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Birthing Spotlight – Episode 1

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19 mins,
birthing spotlight

BirthingSpotlight is a blog series we plan to dedicate to young moms, shining a light on the overwhelming journey most of them go through unprepared. We would be interviewing first-time moms and expecting mothers (at KompleteCare, we know them as Adaeze), and sharing their unique experiences with the world. We hope these stories will help other women prepare well before taking in.

Our first episode of the #BirthingSpotlight series had our staff, Aisha, talking with this Adaeze whose son just clocked 10 months. While she believes she had a relatively good experience overall, thanks to her Husband, her first trimester brought her close to heaven’s gate. Grab a large bucket of popcorn or a glass of water, and enjoy Q’s story…

Aisha: Good afternoon. Sorry it took a while to set this up.

Q: Good afternoon, Aisha.

Aisha: So, let’s jump right in. The idea behind this series is to help first-time expecting mothers live the experiences of other first-time moms and prepare well enough for delivery.

That said. First things first, let’s get an idea of what your life is like, you know. Tell us about yourself… without the name. What do you do?

Q: Okay, I’m a content creator. I create YouTube videos. I work for a media firm with a YouTube channel. So, I create content and that is what I do primarily. Then I assist my husband at his business place too.

Aisha: Okay. How long have you been married?

Q: 7th of this month will be two years.

Aisha: Happy Anniversary in advance! That is two years married. Nice. You met a year before marriage or you’ve been friends or dating for a while?

Q: We’ve been friends for like… March this year will make it 10 years. Dated for 5 years before marriage.

Aisha: Oh wow. Ten years! That’s quite a love story… I mean. You must have been looking forward to having a baby together.

Were you expecting a girl or a boy? What was the plan?

Q: Okay. I have a boy now. My husband doesn’t like baby girls. I don’t know why. But I don’t have a preference. I was always cool with anyone. But he prefers boys to girls.

Aisha: He won with this one, then. Did you guys bet on the gender?

Q: Yes, we did actually. And I would taunt him over and over again with it. I remember one night I asked him to talk to the baby and he was referring to the baby as a boy. I was like, what if she’s a girl? I just enjoyed taunting him with that. Yeah, we had a lot of that.

Aisha: (laughs). So, he won the bet. That’s quite interesting. Did he taunt you back after?

Q: Well, you know, personally, I never had a problem with gender. So, I was actually fine with anyone. Whether a boy or a girl. It wasn’t so much of a loss or disappointment to say. I was okay with any gender. I was just fine with the blessing.

Aisha: That’s quite the way to look at it. Really cool.

Were you prepared before the pregnancy? Did you have any fear of anything? And how did you prepare for it? Books, videos?

Q: Well, I spoke to a few people. Those who have been there before me. My mother-in-law. Sorry, my sister-in-law. I don’t have a mother-in-law. My mom, a couple of my friends. I asked questions. Because mentally, we were ready for a child. But physically, I’ve never been there. So, I was just asking them about the physical aspects.

Pregnancy, you have to be ready mentally and physically. You may not be ready physically, actually. But to a point, you should be ready mentally. Because your mental state will make you navigate the physical experience and everything. So, I asked. Their experiences and stories were scary.

So, I decided to go spiritual. There was this book, Supernatural Childbirth, that a friend shared with me. That I started reading. That book really helped me. It calmed me. Made me understand that as a woman, I was built for this. And I can actually do it with less pain and everything. So yeah, that was how I prepared, personally.

Aisha: Supernatural Childbirth? Do you remember the author?

Q: I can’t remember the author. But I will check and I will get back to you on that. But yeah, Supernatural Childbirth.

That book really helped me. It calmed me. Made me understand that as a woman, I was built for this. And I can actually do it with less pain and everything. So yeah, that was how I prepared, personally.

Aisha: Okay. But did you have a particular deep fear before you began the journey? Anything that you were really afraid of when you started?

Q: No, not at all. I don’t fear. I don’t allow fear to come to me. I don’t know why. I hardly get scared about anything. I just feel like when I get to a particular thing… when I get to that bridge, I will cross it.

So, I wasn’t scared, seriously. Sincerely, I wasn’t.

Aisha: Okay. That’s quite brave. But the entire journey, was it what you expected? What happened eventually?

Q: No, it was not. God, I almost died! I think when I was pregnant, the first trimester was very, very challenging. God, I can’t forget that experience. It was so challenging.

