What She Said: I Had A Baby At 21, I Wish I Waited

May 8, 2019

For as long as she could remember, getting married and starting a family was this woman’s ultimate goal. And that’s exactly what she did. Getting married at 20 and having a baby at 21. Now, one kid in, her perspective on life and motherhood has changed.

How long have you been married?

5 glorious years now. And I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. 

And what’s married life like? 

Honestly, it’s like playing Russian roulette. Which sounds a lot more dire than I mean it to. But you just don’t know what you get out of each day. My husband and I are both spontaneous, so it might be that.

First child at 21, did you plan that?

Honestly, we didn’t but we also didn’t plan to stop it which seems ridiculous now. I didn’t even know I was pregnant until I was 2 months gone. I had missed my first month’s period but I’m used to my period being sporadic so I didn’t think twice about it.

Your reaction?

I was ecstatic o. Like I said we hadn’t exactly planned for it, but we hadn’t planned to stop it. But for as long as I could remember getting married and starting my own family was the ultimate goal. I had excelled in school, graduated with a first class in Economics so a lot of people didn’t expect me to get married so soon after school. I was supposed to start my career and become this big shot career woman you know. 

By the end of final year I had been dating my husband for four years. We met in my first year, he was in his final year in Engineering. He got lucky and got a job straight out of Uni, so by the time I was done he was stable. There was just no reason to wait.

What did he think?

The only person who had worse baby fever than me was my husband. He’s still that way. I was still breastfeeding this one when he started talking about baby number 2. I just said Oga calm down. But he was the practical one. First couple of weeks, first several weeks, in fact, my head was still in clouds. I was picking out baby names and shopping for cute baby stuff. He was the one that sorted out prenatal class, bought the baby books arranged the doctor’s appointments etc. 

Is he till hands-on?

Haha no, not like then. And I bet you knew that already. All of that was the really easy stuff. It didn’t feel like that at the time, but preparing for the baby is really nothing. It’s even fun sef.

I don’t work. Well, at least not a 9-5. I’m a full-time housewife and I run a very small scale food order service on the side. His job, on the other hand, is, of course, a full-time 9-5 and sometimes he’s required to be offshore for weeks at a time. So I’d say no he’s definitely not as hands-on. He loves his child very deeply and provides for her, but her primary care is left up to just me. 

How did pregnancy go?

I was one of the really lucky ones. No morning sickness or significant weight gain. I had a lot of food cravings and my feet ballooned but apart from that it was as easy as a pregnancy could get. I hear your first child is your most difficult but I just popped mine right out. My labour time was I think 7 hours in total which is pretty great. 

First month of motherhood?

Hmm. Lol actually now that I think about it, the first month was good o. Because that’s when my mother did her omugwo. And she spoiled me rotten. In fact, if I could redo that month I won’t have let her. All I was doing was feeding my baby. She was changing diapers and taking baths for her and picking her up when she cried. I did all of that stuff sometimes during that month, but I didn’t feel pressured to because I knew my mum was there to do it if I didn’t. I was really chilling then and I didn’t even know it. I’ll wake up every morning saying I was stressed. I didn’t know what I was in for once my mother left.

And after the first month? 

That is when shit got real. I don’t know how we planned it but as my mother left my husband also went offshore like the week after. My mum was supposed to pop in once a week to help but then she got sick. So it was just me and the baby for 7-8 weeks. I never actually went to a doctor to get diagnosed but in those weeks I think I tethered on the edge of postpartum depression. First of all my baby was a crier. Every new mum says this but mine was on another level, I was sleeping maybe three or four hours a day. Then I got a blocked milk duct but I couldn’t stop breastfeeding. The blocked duct meant my baby wasn’t getting enough milk which made her cranky and breastfeeding for me was painful which made me cranky. 

Now?

She’s 4. So she’s at that age where she can’t help but leave a mess everywhere she goes. I got help when she turned one and I’ve always had help since then. Which is funny because I swore I’d never be that person. I struggled with the guilt of getting help at first. I was a full-time housewife my only job was to raise my kid. I shouldn’t have needed help. Now I’ve come to the realisation that trying to form super mum is foolish. If you can afford it get all the help you need. If it’s 4 nannies you want, get the 4 nannies.

Your biggest struggle?

Forming a bond with my child. I also realised a lot of new mums are liars. That thing about forming an instant connection or falling in love with your child the minute you take them in your arms is a lie. And if I had known that before having my baby I’d have saved myself from years of guilt. For a very long time it was just this thing that needed my constant attention and cried all the time and didn’t let me sleep and stopped me from having a life. Then they were the body image issues. Everyone told me how lucky I was not to have gained too much weight and I didn’t but my body just doesn’t look the same. From when I was 15 till when I had my baby my waist line was 25”. It’s 29 now. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal. But I just don’t like what I see in the mirror.

And the best thing?

This is hard. Half of the time it might seem like I’m complaining but I really do love being a mother. I don’t of it’s possible to have just one best thing about it. The smallest things about her thrill me. Recently she started saying ‘I love you’ a lot and even if it’s to everybody from me to the gateman, hearing her say it, is the best part of my day.

Would you have done anything differently?

I’d have waited and planned a roadmap for myself. At 21 I couldn’t see beyond having a husband and a child. That was it for me I didn’t think of anything else. I thought of maybe working after I had three kids but I didn’t make any concrete plans. And after the baby, you are no longer a priority. Whatever plans you want to make have to be made around your baby.

Still want three kids?

No, I’m ok with just this one. Which is an abomination apparently because ‘what if something happens’. But I think that’s an odd way to look at life. My husband thinks I’ll still change my mind but then he has thought so for four years. I know he’s still hopeful but for now, he seems accepting of my decision and I’m grateful for that. 

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