I met Nicole, The Fertile Chick, the year I was to turn 30, and under a lot of pressure I had put myself. Not only did she provide the perfect platform to take the focus off myself and on to folks who really knew what pressure was, she also made that birthday a memorable one for me.
That is why when I think of people who are beautiful both inside and out, I look no farther than Nicole, The Fertile Chick. Nicole is that kind of person, who sows seeds of kindness in the lives of total strangers, providing a strong arm when the storms of TTC get overwhelming, and breaking into dance steps at the announcements of BFPs and babies…she’s just that kind of girl.
It was with that mind-set that I wondered what questions to ask Nicole for this unveiling interview, but the more I thought about it, the more questions came to my mind about the beautifully soul that is Nicole.
While I have an inkling about some of the answers, there is still a lot to be learnt about Nicole, especially as she enters a new decade of her life; from her passion for The Fertile Chick, motherhood, life and of course, her self-professed Sisi Eko tendencies. So you can imagine that I’m just as eager to read this interview as much as you are, and I can bet, so are our members, some of whom sent in their questions.
To the Sisi Eko Nicole @40, happy birthday!
Now, you may meet the woman, Mrs Adesuwa Nwokedi, The real Fertile Chick!
You started an infertility website at a time it wasn’t fashionable to talk about infertility. What was the ‘coming out of the closet’ moment like for you?
For me, it was less a ‘coming out of the closet’ moment, but one in which I was eager to fulfil a need I once had myself. The years I spent in God’s waiting room saw me thirsty for any information I could possibly lay my hands on. I prowled the Internet, day in day out, looking for answers, reasons, support, anything I could find. But as much information as there was out there (and still is), there was something missing. I couldn’t find anything that related to me as a TTC woman in Nigeria.
So when my online friends in communities I was a part of (BabyandBump, Baby Centre, etc.) would talk about so and so doctor in Liverpool Women’s Clinic, or so and so supplement they could find in so and so corner shop, I was often left feeling lost. I knew then that, one day, I would start a community that Nigerian women could relate to.
What motivated you to share your story?
I shared my story because I know how isolating it is to feel alone. Thank God, things are changing now…but back then, talking about infertility was a taboo. Everyone went about their struggles silently, too ashamed to speak to even their nearest and dearest. I had a close friend of mine, one so close we used to fast and pray together. She got pregnant after a bit of a wait, and we were overjoyed. Shortly after her pregnancy, she was admitted in the hospital for fluid in her abdomen, and I couldn’t understand why. It was years later that I realised she’d probably had a procedure, IVF or IUI, and had been overstimulated. But as close as I thought we were, she didn’t even share this with me.
After my failed IVF cycle, I found myself spiralling into a pit of despair and depression. Yes, I had a great support system, but all I wanted to do was talk with someone who had been through it. But even people whom I knew had not only had IVF, but a few failed cycles before their successful one(s), were all tight lipped.
I knew too well that feeling of being alone, and decided to do whatever little I could to help even if it was only one woman.
What are some of the most amazing moments of running a community like The Fertile Chick?
Oh my God, Kemi! There have been so, so many! Way too many to count. Every time, every single time we get a BFP announcement, I have so much joy in my heart, it brings tears to my eyes! Every time one of our sisters shares with us good news, I can’t explain that feeling…but I know you know what I mean! Nothing compares to it.
Looking through our baby hall of fame! Gosh! How amazing is our GOD! 33 babies…and counting? God is too much! When we went for Linda’s daughter’s first birthday party, I was so emotional. I remembered clearly when she was making her decision about what hospital to use…and when she cycled…and then there we were, celebrating the first birthday of her daughter. Words can’t describe the feeling!
What drives your vision for the community, and does it ever feels like it’s a project bigger than you?
