Power People: Najell x Nadiakenza
We at Najell want to encourage parents to maintain their identity, continue doing what they love, and parent in their own way. In this series of interviews, we highlight and discuss all aspects of parenting with our selected power people. People we believe to be strong in themselves, their parenting, and above all else, aim to empower others.
In this interview, we meet Nadia, @Nadiakenza on Instagram, whose pregnancy we've been following on the YouTube series 'Pregnant Week by Week'. We covered topics such as the fear of childbirth, the other side of the fourth trimester and being a new parent (to not one... but triplets!).
The triplets Kelian, Aaliyah, and Lithea joined Nadia and her partner Lamberi in November. But entering the fourth trimester together was not without its challenges. After a tough birth, the family, unfortunately, had to spend several weeks in the neonatal unit. The couple's "toughest but most loving time", according to Nadia. Demonstrating, that even the toughest periods can be overcome when it's done together.
"We became a team and had to remind each other that we're both going through this whilst dealing with it in different ways and that it's okay. We talked to each other a lot about how the situation made us feel and supported each other in our journey, which is often difficult when both need support. But it's important to get help from someone if you're struggling to regulate your emotions. Talk to each other and show the other partner that they are not alone but you are doing this together, like mum and dad."
The YouTube series 'Pregnant Week by Week' has followed the couple's pregnancy. It shows all the emotions, highs, and lows that are part of the course. Nadia explains that the birth was especially tough. The main reason being her fear of childbirth. A sentiment many share but few feel comfortable expressing or seeking help for.
"I want to start by saying it's okay. It's okay to be scared, it's okay to feel what you're doing. You are not alone. If you are afraid of giving birth, don't hesitate to contact your midwife to speak to a counsellor. Write a birth letter, telling them how you feel and what you think you would need to make your birth easier. Anything from having the midwife tell you everything that is happening, or support you with your breathing, explain what is going to happen and how it will happen. Make sure you are heard."
The babies came early, in week 33. The little ones had to stay in intensive care for their first weeks of life. Through this difficult chapter, both Nadia and Lamberi found comfort in the support they received from others in a similar situation. But they especially cherished having skin-to-skin contact. Anything to get as close as possible to their new family members.
"We had difficulty bonding with our children because they were born prematurely and needed a lot of care. Skin-to-skin contact strengthened our bond with the children but also acted as a pain reliever for ourselves. I would like to think that thanks to skin-to-skin, our children's development has improved."
- Many new mothers talk about how they've read a lot about pregnancy and childbirth. But then there's not as much to read about those initial months with a baby. Is there anything, in particular, you wish you would have known about the fourth trimester, that would have prepared you better, especially with three little ones at home?
"You are usually prepared to take care of all the practicalities of the child's arrival. But why aren't you prepared for what happens to you as a mother? Why can't we talk about the identity crisis in parenting classes or in our meetings with the midwife? About how normal it is to lose yourself? About how you feel inadequate? We are good at talking about how there will be sleepless nights with a smile on our face, but we never talk about how those sleepless nights can affect you as a person, a mother and a partner. We never talk about how important it is, that when you become a mother to remember you are a person too."
On her Instagram, Nadia describes "the other side of the fourth trimester". A side that she says is rarely discussed.
"My image of the fourth trimester was that it would be romantic, wonderful and I fantasised a lot about what I followed on social media, where the fourth trimester was the meaning of life. You feed your babies, you put them in nice clothes, you cuddle, you go on wonderful walks, you cosleep and you bathe them so nicely. But that's not the reality. You post the nice peaceful moments, but there is another side of the fourth trimester that you don't talk about. The side where you are tired, have sleepless nights, are exhausted, feel anxiety, stress. Everything from having time to shower, clean, look for the baby's pacifier, clothes, diaper, snuggles, spring wipes, thinking clearly, pumping, showering, having time to eat, rest, sleep is a CHALLENGE. Just getting to go for a walk is a challenge. Napping, rocking, soothing your baby is a challenge and even when things are going "well", it's a challenge. That everything you took for granted before baby is something you suddenly have to fight for."
To get through the tougher moments, Nadia has "talked and talked", written down her feelings, and worked on not forgetting herself in parenthood.
"My Instagram is my diary, where I get to write down my thoughts and feelings. But also alone time, alone time is so important, I did things that reminded me of Nadia. I went to the hairdresser, did my nails, took walks, I did things I enjoy with my partner."
When it comes down to it, it's not just that those activities make Nadia feel good about parenting. The most important things are the triplets and that Nadia and Lamberi are seeing further developments day by day.
"What makes me feel good in my parenting is my children, when they develop and become stronger, when I manage to comfort my children, when I can make them smile, when I have them close to me and am reminded that I will give them my whole world."
- You have three little babies. How do you do it? And how do you find time to yourselves?
"We work together and are a team. It has created routines that stand up for each other. We synchronise our tasks around the children and it just flows. We've also decided to give each other two sessions a week each to get some alone time and once a week to actually let go of all the musts and just hang out as a family."
However, the overarching advice to other new parents is to trust yourself and your own abilities.