There are certain things that you take for granted in life. The sun comes up in the morning, the moon comes out at night. Christmas is in December and Pregnancy is a 9 month celebration of a woman’s femininity. A passage from being a simple female into a mother. It’s a declaration to the world that you have achieved what you’ve been place on this earth to do. You’ve created and given birth to a new life.
But they lied.
For centuries, we’ve been led to believe that it will all be over in 9 months. When in fact, it’s more like 10. Pregnancy is calculated over 40 weeks. Apparently they don’t start counting from the first day of your missed period but from the first day you last saw your period. But you can have a normal safe birth any time between 38 – 42 weeks. This is considered ‘full term’. Confusing right! It’s as if there has been a world wide mass conspiracy to slightly bend the truth regarding the length of time you’ll have to endure this little bundle of joy growing inside your womb. So it makes you wonder what else they either “forgot” to tell you or just downright lied about! But never fear.. I’ll tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. In my 3 part expose, I’ll bring you all the hard hitting facts that will help prepare and guide you through this turbulent but very joyous time. Ok well.. maybe I’ve kinda slightly embellished the truth in certain areas of my narrative but hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself then you’ll be living a very sad life. I’d like to just give thanks to my amazing husband who puts up with my madness every day and who laughs with me throughout it all. And before anyone comes to crucify me, let me categorically state, I’d do it all over again. Tega is such a blessing our lives. But with all that mush set aside.. let’s get down to the nitty gritty..
I grew up in a family full of women, my husband comes from a very large family too and between us we have a combined number of 15 nieces and nephews. I can’t even count the amount of friends that have had children, there are simply too many to even recall. So I don’t know where my lack of information came from, perhaps I wasn’t ready for the truth or perhaps there’s an unwritten subconscious rule and they just don’t want to traumatise you with all the full facts until it’s your turn.
In fact, I think I was probably the most unprepared person in this world to become pregnant. I didn’t even realize I was “up the duff” until about 3 months and even then I kept scratching my head like “how did that happen?” . My younger sister Ti very kindly sat me down one day and explained how exactly it must have happened and throughout the remaining months she most kindly referred to me as the 33 year old teenage pregnancy.
If I knew the truth would I have voluntarily chosen this path? Or would I have stuck to my original plan and become the Angelina/Madonna of Africa. I could have adopted some rich white children from the western world to restore the global economic balance.
To be honest, yes, I would have, I’m pregnant and I give thanks to God that I’ve been blessed, I wouldn’t change anything at all. I know that there are those in this life who have gone through or are still going through difficulties and I totally sympathise with their struggles, I just wish that someone had fully prepped me beforehand.
It’s funny but the minute you see those blue lines and you start to share your good news with those around you, the walls of silence come down and you become inducted into a new secret club. You don’t have any special handshakes or mystical symbols, but mark my words, the things they didn’t tell you before all seem to come out now. There have been many wars in the world, but nothing compares to the battles that women fight with their own bodies during these 9, I mean 10 months ahead. You are a prisoner in your own body it simply turns against you. You are no longer a person, you’re now a vessel, an incubation chamber and the sooner you realize that your life is no longer yours to live how you please, the sooner you’ll start obeying orders from the new boss in town.
But the cool thing is, the minute you become pregnant, you can ask any other woman who’s gone through and paid her dues for advice about their own experiences… “and boy are they keen to share”xscz! The more you ask, the more they’ll tell you. You can laugh, joke and compare notes. Horrific stories are swapped over cups of tea and cakes as though it was the most natural thing in life, because in truth, it is. There are times of reassurance when you think “THANK GOD that didn’t happen to me” and times of panic when you think “OH MY GOD that could happen to me”. Everyone’s experiences are different but just in case, there should be some kind of survival kit that the doctors or your mother or your caring best friend who just had a baby hands over to you as a congratulations gift, or as a warning!
Plastic / Paper Carrier Bags
This is an absolute essential, especially if like me you live and work in Lagos. The traffic can be horrendous and the last thing you need is to be unprepared when you become overwhelmed by the urge to cleanse your body of your lovely breakfast/lunch/dinner while stuck in the car. The term “Morning Sickness” is yet another slightly misleading term. The urge to evacuate your stomach contents can attack you at any time of the day. Not exactly the most chic accessory, so feel free to carry a few designer carrier bags with you. If you’ve got to do throw up, at least you can do it in a classy way.
Mints / Ginger Sweets or Raw Ginger
While on the subject of “Any time of the day” Sickness. Some women find sucking on Mint or Ginger helps ease the feeling of nausea. But you can be guaranteed, that even if it doesn’t help keep the contents down, it’ll help freshen your breath afterwards.
I wish i’d found the morning sickness survival kit 14 months ago.. but at least I now know where to buy one for any other unfortunate victims.. I mean lucky new mothers out there.. it includes
Sick Bag – well it goes without saying!!!
2 Mints – keep that breath sparkly fresh
Lemon Fresh Wipe – for a quick freshen-up!
