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1 Mar

THE #SEEHERSERIES: HAVING A BABY FORCED ME TO FINALLY RESPECT MY BODY

Introducing SCHICK’s #SeeHerSeries, a month-long celebration of women’s voices, aimed at honouring femininity and womanhood in all its variations, with all it brings. In line with the theme for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, this March, female contributors from all around the globe will be sharing their thoughts on the female experience – from career, business and finances, to health, motherhood and style. Join us!

Being a woman is this complex, beautiful, often heartbreaking thing and looking back at the last year of my life, this is the only way I can sum it all up. In February of the year that shook the Earth, 2020, I became pregnant with my first child – a boy, I’d soon discover. I found this out on an extremely hot Saturday afternoon, in between typical couple fights with my husband, while planning for a work trip and hosting my sister-in-law’s birthday. Needless to say, it was all a bit manic, but it’s amazing how in that moment, when the pregnancy test shows two little red bars, your life changes forever and you’re only aware of a fraction of what’s in store.

My pregnancy was an easy one, in the most totally unexpected way. Aside from the fatigue, nausea and hyper-sensitive sense of smell that often comes with the first trimester, I had little to no complaints. Unfortunately, however, I caught the COVID-19 virus at four months pregnant, but even then, with full symptoms showing, I survived it. Now, this ‘ease’ isn’t a reality for millions and millions of women around the world, so from day one, I was extremely thankful. But what was a stress-free pregnancy quickly turned into extreme difficulty when my baby was overdue at 40+ weeks.

The short story is: After a casual visit to the GP for a check-up, my blood pressure was worrisome-ly high and I had to have several tests run, which revealed I could be in danger if my baby didn’t get his butt out within the next three days. Basically, he didn’t, and this led to a scheduled induction, two days of full contractions and a lot of pain. On another Saturday morning, dark and early, my son was born.

Image: Unsplash

It’s funny because I don’t remember there being any point in my pregnancy (or prior) where I didn’t think I would gain a lot of pregnancy weight, end up with a giant nose and generally feel terrible. In fact, I was so concerned about it, pre-pregnancy, that merely thinking about conception usually led to feelings of fear and anxiety. I’ve struggled with weight loss and being comfortable in my body for most of my teenage – adult life, so to throw a baby into the mix was epic for my trepidation. Ironically, and to my utmost surprise, I didn’t start gaining any significant weight until around the eighth month of my pregnancy and didn’t look pregnant until about that time too.

It had never even occurred to me, for a second, that my body was capable of not disappointing me – seeing as I considered weight gain as a failure. I had developed such an unhealthy view of my body and such fear of it that I was certain it would always do the opposite of what I wanted it to do. But after 48 hours of this same body being pushed to new levels, but holding itself up extraordinarily well and pushing through difficult circumstances, I had – still have – a whole new respect for it.

While I must admit it did a lot for my self-esteem to have looked exactly the same a few weeks after giving birth as I did pre-pregnancy, going through childbirth gave me perspective and immense appreciation I didn’t have prior. I no longer saw a flabby weak link, I saw a warrior. I saw a battered and bruised survivor that housed me and refused to break down under extreme pressure. I saw that I owed it a lot of gratitude for refusing to give up, soldering on through a painful C-Section, leaky breasts, sleepless nights, never-ending care, loose genitals and much (much) more. Having a baby forced me to finally do what had always needed to be done: To love my body.

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Kunmi Odueke
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