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All Kinds of Mother’s Day Love in Ghana

Twenty-three hours had elapsed, my legs felt like jello, my body so tired that it took everything to just sit upright.

The adrenaline we had a day earlier was nearly gone as we heard the doctor say, “Ok, one last push. This is your last chance, if the baby doesn’t come out now, we have to go to emergency measures.” I feel my husband grip my hand tighter and I lock eyes with him to my left. Ok, let’s do what we need to do.

Suddenly, a room full of people start yelling, “Come on Mary Beth, you got this!” I then look to my right and see a woman in scrubs I don’t know and she’s grabbing my hand and cheering.

Who is she and when did she get here?

I think briefly and then quickly regain enough focus to scramble together every ounce of energy and strength I have left into that one last push. “It’s a girl!” At that moment, November 26, 2012, I became a mom.

Africa, community, ex-pat moms, friendship, gratitude, having kids, mothers day, Moving to Ghana, stress, what it means to be a mom, WomanScape

It was at that moment that I appreciated motherhood. I could now understand the worry of a mom. Is the baby eating enough? She only slept one hour and usually sleeps three.

Is something wrong? Do I have the car seat set up correctly? Every stage of your child’s life is in question and I feel the weight of motherhood.

Every now and then, I wish I could go back to my pre-child life just for one day to sleep, uninterrupted, until 11 a.m! But I also understand that being a mom unites me with so many other women across the globe through my mutual respect and understanding.

This month is Mother’s Day – a time to give a shout-out to my global mamas that truly inspire me. Relocating across the world is stressful, but the community of moms here in Accra has made this process joyful. Had I known even two of them before moving here, most of my fears would have been alleviated.

I’ve met moms who are doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, students, and volunteers. Many of these moms have put their careers on hold to relocate to a foreign country for their husband’s work, others are working themselves and trying to juggle not just the trials of living in a foreign place with children, but also working full time.

Of these amazing women, many have had their children overseas or even more difficult, have spent the majority of their pregnancy in Ghana and then traveled to their home country to deliver their babies in a more controlled, well-equipped setting. They have lived in Malaysia, Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, Peru, Laos, Kenya, Belgium, Japan, and on and on. Their home countries equally span the globe.

Africa, community, ex-pat moms, friendship, gratitude, having kids, mothers day, Moving to Ghana, stress, what it means to be a mom, WomanScape

The amazing thing about these women is their selfless desire to help others with this transition.

I was in awe meeting people for the first time who offered their phone number to get together for play dates. They invited me to join WhatsApp groups where moms (and dads) share information about parks with nice playgrounds and children’s activities going on in the city that weekend, etc.

I have received 5-page spreadsheets assembled by several moms recommending the best doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, play spaces, swim lessons, shopping centers, and produce vendors in the city.

In fact, I get no less than 20+ WhatsApp notifications every day from moms announcing that baby wipes are on sale at a particular store, or announcements about active viruses to be cautious of, or invitations to go on a swimming excursion.

Our transition to this country has been significantly smoother than I could have ever anticipated, and I attribute it to these ladies, who stand united under one title: mom. They are looking just to help each other out and come together in this foreign place. I only hope I can pass this along to those who come after me.

Many of these “unassuming moms” share the same fearless desire to explore the world and, in turn, instill that same adventurous philosophy in their children. Despite the occasional “venting” session, these women are positive and motivating, helping me see the beauty in each situation.

Africa, community, ex-pat moms, friendship, gratitude, having kids, mothers day, Moving to Ghana, stress, what it means to be a mom, WomanScape

This Mother’s Day, I am grateful for that final push 5 years ago. It enabled me to join a tribe of amazing women and unite with moms from all over the world. We may be teachers, doctors, lawyers, astrophysicists, nurses, political risk analysts, nutrition consultants, psychologists-but on the playground, we are moms working together to give our children the most enriching experience we can here in Ghana. It’s a job I wouldn’t trade for anything else in the world.

Mary Beth Coffin

Mary Beth Coffin

Mary Beth is a medical professional, wife, and mother of two girls. She has spent the last 13 years working as a Physician Assistant. She and her husband have recently relocated their family to Accra, Ghana from Denver, CO. She is now taking a hiatus from medicine and enjoying more time with her children, coaching gymnastics, writing, and exploring Ghana.

One Comment

  • Neil says:

    Props to you for taking your children on this awesome adventure! I can’t think of anyone better suited for this task than you.

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