our life. Negative activities will always be there. Evil will always be there, but it must be there so that good prevail. Am not saying that any child deserves to be raped, neither is any boy or girl worthy of being sodomized, no woman should be undressed and no human being should be beheaded or blown away by some bomb. All I am saying is amidst all this is a beautiful world. We cannot let fear dictate our activities. We cannot become permanent slaves to our own anxieties. We have to rise beyond that which inhibits our becoming and live life to the full. We cannot totally negate the fact that our children make mistakes, but we can resolve not to let the fact that they made them define the relationship we have with them. We cannot shield them from all the harm of the world but we can equip them with a skin so tough that when they indeed get touched, it will only scathe them not scar them. We cannot stop our children from becoming their own persons, we cannot hold them back from growing, we can pray to the God who co parents them with us every day to watch out for them, to hold them close to Himself, to shield them from the contagion and the evils of this world, and when anything does befall them, that He may give them the strength and the resilience to pick themselves up and rise beyond that which weighed them down. Like one Gary Thomas said in his book Sacred Parenting, pain builds resilience and confidence in our children. May God grant us the graces to bear this pain, because by the virtue that we are parents, we will feel pain, but may we bear this pain knowing that it is all for the good. The poet Kahil Gibran wrote: “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow, that is giving you joy. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

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Article 34:- Nobility of Parenthood…

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I have always believed that before parenting role sits on our shoulders, God first parented the children. Our role is to co parent with him, to bring up these children to accomplish the role He created them for. I have been reading “sacred Parenting “by Gary Thomas. In this book, he shares experiences of how parenting his children has brought him closer to God and how the children have taught him to relate better with God. At one point, he shares of how his wife had challenges adjusting to motherhood. At this point she drew inspiration from her discovery that welcoming this child into the world is the very act so highly regarded by Jesus at the judgement in Mathew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me”.

Gary Thomas says,

Who gets hungrier than a newly awakened baby eagerly searching out the mothers breasts? Who is more naked than a recently born child? Who is more a stranger than an infant who comes into the world knowing no one? Who gets sick more often than a little one, who seems inclined towards infections, diaper rash, and colic?

When a mother welcomes a child into the world, feeding her, giving her drink and clothing her and holding her when she gets sick (and at least for most first borns, boiling the pacifier when it drops to the floor and rushing her to the emergency room when her temperatures soars) she is doing exactly what Jesus tells us will be most rewarded in heaven.

“But how can caring for your own child result in heavenly reward? Some might ask, “surely Jesus dint mean that did he?” People who ask such questions don’t understand that the children we raise, ultimately speaking, are not really ours. God creates each child and he has such deep passionate love for every boy and girl that he never misses a single life event in their life. “I tell you the truth, whatever you do to the least of these brothers of mine, you have done to me”(Mathew 25:40).

Mothers and fathers, when you give your tiny infant a bath, you are washing God’s baby. Pause a moment in your busy day and look up to heaven. When you minister to the youngster, can you imagine God smiling down on you? When you fix that hungry six year old a peanut butter sandwich, you are feeding one of God’s children. Listen carefully; you may hear God laughing in pleasure. When you hug an adolescent whom others have teased mercilessly at school, you are comforting God’s teenager. Are those God’s tears dampening your shoulder?

In the process of caring and loving, you bring God great pleasure. At that very moment you become his provision, his comfort, and his passion. Learn to swim in that joy and you will never look at parenting in the same way again.

You could have rejected this child. You could have spurned the demands on your time, your resources and your emotional well being. But instead, you accepted this child, through great pain you gave birth to this child, and even with greater pain you make daily sacrifices to love this child. Your heavenly father doesn’t miss a second of this sacrifice. He sees it all. He cries with you, he laughs with you and he takes great joy in the good work you are doing.

Whether we are parents or not, we have incredible opportunities to participate in this passion that God has for children. I am sure God is present in the sanctuary of a church, because Jesus says that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there. But if we really want to live in the presence of God, we may want to hang out at the playground, Sunday school and nursery. There is no way God is missing what is going on there.”