The main thing that drives me is the desire to be that listening ear to women in need, for this place to be a happy-place for women bogged down by TTC travails. Yes, when I started the site, I had a lot of dreams about helping women, especially those unable to afford treatment. Unfortunately, those plans haven’t come to fruition yet, but I am hopeful that they will soon. Because nothing will give me more joy than to be able to give back.
As for it feeling bigger than me, I’ll admit that sometimes, it does. This community was designed to be a community for us to support each other and encourage each other along the way…but I know some women have been disappointed that we haven’t provided them solutions. And as a former TTC woman, I understand that disappointment. I wish from the bottom of my heart we had a solution for everyone, but all we can give right now is love and support.
You started off using an alias, and now you are showing us the face behind the persona, Nicole, The Fertile Chick. What reactions do you think people would have?
First of all, Nicole is my real name. It’s just not the name everyone knows me by. I decided to use that alias, not because I was ashamed of revealing myself, but because I didn’t want anything to take away from the website. I didn’t want it to be referred to as ‘Adesuwa’s blog’. I wanted it to stand on its own merit, and reach out to women…the way it was designed to.
The reason I am ‘unveiling’ myself now is because I think the community has developed legs of its own, and doesn’t risk being diluted because of an attachment to me. And what better time than as I hit the milestone age of 40! As for people’s reactions…the truth is that a lot of women in our community already know me by my real name. From private messages to WhatsApp chats, and even sometimes meeting face-to-face, a lot of our members have met me, so I’m sure they won’t be surprised or anything.
There’s a group of people which some of our members refer to as ‘The Faith Stretchers’ club. They insist that doing ART is not allowing women to exercise her faith in God. What do you think about this set of people?
There’s exercising one’s faith, and there is testing God. I believe God gave mankind the wisdom to come up with ART, so shunning it and waiting for, I don’t know, a trumpet to sound from above is something I don’t agree with at all. Thankfully, less women think this way. But for those who still do, I just hope they don’t waste too much time waiting.
Of course, there have been so many cases of women getting BFP’s without ART, or while preparing for ART. You know that, Kemi. We have both witnessed so many, many cases like that. But that said, it’s not right to just cross our arms and wait for that to happen. Trust God first, and then do the right thing.
Do you have any advice for those women who may want to speak up about their experience, but don’t have the same power and influence as you?
My darling, I don’t think I have power or influence. When I started this blog, I was just another girl with joy in her heart over her own answered prayer. I’m still that girl. It doesn’t matter if you have an audience of 1 or 1 billion. If it has been placed in your heart to reach out and share your story, by all means do. I thank God for His grace, through which our platform was created. We’re still not where we aim to be, but it’s a journey. So share your story, and see where your own journey takes you.
As a person who can be described as a woman’s woman, what do you think women do most to hurt each other?
Being judgemental! Women are so judgmental, especially with each other, and, by so doing, cause each other so much hurt. Criticism is the order of the day, and it’s awful. Constructive criticism is one thing, but more than half the time, it’s just malicious.
Just yesterday, I was reading comments on an Instagram page, and my heart shredded to pieces. It was a post about a popular personality, the younger sister of an equally popular blogger. Reading what fellow women were writing about this girl, the insults they were hurling at her…my heart broke to pieces thinking about how this young woman would feel, reading all those hurtful things.
If only we would all just rally around each other…support each other…prop each other up, the way some awesome people like Nkiru Harry Ngonadi (NHN) do, the world would be a better place for us women.
You recently made a drastic decision to lose weight and you got some amazing results. Tell us what the experience was like? Were there moments you felt you couldn’t go on, and what motivated you to stay the course?
To be honest, it was the thought of turning 40 and being overweight!
It’s not like I was obese or anything. At my heaviest, I was probably about 80kg. But I no longer recognised myself. I used to be very slim. In fact, in Uni, I was even considered too skinny. But that changed as I got older. Over the last decade especially, hormonal issues…and a growing addiction to food (LOL)…contributed to the weight piling on. And as much as I tried to lose it, nothing really worked.
