One of the fears of sickle cell survivors is if they will ever find someone who will accept them enough to love them and spend forever with them.
While that concern may be valid, Loveth Okoli, a Nigerian, UK-based mother of two children (twin, boy and girl) was never bothered about that.
“I have a personal relationship with God, I never saw myself less, in fact the opposite was true, I placed a high value on myself because I discovered who I am in Christ,” she reveals.
In her early thirties, she has a degree in Early Childhood Studies and has worked in schools, prisons, as a supervisor, managed a preschool and worked as a lecturer/teacher at a college.
Presently, she runs a business with her husband as well as her own business which includes her blog www.floutlook.com.
In this chat with LiveStrong, Loveth shares her journey into motherhood and how she has been living strong while encouraging other survivors or people facing one challenges or the other to look beyond it.
On the fears of not finding someone who would accept her
Being born with sickle cell anaemia never made me afraid of finding love, however, it made me cautious. I had a broken engagement as a result of it. Before my husband, I was engaged, and when I found out that he was a carrier (AS), I ended it. He was happy to carry on with the relationship, I was not. To say that I was worried that I will never find love or someone to accept me is not me or how I think. I love and accept myself, God loves and accepts me, that is plenty, and it was enough for me. if anyone has fears of rejection, they need to find out who they are in Christ, that will eliminate that thought. Regardless or your ability or disability, God loves and values you.
How she met her Husband
I met my husband at a church event that my cousin had invited me to, it was their single’s dinner. My husband was filming behind the camera and I was stuffing my face with food because I like eating. I also went to my cousin’s church the following day (this was also his church). We only said hello/hi to each other. Something about me must have captivated him because after I left, he contacted my cousin to ask for my number.
Her Husband’s Reaction When He Learnt Of her Health Status
One week into getting to know him, at the beginning of our relationship, I told him about the sickle cell disease. He was shocked, I didn’t notice at the time because he accepted it straight away and said it was fine. That was were he reassured me that his blood type was alright and he was happy to proceed with our courtship. 13 months later, we were married.
How she felt when she learnt she was pregnant
We were excited when I got pregnant. At our 12 weeks scan, we found out it was twins, we were ecstatic.
On her pregnancy journey
We totally leaned on God throughout our pregnancy journey. Also living in the UK, where the health care system is good and free, was a blessing. My pregnancy was considered a high risk because it was twins, it was also high risk because of sickle cell. It was a planned caesarean section. The twins came at about 35 weeks, and they were perfect, small but perfect.
What motherhood has taught her
Motherhood has taught me that I should always stay humble and thankful. It has increased my level of compassion and respect for women and other mothers out there. It has also revealed a little bit of God’s unconditional love for us. Being a mum with this condition helps me live intentionally, I place value on experiences, people, relationships and not material things.
If she still suffers crisis
I still suffer from crisis. Although we have a wonderful health care system in the UK, I avoid going to hospitals like a plague. I look after myself and manage most of it at home with pain killer tablets and prayers. The last time I was hospitalised for a crisis was 2015. I will only call an ambulance when the pain level is through the roof and nothing at home seems to work. Prayers are always working whether I feel them or not. Unfortunately, I have a lot of things that triggers crisis including, stress, when I have overworked myself (this is easy to do as a mum), the weather (winter is not my friend), colds, flu, too much exercise, during menstrual cycles, lack of sleep, dehydration, flying (lower oxygen in the plane) and I am sure there are others I haven’t mentioned.
I can’t end on a negative note, if you, your child or someone you care for has sickle cell anaemia, it is not the end of the world, it is not your identity, don’t let people call you a “sickler”, become an achiever, a giver, a power house and a force to be reckoned with. I have worked in establishments where no one knew I had the condition, I learnt how to drive and got my licence without disclosing it, I don’t use it as an excuse. I got a 2:1 (second class upper) at university, I worked with my degree in various jobs for about 10 years. Through it all, God is faithful. I have a loving family, a God-fearing man and my identity in Christ. I am not saying don’t disclose it, I am saying don’t let it define you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, always remember that.