I just wanted to share this excerpt from this book with all the mothers out there. So that they may know, whether the child is unborn or not, whether the child is a boy or a girl, whether the mother is a single parent or not, our heavenly father looks at you with pleasure as you walk through the journey of parenting that child God blessed you with. Every time you struggle for that child, to feed, to find the right caregiver, to build his esteem, to do all that parenting calls you to do, look at that child, imagine God saying, well done my faithful servant, for a job well done.

Article 31:- To have a loving Father…

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“I am pregnant”. Three words that I have learnt not only brings so much excitement, but also so much scare, worry, anxiety, anger and any other emotion that arises from uncertainty of a future redefined. I used to believe that it was a woman thing to flee from this truth but with a lot of literature and what have trended in the recent past on Kenyan social media, read ‘deadbeat’, every party in who participated in the making of this new creation, except the creator Himself flees for a moment from the truth of this defining moment. The question is how many come back. Many times, women do come back, and in their own feeble ways learn to tread through life and live, not only for themselves but also for their children. For fathers, the reactions range from excitement to denial to indifference. For the purpose of this article, though, how many fathers choose to come back and be loving daddies? What are the consequences of this one choice?

 To have a loving father, according to Sharon Jaynes, is a longing that is etched in every child’s heart. She tells of a girl who lived in a children’s home, who really longed to be adopted, and who could not wait to have a dad she could call her own. The longing was so much that went she was adopted, she told everyone who cared to listen that she had a dad. And it became her defining moment and realization that every child does need a father to grow to become a great adult. It does not mean that if they are absent they won’t grow, but they are very vulnerable.

In the movie “courageous”, the character of the sheriff one day brings a report to his members of staff that research is showing fatherless children are several times more likely to get into trouble in life, including crime. He goes further to encourage them to spend time with their families. This excerpt from the Character of Adam Mitchell drives the point home… “As a law-enforcement officer, I’ve seen firsthand the deep hurt and devastation that fatherlessness brings in a child’s life. Our prisons are full of men and women who lived recklessly after being abandoned by their fathers, wounded by the men who should have loved them the most. Many now follow the same pattern of irresponsibility that their fathers did.” This I could have treated as “a movie punch line for the story behind” but my own further reading reveals that it is true; children’s lives are being shaped by the presence or absence of their dad. Parents have a major effect on their kids. When kids feel rejected or unloved by mom and dad, they’re more likely to become hostile, aggressive and emotionally unstable. Parental rejection also can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy and negative worldviews (Ronald Rohner, The Director of the Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut, 2014). Rohner goes further to explain that this is true for both parents. But in some cases, dad is a more important factor than mom. Behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment are all more closely linked to dad’s rejection than moms. Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults’ sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing about the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers. He (Rohner) and his colleagues detailed their findings in May in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review (2014). Gary Chapman in his book The Family You Have Always Wanted explains that he has often encountered people struggling with what has been called “father hunger” manifested in anger, depression, and confusion. This situation results from too little quality and quantity of fathering as a child and too little intimacy between father and child. He analyses this situation as arising from three kind of fathers, that is; the absentee father, absent from death, divorce or desertion; the present but not available father who lives in the same house as his wife and child but is too busy to have time for his child and; the helpless fathers, who have no idea whatsoever on how to build a relationship with his child or children, a trickledown effect of not being fathered themselves. 

Fathering is a gift and a responsibility. The Catholic Catechism says, “The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents.” (CCC#2214).  In the book titled Why Fathers Count: The Importance of Fathers and Their Involvement with Children (Men’s Studies Press), Sean E. Brotherson and Joseph M. White, the editors and authors of the first chapter, say that the presence of a father has a positive impact in many ways as children with fathers have fewer behavioral problems, obtain better academic results, and are economically better off. In the write up, Why Dads Matter by Father John Flynn, LC, children need more than ever the presence and guidance of fathers in family life. According to a recent collection of essays, a significant body of scientific research clearly documents the vital role a father plays in the formative years of a child’s life, the science of fatherhood, why dads matter, 2014.