I thought it was going to be fun, you know? Just beauty and everything. I had planned to document my experience. But I suffered. That first trimester was challenging. Challenging is even an understatement. I’m not putting it well. Yeah.

I had a very terrible sickness. Very terrible morning sickness. I had this stomach pain. I was always tired. I even developed body odour.

Aisha: Oh wow! Are you serious?

Q: Yes, pregnancy can make you develop body odour. It was horrible. It was challenging.

That first trimester, I just can’t explain the feeling. In fact, I even landed at the hospital. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. I stayed at the hospital for four days. I could not keep anything down.

I vomited everything. Water, food, even chewing gum. Chewing gum! I didn’t know that you can throw chewing gum up. I kept vomiting and vomiting.

It was a very terrible experience. Very terrible. After the first trimester, I started feeling better. I later learned that it happens that way to some people. That the first trimester is when the placenta is being… I don’t know.

My body was going through a lot. It was so obvious. I really suffered. It was challenging.

Aisha: All this happened in the first trimester?

Q: Yes, everything happened in the first trimester. In the second trimester, it was a lot easier. I could now eat, but a little.

Imagine, I weighed 85kg before I got pregnant. In my first trimester, I dropped to 55kg. By my second trimester, I managed to move up to 60kg. I started eating little, not much. It was just all around better in my second trimester.

The third trimester was just very good. I could do anything I wanted. I could exercise. I could cook. In the second trimester, I didn’t cook. I didn’t clean.

My husband was there all through. In fact, he was the one that was bathing me. I think the only thing I could do for myself was to wash my mouth and brush my teeth. That was the only thing I could do for myself. He was the one doing everything for me.

Aisha: Premium man (laughs)

Q: (laughs) Yes, premium man. He really did well.

In fact, I felt sorry because he was always stressed. He would come back from work. And then he would have to make food for me, clean the house, take care of me and everything. He didn’t mind. He even felt sorry for me. He was like, I shouldn’t be going through this.

In fact, the entire drama made him change his mind about the number of babies he wanted. We had planned for three initially. Then from three to two. Then it got to a point where he was telling the baby, “If you don’t stop stressing your mom. You’ll be the only child. You better stop this.”

Aisha: (laughs) That was when he was a baby or when he was still in the womb?

Q: When he was still in the womb, actually. It was a very horrible experience. It was very horrible. The worst of it was that body odour. God! God! Imagine developing body odour because you’re pregnant. It’s crazy.

Aisha: I’ve never heard about that before, believe me… and I’ve heard a lot. It’s insane.

Q: And apart from the body odour, did I tell you I developed partial deafness too?

Aisha: Wow. Partial deafness? Are you serious? How did it happen?

Q: It just suddenly happened o. That should be my third trimester. I went to church and I just couldn’t hear with one of my ears. I couldn’t feel my ears. I was scared.

When I went to my next appointment, I told them that I couldn’t hear with this ear. Something is wrong. And they were like, no, don’t worry. It’s pregnancy. I’m like, what? It is what? (laughs)

Aisha: How long did it last? The deafness

Q: Immediately I gave birth. It stopped. I asked my doctor. They said that once in a while, those symptoms may just come back. Sometimes they don’t go away entirely. They may just be surfacing and going. It’s not a cause for alarm. I’m good now though.

Aisha: We’ve heard so many stories… the reason we began this series actually. Women have quite the experience. Some mental health issues as well.

Q: Yeah, it’s crazy. Even when I had my baby, I developed postpartum depression. I was in the hospital because I didn’t have help. They left me all by myself. So, I developed postpartum depression.

So, yeah, it’s true.  It can affect your mind. It may even make you hate your baby. It may make you hate your husband.

You just can’t explain pregnancy. It’s a unique experience for each individual. It’s not something you can just gather statistics and come to a particular conclusion. I’m talking about the experience. It’s something personal. The truth is that even with an individual, each pregnancy is unique. There are no two pregnancies that are the same.

That’s just it with pregnancy.

Aisha: I see. You mentioned you lost weight. I was going to ask you if your nose got bigger at some point or your legs got bigger. (laughs)

Q: Well, I didn’t have a swollen leg at all. From the first day to the last day, I never had a swollen leg. But my facial features, they changed a little bit towards the end. I noticed my neck got darker. And my nose got a little bit bigger.

