Posts in RantsByGbemi

Seasons Change (Part II)

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

 

Harmattan is still my favourite season of the year. It’s the season when many great things happen – Christmas, Birthdays, Holidays. It’s also the season when one of the greatest miracles of my life so far has taken place.

 

On Meeting Baby F

 

This is not how the blogs/ Instagram posts show you your first time with your son. In those photos, you’re usually in a hospital gown in bed with your baby on your chest and your husband by your side. You look decent, everyone is smiling and beside themselves with joy.

 

I was beside myself with joy, but nothing prepared me for the apprehension and anxiety that came with having your baby seven weeks earlier than his due date. It turns out that because Baby F’s heart rate was dipping at the time, he had blue asphyxia when he was brought out. The hospital sent him right to NICU and put him on oxygen and monitor his oxygen saturation.

 

So when I did meet my son, I could barely walk from my ward to see him in the NICU. And all I saw was a lot of tubes and lines on a really tiny baby. My heart bled for a second. This wasn’t the plan. Over the next few days, I go through an emotional rollercoaster. First, there’s this bundle of joy and while I have joy, I’m also anxious and I have a million questions. Why did this happen? What caused the distress? Why is his oxygen saturation low? How long will we have to be here?

 

Our Recovery

 

After a while, I realized that I was letting the devil robbing me of the joy of having a whole ass baby. Over the next few days, my partner and I focused on praying and being intentionally deliriously thankful for our newborn. We had family and friends who were praying for us, but most importantly, we knew our God could move mountains. This helped us put things in perspective. I could focus on recovery and my partner could focus on being everything that he was supposed to be. Our doctors weren’t too optimistic at first and I remember that at some point when I was listening to them talk over me, I just broke down and started crying. But I reminded myself that that was going to be the last time I would spend crying. Over the next few days, my response to everyone was the same: “He’s fine. The doctors are just doing their due diligence. Once we are in the clear, we’ll be headed home.”

 

This saved me the stress of having to explain where we were to everyone. It also saved me the stress of having to explain details and allow them to share their apprehension or statistics with us. I also became friends with almost every medical staff but super close friends with our favourite NICU nurse, Nurse Akintoye. For me though, the hardest part was having to leave my baby in the hospital once I was discharged and the anxiety every time I got a call from the NICU. I cried so hard the day I got discharged that it took convincing from my partner to reassure me that I was not a bad mother. We had already paid out of pocket to spend an extra night at the hospital and we concluded it was unrealistic to keep spending all that money for just sleeping and waking up in a room. I had to come from home every morning. On the upside, I was getting all the ambulation the doctors recommended. 

 

Slowly (for us) but surely, Folarin got better and every day his dependence on his oxygen tubes reduced. By his eighth day when we got to the NICU, he was totally off his oxygen tubes and I think I did the clumsiest happy dance and took a ton of photos. God was and has always been especially good to my family. Afterwards, we focused on Phototherapy and then tried to teach him how to nurse or at least feed from a bottle as he had only previously used feeding tubes. A few days later, we got our big fat all clear from our doctors and we took our baby home for the first time. It was a really sweet experience.

 

Aftercare and Settling into Motherhood

 

I still cannot say that I have settled into motherhood. The first few days were filled with an intense fear of doing something wrong, especially as we found that my baby had reflux and a high risk of aspirating. I also learned to be kind to my son. He’s a healthy and mostly happy baby and because I’m confident we’re all giving him the best possible care, I never really care about milestones. If it worries me a bit, I just pray about it and go on showering him with all the love I have to give. It has paid off, and every time I look at Folarin, my heart is filled with gratitude.

 

17th November is World Premature Day (I particularly hate the term premature) so all I will say to other preterm mums is always do what is best for you and your baby. You probably had a healthy pregnancy and did everything by the books so none of this is your fault. One in ten babies born every year is born pre-term, so while this may be unpleasant and possibly dangerous at first, with the right care, your baby will do well. I had a book where I wrote instructions from our doctors and nurses and I followed it to the letter until I could make decisions based on my own discretion. I also followed-up every doctor’s appointment till we got the all-clear.

 

I also realize that I have been incredibly blessed to have been able to hang in there till 33 weeks so my baby was a moderate preterm and I don’t have all the answers for extremely and very preterm mums.

 

I feel extremely blessed that my story has a happy ending and I wish everyone a happy ending too.

 

Love and Light,

 

Gbemisola

On Being Away… Again

Some things never change, like me just going away for so long. Especially without a word, especially after I promised to “be back in one week”.

 

You want to know what else doesn’t change – excuses. I always have perfect excuses. I see you rolling your eyes. Calm down. I swear you’ll understand this time. I promise.