So what do fathers do that impact the children so much? Gary Chapman explains that a child’s self identity, level of motivation, sexual identity and pattern of relating to other people will be influenced by the father’s words and treatment. They will come to believe they are valuable, good, or worthless by the messages they receive. He outlines that:-

A loving father will be actively involved in the child’s life by taking that initiative to be a part of the child’s life, not waiting for the child to initiate so that he responds. A father’s love for his children is often expressed in the sacrifices they make, whether in times of crisis or just in the everyday choices of family life. This implies giving up of self for the benefit of the child either on the way or already here. Most dads who abandon ship when they realize that their sexual encounter was fruitful usually lack this maturity to transition from the self to the us. ;

He will consciously create time to be with his children meaning he will not do everything else then when there is extra time he can be with his children, he goes out of his way to make sure that no matter how busy and demanding life’s hassles can be, and his children will not be the losers. What’s most important, Padilla-Walker says, in Why Dads Matter is that fathers realize they matter. Quality time is important. That doesn’t mean going on fancy vacations, it can be playing ball in the backyard or watching a movie with your kids. “Whatever it is, just make yourself available and when you’re with your children, be with them”;

He engages his children in a conversation, getting to know what is going on in their creative minds, molding their character, perfecting that which is good in them and correcting the wrong, cherishing their achievements and motivating them when they seem low. This they may not get an opportunity to learn if they do not talk to the child actively;

He plays with his children. This forms the fun part of fathering. Gary Thomas in his book sacred parenting says that in a family, there is a place for discipline, sacrifice and commitment, but an equally important space exists for enjoyment. In all that enjoyment is sharing life with the child or children. It is a time for laughing, using the imagination and creating worlds of fantasy;

He will teach his values. These are taught by the way we live; he will provide for and protect his children i.e. meeting the basic needs of food, Clothing and shelter. Some fathers have taken to fleeing responsibility for providing for such needs which has led to very bitter and frustrated children who end up believing very little of themselves because they believe they were not worthy enough that is why they were abandoned by their father;

He loves his children unconditionally, not because they have good grades or performed well in sports or cleaned up his room, but because they are his children and even in their lowest they need to know daddy still loves them.

In this interaction with his children, a father instills in the child that which will enable them face life confidently and purposefully. He enables the children to discover the best of themselves and actualize it. In these interactions, any negatives are weeded out while positives are cultivated. In these encounters values are instilled, virtues nurtured and vices condemned. It does not mean that all children who have grown up without a father have turned out bad. It may imply that while the biological fathers fled, a father figure stepped out and bore the responsibility and nurtured these children to become great persons. It could also mean that these fatherless children drew inspiration and the necessary love needed from their heavenly Father and with the help of their mothers and became their own persons.

Adam Mitchell’s speech in courageous sums up the message I want to convey in this article and goes thus…

“As a law-enforcement officer, I’ve seen firsthand the deep hurt and devastation that fatherlessness brings in a child’s life. Our prisons are full of men and women who lived recklessly after being abandoned by their fathers, wounded by the men who should have loved them the most. Many now follow the same pattern of irresponsibility that their fathers did. While so many mothers have sacrificed to help their children survive, they were never intended to carry the weight alone. We thank God for them.

But research is proving that a child also desperately needs a daddy. There’s no way around this fact… I now believe that God desires for EVERY father to courageously step up and do whatever it takes to be involved in the lives of his children. But more than just being there providing for them, he is to walk with them through their young lives and be a visual representation of the character of God, their father in heaven. A father should love his children, and seek to win their hearts. He should protect them, discipline them, and teach them about God. He should model how to walk with integrity and treat others with respect, and should call out his children to become responsible men and women, who live their lives for what matters in eternity. Some men will hear this, and mock it. Or ignore it. But I tell you that as a father, you are accountable to God for the position of influence he has given you. You can’t fall asleep at the wheel, only to wake up one day and realize that your job or your hobbies have no eternal value, but the souls of your children do. Some men will hear this and agree with it, but have no resolve to live it out. Instead, they will live for themselves, and waste the opportunity to leave a godly legacy for the next generation. But there are some men, who regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, regardless of what our fathers did NOT do for us, will give the strength of our arms and the rest of our days to loving God with all that we are and to teach our children to do the same. And whenever possible to love and mentor others who have no father in their lives, but who desperately need help and direction… In my home, the decision has already been made. You don’t have to ask who will guide my family, because by God’s grace, I will. You don’t have to ask who will teach my son to follow Christ, because I will. Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? I will. Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family’s history? I will. Who will pray for, and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? I am their father. I will. I accept this responsibility and it is my privilege to embrace it. I want the favor of God and his blessing on my home. Any good man does. So where are you men of courage? Where are you, fathers who fear the Lord? It’s time to rise up and answer the call that God has given to you and to say I will. I will. I will!”

