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A New Dawn

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

A New Dawn

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Dawn-Lisa Callender-Smith is a big believer in timing. She and her husband Christopher have been together for 22 years, and been married for 12.
While most people would expect children to come along right away, they took their time becoming parents. And at 39, Dawn-Lisa became a mother.
While pregnancy is something that many would-be mothers expect or anticipate, Dawn-Lisa had no clue that she was indeed pregnant.
“I just thought I had food poisoning for three weeks,” she said laughing. “I was too lazy and too busy to go to the doctor. I was throwing up every evening and nauseous but I really didn’t think too much about it.”
When the doctor did finally tell Dawn-Lisa that she was indeed going to become a mother, it was a journey she was ready to take.
“I’m a very religious person who believes that God does everything in His own time,” she said. “So many people came up to me offering congratulations saying, ‘I’m glad you finally got pregnant’. But we weren’t really trying. It was always a case that we knew whenever it was right, the time would come.”
Having a child – as some put it – “late in life” didn’t phase Dawn-Lisa either but she did have to battle with negative comments by people who were scared by her age. She herself wasn’t daunted.
“Ironically, in Christopher’s family, so many of the women had children older, like in their forties,” she said. “At one stage I even started to say it looked like I would not get children until I was in my forties because it seemed to be a trend. We always knew we would have children; it was just a matter of God’s timing.”
Despite the outside pressure that sometimes reared its ugly head, Dawn-Lisa succeeded in not falling victim to the lure of the biological clock.
“People have their own presumptions over how they think your life should be and what you should be doing at a certain time,” she said. “However, when I look back, most of the people who got married around the same time we did are not together and we still are. So whatever formula we have we’re sticking to it because it works.”
A big part of their formula for success was a strong belief and faith in God. That’s why Dawn-Lisa didn’t worry about the time it took her to have a child.
“I know how difficult it is when we try things ourselves and become desperate about it,” she said. “But a prophet came along one day and told me I would have three children so I just believed him.”
It seems that Dawn-Lisa is well on her way with her seven-week-old son Christopher Erskine. Like any new mother, she is caught up in the sleep-depriving routine of 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. feedings, while simultaneously running her company.
“When you are running your own business you must have lots of faith because nothing comes with a guarantee. You have to put faith in something and I put it in God,” she says. “That’s why the three of us say our Psalms together every night before going to bed. If you believe that God has a plan, you can’t expect to jump off the bandwagon.”
That faith and steely determination kept her working right up to the moment she delivered.
“I had a fairly easy pregnancy,” she said. “I also tutor at UWI [University of the West Indies] so when they heard I was pregnant they wondered if I would be able to run the programme. I told them I would be off for two weeks and then I would be back.”
In fact, despite her pregnancy, Dawn-Lisa said she kept a pretty hectic schedule all the way through.
“I went into labour on Wednesday, April 28. I went to the hospital in the morning because I thought something was happening but they looked at me and said, ‘No, you’re good.’
“So I went to UWI and taught my regular class from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and then at five I went to the Hilton where I had an event to run. While walking around at the event, I thought I was feeling a little funny so about seven I said, ‘I think I need to go back to the hospital’.
“Then I had Chrissy the next morning and two weeks later I turned up as promised at UWI,” said Dawn-Lisa, who prides herself on her commitment and stamina.
“Before I was pregnant I was running four days a week on the beach so I was very fit. That helped me in having an easy pregnancy. I would get tired sometimes but I wasn’t sick.”
Now that Christopher is in their lives, she and her husband couldn’t be happier.
“Once he’s happy and fed, everything’s alright,” she said. “He is a gift . . . a most precious gift.”