KENYA: Facing pressure to have a child

Pressure to have a child

There’s a reality that’s been gnawing at me for a long time. I’m talking about the pressures that face women – unwanted pressures from society.

As soon as you hit the age of 25, people start asking, “When will you get married?” After your wedding they will ask, “When is ‘our’ firstborn arriving?” If your firstborn child is a baby girl, they will ask, “So when are you giving ‘us’ a boy?” And if your firstborn is a boy, they will ask you, “When are you giving ‘us’ a second child?” Even if you are lucky enough to give them all of that, they will demand a third, fourth and fifth child, because you must give them a namesake. In my African culture, we name our children after our relatives. It is a great honor to have a child named after you. Therefore, every relative will constantly put pressure on you to have more children so that you can give them a namesake.

In my country, there is a certain celebrity news anchor who recently married  an equally famous gospel musician. The wedding was in December of last year, just eight short months ago. Since then, the public has been DEMANDING that the lovely couple give them a child. The public reacted horribly when the woman recently shared an old photo of herself on social media. It was a throwback photo of herself as a teenager in high school, reminiscing of the good times she had in her youth. The photo somehow made it to a popular online entertainment and gossip site, and the comments that followed the post were shocking.

“Stop showing us photos of your past, we want to see photos of you pregnant!” the commentators yelled.

“So now you are showing us photos of when you were a girl? Why not of now? Are you trying to hide something? Are you barren?” another asked.

“Give your husband a child now otherwise he will go looking elsewhere,” another said.

“If you’re having problems getting pregnant, inbox me. I’ll sort you out,” another offered.

Hundreds of comments followed, all of a similar nature.

It made me sad. Why does society put so much pressure on people? On couples? On women? What if the couple is not able to have a child? Or if they have been trying, unsuccessfully? What if they have suffered pregnancy loss – something they may not want to openly talk about? Or if they do not even want a child in the first place? Is it the public’s business? Society’s business? Their relatives’ business? Or is it between the husband and wife?

Seriously, as women, we have a lot to deal with, and we do not need societal pressure adding to our nightmares. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we face. In a society where a woman’s worth is valued by her reproductive prowess, it is indeed sad. In my culture, a woman may have achieved many notable feats and broken the glass ceilings over her head, but if she is not married (or, even worse, does not have a child), then she may just be nothing. Society will be harsh on her. That is, if they even recognize her.

But you know what else is interesting? Who is this society that we are talking about? Who are these people?

It is you and me. Us. We are the society. We are the same people who, when we meet a friend who got married over a year ago, will, while shaking her hand, be staring at her belly, trying to catch a glimpse of how swollen it is. Or whether it is swollen at all. Sometimes we do it consciously, sometimes we don’t even notice we are doing it. It just comes naturally. And then we talk with our other girlfriends saying “Lucy is not getting any younger, I wonder when she’s planning to start having babies.” That’s the pressure I’m talking about.

We all need to be a lot more sensitive to what fellow women go through. I hope you and I can make the difference.

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama of Mummy Tales in Kenya.

Photo courtesy of Frank Douwes / Flickr.

Maryanne Waweru Wanyama

Maryanne Waweru-Wanyama, a mother of two boys, writes for a living. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her family. Maryanne, a Christian who is passionate about telling stories, hopes blogging will be a good way for her to engage in her foremost passion as she spreads the message of hope and faith through her own experiences and those of other women, children, mums and dads. She can be found at Mummy Tales.

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ONTARIO, CANADA: How Chilling Out Made Our Christmas Magical

ONTARIO, CANADA: How Chilling Out Made Our Christmas Magical

DSC_0573Christmas and autism are two things that don’t always go well together, because Christmas involves so many of the things that are anathema to people with autism: flashing lights, loud noises, crowds, changes to routine, the displacement of household furniture to make way for the tree. Since autism elbowed its way into my house, Christmas has been a mixture of stress and tentative enjoyment.