I need to say no more.

Article 30:- To be a mum; to be a hero…

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If you ask children, even most adults, who their heroes and heroines are, a majority of them will say their mothers without a second thought.  This is not because fathers have not been responsible or they have not impacted their children as much as mothers. I actually do not have a reason why I would say my mother without blinking an eye if asked the same question. She has fought fights for me that only a mother could, she has counselled me gently yet firmly, she has loved me  even when I was unlovely, she has sacrificed her beauty to make sure I am beautiful, she has had sleepless nights when I have been in trouble, she has prayed for me since I was born and she still prays for me, she has disciplined me with love, she has celebrated me and my achievements, she has cried with me when I have done foolish things that have wounded me, she has believed in me, in my values when no one else thought otherwise she has scraped her knees and blistered her hands fending for me, she has sacrificed her happiness so that I could be happy, she has let go of her dreams so I could cherish my own; the list is endless. This is what a mother daily chooses to do for her child since she is born.

I do not want to highlight my mother as such in this article; I want to celebrate those who have chosen life when Abortion was a very enticing idea. Those who have chosen to fight for life, when everything else pointed to gloom, who have chosen fight all the odds to bring forth a baby not knowing what the future holds.

In the recent past, I have read two stories of courageous women who actually banished the idea of abortion when its end was so beautiful to the eye. One lady fought the odds when her husband who is supposed to be a co-parent to this child denounced this child and told her that if she chose to bring forth this child to the world she will be sort of banished. She would remain hidden until the child is grown up. The parents in law who supported the decision of their son ensured that even during her pregnancy, her life would not be easy. So she had to endure all this and even when the child came, the father has only seen the child once. The mother stands relentless in the fight and loves her child. She is currently staying with her parents and keeps hoping her husband will come round to love this child. The other lady got pregnant while in campus and contemplated terminating this pregnancy because she had a whole future ahead of her, she had no job, final exams looming, a boyfriend with no job, and very harsh parents among other challenges. She chose to keep her baby and this brought with it its own challenges, like going with no food, living in a makeshift house with the boyfriend as they figure out how to live the next day, depending on friends to even food the purchase of child supplies among others. However, they managed against all odds and they are still living one day at a time trusting God to keep providing for them. Their child has never lacked. This is just among the few who actually fight it out for the sake of the innocent child.

Sex has two primary purposes which are not mutually exclusive; the unitive and the procreative functions. However our world today glorifies the unitive – in the wrong way in that it is self seeking selfish kind- and frustrates the procreative by its encouragement of safe sex and promotion of contraceptives. However since the functions are not mutually exclusive, and frustrating nature will never be very successful no matter how much we try, conception does occur many times. With conception is the beginning of a new life, unique and ordained to perform a purpose in this world. However, since most of the time the idea of pregnancy is overwhelming, even for the married and since we were not ready to bear the consequences of the procreative function of sex, we start entertaining the idea of abortion. The idea is made more appealing by the social pressures that are prevalent at the time. Am I ready for a child? What will parent say? I don’t have a job, how will I fend for this child? The baby daddy has denounced their child; I am just but a teenager and my parents will banish me; my husband wants no more children, what will he say when he finds out I am pregnant? I don’t want more children, the ones I have are enough; my career will take a dip; I am still in school; I have medical conditions that will not allow my womb to support this pregnancy; the child before him/her is still very young; with all these, the choice to abort becomes almost sealed.