 

You know I mentioned that I was married at the time. Well, I forgot to add that I was pregnant (or maybe I intentionally skipped that part, dunno dunno, the Yoruba girl in me came thraaa). Well, you know what pregnant women do? They sleep. Most of them at least (see I said them and not us?). I’d either be asleep or be so tired that I’d be useless to myself and the rest of humanity, understandably so. I was carrying a whole empire in me, that takes a lot out of work.

 

And you know why I didn’t come up here when I just had a baby? Because a baby is a full-time job, more work than dressing up and showing up to work every day; but I do what I have to do, which is taking care of my baby. That’s that for excuses.

 

Now that I am back, there’s so much to tell you, if you bear with me.

 

Stay a little longer, will you?

Prejudice: A Personal Experience

Disclaimer: By typing this, I am not making generalizations about any race or ethnicity. I am simply sharing my story as it happened to me. If you do not agree with my story, welp…

I live in Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world so it’s a no-brainer that almost everyone in Lagos, my country’s commercial capital, is Black. And while Lagos has a thriving expatriate community, I would believe that their population pales in comparison to the population of Nigerians.
I live in a block of flats in Ikeja. It’s not spick and span but it’s fair enough. It’s close to work, actually a walking distance, so I get to dodge the crazy Lagos traffic. It’s also very quiet and is the perfect hide-out for a hermit like me. My neighbors are from Nigeria, India, Philippines and Vietnam, so it’s quite the mix. I rarely have people come over, enough to make anyone uncomfortable but even when I have guests, I make sure we’re not invading anyone’s privacy.

 
Last weekend, my friend, who stays with me on and off, was trying to shoot a short home-made film. It’s really a project on the scale of say, a make-up tutorial. Only difference was the fact that we wanted something with a professional touch, so we got a videographer, while my friend’s brother and another friend of mine were assistants. In all, I had about eight people over, most of whom were inside my apartment. We had a scene to shoot outside, which involved a male friend driving my car, into the premises and parking right outside my apartment. I made sure we didn’t go beyond my apartment as I didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy.

 
About an hour into the shoot, I get a call from the estate management to ask why I have people over. The facilities’ manager goes on and on about how my expat neighbors are uncomfortable because I have guests. I explain that all we’ve done outside is drive my car into the gate and park it at my allotted spot but he’s too unrealistic to listen. Finally I tell him, in my loudest voice which my expat neighbor on the third floor can hear that all I have done is drive the car that I bought into the compound where I pay rent and service charge and park in my allotted spot. I also tell him that I believe that I am loud enough so anybody who has a problem with my friends coming and going out of my house should come downstairs and meet me. Sadly, no one came downstairs.

 
I had heard stories in the past about expats trying to make sure no locals live in the same apartment complex as I did. I always thought they were really far-fetched. However, paying attention to race relations and last Saturday’s events really made me understand something. There is a FEAR of black people that I cannot understand. If you live in Nigeria, a country of black people, why should you be scared if you see black people? You shouldn’t be here at all if you are afraid. It is probably one of those things I will never understand, but I also will never condone it. I am my mother’s daughter.

 
I did get an apology from my estate management on Monday evening, and a plea for this not to be on the internet. But I own my experiences and what I choose to do with my what has happened to me is totally up to me. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, if people want you to write kindly about them, they should treat you better.

 
How’s everyone else doing?

On Gender Equality and Lip Service: Beyond the Pay Gap

Women deserve equal pay for equal work.
You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.
– President Barack Obama

In the last few years much has been said about trying to close the gap between working conditions and expectations for men and women. You know how it’s so cool for a man to take time off work once in a while to attend Open Day at his child’s school, but if a woman did as she is naturally expected to, it would be asking for too much too often?

Many women groups and mentoring programs have sprung up in the last few years to address this. These programs take on different shapes and forms – you may get assigned a professional mentor who has probably gained experience in your area of specialization and who is supposed to be able to teach you the ropes. She’s also supposed to teach you how to be a superwoman – to combine family and a successful career.
Here’s why I have questions: Many women are managers, employers of labour, decision makers, heads of human resources in their respective organizations. So why is it still so hard to help other women progress or get better working conditions for the women who work under them. It’s because as it is with many other things, there’s a lot of motion and no movement, and I dare say plenty of lip service. Its easy to step into a power suit and step on a platform and talk about wage gap and how we wish it were easier for women to grow their careers while raising their families, and then go right back to the office and be the ice queen that no woman would dare ask for half a day off because she wants to attend her daughter’s recital. It’s also easy to talk about how it’s important to have a work life balance when raising children but complain that work is suffering when someone is asking for an extra month of maternity leave, albeit unpaid, so she can bond with her baby.
I’m treading carefully here, seeing as I don’t have kids yet and I have not been in the position to actively steer a company’s HR policies as I would. I’m also not trying to rubbish the work of women who dedicate their time and effort to mentoring other women and help them on their respective career journeys. It’s a lot of work.
I’m just saying here that if we paid a little more attention and showed a little more empathy to the women around us, perhaps we would advance our own cause faster than if we spoke empty words. Start where you are. Mentor the women around you, create a warmer workplace. By doing this you create a domino effect where women naturally show empathy towards other women and are sensitive to the dynamics of work-life balance. If you’re head of human resources, maybe your next employee retention program/ strategy should include the idea of a creche for children of employees, maybe an extra two weeks paid maternity leave and more child friendly policies. Maybe we could all just show empathy, knowing how hard it is to juggle home and work life for women. Be the woman other women can talk to and trust.
Beyond Labour Day and International Women’s Day speeches, beyond “Lean In” book clubs and trying to chase superwoman, there’s real work to be done. And it won’t get done if we-men don’t roll up their sleeves and fight for what they should actually get. This is how progress is made.

