Fully known

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Psalms 139:13‭-‬15 NKJV

I made up my mind, that I was in a waiting space and when the time was right, like Elizabeth, my sons would come. Of course, everyone is asking how do you know they will be boys? Or inviting me to more prayers for the barren. I simply told them, I am not barren. This was the promise God made to those who obeyed Him, there shall be none barren among you.( Exodus 23:26) Loads of eyes rolling and angst because these conversations tired me. For crying out loud, I had done it all. Alllll! I even had notes.

I got into a space where random people would walk up to me and tell me how they dreamt that I was pregnant. Or they would see me holding a baby. I had been there, done that so I didn’t find it as fascinating as I should have. I would get into prayer meetings and they would pray for me. I would visit someone and it would end up being a prayer meeting. I was like Jacob, the Lord was in this place and I knew it not. God has jokes.

One Friday, I purposed to go to Rubaga Miracle Centre for the overnight. I had spent many overnights there while still a university student. I missed the fire and the noise and just being in a space where believers expected miracles. So I went. It was awesome, never to disappoint. The prayer time. The praise and worship, wooow. The testimonies. Pastor Robert Kayanja came on started ministering to several categories of people, and he called up women who had been told by doctors that they would not give birth. He went on to affirm that as Christians, we are not barren because the Bible says they shall be none barren among you. I knew this was the mother of all setups, so I walked to the front. I just need you to know that if for any reason he had said those words in a different way, I was not leaving my seat. He was not in a hurry, for some reason that overnight was live streaming so we were on cameras. He tells us to imagine we are holding our babies in our hands and rock them to sleep, sing to them. This was like for eternity. He invited the rest of the church not to spectate but to pray. So there we are with our arms cradling babies, we have called forth. Then he says, you have received your expectation, you may go. And back we went to our seats. Only we were received like conquering heroes, there was a loud cheer. A friend of mine, I didn’t know was at the overnight, came running to hug me. Wooowww!

Photo Credit: Pintrest

I took to spending Saturday mornings or afternoons with my mother in town. There were always errands to run in Kampala and home was a convenient stop over. My mother loved my company and I hers, so it worked for both of us. This one Saturday, I decided to head to Nakasero market first, because it could get really crowded. However, I could not get in at my usual 5am because I needed to get Mpafu, a type of fig, from the lower market which did not open till later. By the time, I got there it was crowded. Oh well. Off to see mummy. I spent a whole day there, hoping the traffic will ease so I get in at about 5 pm. My mum asks me what it is I must buy from the market that I could not get in another market. I tell her mpafu, she laughed and told me how I was becoming like her. When she was expecting me, she used to go to that same lady, early in the morning to get mpafu. Hahaha.

I went to the market, picked my mpafu and debated whether to take a pregnancy test. I decided, if not, why not? Headed to SAS clinic and did the test. The waiting was of, real butterflies, my hands were shaking literally. I started shivering but I was determined to maintain composure. Thankfully, the clinic traffic was low. I was the only client in the lab. It was a short wait. The test was positive.

I can’t hear youuuu, louder doctor. Did you say positive? Whenever I receive news that I didn’t anticipate, my ears get a humming sound and all sound is like an echo or buzzing. I was going through that.

I could see the doctor smiling and going on about something. It’s positive. All my years of waiting had ended. Just like that. The doctor recommended a scan to confirm and I am like, sure. Scans are good things. I was at peace with the world. All things were good. I have no problem.

Elated. Out onto the street. Excited. Up the stairs. Exhilarating. Onto the bed. Cold gel. Experience loading.

There he was. My baby. Just a bleep. Such a beautiful, black and white bleep. 7 weeks. God bless the creator of scans.

Through a glass darkly

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

This week, we celebrate National Fertility Awareness Week. My story has been long in coming, here we are.