But it’s just the hormones that are causing it. I think they say when the cervix is getting larger, it affects the nose. That’s why women generally have large noses when they are pregnant.  I think it is a myth and do not know how to explain it.

Aisha: Okay. So, no big feet and no big nose. You’re one of the lucky ones, I guess. (laughs). Did you have any weird cravings though?

Q: I didn’t have cravings, funny enough. I don’t know why. I never had cravings. I just… I don’t know, am I normal? What is happening? (laughs).

I’m just trying to think about it. Okay, sorry, I did. I craaaaved pepper soup! And goat meat too.

There was this day… my husband, you know, he normally buys me pepper soup every Sunday. This particular Sunday, I was waiting for him. You know, Lagos traffic and everything.

He came back late, around 1am. I was still awake. I was waiting for him.

When he came back, I noticed he was not carrying pepper soup or anything. I fell on the floor immediately and started crying.

I was shouting. Our neighbours came out and were asking what the problem was. I was crying. I was screaming. I was shouting.

My husband, he was begging me. Said he would buy pepper soup first thing the next morning. I said, no, I want my pepper soup now. I even asked for isi-ewu too. He cried with me. The next day, he bought the pepper soup for me. I will never forget that night (laughs).

Then there was another day I just felt like crying. He was there with me and my brother-in-law. We just finished dinner. I told him that I felt like crying. I told him I believed the baby wanted me to cry. I cried o, until I was satisfied. Then, I cleaned my eyes.

Aisha: You cried for no reason at all?

Q: For no reason o. I just wanted to cry. So, I cried. Thinking about it now, it’s just weird. Crazy and funny.

Aisha: Not just crazy. It’s dramatic as well. (laughs) What was your experience like in the labour room though?

Q: Mine was quite easy. Like it was the easiest part of my pregnancy. The labour.

I came for my usual antenatal appointment and I was feeling a type of way… like cramps. I didn’t know I was contracting at that point. I told my doctor and he said I should go for a scan.

Personally, I thought I was just hungry. Unnecessarily hungry. So, I was just eating and eating.

When I felt the contractions…sorry, I didn’t know it was contractions then. I thought it was just cramps. After my scan came out, they asked me to go to the labor ward.

I got there by 6pm or so. I told them everything I was experiencing. They were like, okay, it’s fine. Can we just check if your cervix is open? If it’s not open, you can go home. But if it’s open, we’ll check how many centimetres you’ve dilated. They took me to the labour ward and checked.

Apparently, I was already halfway through labour. I was already 5cm dilated. I didn’t even know.

The doctors were shocked. They were so surprised. They asked if I had a bag packed already? I said, yes. They asked me to call my husband. I did and he brought my bag. That was how I went into active labour. They burst my water themselves.

I went into active labour at 8pm. I was already 8cm dilated then. By past 10pm, I was 10cm dilated. My baby was out by 11pm.

Aisha: Wow. Thank God for the safe delivery. It sounded like it was very easy.

Q: It was quite easy. The only time I started feeling pain was when I was 8cm dilated. The contractions were coming every minute. That was when I felt pain. It wasn’t that much though.

Aisha: So, you got home. You had your baby. You were feeling happy and proud, yeah? You said something about depression. I won’t go into that anyway. But in those first few weeks of being a new mom, how did you get used to changing diapers, and bathing the kid? Did you have help around?

Q: My mom came for the traditional Omugwo. She was around. I felt a lot better. Before then, my husband had contacted a nurse who was taking care of me before my mom came. I didn’t feel burdened at all. Apart from the sleepless nights, and the baby cries, there was nothing much in the first week.

I had all the help I wanted. My husband was there. My nurse was there. My mom later came. It wasn’t that bad. My baby loved to sleep. He sleeps well. For a new-born, he tried.

Aisha: He didn’t give you that much headache, especially at nights?

Q: No, he didn’t. It was only when he was circumcised and when his umbilical cord fell off. That was the only time he cried because he started having stomach aches. It made him very uncomfortable. He cried a lot.

I think that was the only time I experienced so many sleepless nights. When the stomach aches reduced, everything went back to normal.

But having a baby just changes your life forever, you know. You already know you have a particular routine you need to take. You’re not going to get back to your former life any longer because you’re no longer single.

There are days I just wake up and I don’t want to do anything. I just want to be by myself. But you just can’t take that decision. Your child is there. Your child is crying. He wants to eat. He wants your attention. He needs to have a bath. You just have to pick up yourself from where he stops.