Biscuit – a dry biscuit is always good when you’re feeling ikky
Tissues – who knows where you might need to wipe
2 Energy sweets – to keep you going
Toothbrush – no comment…
Tooth Paste – as above!
Retails at £8.95
I naively believed people when they talked about pregnant women “glowing” or “blossoming”. These are actually very polite terms for the fact that your hormones seem to go crazy and some women have outbreaks of spots the size of galactic planets all over their faces. Depending on the amount of times a day you may suffer from ATOD Sickness your skin my start to become very dehydrated. So you could potentially suffer from oily yet dry dull looking skin. It is very important in this case to review your entire skincare regime. Your old products may no longer work for you and it’s important to consult a trusted beauty therapist for advice on good products. Regular exfoliation will do you the world of good. So book yourself in for regular facials at your local Spa. Great products to look out for are Germaine de Capuccini’s “Pure T” range which is formulated for oily skins or for a more powerful clinical range check out Commodex products. Both ranges are available at the BNatural Spa in Ikeja GRA or in Abuja(0809 803 8772) or Eve Taylor has an amazing range of aromatherapy products which are easily available in the UK (www.eve-taylor.com) . If you’re working on a budget or you need a quick fix, you can also never go wrong with an emergency bottle of pure Tea Tree Oil. You can apply the oil directly onto any spots to help dry out the bacteria stopping the spread.
Many women literally get darker while they’re pregnant. Either on their faces or on parts of their bodies (especially around their breasts, buttocks and thighs). You may find that your usual foundations/powders may be too light for you during this time. As tempting as it is you may want to invest in a shade slightly darker to avoid looking like you’re off to take place at the Calabar carnival parade. It’s a natural part of the process and your skin should return back to it’s normal shade afterwards. If not there are a lot of products (not bleach) that can help. Including a range called “Flouroxygen” from Israeli brand Christina. For more extreme pigmentation or for scarring left behind from the giant craters that may have appeared on your skin you can also consider laser treatment for skin blending. Both skincare treatments are available at the Bnatural Spa and I’d recommend waddling on down to Blush Beauty (1388 Tiamiyu Savage, VI,Lagos), Banke Meshida Lawal’s boutiques in Dolphin or Ikeja, Lise Beauty on Awolowo Road or any Tara outlet to treat yourself to some new makeup. After all, you deserve it!
Prominent Nasal Features
Ok that’s the polite way of describing the fact that your nose may start to take up over half of your face. For some, it just grows and grows and grows. Sadly, there’s nothing you can do to stop this, however, you can conceal it! Visit a professional makeup artist for tips and tricks on how to sculpt and highlight your nose. Invest in a good set of concelears, one being a shade darker than your skin tone and one a shade lighter (see section on Pigmentation). Celebrities do it all the time, even when they’re not pregnant. If it’s good enough for Beyonce, then it’s ok with me.
The Big Spread
If you didn’t know by now, your nose isn’t the only thing that’s about to get a little bigger. I had an almost psychotic aversion to buying pregnancy clothes. It took me AGES to lose the weight in 2006 so the thought that I was going to look like a whale again filled me with dread. In my mind, if I bought loads of maternity things it meant I was accepting my fate and I wouldn’t be able to lose it afterwards.. Ok I was never obese but it’s a thin line between curvy and round!
Anyway, the funny thing about pregnancy is that until the bump actually starts to show properly, there’s a period where you just quite simply look fat. I had to endure months of people commenting on how much weight i’d gained. Now I could have very simply told them *I’m not fat i’m just pregnant* but I didn’t want to have to announce to people *hey look at me, i’ve got a bun in the oven* I wanted people to see me and say *OMG Lola you’re pregnant!* – And so the waiting game began. I was 4 months pregnant when I did the cover of Genevive Magazine. (Shout out to my darling Omawumi who looked absolutely gorgeous at the shoot her bump wasn’t that obvious either). Let’s just say, eventually, I had to tell people because my bump didn’t really become noticable until about 7 months and I was getting ready to fly out of Lagos. My friends weren’t willing to let me slip out of the country without the obligatory baby shower (Yes Fade & Debo i’m talking about you.. thanks to everyone that came.. and for those that missed it, remind me to tell you sometime about my new dance the pregnant skank .. Toolz banned me from ever doing it in public and the most epic twister game ever played in history.. Kel.. no comment).. Anyway back to the point.. Let’s just say I wasn’t wiling to look like I was wearing a carrier bag. It’s the 21st century you can get all the latest fashion trends and styles in maternity wear. They just have alot of stretch in them! I can honestly say though that I delved deep into my wardrobe & found clothes that i’d abandoned for making me look fat, now all of a sudden it didn’t really matter anymore. My top tip for anyone investing in maternity wear has to be jeggings and jeans. I literally lived in mine. They look exactly the same except there’s an extra wide wast band which pulls up over your stomach. Trust me, the last thing you need is to feel uncomfortable around your bump!
