Kofo is visibly tired but wouldn’t say so. Chizara will not understand any of that or stop doing what she’s doing. She’s only six-weeks -old and wants everything her way. She’s crying, kicking and shaking, as if someone hit her.
“Feed her!” an aunty who fed her just five minutes ago commanded. Kofo yanked open her blouse, undid her brassier and stuck thick, dark nipples into the little mouth. She sucks quietly for five minutes, plays happily for another five and begins wailing again.
Chizara wants all of her mum; she wants to be cuddled, kissed and rocked endlessly. Besides, she wants it all done standing up. But the young mum is lucky to have a strong family support and a devoted husband. Her mother-in-law minds the baby twice a week, her pharmacist husband takes time off work to help, and Kofo’s mum has just returned from Nigeria and has volunteered another two days for the baby, so Kofo, a final year pharmacy student, could go to University.
Kofo is a tough, hardworking young woman. A few minutes with her and you’d know Ikechi made a good choice although human beings, like onions, have many layers. But until then, she is exceptional and a perfect match for her equally energetic and lovely husband.
When I met Kofo Adeyemi last year she was like any young girl you’d meet on the streets of London – high heel shoes, tight trousers, long lashes and nails, expensive mobile phone, a 12-inch false hair and British accent. Kofo was said to be on her own in the UK, most of the time, and studying because her parents had moved back to Nigeria. The Sapele-born 22-year-old was in the company of her boyfriend, now husband, who had brought her home for family “viewing” as a potential wife.
Now 23 and cradling a baby, the high shoes are off and there’s hardly time enough for deep make up. She now has to rely on her natural beauty and seek the comfort of soft sandals so she can run up and down with the baby. She doesn’t want the baby scratched – so the long nails are gone too. Today, she is wearing a simple light green long-sleeved blouse and a skirt, revealing a small bulge on the stomach – evidence of her recent child birth. She has put on a little weight and has some pimples on her cheeks. The 12-inch hair has been replaced by a short one, fringed in front and tied in a pony tail behind. Everything now revolves around her bundle of joy.
“Life’s been hectic but we’re getting used to it. We have less time for ourselves but that’s what we wanted. We wake up in the night – I call it night watch. She wakes up like twice and we take it in turns.
“My husband’s been a perfect dad. I won’t ask for more. I was telling him the other day that if I had a dad like him. I’d have been more well-off because I see the way he’s been with her – she’s a lucky babe,” she said, speaking for herself and Ikechi who just darted off to work.
Kofo, a fraud investigator with Itshekiri and Yoruba ancestry, relocated to the UK at age five. She has held a job from age 16 to support herself as her parents were away, most times.
“My first job was when I was 16. I was an accounts trainer for New Look, a clothing shop. I was formerly in Customer service as sales advisor and I got promoted to accounts trainer. I trained my colleagues on getting customers to sign up for a credit card.
“From then, I moved up to Top Shop doing a similar thing. Then I got tired of retail and went into banking in 2009 – obviously more money and it suited me better. I went into customer service and worked hard and progressed and become a fraud investigator,” she said, proudly.
Not only did she work, Kofo also studied and worked her way through to University. Face 2 Face wanted to know how she coped with pregnancy working and studying all the time.
“Pregnancy was good. I didn’t actually know I was pregnant. I was at Uni. still and I was working as well. I am so thankful that I was able to go through pregnancy, go to Uni, go to work, do the things that I had to do as well. I had a bit of sickness in the morning in the early stages. It was horrible.
“I didn’t start showing until about six to seven months. If you saw my tummy you wouldn’t know except if you’re a midwife or so. No one at Uni. knew that I even gave birth. Literally, I could have adopted a baby because nobody actually saw me pregnant,” the Kent University student said, cracking with laughter and robbing her little stomach.
How does it feel now she has the baby?
“The whole thing feels so unreal. Each time I look at her, it feels even more unreal but I am thankful to God that she is a healthy baby, came on time and I didn’t have to be induced,” she said.
Kofo also shared her experiences during and after labour, rocking her now sleeping daughter as she spoke.
“It was pain like no other. Some people describe it as having a bad period pain, it’s no way; it’s worse, about ten times worse. Even from the beginning when your waters break, early contraction –that is ten times worse than a period pain let alone the actual labour. I’m not quite sure. It depends on your pain tolerance level. I had a determination not to get an epidural – I just handled it. If you have a high pain tolerance or threshold, you might think it’s okay. I don’t think anyone can explain how the pain is – no!” She exclaimed.
“You can’t describe it like ehhhhhh – there’s no word to describe it. To know what the pain is, you have to actually experience it yourself. But I can say at the end, when you actually have to push, I can’t describe it – it’s when you actually go puuuuuuu – with pain, lots of pain. I didn’t cry you know, I think it was more noises. I can’t remember crying, not at all.”
Then the baby came – Did the pain vanish? Face2Face asked.
“Not at all, I said to my husband, ‘pour some water on my privates – it was burning!’ She quipped.
“Previously, he was trying to look down there and I said, ‘stop it!’ But after the baby came, I said, ‘ Iyk, pour some water, pour some water’ – the doctors were there but they weren’t really doing anything. It was my husband who poured some water – on my bits,” said Kofo who became mum at the Basildon Hospital on August 31st.
Kofo’s challenge with child birth is not peculiar. Most mums have a similar experience but explain the pains differently. It’s a challenge all through pregnancy for most women, young or old. Kofo’s daughter was overdue and that was a source of additional worry.
“Every day, I’d wish my water would break and the baby would come. It got to a point where everyone would call me – ‘has the baby come yet?’ I got so anxious, upset and frustrated. I prayed and fasted for a day and it worked. A day before I was to be induced, my waters broke. I would have been induced the very next day if she didn’t come. So, God is always on time – not always when you want Him but on time still.”