That’s why sometimes single mothers, it’s really difficult for them. My husband was there. He takes care of the baby too. Sometimes he stays awake in the night and keeps an eye on him. I just breastfeed him and he takes over and I sleep. That’s it.

Aisha: That sounds scary…especially for someone like me who isn’t ready. (laughs). You mentioned the stomach ache. Were there any other health cases or emergencies in the last few weeks to months?

Q: No. Luckily, my baby never had any medical emergency of sorts. He was a very healthy baby boy. Apart from the regular stuff with children, he never had any other issues. He was very fine.

Aisha: But you had a nurse or doctor on standby just in case?

Q: Yes. He has his own doctor and we had regular appointments. There was the once-every-week appointment. There was the six-week appointment. We even had an appointment today. When you called previously, I was just coming back from the hospital.

They just keep on checking him, running tests and all just to make sure he’s fine.

Aisha: That’s nice. Thankfully, he didn’t have any problems and you guys were well prepared.

I just have about two more questions and then we’ll wrap up. Do you have any advice for women who are looking to take in soon? Like, what they should know about, and how they should prepare themselves?

Q: Okay. First of all, I just want to let them know that nobody should make them feel like pregnancy is a walk in the park. As if you just walk into the supermarket and get something you’re going to eat. It’s not that way.

It changes your life. It changes everything about your health. You just have to be ready mentally. I used to tell people that we don’t have a choice when it comes to the physical changes. But the way you ready yourself mentally will help you with the physical changes. They should ready themselves mentally.

I was ready to have a child. I wanted it. I was ready to face anything that was thrown at me.

You just have to be ready mentally. I don’t know how best to explain that. You have to be ready mentally, please. Spiritually too, if you can. Mentally, spiritually. So that whatever comes at you, you are already ready.

That’s what I have to say. Again, please, please, please, get your husband involved.

It was in Lagos I knew that men come to Ante-natal with their wives. Here, no doctor, no nurses shame you for coming with your husband. Some women come with their husbands and it helps.

It makes them see exactly what their wives are passing through. It creates a unique bond. If they can, they should go to the hospital with their husband for the appointments. Husbands need to help because we need all the help we can get.

You just have to be ready mentally. I used to tell people that we don’t have a choice when it comes to the physical changes. But the way you ready yourself mentally will help you with the physical changes.

Aisha: I really hope the husbands comply.

Q: Yeah. And please, start taking your prenatal pills before you even get pregnant. It helps a lot. It really helps. Speak to a physician, a gynaecologist. He will, you know, tell you the right medication to take.

But you need to take those prenatal pills before you get pregnant. I took them and they helped a lot.

Aisha: In what way?

Q: It actually prepares your body. Prepares your body for pregnancy.

Aisha: That makes sense.

One final question though. If your pregnancy and birth journey were to be a movie or a book, what would be the title?

Q: Hmmmm. I would call it, “I Never Knew I Could Survive This”. Because it was tough.

Aisha: (laughs) That’s quite the name. But before we let you go… Are you ready to go again? (laughs mischievously)

Q: (laughs) Yes. I’m already getting ready for it.

Aisha: Are you serious? Virtual high five.

Q: Well, I just want to have my second child and get it over with.

Aisha: I see. That way, you know you’re done with this phase.

Q: Exactly. [baby cries in background]

This boy, I just changed him. He was stuffing things into his mouth. I changed everything, and cleaned up. You know the clothes I just changed now; he has thrown up on them again. (laughs).

Aisha: (laughs) Don’t worry, when he grows up, he is going to be a big man and he will take care of you.

Q: He will not take care of me cos I will take care of myself. But I want him to be a footballer.

Aisha: A footballer? Waawu! Koret woman! (laughs) We must chop this football money o.

Aisha: He is going to have big money, big cars, big houses, he will fly you around the world. So, you see, your payment is coming in the future.

Q: (laughs) I don’t want any son of mine to fly me around the world, I already have that planned out for myself. I’m going to fly myself around the world. They are not my retirement plan.

Aisha: That’s quite cool.

Thank you very much, for joining us, for your insights, and for sharing your experience with us.

Q: You are very welcome. I enjoyed myself, I had fun.

Aisha: Send our warmest regards to the baby and to your husband as well. KompleteCare cares for them. [winks]

Q: (smiles) I will let them know.

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