Bright and beaming, this megawatt mama just became the mother of two! Days before she gave birth to her boys, we caught up with Cynthia, @simplycyn, to chat about taking a sabbatical from law to explore her side hustle, managing a high-risk pregnancy, and planning for twins. Plus, life growing up between the States and West Africa and finding beauty in every situation.
*Shortly after our interview, Cynthia went into labor and gave birth to two adorable baby boys, Kai and River.
Current state of mind?
From start to finish, my pregnancy has been relatively smooth. The only “common” side effect I had was acid reflux in the second trimester coupled with crazy fatigue—literally, I wanted to sleep everywhere, all the time. Now that I hit 35 weeks, I feel hot, swollen, and very ready to have these babies.
At week 20, they determined I have a short cervix. Since I’m older and pregnant with twins, I’m considered high risk. To be extra cautious, the doctor put a cerclage in to prevent miscarriage and recommended I minimize activity. While I wasn’t put on bed rest, I stopped exercising, doing prenatal yoga, and walking for more than 30 minutes a day.
Early-on I could only eat super spicy foods (hello, acid reflux!) but thankfully that craving subsided along with the indigestion. Now I only crave watermelon and mango (Haitian mangoes to be exact), plus icy, cold water—I’ve never been thirstier in my life and drink nearly two gallons a day.
Path to pregnancy?
Every so often, my husband and I would have the “are we ready to start a family?” conversation, and for the longest time, neither of us was ready. Then last year, something shifted, and it suddenly felt like the right time. We took the plunge, went off birth control, and decided to give it a go for three months with the mindset that if nothing happened, we would close the chapter and leave it to the Universe and God. Apparently the Universe did have a plan, and I was pregnant with twins almost immediately. It happened so quickly I didn’t realize I was pregnant for months!
Do twins run in your family?
Yes. Before me, my mom gave birth to twins prematurely that didn’t make it. When I told her I was pregnant, all these years later, with twins, she was over the moon! She believes it’s a blessing and our family story has come full circle.
Where did you grow up?
After my parents’ divorce, we moved from Maryland to Cameroon, Africa, when I was five. Without family in the United States, she wanted the support of her mother and sisters back home in Africa. My sisters and I lived there until our early teens and then moved back to the States for college.
Wow! What language did you grow up speaking?
Cameroon is technically a bilingual country, but really, it’s mostly French-speaking. When it comes to politics, TV, or getting a job, you need to speak French, which puts the English speakers at a disadvantage. Language inequality is a massive issue in the country, and the English speaking community is fighting for equality. I’m fluent in both; growing up, we mixed languages in our home, and I studied French in Paris for college. I’m planning to raise our sons’ bilingual.
Felt through COVID?
The beginning was lonely. I wanted to celebrate every milestone with loved ones (in person), and I couldn’t. Once we embraced Facetime and Zoom and found ways to connect, I felt less isolated. I even had a Zoom baby shower, which was lovely, although not what expected. COVID has taught me to let go of all the ways that I “thought” things would be and simply enjoy them as they are—perhaps a good lesson for life as well.
During the height of COVID, I was on edge; there was so much unknown about the effects on pregnant women and babies. Whenever I went outside, I would bundle, mask, and glove-up to the max to lessen my exposure. Looking back at the experience, I feel nothing but joy and gratitude to be healthy and about to start a family.
Fortunately, regulation has eased. My husband is allowed to come to the hospital for the actual birth, and we’re permitted one visitor a day; I’m excited to have family come to celebrate with us! Plus, depending on my condition (whether I have a vaginal or C-section birth), we may need an extra set of hands leaving the hospital—we’ll have double of everything, babies and stuff.
Our hospital, Lenox Hill, has been amazing so far. They’ve done an excellent job keeping us informed about the ever-changing rules and answering my incessant questions. They even connected us with a coordinator to help better navigate the process.
Planning for two?
While I haven’t done much, the one thing I’m actively not doing is buying two of everything. As soon as I found out we were having twins, I asked my online community for advice (of which I’m so grateful for their support), and almost everyone said not to order two of everything. Truth is one baby could love something, and the other might not, and then you’re stuck with two. Considering we can have things shipped overnight, there’s no need to double up.
I kept it simple and focused on the essentials: Food, I have everything for breastfeeding. Sleep, they will share a crib until we move to the new house. Clothes and cleanliness, I’m stocked up on basic onesies, diapers, and wipes. My aim was to keep it low-key and avoid getting caught up ordering bouncers, loungers, and rockers.
I took a leave of absence from my legal profession in the fall of last year. With opportunities coming my way through social, blogging, and travel, I owed it to myself to explore my options. Having worked at the same firm for over 11 years, I requested a year’s sabbatical. Of course, as luck would have it, I got pregnant, so my year off will become my maternity leave.
After the babies arrive and post-COVID, I plan to go back to the office. I feel fortunate to have this level of flexibility in my career and look forward to returning to my traditional role.
The goal is to breastfeed, although I’ve heard every story ranging from easy to challenging and am prepared for the alternative. Plus, I’ve watched endless YouTube Videos on breastfeeding twins. Apparently, it’s important to keep them on the same feeding/sleeping schedule; otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re always feeding and never sleeping.
Pregnancy style tips?
Stretchy fabric and maxi dresses are your best friends. Plus, look for pieces (like HATCH!), that are bump-friendly and work with your style. Invest in items that you would wear regardless. For me, I love color, so I am playing that up.
Lastly, make an effort. I believe wearing something cute every day creates a world of difference in how you show up. Feeling beautiful and confident changes everything for the better. During the beginning of COVID, I was wearing PJs during the day, and my energy was blah. Once I started getting dressed up again, my energy shifted.
Being pregnant is…?
Gorgeous! Here I am with swollen ankles and a big belly, yet I have never felt more beautiful, especially when I think about what it represents. It’s incredible what we’re capable of as women.
As a society, we spend a lot of time worrying about what we don’t have. While I am pregnant during COVID (which has its disadvantages), I focus on the fact that I am pregnant! There’s always a different perspective or a better thought about a situation. We must look at life through the lens of celebration and focus our energy on the positive.