The dreaded battle scars women have to potentially face can grip the more fearless of women with a sheer sense of panic. All over the world, millions of women rush to stock up on Bio-Oil. Apparently it’s worth it’s weight in gold and has been developed by scientists to aid in preventing and healing of scars. Another option would be a 100% natural product such as Argan Oil. However, sometimes, no matter what you do, there is always the chance that you will develop those spider lines. For some the lines are light faint shiny lines, for others angry red slashes. And then there are those which are actually more like wrinkles. This physical medal of honour can affect a woman’s self confidence causing quite deep depression. If you do develop very bad marks, never fear, Laser is here. Skin tightening and Stretch Mark treatments are available or for those who are not so brave, even though the procedure is extremely safe and is performed by US Certified Medical Doctors. I’m so thankful that I didn’t develop any bad marks, only two faint ones. All I can accredit this to is that I used Bio Oil for the first few months then later swapped to pure Almond Oil. Or it could just be that I had untoned skin which didn’t mind being stretched. *sigh*
*note to all those considering a tattoo, I had a friend who in her late teens chose to ink a very cute Tweety Bird on her stomach just above her hip area. Let’s just say, during her pregnancy Tweety Bird looked more like Godzilla and now.. well.. he kind of looks like a deflated boiler chicken.. be warned..*
Swollen Feet & Cankles
This aren’t just your every day tired feet after a long day at work, these are legs that belong to a different woman, in fact another woman who’s at least 100 pounds heavier than you. They can’t be your own usual trusted feet that have been with you your whole life. You’re just borrowing them for a while until your own feet find their way back home. But in the meantime, those Cankles (Cow Ankles) need to be looked after to make your life bearable. Gone are the high heels that you used to daintily strut your stuff in and here come the flat shoes, your new best friends. You may as well invest in a nice pretty pair of ballet slippers or open sandals. If you’ve got to suffer you may as well do it in style. You need to keep your feet elevated especially at nights but you can also carry an emergency bottle of foot cooling gel or a foot massage cream to soothe those swollen babies. Make sure to massage upwards back towards the heart to help your circulation and to help return the excess water back into your system. Or you could just go for a spa pedicure every few days!
(Ok.. I have to admit, these are actually my feet during my baby shower. My dear friend Lami took this pic and promised to send it to me after I gave birth to remind me of the monstrosity Grrr.. thanks alot.. NOT!)
Steam, Sauna & Massage
At times you may feel as though your body has been run over by a commercial lorry. Everywhere hurts, especially your lower back. Good posture is vital to avoid putting strain on your shoulder and back muscles. Under normal circumstances, a Steam/Sauna session followed by a Massage is always a wonderful relief however you’ve got to remember, you’re pregnant. At all costs avoid sitting in hot rooms for long periods of time. It may sound silly, as it’s really quite logical, but you’d be surprised, I had a client who had quite a heated arguement with me (did you note the pun) while 3 months pregnant that she wanted to use the Sauna! Pregnancy Massage should only be performed by trained therapists who understand exactly where they can and can’t touch. Do not take this for granted. There are parts of the body that if touched during the first and second trimester that can bring about a miscarriage. There are also restrictions on Aromatherapy based products as certain scents can induce contractions. Great if you’re in hospital trying to push, disastrous if you’re no where ready to give birth!
To Weave or not to Weave, that is the Question (The final few touches)
Now this may not be a hard decision for a lot of my lovely ladies out there who are permanently attached to their hair attachments, however, for those of you who prefer to rock your natural tresses there is an onging debate about how safe it is to relax and colour your hair during pregnancy. Some people swear by the fact that they treated their hair as normal whereas experts would advice you to avoid using chemicals at all. The fear is that the chemicals can enter your blood stream through the pores in your scalp. I’ve found that many Nigerians have never even heard of this so perhaps it’s an English/American way of thinking but really, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Besides, when the time comes, even though you may have other things on your mind, so at least if you’ve had your hair done beforehand, either using weave or braids during those vital moments when the cameras are snapping those treasured first few pictures, you can quickly run your fingers through your tresses and voila.. Super Diva ready for your close up. With this in mind. You may also want to finish up the other bits in advance. Book your waxing session about 2 weeks before your due date. You don’t want to be caught out with a hedge, you’re going to be very intimately examined by Doctors, not Gardeners. Oh and don’t’ forget your lashes. I mean seriously, while your pushing you may as well be fluttering and fabulous. I’d recommend the individual extensions but if it’s just for the day you can grab a pair of strip lashes and have them on within 2 minutes on your way to hospital. If you do opt for the individuals make sure they’re done by professionals. You don’t want to scare your newborn with eyes that resemble a half dead spider trapped on your lashes with clumps of glue. (www.SacredLashes.com – 080 76 76 76 76) Remember the pictures are for life!
In conclusion.. to this first part.. if you ever wondered, they call it Labour for a reason, but the last thing you need to do is let those non pregnant friends/family of yours know exactly how traumatic it was. You can share those details when the time is right. *Evil Laugh*
(I knew I should have worn my crystal lashes.. lol)
Next time.. Helpful tips on preparing your body for the big push and those all important questions.. what happens next?