Last year, I came across the KETO diet, and shunned it for the longest time. But I decided to research it a little more, and I realised it wasn’t as unhealthy and dangerous as I thought. So, in January this year, I started it, and I was amazed to see the weight just falling off. I haven’t really been consistent, as I soon got scared of how fast the weight was melting, but I have lost 10kg on it…and I’m happy with that. I still have another 3, 4kg to get to my goal weight, but for now, I’m good.
Now that you have lost the weight, how do you intend to maintain it?
Two things; discipline and prepping. You have to be disciplined enough to walk past the sweet treats, but you also need to plan and prep your meals ahead of time. Not prepping is the easiest and quickest way to fall off the wagon. Because if you’re hungry, you will very likely eat just about anything…and if you have nothing healthy available…well, fill in the blanks!
There was a time, you shared in our community that your husband wanted you to stop losing more weight. How did you feel about that and did you obey?
I was glad that the diet was working (LOL), and as for obeying…that would be telling. 😉
If you look back at your life over the last 40 years, what would you say, were the highlights?
So, so many highlights. God has been so good to me, I really don’t know where to start. But, without a doubt, having my daughters is way up there. Waaaay up there. And having the courage to actualise my dream of an online community for women, is way up there too.
What are some of the moments you would want to change, if any?
Worrying too much. I wish I could go back in time to tell young Adesuwa to just r-e-l-a-x! Gosh, I used to worry about everything. When I was in Uni, I used to worry about school. After graduation, it was getting a good job. And of course, the worry about a husband! And then came worrying about kids…
That last one was probably the most valid, as there were issues, real issues, standing in the way of my fertility. But even with all of that, God still came through for me. I was blessed double for my trouble. I wish I could tell that young woman who used to cry herself to sleep every night, especially after Aunt Flow showed up, that all would be well….that she would get her happy ever after.
So yeah, worrying is one thing I’d change.
You are entering a new decade altogether. Do you have a road map of how you want this new decade to go?
To a large extent. There are things I am hopeful of achieving before the golden jubilee comes along. As far as roadmaps go, I’m still working on that, but I do have an outline, and that’s good enough for me for now.
In November 2015, you wanted to do an FET, but you decided against it. How easy was it to take that decision?
I had to be honest with myself about why I was planning it. Was I doing it because it was right for my family, or just to tick a box and ‘feel among’? After soul searching, I realised I wasn’t in that head space. There were a lot of changes happening in my personal life that made the timing very bad.
Are you ever going to go ahead with your planned FET?
Not right now. Who knows? Maybe something will change later, but right now, that would be a no.
You have shared several times, your victory report over infertility. However, we would like to know what was the dominant thought in your head when you were going through your infertility challenge?
I worried about if it would ever happen for me. I worried that pregnancy wouldn’t happen for me. Especially after my failed IVF cycle. As much as I think of myself a dreamer, I’m also something of a realist. I reckon it stems from my fear of disappointment. For as long as I can remember, I have always preferred to prepare my mind for the worst, so even as I went through my treatment, my worry was that I would never succeed. Going in for my 2nd IVF cycle, I was not only prepared for an FET if need be, but also another fresh cycle…and possibly maybe even life without a child of my own.
But this was a wrong mentality. Keeping up one’s Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) is always the best thing. Worrying about what might not happen is futile. Why not remain positive about what could happen instead? Looking at my two gorgeous girls now, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much energy being pessimistic.
What did you know about PCOS before you were diagnosed?
Very, very little. I just thought it was some condition that only very fat women had, that made them not ovulate and thus infertile. My close friend in Uni used to have her period only a few times a year. I had a clockwork period, and I wasn’t fat (at the time), so PCOS was the farthest thing on my mind. It wasn’t until I started TTC, that I began to read more about it, and got educated about the syndrome. Through self study, I actually diagnosed myself with it long before my doctor did.
Before you had to deal with infertility, was it something anyone around you experienced?
