Friday, February 6, 2015

Where is my pregnancy glow?

Disclaimer: This post was drafted about 16 Months ago while I was pregnant with my daughter. I have since given birth to a lovely little girl and one year on, we are both doing well. This is a true story based on what I went through, just to lighten your mood with a glimpse of the everyday challenges some pregnant women go through. Make sure you share with someone who'd appreciate it. :)

As I sit here, back arched with 2 pillows, legs propped up against a chair and butt painfully aching, I can't help but realize someone, somewhere has pulled a fast one on me.
How? How did this happen? How did I, Fatima of Daura, let myself be deceived when I should've known better. For starters, I am not very gullible. Especially when it came to science-y stuff. I'm usually the one everyone goes to for all things body related. I am first a physiologist and then a pharmacist after all, and I did specialize in adaptations to stress and body control mechanisms. So you would think I'd have it all figured out. That when someone (everyone!) tells me blatant lies like:

"Pregnancy is a beautiful thing."

"You'll be eating for two,"

"You're going to love being pregnant!"

"You won't gain that much weight."

"It's easier than it looks."

"You'll have a glow."

...that I will take it with the proverbial grain of salt.

But no, I believed. Especially after the rocky road it took us to get here. I believed finally, with this double lined pee on a stick, I had reached my pot of gold. It couldn't get much more difficult from here, right?

Oh, how wrong I was.

I mean I wasn't a total mugu. I knew the delivery process was not going to be easy. In fact, I was terrified by the prospect of it. I mean, how can you possibly push a tuber of yam out of a toothpaste hole? But on that joyous pee on a stick day, I convinced myself that it was still 8.5 months away. I still had ages to prepare myself mentally, emotionally and physically for that very day. Until then, I shall cruise along with my growing pouch, eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted while everyone everywhere makes way for the almighty pregnant lady.

Turns out the only way people will be making was to avoid me lashing out at them or puking on them as I searched frantically for the perfect spot to aim my projectile vomit.

Then there's that awful feeling that comes afterwards. That empty, there's nothing-in-my-stomach-but-acid feeling that opens a waterfall of saliva, squirting in torrents from underneath your tongue, forcing it's way in all directions, gushing down your throat, seeping through your teeth. Before you even figure out what to do with this horrid saliva building up in your mouth, it returns. Only this time, there's absolutely no food in your stomach. So what comes out is stomach acid mixed with the unmistakeable bitterness of bile and, often, blood. Yes, blood. Not in a Nollywood I-shot-you-on-the-foot-so-you-should-vomit-5litres-of-blood way, but a small teaspoon.

But wait, there's more! The slight relief you feel post retching is quickly replaced by a razor blade sharp pain in your throat. Oh oh, this could only mean one thing. The stomach acid you just puked has corroded the lining on your throat (hence the blood). This also means, despite it being just 9am, you have no appetite for the rest of the day. All is not lost though, instead of eating all that yummy pepper soup (your right, as a preggy lady!) you get the pleasure of secreting even more bucket loads of saliva.

At this point one of your annoying nosy coworkers has started shooting you dirty looks. How dare you spit in public? Don't you know you're a lady? Nevermind that you're spitting in a civilized manner (not in a container, ewww, no! You have a clean plastic bag beside you and an entire roll of tissue beside it. You cover your mouth completely and spit discreetly into the tissue, fold it in two and then dispose it in the plastic bag which is stowed away from sight). But no, Nosy Coworker isn't satisfied with that.

But Motherly Coworker and Niceguy Coworker calm you with sympathetic looks. In an hour, they beg you to take a break. They may even buy you White soup from the Hospital Canteen (which you still can't eat!) and ask you to go sleep in the Pharmacy call room. And if they're feeling even more generous, they'll let you go two hours early, so you call The Husband and gleefully knock off for the day.

But the husband is worried. "How can you not eat all day? Don't you know you're carrying a baby?" At this point you wonder whether he cares more about you or "his" unborn child. Surely if he cared more about you he'd understand nausea is a terrible thing. So you take a detour to a nearby grocery store deli and he tells you to pick whatever you like. At the checkout counter the POS machine is taking too long and you've suddenly got the urge to pee. But the Checkout chick, with her rainbow toucan colored eyeshadow starts checking out the next person after you and your sale isn't through yet.