Light a fire where you are.

Today will Probably Be the worst day of your life

Or the best.

And this is not a motivational speech, I promise.

I know we’ve all heard lines along “the day is what you make of it” so much that it sounds cliche. Well, it’s the truth. Every day has potential, to be the worst day of your life or the best day of your life. Your day can start off with everything that could possibly go wrong going wrong. While I believe in God, and force majeure, I also know that we often abdicate our duties to fate. And I know this, because I’ve been in the school of thought of waiting for perfect timing or conditions, or just a good vibe. I always imagined I would just sit down with these ideas and knowledge, and one day BOOM out of nowhere, I’m top of the game in my field. And the book I always swore I would write, well one day, I would just see my book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Well, that didn’t quite work.

No. It didn’t work AT ALL.

Over the last few months, I’ve come to learn that if you want to do something, just do it. As they say, “leap, the net will appear”. If you’ve done your due dilligence about any decision you want to make, then just go ahead and do it. Don’t think yourself out of an innovative idea with impossibilities that only exist in your mind. There are no “perfect conditions”. There will always be bills to pay, and traffic, and everyone gets stressed, especially if you live in Lagos. If you wanted excuses for everything you did not want to do, you could write a whole book. In the words of Bruce Lee “if you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done”

With every day that passes, you miss out on a day that could have been the day you started – the day you started writing, the day you started a business, the day you started creating – and you’re running out of time. Except you’re ageing in reverse (a la Benjamin Button), every day is one less day in the grand scheme of things. No one can pick your brains when you die, so if you think of something and you don’t do it, the idea dies with you. Or perhaps someone else will do it. Whatever, you get the idea.

Light a fire where you are.

Have a great week.

The Rounds: Is the World Imploding?

Songs for the Week: “I believe” by Mali Music and “My World Needs You” by Kirk Franklin, Sarah Reeves and Tasha Cobbs.

 

I’ve had one hell of a week.

 

You know what it feels like to lose someone who was in his prime and so full of life? I experienced that, again this week. It hurts. It leaves you confused and asking questions you know you won’t get any answers too. Everyday I learn more about the sovereignty of God through acts like this. And even though people say you shouldn’t question God, I think that everyone should. It’s how your faith grows. You may not get the answer you require, but your faith will grow. I got this new book Trashing About with God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything by Mandy Steward, it’s a book for times like this. I’ll review it afterwards.

 

Black Lives Matter

 

So yes. I’m one of those people who is more interested in things happening abroad than in Nigeria, except it concerns. I know that I should feel a certain ownership of things happening in Nigeria, but I’ll wait till we have responsible journalism. Everything here is so sensationalized. I wake up on Wednesday Morning and the first thing I see on my Twitter feed is Alton Sterling’s murder. While I was still trying to get a hang of it, the next day I see #FalconHeightsShooting and #PhilandoCastile. The videos are so gory. Then I hear about the Nigerian, Chidi Nnamdi, who was killed in Italy for defending his girlfriend when she was called a monkey in an apparently racist attack. By the end of Thursday, I am exhausted with all this talk about race. Reminded me of “Roots” and “Da Rules” by Marvin Hodges, Em Allison and Seidu Tejan-Thomas, I posted a minute of it on my Instagram. In the aftermath, some snipers shot and killed 5 Dallas policemen. The issue here is that you can’t end violence with more violence. I understand the frustrations, having seen videos of Police encounters with black people, but common, killing innocent cops? I only hope that all of this forces a conversation. And I hope that we get to the point in Nigeria where you can openly record policemen. Amen

 

But what’s it with race that humans cannot seem to get a hang of, centuries after? What is with the feeling of superiority or inferiority that we feel? Why can’t we all just get along? I think I have more questions for God.

 

Three-Day Public Holiday

 

I don’t think we’ve had a 2-day work week in a long time, or perhaps since I started working post-NYSC. The moon decided to play peek-a-boo, is the lightest way I can put it. And while some people argue that it is senseless in a country in recession, I loved it. I slept well, which is something I have been struggling with lately. I also got to write a chapter of my book. I saw my sister and her kids, who are like a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy world.

