For a lot of parents, having a child is the most important moment in their lives but it is also the trickiest to navigate. This week, we sat down with 31-year-old Lydia, a new Nigerian parent, to find out #WhatIWishIKnew before having a baby. From why she thinks there is no such thing as ‘maternal instincts’ to the importance of asking for help, check out what she had to say.
Tell us a little about you.
I got married in 2017. We wanted to wait a little while before we had kids but it didn’t work out quite like we planned (laughs). I had my first and only child at the start of 2019, a little girl. I am very happy.
How was the labour experience?
I had a relatively easy childbirth, we thank God. I’m the kind of person that has a little scratch and cries for days and puts ori and all sorts on it because it just hurts so much. I feel like the universe knew I wouldn’t be able to bear so much pain. It was painful AS HELL but it was short. I think all my labor symptoms lasted 5 hours or less.
Yes o. I thank God everyday
Ok, let’s get to it. What’s something you wish you knew before having your baby?
I didn’t really feel that instant connection that you have with your child. You know, the one they talk about in movies where the moment they come out of you, you just LOVE them. Nope. I mean, you do love them but it’s not that instant rainbow and unicorns thing. With every smile and vomit on your shirt, you love them more and more, I think.
Yeah. Also breastfeeding is so hard. Omg, and you’re so emotional at the time so everything you get wrong just makes you want to cry. My daughter wouldn’t latch on for five days after I had her. And even after you get that part down, navigating it is very hard. Feeding positions, breast engorgement, sore nipples, checking-in round the clock, handling public places, leaking through shirts, pumping/storing/freezing milk, dealing with unwanted questions, comments, or curious people, etc. It’s very challenging.
Mhm. Then there’s the sleep. Babies don’t sleep but worse than that, they adapt to situations very quickly. So if you want separate rooms for your baby, just start with that because, for them, the transition from sleeping with you every night to staying alone is harder than actually getting them to sleep. For real.
Yes o. You get them to sleep and put them down and they’re up again because they’re used to sleeping close to you. Babies are really something.
Hmm. Taking notes.
(laughs) Another thing, take ALL the help you can get. You cannot do everything on your own, really. Ask for help, ask questions, you were not born with a motherhood handbook so it’s really okay to not know. I’m not even sure “maternal instincts” exist. I used to beat myself up about that but my husband helped, bless his heart.
Last thing and I think the thing I most wish I knew, raising a child is hard. More mentally than physically, to be honest. You realize you are responsible for this person, you know and whatever values you instill is how they move on in life, it’s weird. The level of responsibility is scary. I still watch YouTube and TikTok videos on this stuff, you know.
Do they help?
Yeah, they mostly do. Raising a girl in this climate is hard, raising a girl in Nigeria is even harder. I want her to be herself always but I don’t want random people calling her names because of that, you know. The way it always is for women. I just have to teach her all I know and hope for the best.
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