Oh, hell no! It all rushes to the surface; the bulbous acne that has now enveloped your skin, neck, back and even shoulders, your nose that's now big enough to stash an orange, the measly 3 hours of sleep you got last night because the baby is a Lionel Messi in the making, the skirt that didn't fit this morning, the feet that are so swollen you now wear thongs to work, the weight you're gaining even though you barely eat anything, that pregnant friend of yours who is further along than you are and is barely showing, that other friend who belittles your symptoms because she didn't feel them when she was pregnant, the boobs that are now very sore, the nausea, the vomiting, the taste of bile, the pain in your throat, the salivating, the nosy coworker, the food that smells so nice yet you can't eat, even the coke that you once loved so much but now only triggers heartburn. All that anger causes a nuclear fusion in your head and your wrath is unleashed on the Toucan Checkout Chick. "Customer Service is so poor in Nigeria," you rant heatedly. "How can you serve the next person when my sale isn't even though yet? Have you gone mad?"

The husband tries to calm you down. It's not that big of a deal. Though deep down inside you, you know he thinks you're overreacting. But he dares not say it. In fact, the words "because you're hormonal" have been permanently deleted from his vocabulary since you bit his head off over them months ago.

You continue the 15 minute journey home. "Stop the car!" You yell. Just 5 minutes away from home, but you can't wait any longer. You open the passenger door and aim for the pedestrian walkway to puke out another stomachful of acid, bile and blood. But this time, there's an additional liquid from another opening. You have inadvertently peed yourself.

"Shit!" You curse. And the husband gasps and raises his brows in alarm. "No, no, no, not literally!" You reassure him and he sort of calms down. Meanwhile, because you refused to completely let go during the vomit, you're still holding in half a bladder full of urine.

Miraculously you make it home in one piece. You make a beeline to the toilet directly. You take your clothes off in the tub. You fill it up with warm water and you want to relax and completely let go but no, you can't use your favourite Bath and Body works body wash because you absolutely hate the smell now. So you settle for Aveeno, unscented, but then 2 minutes in you realize you can't stand the humidity in the bathroom. You suddenly feel like you're suffocating and if you didn't get out right now, you'll keel over and die. So you rush out in a panic, unrelaxed and scared.

You put on the loosest bath robe you can find and make your way to the living room. The Husband has set up your spot for you. In front of the TV that has been tuned in to BBC Lifestyle, Directly underneath the AC, within arms reach of every remote control you'd ever need and a fresh roll of toilet paper and a plastic bag. He props your back up on a pillow and for the first time all day, you're somewhat comfortable, though something tells you that is going to be short lived.

Sure enough, you feel a sharp prod in the rear. Could it be? After nearly 5 days? Have your bowels finally called off their indefinite strike? Feels like it. You're sort of relieved. It must've been the warm bath, the doctor says it helps loosen the stool. But you're not going to the loo just yet. No, you have to play hard to get. The last thing you want is to sit on a loo for too long. That's how people get haemorrhoids, you don't want to add to this already difficult pregnancy.

He has to go out, he says. Dinner with friends and you're suddenly irrationally angry again. You want to blurt out your anger, but you keep it In. Deep inside, you're thinking: How dare he eat when you're going through hell? He is soo insensitive! He has no compassion! Gosh, men are so insensitive!

You ask him to do you a favour before he goes out. Could he please get you the Ribena you forgot in the freezer this morning. He brings it. Of course It's frozen. But you want Ribena. Unless he was willing to be late to dinner, he should let you have it. You ask him to bring you a pair of scissors and a teaspoon. He finally leaves. You cut open the top of the juice box, wedge your spoon in and into your mouth.

