Rita Chidinma

I was sitting at the hospital, cradling my six-month-old son, trying to process the information I had just received. How could I be more than three months pregnant, and have a six-month-old baby? How? I mean, I was exclusively breastfeeding. We had just introduced my son to water and puree foods. How?

I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know for how long I sat on that hospital bench before I decided I was strong enough to leave. The tests had to be wrong. Surely. Nigerian hospitals, probably my blood sample had been mistaken for someone else’s. There had to be a mistake somewhere.

I was really pregnant.

So we had two boys, exactly eleven months and three weeks apart. Crazy, right? During those nine months I completely shut myself off from everything and everyone, ghosted, like the millennials call it. I couldn’t believe I was in such a situation. Needless to say that it was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I believed things would get better once we had the baby. I was borderline depressed.

Labour eventually came, and I almost didn’t survive the day. I was in so much pain, probably because my body was tired and had very little or no time at all to recover from the first birth.

On that bed I kept wondering how I got into that situation, and if I could ever get out. But we survived. My second son came, finally, and I thought it was all over. I could move on with my life. I’d never have another child. All I had to do was return back to my normal self and raise them. Sigh. Little did I know.

We were completely unprepared for the reality of having two babies that were twins, yet not twins. We had to employ a series of helps and nannies that initially came to help, but took advantage of the situation and began to make all kinds of demands. We had to endure, because, I mean, we actually were helpless. The hubby worked full time, and so had to be away most of the time. But he helped as much as he could. I was a corp member then, and had been given maternity leave, so I was home full time. I can vaguely recall one of the nannies telling the hubby, “You know this your wife likes to keep her face somehow.”

At a point, we found ourselves completely alone with two babies, two of them so similar and yet so different. Most nights, with my sleep-clogged eyes, I couldn’t tell which particular baby was crying until I got to their cribs. Suffice it to say that it was a very trying time for me.

So I’m thinking that it’s either exclusive breastfeeding is not a reliable means of contraception, or I’m one of the very few it has failed for. Either way, it was a very difficult experience, one I never wish to relive again. Oh, and the boys are all grown up now, with the second one well over two years old, with a few weeks old baby sister.

I guess it all worked out in the end.



Credit: Rita Chidinma, Bella Naija

I’d look at pregnant women in my class, struggling to meet up with one assignment or the other, always asking for lecture notes and sometimes looking completely lost, worn out and confused in their maternity dresses, and I would wonder why they didn’t just take it one at a time, why they bothered with pregnancy considering how stressful the final year of school was. I thought they didn’t have their priorities right.

I tried to help one in particular, Ugochi, as much as I could because we were pretty cool prior to her wedding and subsequent pregnancy. But, I have to admit, inside me I was insensitive. I thought she could come to school earlier, actually do an assignment before the deadline, write her own notes most of the time, “if only she put her mind to it.”

Well, guess what. Just a few years down the line, I became the pregnant lady in class. Here I was, with a son, pregnant and running a post graduate program. I never seemed to catch a break. There was simply no time to accommodate all I had to do in one day.

By the time I woke up, prepared breakfast, dressed and dropped my son off at preschool, came back to prepare for my own school, stayed in traffic to get there, I would be completely exhausted. I joined the no-makeup gang not out of my own will, but because I didn’t have the precious few minutes it would take to get some makeup on. I constantly asked my colleagues a whole lot of questions trying to make sure I was up to date on everything going on. I’d sacrifice hours of sleep, spending it on my table writing assignments, studying or doing research work. It finally dawned on me: I had become the pregnant lady in class. I had become the lady with the rounded belly and maternity dresses, always looking tired and barely meeting assignment deadlines, and who everyone unconsciously grouped as “not one of us.”

How did life become so busy? I was no longer in the “cool gang.” Lots of females dressed better than me in class (because they weren’t pregnant, obviously) and I never seemed to stop being in a hurry. My attention was always needed elsewhere, and so my day was always planned to the last hour, detailed. Take, for instance, me being in school by 3 PM. It meant I would be late to pick up my son from preschool. And how about lunch and dinner and chores, guess who that was on too?

I quietly dusted most of my colleagues in the first semester results, and they were all astonished. Most of them couldn’t believe I could still make good grades despite all my responsibilities. The results were a huge consolation to me for all my sleepless nights, but I couldn’t help but feel terrible for all the times I was insensitive toward pregnant women who were trying their best to meet up with family life and schooling.

Women are the real superheroes, and deserve to be celebrated. Ugochi, my classmate back in our undergraduate days, was probably trying her very best to meet up with everything. And the same goes for most pregnant and family women out there. Some have to work 9-5 every single day, and still find a way to meet up with other numerous responsibilities. Oh and they still find a way to be graceful while at it. Some play the role of wife, mother, nanny, cook, primary care giver, business owner and career woman, all at the same time, without breaking a sweat.

So if you’re reading this today, show some love to that pregnant woman in your class, or at your place of work. A kind word from you might just be all the encouragement they need to adjust their capes and go about their day.



Culled from Bella Naija

Credit: Rita Chidinma