HAVING been a Christian all her life, Nickette Morgan-Williams knew that at some point in her life she would find herself walking in the valley of the shadow of death. What she did not expect, however, was that this valley was the road to motherhood. The Red Stripe senior business analyst and gospel music minister sat down with All Woman recently to reflect on how she had to rely on God's rod and staff for comfort after a fibroids diagnosis, two complicated deliveries, the loss of her only son, and her daughter's journey with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“It was really my faith that kept me,” she shared. “The experience took me to a different place in God. I know God as a comforter, and I know him now as a keeper of the mind, because this is something that can cause you to go crazy.”
Morgan-Williams was on the top of the mountain in 2015. She had met the love of her life a year before and had gotten married. She was settling in nicely into her new role at Red Stripe. She was walking with God and doing well. Then she noticed that her menstrual cycle, which had been regular all her life, started going haywire.
“So I went to the gynaecologist, and she told me to do an ultrasound, which revealed that I had fibroids,” she remembered. “She said I should start trying to conceive, and if I didn't get pregnant within a year she would consider putting me on fertility medication.”
The newlyweds were relieved when they conceived within a few months, and their baby girl Aaria was born in July 2016. While the pregnancy was fairly typical, the delivery was traumatic, and both mother and child spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from the ordeal. When they were both finally discharged, Morgan-Williams thought it was over, but it was only the beginning.
“As Aaria grew, we started noticing some things that made us concerned. For example, when we called her sometimes she wouldn't answer, and when we pointed at things she wouldn't look in the direction. She started talking, and she was walking when she was a year old, but then it's like she started to regress... A majority of what she was saying by the time she was two was just repetitions of the programmes she watched,” the mother shared.
Their suspicions were confirmed by Aaria's teachers and paediatrician, who referred them to the specialist that diagnosed her with high-functioning ASD. By this time Morgan-Williams had her son Micah on the way.
“The pregnancy progressed nicely until 38 weeks and four days. The final ultrasound was sent off to my gynaecologist and it showed that the baby had enlarged intestines. I went to the hospital to have a check up and they said he had Jejunal atresia, and the only thing they could do is surgery,” she divulged.
She delivered her son via an emergency C-section, and immediately he was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit.
“By day three they ended up doing surgery to correct the intestines, because he was not able to absorb nutrients on his own,” she remembered painfully. “But it was unsuccessful, so they had to rush him back into major surgery again when he was ten days old. This one was rougher on his body.”
Micah lived for five weeks and six days — a period that tested Morgan-Williams more than she could imagine, but one that caused her to cling more closely to God, and rekindled her passion for ministering unto others.
“It should be that we praise God, and we have praise for God, because of who He is, and not what we can get,” she reasoned. “Like I said in my song Praise Waiteth, 'In the midst of grief, in the midst of sickness, in the midst of turmoil, in the midst of financial difficulties, we can still find praise'.”
And in finding praise, Morgan-Williams has found her purpose. She shared that she always wanted to be a singer, and she enjoyed using her soulful voice for the Lord since she was a child, but her mother encouraged her to pursue a more practical career, which for her was accounting.
“I started singing at church, and I started writing my own songs as a teenager, but I really took it seriously when I entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Gospel Song Competition for the first time,” the 2009 and 2012 finalist said.
“My purpose is music ministry,” she added. “That is where I shine. That is where I am most impactful.”
But while she enjoys touching hearts and serving the Lord through her music, Morgan-Williams also feels fulfilment in her professional role, and she is considering furthering her studies in accounting beyond her ACCA.
“In my current capacity, I deal with the forecasting for certain expenses within the supply chain — chemical purchases, repairs and maintenance, anything that is of a fixed cost measure and not varying with production, that's the area that I look at,” she explained.
It has been quite a climb for the St Jago and St Hugh's High school graduate since she decided to take on the world of business.
“After I graduated from The University of the West Indies in 2005, I started as an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers,” she retraced. “I spent almost eight years there as an accountant, and then I went to Digicel as an internal auditor, then to Ernst & Young as a senior internal auditor. I came over to Red Stripe as a reporting analyst in 2014. Then I went to promotional business analyst, then I went to senior performance management analyst, and I'm now senior business analyst focusing on supply chain.”
Having established herself in her field, Morgan-Williams is now focusing more on expanding her reach as a musical minister for God.
“I'm trying to create a space for myself. I realised with this pandemic, there are no activities going on. I do find that if I sing and post something on social media, people are sharing it,” she said optimistically. “I'm just going to keep recording now that I have some equipment, and I'm gradually working on my craft. I don't know if you have ever had the experience of a fire in your belly for something, but that's what I have inside me for singing. It's my passion.”