Every time a woman gets pregnant, married or not, in school or not, with a well paying job or with none, the overwhelming feeling of- I am bringing forth a child who will depend on me for everything- hits her. I remember wondering every day in the first few months of my pregnancy if I will be good enough for my child. What kind of mother will I be? I am really ready for this? Well, many thoughts passed through my head really. Every time a woman gets pregnant she has to make a choice to let live or to let die. Every time a woman chooses to let live, she chooses to be a hero to the child she will bring forth. She chooses to fight all the social battles that being a parent brings forth. It is choosing to embrace the fact that Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind (Howard W. Hunter).

Accepting responsibility does not mean the other party will do the same; accepting responsibility does not mean it’s going to be easy; accepting responsibility does not mean it’s going to be all smiles. Parenting brings forth its own unique challenges with every child. Many people cite financial constraints as a main challenge, but that is just a tip of the iceberg. It means choosing to trust God to guide you as you bring forth this son or daughter of His. In Jeremiah, He declares before we were born He knew and consecrated us. Choosing responsibility implies co-parenting the child with God to fulfill that which he was created to accomplish. It is choosing to be a hero to this child, who when they are born, they look at you with all the trust no one can describe in words. As N.K. Jemisin says, ‘In a child’s eyes, a mother is a goddess’. They know that in your arms they are safe. Take a crying child and place it in the arms of its mother and shush, all is well in its world. It is choosing to let the child discover the world, first through your eyes, and when they are ready, through their own. It is choosing to let your heart beat outside of you and still survive. It is choosing to derive joy in seeing someone else smile, someone else achieve a milestone, someone else be happy, someone else derive courage in your eyes. It is choosing to let someone love you unconditionally and in that love you find satisfaction. It is knowing that someone else’s life matters more than your own, yet the knowledge does not make you less. It is choosing to let the small hands that touch you with love define your waking and sleeping moments.

We would want many things for our children as mothers, and one of them is not to suffer. Gary Thomas, in his book sacred parenting says that we should allow our children to suffer so that they may build character. Many of our fears towards parenting are born from the fact that we do not want our children to suffer, we do not want them to lack; we want them to have everything. Gary says it is letting them grow through all this that they appreciate life, sacrifice, value and character formation but most of all, they learn that there is world beyond their mother. There is the one who controls the universe; there is a God who walks daily with them in the wakes of life. They realize they have a father.

My country celebrates mashujaa day. They sacrificed their all and fought tooth and nail to secure our country’s independence. They dies so that we may live free. Today I choose to celebrate those mothers who against all the odds, choose to be the heroes of the one they would forever hold dear; their children. They choose to suffer to let their children live. They literally lay down their life for their children. I have listened to many mothers, young and old, talk about the challenges they have gone through. They have all had that smile that says, against all odds, we made it and look how fine my children turned out to be. I have listened to children of such women, and they all have had pride in their voices as they say, my mother is my hero. I raise my glass to the unsung heroes, happy mashujaa day! You are the heroes who define the character of the next generation. Someday, when your child will be old, she/he will look at you and say, mummy, you are my hero and the struggle will all be worth it in the end…

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Article 28- Life begins at Birth…; ?

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“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name…”An excerpt from the Magnificant song of Mary. These are the words on my lips this day, the 10th day of the third month of the year 2014. I had never been admitted in any hospital, at least not since my conscious age. The closest to admission I remember was a one evening stay at our high school sanatorium because I had a high fever. This is because I had kissed a malaria causing mosquito. But on 12th February 2014, I was. There was nothing wrong with me. At least not at the point I was being told I was being admitted. My baby was not kicking. Doctors call it distress. I took myself to see the doctor and well, I was taken out of hospital 3 days later. Within those three days, I was on put on IV, Fetal Monitor, Antibotics, Steroids and muscle relaxing medication (read salbutamol/nifedipine) and on discharge, some more tablets of the same. The problem was, I was on preterm labor, and it was not going to be good for my baby to be born then. The baby had to be safe and pregnancy maintained by all means.

This brought me to think about one of the contentious issues discussed and argued about by pro-lifers and pro-choicers. The issue of when life begins. And well, from my experience, my pre-born child was so important I had to go through all that to make sure it is safe and protected inside the womb until the time which it is healthy enough to be let into this world. So a baby inside the womb is that important. If it was not then, the doctors and nurses would have bothered much, or would they?

