“After being down that road a total number of 4 times, I started hiding my bump.” Immediately a new friend of mine, Mayowa, said that, my mind flashed back to the TTC woman at my kids’ school, who always had a visible bump, before she eventually miscarried, and I thought I had never seen her use a scarf or wear loose fitting clothes to camouflage the bump. If you paid the slightest attention to her, the rise and fall of her womb, for the last two years was pretty visible.
But here was a former TTC mom, who was saying she had hid her bump, because she couldn’t bear the questions any longer. Obviously, there were more people like me, who sometimes put their foot in their mouth, by asking a sensitive question like, “Have you put to bed?” when the bump seemed to disappear.
When Mayowa got married, she was very hopeful. From the very first month, she and her husband had high hopes they were pregnant, because of the delayed arrival of her period. Well, she showed up, and that put paid to their hopes for that cycle. On to the next, they went and they just kept going, getting a diagnosis of overactive NK cells after one year, with sperm motility becoming an issue in the second year.
Everytime they got pregnant, most of which stayed into the second trimester, before all of a sudden…it was gone. The Iya Beji callers did not know what to call her again, and they would move on, until a few months later, when she would be parading another bump. So, she filled her wardrobe with pieces that became her uniform, sort of boho chic, she called them, but what I saw were mostly loose fitting clothes, with lots of scarves that reminded me of one Spanish TV character, who was into palm reading and the like.
However, something happened one day. A colleague of hers at one of their industry events had asked her a pointed question in a not so pointed way. “Why are you always hiding what God has done for you?” She had asked in the middle of the networking frenzy that usually happens at such events, and had gone right ahead to talk about something else.
She thought about that question later and then, it dawned on her, exactly what that lady had been talking about. She was hiding her bump, what God had done for her. As she came to that realisation, she also recalled another strange conversation she had had several years ago, with the same lady. That particular lady had been TTC, even before she got married, yet, in her marriage, she had at least gotten pregnant, while the other women has not had that privilege.
She said, from that day, she revamped her style, and tried as much as it was possible to enjoy the feeling of carrying a baby, even if it was almost sure to end in a miscarriage. Her attitude changed and after they tried again, she got pregnant with her rainbow baby, who actually stayed the whole nine months, even though she had to spend the last trimester in the hospital, as the pregnancy was threatened.
Another mom, Charis, was full of complaints the first time she was pregnant. She complained about the constant heat, how she had seemed to ballooned overnight, from 64kg to a 85kg, the fact that her feet and ankles were swollen. Of how her clothes no longer fit.
One time, she even woke up in the middle of the night, and started crying and harassing her husband to “Return me, to the way I was before oh.” She was that kind of drama queen. Everyone who came near her got an earful of what pregnancy for her was all about. While, it was true that she might not have been having an easy time being pregnant, she definitely was blowing things out of proportion.
It was only when the second child did not come easy, that she fully understood the experience she had had. She craved that child that would give her swollen feet, and a swollen face sef, make her uncomfortable throughout the night, such that she would even be unable to sleep…but nada. Nothing was happening on that front. It was as though she had never been pregnant, if not for the fact that she had a son to show for that first time.
For the 1 in 6 women who deal with infertility, and the millions who have experienced miscarriages or infant loss, they would probably agree that more women should embrace the bump, rather than fret over it and what it brings.
And for those women, who delivered children earlier than expected, it can be a painful memory. It can feel as though they were robbed of their pregnancy, and never got that magical delivery room experience; no picture perfect moment of them happily holding their babies. Those babies had been whisked off to the neonatal unit, or worse, like the case of a mom of triplets (whose story I was told while my older twins were in the neonatal unit) who delivered her triplets, and held the first of the babies, as the baby passed away shortly after birth. She lost the second baby as well, and stayed for months in the neonatal unit with the last one.
For her, memory of childbirth is one of chaos, fear and heartache, and not the beauty of bringing a new child into the world. That was in addition to having been in the hospital for months; still the kids had come, over 15 weeks early.
True, pregnancy is not an easy ride for most women, but the next time we are tempted to complain about the discomfort of lugging all that extra weight around, remember, someone wants to lug that weight around, but isn’t able…yet.
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