Photocredit: Pintrest

Where does one start this story, I guess from the onset of my menses. I was 12 years old, on my way to cookery classes, it was raining. I thought this is really an odd place for rain to drip through. When I got to my cousin’s apartment, right next to the cookery school, I rushed to the bathroom, checked and there was the dreaded red stain. The stain that made girls wear sweaters around their waists all through class. The stain that caused giggles among boys and attracted stares during lunchtime.

I thanked God, there were no stares. Only the privacy of my cousin’s bathroom. I cleaned up and used a makeshift pad from toilet paper. I was not sure how to tell my cousin, we had never talked about these things. Strange now that I think about it. I just needed to get through the day and tell mummy. And so it was, mummy was so excited. I, on the other hand, I am perplexed about what she is going on all about. My parents took us out for Chinese lunch, we did this every Saturday, this time though it was a celebration of my becoming a woman. There I am marveling, wow, who knew this came through that stain. I should be shouting it on the rooftops, like some sort of trophy.

They set me on the coolest path. I decided this would be the heritage for my daughters. No fear. No shame. Just a celebration of womanhood.

Celebrate it was until I got into an all-girls boarding school and the drudgery began. We had pit latrines but because pads do not decompose, the pits would fill up. It was expensive and dangerous to empty them frequently. So it was decided that we get pad bins, and use the incinerators to burn them up. Walking with a smelly, bloody pad from the latrine to the bin. The smell when they burnt…..not cool. Not cool at all. My mum totally unfazed, did not blink as I lamented and suggested tampons. And it was bliss once again. I still had to live with the smell of burning pads but c’est la vie!

Most of my peers had very predictable patterns, they knew when their menses started and ended. They also knew when they were ovulating. It was fascinating to watch them, like little examples in textbooks.

I, on the other hand, never to be bothered. When they came, we called her, Auntie Flow. When auntie Flow visited, she was well received. If she did not visit, there were all manner of reasons; stress, anxiety, diet, too much exercise, not enough exercise…or just phew…I had run out of tampons anyway. This went on till I met a guy.

He came from a family with so many girls, so many aunts, so many female cousins. He was all too familiar with the cycles. He thought it was not normal. I was like, tell me something, I don’t know. He says, gynecologists, fix this. The last time I had visited a gyn, had been about hemorrhoids and he had done a great job relieving my pain and I didn’t have them anymore.

Let’s. I said and off we went to visit a young but very good gyn. Dr. Pius Okongo. He had an awesome bed side manner. It was like this could be resolved by drinking water. Such a great person to meet. He asks me to chart my cycle, apparently it was something I should have done. Who knew. I take the chart home and start. Hahaha. I don’t know what that was, over six months, nothing looked like the other. I thought, well he is the expert, he will make sense of it.

You are laying eggs, was the easiest way he could explain what was going on. In his estimation, it was a miracle, I even had menses because not only did the eggs have a mind of their own. The two hormones were not talking to each other. I wish I had paid more attention in Biology. Maybe studied medicine. This would be so easy to understand. The good news was there were options to try to correct all his. He says all these things like he is telling you to go get water from the dispenser. How I wish.

Hormonal therapy is a nightmare. I got all the symptoms, I was a walking diary of a mad black woman, Godzilla, and sullen Sally. I gained weight and proceeded to shed it all off, I went from a size 16 to a size 8. My skin broke out and I darkened. As you can imagine, the jury was out. What is happening to you? Are you well? Urm, yes, just hormonal. Eventually, the guy could not take it, I think and out he walked. At this point, I am on some injection that is imported specifically for me. I get a prescription from Dr. Pius and head off to National Medical Stores, buy it and go back to the clinic to be injected. I had crazy hot flushes for over two years, after stopping the injection. I had to change my diet, I became allergic to chocolate. Dairy caused bloating. I love dairy, it makes me so happy to stuff myself with all manner of cheese. I could only look at it wistfully. No more chocolate, no more cake, no more ice cream.

What is life to me without thee?