This year, our festive season was a little unusual. Both me and my husband were sick for most of December, and for the first time, the four of us were going to be celebrating Christmas all by ourselves. No friends, no extended family, no in-laws. Just us. I wasn’t too sure how everything would work out. The combination of autism, illness and no guests made me think that the whole Christmas thing would be a wash.

To my surprise, we ended up having the most chilled-out, magical Christmas we’ve had in a long time. When I stopped to think about why this was, I realized that what I had seen as obstacles had in fact been opportunities to do things differently – and the differences worked.

Here are some of the things that made Christmas great, in no particular order.

1. We didn’t do the Santa picture. The Santa picture is kind of a family tradition. Once a year, the kids get all dressed up in fancy outfits, and we go to the mall or some other place where Santa pictures are being taken. It’s usually a terrible ordeal that involves lots of crowds and waiting. This year, with both my husband and I being sick, Santa pictures just didn’t feature on our list of priorities, and so our family was spared an entire day of angst. We still plan to honour the family tradition and get our Santa picture, but it will be just us and a friend dressed in a Santa suit. No crowds. No lineups. No overpriced prints. No stress.

2. We didn’t stress about the shopping. In spite of my annual promises to myself, I am a last-minute Christmas shopper. This year I was filled with good intentions to get my shopping done at least two weeks before Christmas, but being sick put a spanner into that particular plan. The fact that I was stuck doing my Christmas shopping the weekend before Christmas did result in some stress, but I decided to just not care. I braved some shopping crowds, but I did not commit to getting everything for everybody. I got what I could and bought the rest from Amazon. I didn’t mind that the gifts I ordered probably wouldn’t arrive before Christmas, although in the end they did. In future years, online shopping will feature more prominently in my pre-Christmas preparations.

3. I let the kids help with the decorating. And by that I mean that I really let them help. Usually I hover anxiously around the Christmas tree micromanaging the proceedings and worrying that the tree will be knocked down. This year, I put the tinsel and lights on the tree and perched the angel on top, and then I left the rest to the kids. James hung the decorations on the tree while George put lights up around the living room. James wanted tinsel in his bedroom; George wanted lights in his. I didn’t trail behind them making sure everything was done to my liking. I left them alone to do it to their liking.

4. We totally got into the whole Santa thing. I mean, in prior years, we’ve talked about the nice list, and Santa leaving gifts under the tree, and that’s pretty much been that. This year, we really got into it. On Christmas Eve, James and I kept the NORAD site open so we could track Santa’s progress around the globe, and at bedtime, James meticulously arranged milk and treats for Santa and his reindeer. Once the kids were asleep, I managed to arrange the gifts under the tree without being busted. I even left the empty plate and milk glass on the tray for James to discover in the morning. George didn’t really get into the Santa thing, but it was a touch of magic for James.

5. There were no expectations surrounding Christmas dinner. In previous years, Christmas dinner has been a delicious but stressy affair with the four of us, my mother-law, and my brother-in-law and his family. There’s been a well-meaning but misguided expectation for the kids to get all dressed up for dinner and to sit quietly at the table for the duration of the meal. I’ve invariably spent most of these meals getting children to sit down, cajoling them to eat what’s on their plate and keeping their fingers away from other people’s plates. By the end of dinner, I have been exhausted and the kids have been wound up beyond belief. This year, it was just us. I cooked the fancy Christmas dinner and decorated the table, but the kids were allowed to wear their comfy clothes and be themselves, and the usual air of formality wasn’t there. Everyone was visibly more relaxed, and although I was still exhausted after dinner, it was a contented kind of exhaustion.

6. We didn’t try to schedule what was going to happen when. Christmas is busier for us than it is for most people, largely because of the time I decided to pop out a baby on Christmas Day. Most years, I have a stipulation that we will celebrate Christmas in the morning, and give over the afternoon to James’s birthday. That, of course, puts a lot of pressure on us to get all the Christmas stuff done before noon, and with my husband and I not feeling well, we just didn’t have the energy to rush things. So things just happened when they happened, and that worked out fine. We had a leisurely Christmas, and James enjoyed opening his birthday presents and blowing out his candles. The two celebrations kind of melted into each other, and it was perfect.