Oh. God! Where had this been all your life? The ice soothes the soreness of your throat and your stomach voraciously devours the sweet blackcurrant juice, it's first meal of the day. The second spoon comes with some brain freeze, but you pull through. Spoon after spoon, the colour is returning to your face. You've forgotten about the Toucan Checkout chick and the anger at Nosy Coworker had greatly diminished. You aren't even angry that the sadistic bitch you hated tied in first place on Come Dine With Me. Even the sharp prodding on your bum had softened to a numb spasm and you know for sure that tonight is the night you passed that number 2! The Husband returns from Di Maria with a takeout full of that prawn risotto you love. You think he's the best husband ever! Tonight's his night to get lucky.

You even manage to get 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep that night! All because of a pack of Ribena. You're going to get a carton tomorrow, you promise yourself. Maybe even mix it up. Ribena, Ziza, caprisonne! The possibilities are endless. You have found the key to a beautiful pregnancy. You deserve a Nobel Prize.

You get to work the next day, optimistic as can be. You spill it all to Niceguy Coworker. He's happy you've found comfort. He even offers to go to the store and buy you the Ribena later. But then Nosy Coworker overhears you.

"Are you not pregnant?" He asks with derision. "How can a pregnant woman take something cold? Frozen? You're not even supposed to drink something sugary. It is bad for your baby. You're being selfish."

It is only then you feel your eye colour change. Nuclear fusion is about to happen. All the unpleasant feelings that you've been bottling come to the surface: all that anger towards your husband that you dare not show because it's not his fault, the people who see you after months and tell you how big you have gotten, the fact that you can no longer sleep on your back or stomach and have to wake up 15 times a night to turn over, that you still have to work night calls just as many times as non pregnant coworkers right up to your EDD, the warning your OB GYN had given you about not eating, as if it were so easy to eat food, how Kate Middleton has the whole world worried about her Hyperemesis and here you have nearly everyone downplaying yours; you could've been a princess too! Nosy Coworker and all the annoying things about him: His deodorant that smells of old spice and rotten eggs, his accent that can't seem to decide whether it's Nigerian, American or Kenyan, the way he brandishes his political inclination and ridicules anyone who disagrees, his not so subtle tribalistic jabs at Hausa people even though he is well aware that it might offend nearly half of the staff present. You package it all nicely in a spontaneous tirade which left Nosy Coworker staring, mouth agape. He can't believe the otherwise quiet pharmacist can dish so eloquently. He tries to retort but other coworkers shut him up instantly. Doesn't he know you're pregnant? Why did he pick on you? He lingers shamefacedly for another five minutes and then he disappears.

Nosy Coworker changed departments that afternoon.

You continue your frozen Ribena diet until one afternoon two weeks later when you suddenly stop. You no longer cared for Frozen Ribena. You will now only eat Guavas. Un ripe Guavas.


  1. Replies
    1. Hehehehehe! It's not so bad. Now it's all history. I'm also scared to do it again, but eventually it'll happen. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Oh my ! How detailed.Me too I'm scared but I believe the joy after will make it all worth it

    1. You got it Gigi! The joy makes it all worth it. As difficult as it is, I think it's something every woman should go through at least once in a lifetime. I'm the wimpiest person ever, if I can do it, you can too. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Hi Ummi,

    Ah! I almost choked with laughter. This was packed full of wit and humour. This article ought to be published on Bella Naija, so that more people can read and enjoy it too.

    Pregnancy is not always glamorous, but what amazes me these days is the "Snap back" phenomenon, more woman are back to flat toned bodies a month after giving birth.

    Just yesterday, on Instagram, I saw the photo of a new mum of twins with a body that almost put my never-given-birth-before body to shame. Lol

    I look forward to pregnancy, nothing can beat the joy of creating life.

    Well written post, thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Nedoux! Thanks for dropping by!

      I'm glad it made you laugh because your blog has been making me smile since i discovered it weeks ago!

      I would love to get this article on BN actually. Do I just email it over?

      Oh, don't get me started with the snap backs! Wowza! How on earth do they do it? Like it's been two years and I still don't have my body back. I have been insta long throating too many women, that I've just given up. I'll exercise and eat healthy and let my body speak in its own time. Sigh.

      The joy of creating life is incredible, a true sign of the power of the female.

      Thanks for the love