 

Deregulation Blues

I ran out of gas during the Public Holiday and had to refill my cylinder. Cooking Gas is now N4,000 for a 12.5kg cylinder?

 

Jesus come quickly!

 

The Grind: Reasons Why Better Work-Life Balance Isn’t Overrated

The Irony: I’m only just learning again what Work-Life Balance should be. I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like, having spent the last 44 months in a start-up where by default everything is urgent. If I knew what work-life balance was, I’m sure stress-induced amnesia has made me forget. Until lately.

 

In the last one year though, I’ve had to retreat and rethink the things that are most important to me. And while my job will still be among those things, I realize that I am not doing myself, my career or my loved ones any good by not having a vibrant life outside of work. You’re not much fun when you can’t hang out with your friends without taking your laptop, or when you’re having drinks with friends and pause mid-sentence because an email came in and you have to respond because the subject has “URGENT” in it.

 

Not having a work-life balance wears you out quickly. You may love your job and be passionate about it even, but if you work round the clock that it always leaves you too drained to do anything else, you’ll soon start to resent the job. You’ll start to become so tired and spent and inevitably hate the thing that makes you always tired. And let’s not forget that it breeds unrealistic expectations of you, since people are used to expecting results from you, regardless of if you have to stay all night to achieve those.

 

You also need to have a personality outside work. I remember at a certain point in time, my entire world was centered around my job. Most of my friends were from work (which isn’t really a bad thing) and even keeping in touch with people seemed like too much work. After a restructuring at my workplace, I backtracked a bit and tried to ask myself who I would become if I didn’t have a job, seeing as most of interactions were work-related. I can’t say I have gotten to the point where I have a work-life balance, but I am headed there.

 

You need to have a work-life balance so that you can work on your dreams and goals. Except you own your business, or your job is your hobby, chances are that you have some goal or dream or passion that you would work on if you had a little extra time. If you have no work-life balance, there’ll never be time or energy to work on those dreams and passions. And as someone working in Human Capital once told me, only you are responsible for your choices and outcomes. At the end of the day you’ll have to live with yourself and the chances you didn’t take.

 

In the last few months when I’ve been intentionally trying to cultivate a work-life balance, I’ve learned a lot more about myself, and had a little more time to work on my dreams. Here’s what I did, and hopefully you can try:

  • Unplug: Unplug. Log out of work email on your mobile phone
  • Don’t bring work home. What’s the point in closing early if you’re going home to continue working
  • Make out time for your dreams
  • Have a to-do list.
  • Concentrate on your tasks: This helps you spend less time on tasks, so you don’t have to work during your free-time
  • Prioritize: Learn to put the things that count top of your list

 

Have you been in a situation where you didn’t have a work-life balance? Please share how you overcame.

 

Have a great week.

Love in the Time of Internet

I wanted to title this “The commodification of love” but I don’t know if that quite captures it. So I played with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

Sometimes it does feel like love has been commodified though. Every once in a while I meet (or hear about) some guy trying to “sell” himself as husband material, but a story for another post.

I’ve lived alone for 4 years now and mostly had only my phone and TV for company for half the time so if anyone would eventually try to shoot her shot on the Internet, it should be me. Before #ShootYourShot though, I had met quite a few people on the great Internet, both male and female, and I’m now best friends with some of them. So I think it’s safe to say that I have a fair understanding of these streets.

Anyways, since the plan this year has been to leave my comfort zone (which can be interpreted literally to mean my bed or couch), I signed up for Tinder (Drum Roll). Before Tinder though, DMs were still lit, occasionally (I kid, once in a blue moon). Anyway, Tinder was/is a whole new experience for me because it felt like I had to consciously choose who to like. The experience of swiping made me feel like I was looking for a dress to buy on a rack with way too many clothes. And what if I like the dress but it doesn’t fit (translate to what if I “like” his profile but he doesn’t like me back so we can’t match). Besides trying to physically duck when I see someone I know in real life, I think I’m having a good time, except the one time one guy’s first question was “U short yh?”. I unmatched in 0.5 seconds 🙂  I still think Tinder is the best thing in a while.

 

I’ve matched with a few good men and unmatched some. And I’ve probably only liked one person who didn’t like me back (pats self on the back). Safe to say I think 1 or more persons will make it out of Tinder. Tinder is really like when someone introduces you to another person and they text you on Whatsapp or BBM before you ever speak. Only difference here it is just as much your call to make as it is your virtual friend’s. Expect the same mix – the good, the bad, the obnoxious, since all you have is a profile picture to decide.

Major Key Alert: It is so important to never get to the point where all your validation comes from how many matches you have.

 

Got to go, phone’s buzzing 🙂