Many moons ago, I decided to write a series about admirable women. I found 6 as a start and sent out my questions to them. Two came back with their responses so quickly, I was quite amazed. I’m still waiting for some responses, these women are super busy, and I’ve told myself that is why I haven’t gotten started, but the truth is, I haven’t had the guts to write about other people. Today, I feel that it is time I gave it a shot, though.
I would humbly like to introduce you to Jonelle du Pont from Tyranny of Pink. I first became aware of Jonelle during my pregnancy, on a motherhood group on Facebook and I eagerly followed her story as our pregnancies progressed. I was most fortunate to be put in touch with her by Mandy-Lee Miller from Pregnant in Cape Town.
So, here goes…
Jonelle is originally from Swaziland and moved down to Cape Town in 2003 to pursue her studies. She is passionate about Community Development and worked in the non-profit sector up to 2014, when she decided to pursue writing and started her blog (which you should read, if you don’t already). Recently she also launched Jonelledupont.com, her website aimed at inspiring women to achieve their own goals and follow their dreams.(Update: Jonelledupont.com has evolved to encompass all levels of community development )
Jonelle and her hubby have been married since 2012 and in 2015, they added the gorgeous Oden to their family. Being able to be home to watch him grow, has made her “professional sacrifices” (by societal standards) absolutely worth it.
Jonelle describes her life as blessed. She comes from a close-knit family that has always offered a lot of love and support.
At 23, she unexpectedly lost her father in a car crash. An event that has shaped her views on car safety and played a part in her joining the #carseatfullstop campaign earlier this year.
More recently, Jonelle’s world was rocked by complications during her son’s birth. In her own words:
“A more recent challenge which I’m still trying to come up for air from was nearly dying in September. I had a really straightforward pregnancy and everything was going along just fine until I went into labour. It was such a mess. The nurses thought I had a placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the wall of the womb) and I was rushed in for an emergency C-Section. They told me if they don’t act fast that my son will die. It wasn’t actually the case. After lying in the maternity ward for 4 days after my son was born, and constantly complaining of pain, I was finally diagnosed with an almost unheard of appendicitis. It’s really not something that happens during pregnancy very often. By the time they realised my body was already in a really bad state and I landed up in ICU.
Two days later I had to be opened up again for a planned general rinse of my body cavity. However when they went in, I had developed septicemia. What no one had realised was that I also had undiagnosed endometriosis and my uterus had fused to my colon. During the delivery of my son, my uterus had been pulled away from my colon, which ruptured and had been leaking into my body. The surgeons were not very optimistic about my case. I was in hospital for a full month and had to have physio to regain strength and use my muscles and body. Even though I woke from that surgery with a colostomy I hadn’t been warned about, I was alive. It was major. My newborn son was still lying in the maternity ward while I struggled not to die.“
Coming out the other side
Jonelle is an incredibly positive person and has taken strength from her experiences. From her father’s death, she took the ability to be strong and independent. From her birth experience she took a great appreciation for life.
It’s not always smiles and sunshine, though. Jonelle also lost both her grandparents during the first 5 months of motherhood and had to return to hospital for numerous surgeries and treatments. It can take its toll on even the toughest of people. “I look at my son and I burst into tears at the life that I nearly missed with him. I’ve had to spend the first part of his life fighting to get well again and just when things start getting back to normal I develop an infection and end up back in hospital. I’ve spent a total of around two months in hospital over the last while.“, she says.
Other than an appreciation for life, Jonelle was also reminded to live fully – “life is just too short for all the bullshit that we put up with. Now, I’m dedicated to living a life that I love. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t do it. I want my life to be one that I value, not just a passing of days. What was major for me was realising that I didn’t need to change anything about my life. I was already living a life that I love. I just suddenly felt so much more appreciative of it and the people in it. These moments show you what matters and the people in it that mean the most. I discovered that I was really loved and I really loved my life.“
Jonelle draws strength from her son, who is clearly the light of her life, and her family, who have been with her and supported her every step of the way. She is also inspired by “People who live life by their own rules. I’m inspired by people who embrace difference and aren’t afraid to try things their own way. It’s so hard to stand up to what other people expect of you and say no, that’s not what I’m about.“
At the time of answering my questions, Jonelle was focusing on getting better every day and on her writing, with the specific aim of empowering other people. She is a passionate person and empowerment on all levels, is right up there on her list of passions. She is excited about life and through a very tough time, has managed to hold on to her sense of self and sense of humour.
To those of us struggling to get through a day, Jonelle has the following words: “I wish people would just look at their own lives and decide if they’re happy living the life they have. It’s not always possible to change your circumstances but if it is, and you’re not happy with the cards you’ve been dealt then change them. Pursue the dreams you’ve always had. Embrace the life you’ve always dreamed of. Life is just so fragile and it can end just like that. I was lucky to have a second chance but I was also lucky in that it made me realise that there is nothing missing from my life. I was already living the life of my dreams but I can tell you one thing that I know for sure it, I won’t be taking anything for granted anymore. Every single day matters. You don’t have to go out and do huge things, just sitting at home with my family is special to me. I don’t need to be climbing mountains to know that my life is amazing.
Even when it seems like all you can do it give up, don’t. Fight. Fight harder than you’ve ever fought and know that life is worth it. Bad things happen to good people and not always for a reason that makes sense. I’ve had so much heartbreak and pain both physically and emotionally but I’m still here and I’m not ready to give up. Have faith that in the hard times, there will be good times ahead but the power really is in your hands. You can sit back and feel sorry for yourself and wonder why me or you can embrace that bad things happen for no good reason but that’s not enough of a reason to give up. Don’t ever underestimate your own strength. You have the ability to change the outcome.“
To catch up on all that has happened in Jonelle’s life in the 7 months since she shared her story with me, please head over to Tyranny of Pink and show some love.