I think the biggest lesson I learned this year is that I should just chill out and go with the flow, and enjoy whatever moments end up happening.

How do your kids like the holiday season? How much planning do you do?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Running For Autism. Photo credit to the author.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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UK: What We See, And How We Choose To See It

UK: What We See, And How We Choose To See It

dr-stella-ameyo-adadevohDo you know who Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh is?

Don’t worry. I hadn’t heard of her until just a day or two ago.

When I read about her, my first thought was how wonderful she was. My second was how glad I was of the opportunity to find out about her. My third: what a strange week of news.

It’s largely thanks to Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh that the World Health Organisation was able to announce recently that Nigeria – that chaotic, corruption-riddled country – was free of Ebola, the deadly virus currently killing thousands across west Africa in the worst outbreak of the disease known so far.

Dr Adadevoh was the doctor who took care of Patrick Sawyer. Sawyer was the Liberian man who brought Ebola to Nigeria. Nigeria had never had a case of Ebola before. Sawyer denied having had any contact with Ebola, despite his sister dying of the disease. He fought to get out of the hospital. His employers fought to have him discharged.

Adadevoh not only diagnosed a disease previously unseen in her country, but she resisted huge pressure to let it go, according to accounts from the doctors who worked with her.

She quarantined Sawyer – no small task, given his violent attempt to flee – “He pulled his intravenous (tubes) and spilled blood everywhere”, said one witness.  She rebutted accusations from the Liberian ambassador that she had kidnapped Sawyer. She contacted the authorities, and she got hospital staff the training and materials they needed to treat Sawyer safely.

Sadly Adadevoh herself contracted the virus and died on August 19, one of eight deaths in Nigeria from Ebola. Not long afterwards the Nigerian government released its National Honours list for this year. Adadevoh was not on it because, as a government spokesman explained, the awards are never given posthumously.

I’ve seen two stories this week about Dr Stella Adadevoh. She did a great thing, and died for it, and too few people noticed.

In contrast, I’ve seen at least twenty-two stories this week about Rene Zellweger, an actress who changed her face and prompted acres – and acres – of media coverage.

I have nothing against Zellweger. Indeed, I have a degree of (angry) sympathy. I recognise the pressure on actresses over forty who are looking for work.

But what a strange week of news, when a woman who has done so much was unseen by so many, and another woman was not just seen but ripped apart for being far too visible.

I’m a journalist by trade. I accept that much of this disparity is down to skewed ideas among major media outlets of what makes news.

But we too – by we I mean us women – bear a responsibility for the way in which women’s lives and achievements are reported. Too often we read and comment on the scandalous stories. Too often we’re boosting the click rates and thus telling those media outlets that yes we are interested in reading this stuff. We are perpetuating the myth that it’s ok to pass judgment on other women purely because of the way they look. We are contributing to the noise around the non-stories that is stopping us from hearing the real ones.

I want to read about more Stellas. Don’t you?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophie Walker of the United Kingdom.

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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THE PHILIPPINES: No, Mommy, I Don’t Want Any Siblings

THE PHILIPPINES: No, Mommy, I Don’t Want Any Siblings


My son and his cousins!

Yes, it’s true. My 8-year old son and I recently had a conversation about his being an only child and the prospect of him having siblings in the near future. And, well, this was the response that I received from him:

No, Mommy, I don’t want any siblings.

To be honest, I have been asked several times why I still only have one child. It’s been asked so often that I already have a set of predetermined answers that I use, depending on who I am speaking with.

“Maybe eventually, when we get our own place, we can have another kid.”

“We live in one room. The only space I have left to put a crib in is the bathroom.”

“Oh, it’s so expensive raising a child! And I’m already going nuts with just one.”


“Maybe I haven’t gotten pregnant because I have yet to lose the baby weight from my last pregnancy. Oh, and yes, I know it’s been eight years.”