I came in my parents’ 6th year of marriage. Granted, my mother had already had 2 late term miscarriages, but I arrived 6 years after they were married. Then I was an only child for 10 years, until my brother came along. A few of my mother’s sisters have only 1 child, while the others have as many as 9 kids! Some of my cousins have also had their own TTC walk, so I guess you would say it isn’t entirely alien in my family.
What were some of the positive reactions you got from people, while you were actively TTC?
There were a lot of people who surprised me. My boss at the time, a guy for that matter, took so much interest in it that he would often sit me down in his office, and counsel me. He had no experience with it himself, but I guess he could see I was hurting. Then my close friends all made it a point of duty to read up about hormonal disorders, IVF, etc., just so they could understand what I was going through. It was heart warming…and made up for those people who…well…weren’t so nice!
There are couples who won’t try ART because of their religious beliefs. As a Catholic, how easy was it for you to decide to do IVF, and was there any opposition to your move from those close to you?
It was very easy. Extremely easy, in fact. LOL! You see, I’d done my homework. I knew the reason the Catholic Church frowns on it is because it does not want any lives lost. I knew that, no matter what, I would not be destroying my embryos. I still have my embryos frozen. I knew I would not be destroying human life, and when I explained this to my folks, they were fine with it.
We live in a society that says a woman who has birthed sons has a stable seat in her matrimonial home, unlike one with just girls. You have two sweet girls, are there moments you feel like you have short-changed your husband by not having a son yet?
Not even for a teeny tiny second. Our girls have completed our home in a way that has exceeded our own wildest imagination. If I could go back in time to change the outcome of that cycle, I wouldn’t change one single thing. The funny thing is, if you’d asked me before I got married, or even when I was TTC, which sex I’d prefer, I’d have told you boys for sure. But my girls have made my heart full…so very full. And my husband is even worse than I am. The girls are his everything! And he most surely doesn’t feel short changed at all, neither is my seat in my matrimonial home ‘unstable’ (LOL! Kemi, you and your phrases sha!)
From your experience with women on The Fertile Chick, what do you think men can do more of to help their wives going through TTC, bearing in mind that more men are showing up on the site and sharing their challenges?
Listen to your wives…follow her pace. I know some men who take a bit longer to get on board the TTC train than their wives. My husband was one of such men…and it was a bit frustrating, to be honest. On the converse, I know some men who are more invested in the process than their wives; reading and soaking up every piece of news and information that they can. Ironically, the women I know with husbands like this don’t like this either. They say they feel rushed and pressured. So the best thing is to just go at your wife’s pace. If she needs you to be more on top of things, be more on top of things. If she needs you to slow down, slow down. Try your best to be in sync with her. That’s truly the best way to go through the journey together.
How do you deal/encourage members who wish to be anonymous?
I understand it 100%. I have been there. As a member of BabyandBump, I started of anonymous, but eventually revealed my image later on. So, for members who choose not to reveal their identities, there is no pressure at all. We will continue relating with them the way they feel comfortable. If they eventually come out of the closet, awesome! And if they don’t, that’s also fine. Our community is a place of love for everyone; anonymous or not.
Let’s back track a bit. Your first degree was in Engineering…and then you veered into the world of Investment Banking. How easy was it to make that move?
Much easier than I gave myself credit for. Even though I studied Chemical Engineering, by the time I was graduating, I knew I didn’t want to pursue a career in it. I got an M.Sc. in Finance & Management, and worked as a Cost Engineer with an engineering company for a while. By the time I moved to Investment Banking, even though I was petrified at first, I found that there were a lot of parallels with my technical background, and I was soon doing well. Today, I work in Strategy, which pulls a lot from my technical and financial backgrounds…which is great.
Did you get any mentoring along the way?
Plenty! I have been lucky to have had some really awesome bosses! The kind of bosses that become your big brother after a while. I was mentored and guided, and I credit that for where I am today. It’s one of the reasons I’m also open to mentoring young women.