In one of my biology classes I learnt that the basic unit of life is a cell. My basic argument is we cannot explain when life begins because that which begins life is already alive, that is, the male and gamete cells. However, scientifically, we can define when human development begins. According to one prominent embryology text, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, by Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persuad (7th Edition; Publ. Saunders, p. 16), ‘‘Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to produce a single cell, a zygote in a process called fertilization. The result of this union is the production of a Zygote, a new and genetically unique organism, or fertilized egg, initiating prenatal development.  It starts out as a single cell and then divides several times to form a ball of cells called a Morula. Further cell division is accompanied by the formation of a small cavity between the cells. This stage is called a blastocyst. The blastocyst reaches the uterus on roughly the fifth day after fertilization and adheres to, the endometrial cells of the uterus in a process called implantation. Rapid growth occurs and the embryo’s main external features begin to take form. This process is called differentiation which produces the varied cell types (such as blood cells, kidney cells, and nerve cells etc). So if the basic unit of life is a cell, according to my biology, then the zygote and blastocyst are stages of human life that eventually develops to a human being. Dr. Robert George in his quote says “In human reproduction, when sperm joins ovum, these two individual cells cease to be, and their union generates a new and distinct organism with unique DNA. This organism is a whole, though in the beginning developmentally immature, member of the human species. Readers can consult any of the standard human-embryology texts, such as Moore and Persaud’s The Developing Human, Larsen’s Human Embryology, Carlson’s Human Embryology & Developmental Biology, and O’Rahilly and Mueller’s Human Embryology & Teratology.”  

From another point of view, a scientific textbook called “Basics of Biology” gives five characteristics of living things; these five criteria are found in all modern elementary scientific textbooks: Living things are highly organized; All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy; All living things have an ability to respond to their environment; All living things have an ability to reproduce and; All living things have an ability to adapt. According to this elementary definition of life, life begins at fertilization, when a sperm unites with an oocyte.  From this moment, the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species).  Non-living things do not do these things.  Even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, a distinct, unique life has begun his or her existence inside her. In an article entitled Life Begins at Conception by Jon E. Dougherty, at Catholic Education Resource Centre, he argues that life begins at conception not at birth. For those who believe life begins at birth, he explains that birth is simply one stage of ongoing human development. He further argues that barring death by natural causes, everyone has the potential to eventually become a senior citizen and that we humans are never “fully-developed.” We’re not born “complete”; we grow, change, mature and age constantly, which means we’re always “developing,” and we develop though the first nine months of our lives attached to a “host” — our mothers. To further this argument, prolife physicians in http://www.prolifephysicians.org/lifebegins.htm argues that the preborn human being may be dependent upon the mother for nutrition; however, this does not diminish his or her humanity, but proves it. 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2270-2271, Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. I remember my Gynecologist telling me before admission that the tragedy of his profession is that two lives are always under his care at all times and must always be his concern at whatever point of gestation. It is this basic principle of honor, respect and more so love of the unborn that drives both mothers and doctors to have regular checks in the course of the 9months of gestation in prenatal care. It is the same basis that traditionally, a pregnant woman was put on special diets and denied some foods and activities that were deemed harmful to the unborn. It is this basic factor that I was on medication and am still on total bed rest to ensure that my baby is okay and no activity whatsoever can jeopardize its life and chance to become a citizen in its own time. It is on this basis that today I sing with Mary the magnificent, because by the graces and goodness of good, I have reached the window of + or – 2 weeks within which the baby is term meaning fully mature and ready for the world.  

For those who still argue that life begins at birth, I have no words. I only have a conviction that human development begins way before even the mother of the child knows there is someone beautiful, unique and consecrated by God growing inside of her. Prenatal care is just one of the simplest and basic evidence but scientifically much more can be established, if only we would be willing to look for the facts. I conclude by quoting Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”. It is the responsibility of the parents especially the mother and any other relevant parties who can, for instance doctors, nurses or midwives to ensure that purpose with which each human being is created comes to be. 

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