And the list goes on and on. There are days, though, when I ask myself if it’s time. My husband and I talked about it, too, on more than one occasion. We both agree that if it’s meant to be, it will happen. We also are on the same page in thinking that we should focus on raising our son, instead of dwelling on what may come into our lives in the future.

He’s the only one, but he sure isn’t lonely.

One of the things I am often told is that I should give my son someone to play with. And yes, it’s put in exactly those words, as if having one more kid was as simple as buying a toy from the store. I know for a fact that the age gap between my son and any baby that we might eventually have is too big for them to truly become playmates. I would know because my sister and I were born six years apart, and it was already difficult to relate to each other growing up. With the at least nine-year gap we are looking at, at this point, getting pregnant in order for my son to have a playmate isn’t exactly a compelling reason.

Fortunately, fate has made up for his lack of siblings with a surplus of cousins, who are also about his age. Between my cousins and I, we have five small boys, and they get see each other quite often. One is even in the same school and grade level as my son. We also recently made friends with some of our neighbors who have young boys at home, and so playdates are fun for us both. The mommies get to chitchat while the kids run around and be kids together.

And just recently, our family was blessed with a vacation getaway together with fellow World Moms Blog contributor, Tina and her family!

Her son and mine became friends in an instant, and that trip was definitely one of the most memorable yet. Yes, he may be the only one, but he sure isn’t alone.

World Mom Contributors Tina Santiago-Rodriguez and Mrs. C. on vacation together in the Philippines!

World Mom Contributors Tina Santiago-Rodriguez and Mrs. C. on vacation together in the Philippines!

Don’t worry baby, I’m happy with just you.

I am very content being mom to just one child.

There are definite perks to having a small family. I get to focus on my child 100% each and every time. And because my attention is all on him, I can see so clearly what an awesome kid he has turned out to be. He has become very close to both his dad and I. He is growing up to be independent, secure and confident. He knows how to keep himself occupied and entertained, and without gadgets at that. He is excited about making new friends and spending time with them. He loves hanging out with his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncle.

I know that being able to care for him myself, with the help of family, of course, has played such a big role in his development. I, honestly, can’t say if it would have been the same with more kids at home, but there’s really no reason to dwell on what might have been. For now, I am happy with just the opportunity to be a mom and to raise a child. And in the future, if it’s meant to be, I know that I will be the most excited over having more.

How about you, how many kids do you have? Parents with only one child, does your kid look forward to having siblings? And to the moms with several children, how has having siblings helped your child in his growth and development?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mrs. C of “Mrs. C’s Sugarcoated Life” in the Philippines. 

Photo credit to the author.

Patricia Cuyugan (Philippines)

Patricia Cuyugan is a wife, mom, cat momma, and a hands-on homemaker from Manila, whose greatest achievement is her pork adobo. She has been writing about parenting for about as long as she’s been a parent, which is just a little over a decade. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her reading a book, binge-watching a K-drama series, or folding laundry. She really should be writing, though! Follow her homemaking adventures on Instagram at @patriciacuyugs. 

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PHILIPPINES: Waiting on Baby Number Two

Me and Vito“When are you going to have another baby?”

I get asked this question at least once every week. At least, it feels like I do.

It seems that whenever an acquaintance runs into me while I’m out, or when we’re visiting extended family, the matter of when I’m going to give my little boy a new brother or sister has become a conversation piece.

It’s like the default question everyone asks me, perhaps when they can’t think of anything else to ask.

The pressure to have a second child has never been more real to me than it is now. (more…)

Martine de Luna (Philippines)

Martine is a work-at-home Mom and passionate blogger. A former expat kid, she has a soft spot for international efforts, like WMB. While she's not blogging, she's busy making words awesome for her clients, who avail of her marketing writing, website writing, and blog consulting services. Martine now resides in busy, sunny Manila, the Philippines, with her husband, Ton, and toddler son, Vito Sebastian. You can find her blogging at

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