Dr Pius, asked me, whether we were trying for a baby? I am looking at him like, we who is we? I am here to correct a cycle. He advised that I did not need to have a text book cycle but rather regular pattern. And it changes all the time, so the best time to come would be when trying for a baby. I thank God for Dr. Pius. I walked out a liberated woman. There would be no more hormone therapy for me.

Neither left nor right

Handed. Not high handed either. I am just handed. When I started school, it was imperative that I am categorized as either left or right handed. I am not too sure why it was important because it did not fundamentally change anything about the quality of my life. I was told I am right handed and so I wrote with my right hand.

Later, towards my Primary Leaving Exams, I fractured my right hand weeks before mocks. Being left handed became a very viable option. So I tried my left hand at writing, I was slower but I was writing. Speed, though, is everything in exams. One must beat the clock. Thanks be to God, my right hand healed and I completed both the mocks and final exams.

Recently, however, I managed to solely unaided and unabetted, slice my left thumb and thumb nail. fête accompli. If I could turn back the hands of time….non chance. There I stood, a Ugandan, female adult of sound mind…all I could say like Gretel in Sound of Music, ‘I can’t. I hurt my finger’.

Tell you what, there was neither Maria nor was it very rain drops and roses. Both hands froze, like

gunslingers.

Then it got very noisy, many voices shouting in my ear, ‘how deep are the cuts?’ ‘Why is there no blood?’ Oops, spoke too soon, blood gushed out! My whole body went into ER mode, I could hear sirens all the way to my brain. Another voice,must have been the platelets, shouted ‘clear the way, this is an emergency?’ I could not move fast enough to stop the bleeding!

It is just the left thumb nail. It is inconsequential. Imagine if it was a blow to the head or a slit of my jagular. Kyoka body nawe, kakana. Seriously, there are no awards to be won, this whole setup is being overly dramatic.

We were just beginning. iodine. Cotton wool. Plaster. Voilà. No more bleeding. All is well, all is well. Quiet. I could hear the birds chirping again.

Hear, hear that wasn’t so bad. Nothing a cup of tea couldn’t fix.

My nerves kicked in, I wonder where they were all this time. Searing pain, from the tip of my left toe, from my left shoulder blade, from the tip of my elbow. My entire left side,broke out into the CutKelvins version of Pink’s ‘What about us?‘ This is worse than labour.

It is just a left thumb nail! For crying out loud. Stop it. My left hand lost sense of feeling. I blacked out.

I could not do anything properly. I needed assistance. I had four perfectly functioning fingers, but they all seemed to miss their thumb. I also missed my thumb. I missed my pincer grasp.

In that moment, I realised that being right or left handed is a farce. I am all handed. I need both hands to function well.

And so it seems does society. We are handed. Neither left nor right.

Joshua going into the battle for Jericho encounters a man, whom he asks “are you for us or our adversaries?”

Guess who it was? The Commander of the army of the Lord himself. Into battle, this must be big. Big, I tell you. And what does he say? I have now come. It is wrapped. This city is ours!

But wait, He did not say whose side He was on. Joshua immediately recognizes what a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer. He is flat on His face, worshipping God and listening to his next command. Right or left, Us or them, it did not matter. He was here, Emmanuel.

Jesus is that very Commander in whom all is reconciled to God. He is Our peace in the midst of war. The One who teaches us to praise in the heat of war.

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19‭-‬20 NKJV

Our expressions of worship and the imago Dei are as varied as the variation of species. Yet, we still remain connected in an eco system. All the systems working for the good of the whole. We are interdependent.

We need to emulate our bodies if we are going to have better societies. Everyone working for the good of the whole. Yes, thumb’s view is different from the oesophagus’ view but both are working for the whole. It is not about the thumb, neither is it about the oesophagus. It is about the whole. And just like the body, when one part hurts- we all hurt. When all parts are well, all is well.

May the peace of God remain with us, building bridges and tearing down Jerichos in our nations.