Ciara Opens Up About Finding True Love & Going Through Pregnancy In Lockdown

By the time a woman is pregnant with her third child, she can normally expect to know what she’s in for – the doctors’ appointments, the helter-skelter hormones, the steady stream of visitors immediately before and after the birth. But we are not living in normal times, and once-predictable milestones of pregnancy and birth have been thrown into flux, along with countless other elements of everyday life that we previously took for granted.

To be pregnant in the era of coronavirus, explains Ciara when we chat on Zoom six weeks into lockdown, is to live with a whole new set of anxieties. “You don’t hear a lot about us expectant mothers during this time,” she says in her soothing Southern lilt. She’s sitting in the bedroom of the palatial Californian home where she’s isolating with her husband and two children, sun streaming through the French windows behind her. “Can babies get Covid-19 through the uterus? It’s a big mystery, and we’re some of the most vulnerable beings. Our immune systems are compromised because we can’t take medicine if we get sick in case it affects the baby. If I get ill, I have to let it pass through my body.”

She politely declines to say when she’s due – “I don’t like to put it out there in public. I just pray I make it to that magic 38-week mark” – but judging by the bump bursting beneath her Nike T-shirt, she can’t have many weeks to go. Her hair is curly and pulled back into a loose ponytail; her face without a trace of make-up. It’s strangely reassuring to see a Grammy Award-winning global superstar known for her daring, flawless fashion sense in low-key quarantine attire. “I’ve been living in my husband’s sweatpants,” she laughs, pulling at her waistband. “I’ve outgrown a lot of my clothes so I’ve resorted to going into Russ’s closet every day; thank God he has those XL sizes.”

For someone who is so phenomenally successful (she’s sold more than 23 million albums, has more than 25 million Instagram followers and now owns her own record label), Ciara, 34, is open, warm and just plain good fun. A self-described “goofy girl”, one minute she’s shrieking with laughter and throwing her arms about for emphasis, the next she’s serene, thoughtful and seemingly down to earth. She attributes this to a childhood that “really humanised” her. Her father was in the military, meaning that the family never stayed in one place for long. An only child, she was born in Texas but also lived in Germany, Utah, Arizona, New York and California before her 14th birthday. “We didn’t have a lot and I’ll never forget that,” she says firmly. “I know that my lifestyle now isn’t normal, so I go back in my mind to the experience that I had with my parents.”

She signed her first record deal at 16, and three years later, her debut album, Goodies, went triple platinum. The title track, with its crunk beat, breathy vocals and lyrics celebrating female sexual empowerment, stayed at number one in the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, establishing Ciara as R&B royalty. Although reviews – and sales – of her six subsequent albums have been mixed, she has, over the years, created a string of thumpingly catchy anthems (“1, 2 Step”, “Love Sex Magic”, “Body Party”, “Thinkin Bout You”, “Level Up”), all accompanied by high-octane videos showcasing the mesmerisingly athletic choreography for which she has become renowned. “I know there’s nothing I can’t get through,” she says calmly. “I’ve had some very hard days, but they’ve always prepared me for what is to come.”

The following year, she married Russell Wilson, a celebrated NFL quarterback. The pair divide their time between Seattle – where Wilson’s team is based – and California, and they have a daughter, Sienna, three, as well as their unborn baby, a boy. Wilson, 31, is a devoted father and step-father (Ciara’s face scrunches up with joy whenever she talks about him), but social distancing restrictions have prevented him from playing as active a role as he would like in this latest pregnancy. For the most recent ultrasound, Wilson drove his wife to the clinic and then waited in the car. “I wanted to be really cautious,” she says. “I had a little ziplock bag of gloves for the appointment and then I had my mask. When I went from one room to the other, I switched to a new pair of gloves. When the image of the baby came on the screen, I FaceTimed Russ in the car so that he could see. We women carry the baby, but for my husband, being in the room and listening to the heartbeat in real time is one of his ways of connecting. For him not to be part of that was a symbol of this time that we’re living through.”

However tricky Ciara has found these past few weeks, she is not one to dwell. On the rare occasions that her comments verge on the melancholy, she quickly checks herself and delivers a motivational sound bite to re-route the conversation: “I always ask, ‘How do I make the best of this moment?’ That’s always been my attitude when you go through adversity.” While her pregnancies have happily always been very easy – “it’s why I keep getting pregnant!” – the deliveries are a different story. “My body goes through this process where it shakes and I have to throw up,” she says, clenching her fists at the memory. “It’s a traumatic thing, but then I see the baby and forget all about it.”

If the world weren’t on pause, she’d be using these final weeks before the birth to rest up and psychologically prepare. Instead, she finds herself sitting through hours of Zoom lessons with her son. “I’m definitely having to be more active on the mommy front,” she says, laughing wearily. “That break in the day when you send your kids to school is a luxury. We’re trying all kinds of stuff to keep them both occupied. The other day I got in the car with Sienna and drove her past some horses for a change of scenery.”

We speak the day after Sienna’s third birthday, which, according to Instagram, was celebrated with a Frozen-themed family party so extravagant it could have been a Disneyland installation. Given the normality of her own upbringing, does she ever worry about her children losing touch with reality? “The simplest things in a child’s life can have the biggest impact on who they become, and we take a lot of pride in that,” she replies. “Future has a chore checklist and has been sweeping up around the house. Russ is all about structure – for boys especially.”

“The male presence is very important for both boys and girls,” she says, stroking her bump. “Your son gets to see how his dad treats a woman, and your daughter gets to see how you are loved. I’m a daddy’s girl, and my dad’s love is what saved me in situations in my life when I could have taken a left turn.” She pauses, reflecting on the times she chose to leave past relationships. “I would think, ‘My dad wouldn’t love like this.’ I think about my dad’s love, and that’s how my husband loves me.”

We circle back to the pandemic and the fact that Ciara’s 2018 hit “Level Up” has become the soundtrack to a viral dance challenge performed on social media by, among others, teams of healthcare workers looking for a bit of light relief between shifts. “Oh, my God,” she exclaims, her hand on her chest, “watching them has brought me so much joy. I’m hormonal so I just cry. I always wanted it to be an uplifting song, so to see doctors and nurses having a moment of joy in the midst of the storm is so beautiful.” I ask what her message would be to other pregnant women navigating these uncertain times, and she answers without a beat: “Hang in there. God never gives you more than you can bear.” She smiles, “If there is one thing I know, it’s that the strength of a woman is very real.”


Photo Source