There was a time; you were a stay-at-home-mom, what prompted you to leave paid employment?
To be honest, it wasn’t intentional. I left the job I had to join my former boss, who was starting an energy services company. I believed in his dream and vision, so taking an unpaid job was something I didn’t think twice about. We spent two years trying to raise investment for the company, and we probably would have, if oil prices hadn’t gone south and the 2015 elections hadn’t frightened the foreign investors we were speaking with.
But I thank God for that period, because it gave me the opportunity to birth the seed that had been planted in my heart…The Fertile Chick.
Even while you were a stay-at-home mom, you were running a growing online community. What was that experience like for you?
It was easy…and it was hard. Easy because it is my passion. Morning to night, I would be on my laptop, communing with our wonderful members. But it was hard, because there were so many things I wanted to do, but couldn’t. As I wasn’t earning a salary, my husband was funding me 100%, so I had to be considerate of the kind of things I requested for. It meant a few things suffered. It led to me relying heavily on a few other factors, and getting heavily disappointed each time. It was hard.
You went back into workforce recently. What has been experience been like, having to juggle all your new responsibilities with the ones already standing?
It’s been hard, I will tell you no lies. Because I still insist on taking my kids to school, my day begins as early as 4.30am every morning. By the time I get to work by 8, I have to be on my A-game, regardless of how tired I might already be. My job is a very demanding one, but even with that, I have to make out time to commune with the ladies on here. I make it a point of duty to reach out to as many people as I can, and stay as involved and active as I can be. It means I’m sometimes up till way after midnight…only to be up again at 4.30am. It’s tough.
Kindly share tips that other women can use.
The first thing is to realise that you can’t do it all. Till very recently, I used to insist on bathing my kids myself. I would wake up at 4am in the morning, so that I could pray, prep my meals for work, prep my kids’ lunch boxes, have a shower, do my makeup, give the kids their bath, dress them up, feed them…In the end, I would arrive work already drained. So I had to learn how to delegate! Now, I have someone assist with the meal preps, and bathing the kids.
Also learn how to prioritise. Choose the things that are important, and the things that you can do without. You can’t be everywhere at every time, nor everything to everyone. Also find time for yourself. You’re of no use to your loved ones if you’re tired and harassed. When you feel like the walls are collapsing around you, take some time to just exhale and regroup.
Surround yourself by only positivity. Get rid of negative energy…and that includes people to. Life is hard enough without extra negativity dragging you down.
And pray without ceasing! Never begin or end your day without drawing strength from your Lord. For me, that is the only strength that sees me through my day, and indeed the ups and downs of life.
There was a time your hubby referred the website as a “hobby”. How did that make you feel?
I understood why he would think that, especially as the site wasn’t generating any income. So, in his mind, it was just a ‘hobby’’.
As one with a mind that’s always buzzing with ideas, do you think there’s anything in your head or in your heart that can’t be replicated?
Not at all. I totally agree with Mo Abudu’s philosophy of ‘If you can think it, you can do it.’ The only thing standing in my way are the time and resources to execute these ideas. But hopefully, one day, they will see the light of day.
Who or what contributes towards the beautiful parts of your life?
Is that even a question? God, number one, and then my family. My children are the light of my life, and my husband is my rock. They are my everything, and they make my life beautiful!
What are you most passionate about?
My children. My husband. My desire for TTC women to know they are not alone.
What is it like being a mother of twins?
It is the best feeling in the world! I will never forget meeting my two blessings from God, when I had them on the 8th of November, 2011. My heart felt like it would burst!
But I’ll also keep it real y’all! The first few years were HARD!!! I lost 30kg in the first month I had them, I kid you not! My girls decided not to have the same body clock, so as one was falling asleep, the other was waking. My mother and I were on duty, 24 hours a day! Add to the fact that they had colic issues, I honestly thought I was going to go insane! When my mother moved back home, I remember feeling so panicked, wondering how on earth I would cope on my own! But I did, thanks to God, and a supportive hubby who was equally as clueless as me.
