Dola Posh is a Nigerian portrait photographer based in the United Kingdom. She works from the landscape of her imagination and focuses on telling the stories of everyday life.
Emerald Arguelles: Can you describe the initial emotions when you found out about your pregnancy?
Dola Posh: I was in tears; it was not one of joy, but I feared that I might not be able to carry my child. After I got married, I felt pressure from people asking when I will be pregnant; they commented about my weight and said I wouldn’t carry a child because of how tiny I was. They would say, ‘you are so skinny you’d have to go through CS to birth to your child’. I carried that in my heart for years and was afraid of pregnancy. My husband Yimika and I decided it was time to have a family, but when I found out I was with the child, “I cried so much” because I thought I would lose the baby. Then I had a bad first trimester; I was in bed every day, I could not eat or drink; then I wondered – could what they have said be true? I can’t keep food down; how will my child be healthy? After a while, the feeling of fear gradually melted away and led to complete GRATITUDE. I held on to God and knew everything would be fine. I see the birth of our daughter as a blessing, and we will always celebrate the love we have for her.
EA: What did you learn about yourself while you were pregnant, and what are you learning now?
DP: I have learned that I am patient and calm even without knowing it at first. I live life simply and on my terms, and I appreciate the tiny details in my everyday life. Now, I am learning that I’m firm and know what my priorities in life are. I am not afraid to say no to what doesn’t align with my goals. I am also strong, and my Strength is being vulnerable, sharing the depth of my heart and what my true story is. I have also realized that my journey is different, and I can create a peaceful world without comparing my life to others. Motherhood has also shown me I am strong-willed, and I can do anything I set my mind to.
EA: What inspired you to document your journey?
DP: My inspiration came from Loneliness and the strange feeling of growth within my body, I had so much to say about what I was experiencing, and I did not know how to go about it other than to tell my stories through photographs.
EA: Can you talk about the importance of Black motherhood?
DP: Black Motherhood is eternal. Its importance is confidently training the new generation to have a voice in the society we have today. To follow the steps they want to take in life without being afraid. To dream and accomplish things without worrying about their background, color, or if the world will love them. Black motherhood is beyond love and leadership; it is Community and Tradition. To show the importance of valuing and respecting others and the necessity of being reliable, independent humans in this world. Black motherhood stands for what is pure. It cares for other children other than ours, spreading love to those around us and carrying the Black Culture from generation to generation. When our daughter was born, I had a community of black women who helped me by sharing their experiences. It takes a village to raise a child, and I am glad I had them show me the way.
EA: What advice were you given that you would like to share with readers?
DP: When I became a mom, I was told to ask for help and care for myself, to sleep and eat well, and remember that life has just begun when I have a child and not ended. To trust that I know what is best for my daughter and not compare her milestones to other children. This advice has helped me ease into this new phase and see the world through my daughter’s eyes and get excited about the little things like birds flying in the sky or the color of the clouds just before it starts to rain.
EA: What role did photography play in your journey of pregnancy?
DP: Photography was an outlet for my creativity, the loneliness I felt without having my family (my mom, sister, and brother) here with me in the UK due to Covid-19. I could appreciate details of my pregnancy journey with photography, such as the close-up of morning dew on the garden roses, the sound of frying eggs for breakfast, and the lushness and color of my everyday mango smoothie. The peak of my pregnancy was during summer, and I remember wearing little clothes often and dancing while watching the clouds; I also remember trying out gardening and picking flowers on my daily walks. Photography teaches us to see beyond what others might ignore. I appreciated life (I still do), and I cherished each moment.
EA: How do you practice self-care and self-love being a new mother?
DP: The beginning of motherhood was overwhelming for me. All I did was care for my daughter and forgot what I loved before and during pregnancy. Neglecting my health led to postpartum depression, and the first step I took was to seek help from professionals (health visitors and the therapist). They worked together to remind me of things that struck happiness. The answer was photography, personal care, and nature. So I started making self-portraits again and building simple self-care habits that gave room for myself and my family. I started finding joy in making meals again, like making myself slow-cooked lamb and bean soups or pounded yam and egusi with stockfish. Yum! One afternoon, I went to my friend Emi’s house to help me look after the baby while sitting in the tub for hours. I lit a geranium-scented candle, added some bath oils, played a classic orchestra in the background, and sat in the tub; it smelt like heaven when I was done. That uninterrupted time helped my creative and critical thoughts. Quietly, I could daydream again. Journaling and writing have also helped in a lot of ways. Also, doing yoga and eating healthy is a way I practice self-care. I just designed our mini garden (Yay!), so I am looking forward to drinking more earl grey tea and sparkling elderflower with Yimmy on weekends or working there while my daughter naps. Life is so beautiful, and I’m so grateful to be living in it with my precious family.
EA: Anything else you would like to add?
DP: Motherhood is a delicate and beautiful life experience, and I am blessed to have people wanting to see, read and hear my stories about it. I am still documenting the motherhood series and working on the project Omo mi ‘my child.’ People can view my work on www.dolaposh.com and my socials @dolaposh. Thank you to the Facebook team, Lorenna, Mary, Yasmeen, Toby, Jacklyn, and Luke, for including me in the Motherhood gallery – Lift Black Voices and Emerald for this interview. I would also like to thank Polly Irungu and the community of Black Women Photographers, who support me and my work every day.
To view more of Dola’s work please visit their website.