But as I tell new mommas, especially new twin mommas, it gets easier with time. The hard part is the beginning part. As they grow, and as everyone settles into a routine, it gets a whole lot easier.
What is your parenting style?
As much as I’m a coddler, I do believe in discipline. So my girls get both in equal measure. They know that mummy is always there for a hug and cuddle and a kiss, but the minute they misbehave, mummy’s red eye is quick to appear! But with all the discipline, I always let them know that I love them. And even though some parties discourage this, after the tears that follow a scolding, I kiss and hug them, and explain why what they did was wrong, and why they had to be punished.
How do you manage your finances in this recession?
That’s a million dollar question oh! LOL! For me, I’ve had to re-assess my income versus spend. With the fall in the value of the Naira, and the accompanying escalation in prices of pretty much everything, my husband and I had to be realistic enough to cut some things out of our routine expenses. In a nutshell, we had to be true to ourselves, about what we could and could no longer afford.
That’s critical, because if you are still living in denial, thinking your salary can still do what it could do two years ago, you’ll end up running into trouble time and time again.
Don’t try to keep up with the Jonses. Be true to yourself!
What advice would you give to a new mom?
Trust yourself. Trust your gut. Trust your heart. Don’t get swayed by the plethora of advise you’ll get. Everyone has their own way of doing things…it doesn’t mean theirs, or yours, is the right or wrong way. Listen to what they have to say, and make a call about what will work for you. And never beat yourself up. There’s no such thing as a perfect mom. Always remind yourself that you are doing the best you can!
What’s the most purely fun part of your normal day?
I love it when the kids have gone to bed, and my husband and I sit in our living room and gist about our day. Even if it means repeating what we’ve already discussed over the phone during the day, that kickback and gisting period helps us remain connected.
I also love my Instagram prowling. LOL! When I’m in traffic, or maybe even during my lunch break, I love being able to just step out of my own reality and wander through the pages and posts of my Instafam.
What do you do for fun in general?
I’m not your typical Gemini. I’m a homebody. For me, the ultimate definition of ‘fun’ is to be on my couch, watching my favourite TV shows; Grey’s Anatomy, Jane the Virgin, Eastenders, Scandal, Great British Bake Off, Say Yes to the Dress, Hush, Hotel Majestic…you name it! I also love date nights with my hubby. But, on the few occasions I do decide to let my hair down, I love to hang out with my besties, doing anything from seeing a movie to even just gisting in someone’s house.
Tell us about your love for glam nails? When did it begin etc.?
This question has Bosa all over it…LOL! Okay maybe I’m not too different from your typical Gemini after all. Body grooming has been, and will always be, important to me. Even if nobody gets to see my nails but me, I always make sure they’re awesome. I just like to make sure that my nails and hair are always together.
As for when it began…..oh chile! As far back as my Uni days, to be honest. Back in those days, I might not have had the fanciest of clothes, but my hair and nails were always on point. So, I guess that’s 20 odd years of vanity…LOL!
What should we look forward to in the next decade?
I’m really excited about this new chapter of my life, and the coming decade especially. I am confident that my God will remain faithful, especially with what we are doing here on TFC. I am hopeful that He will actualise all the wonderful plans we have for members of our community.
What is the plan for The Fertile Chick?
We are working on a lot of things…a lot of wonderful things! Just watch this space 😉
How does it feel to be 40?
Awesome! Wonderful! Liberating! I am actually relieved it is finally here! For anyone in their late 30s, I’m sure they can identify that the ‘fear’ looms over one from your 35th birthday…LOL! I’m glad it’s finally here ojare!
But jokes apart, it feels so much better than turning 30. I am more comfortable in my skin…comfortable in the woman I am. And I finally have the courage to do some things I was too afraid to before.
I’m finally ready to do it afraid!
© The Fertile Chick