They married straight after their national youth service having being retained at their respective places of service and introduced by mutual friends. There was no opposition to their union as they were from the same tribe, religion and social class and to their surprise, their parents were somewhat acquainted. They ticked all the boxes- good friends, shared interests, sexual compatibility. The future looked bright, all that was left was the pitter- patter of children’s feet to complete their happily ever after.
They had been prayed for, prophesied upon and the children were expected to arrive at least 10 months after their wedding. 10 months became 2 years and family and friends were beginning to ask questions. At first they took it in their stride but by the end of the 2nd year they were increasingly concerned and took several tests to determine what was wrong with both or either of them. Incidentally the husband was a doctor and knew what to look out for. After many procedures and hundreds of thousands of naira spent, to their relief they were both declared fit and able to have children.
But their relief was short lived as insinuations were made to the fact that their childlessness might have spiritual connotations so they began another round of consultations with pastors, prophets and herbalists all to no avail. Month after month, her period arrived right on time. By the 3rd year, the advent of her period was followed by accusations, veiled insults, innuendos, anger and physical violence.
5 years after they could neither recognize themselves nor their marriage and they decided to separate. The wife moved out of their matrimonial home and the husband filed for divorce. One year later the wife reconnected with her old university boyfriend and their relationship was rekindled. Fast forward Six months later, she fainted at work one day and was rushed to the office clinic, tests were carried out and it was discovered that she was pregnant. You can imagine her bewilderment, surprise and joy.
For the very first time in her life and after 7 years of marriage and fertility procedures without any result. Long story short, she married her old boyfriend and went ahead to have three more children in quick succession. Interestingly, her former husband too met someone else and had three children with the person. Both marriages have lasted over 10 years and are still thriving.
When I heard this story it made me wonder what went wrong with both of them. How come they had children with other partners but not with one another?
Is the Yoruba saying, that some people’s blood does not match really true and why do some people make a success of their marriages even though they have no children and some in spite of all the love and friendship they once had, find their marriages breaking down because of the lack of children?
I don’t know about you but I have noticed that nowadays more and more people either wait for longer periods or are unable to have children without assistance from science. In my mother’s generation, I can count on one hand people who were said not to have children, in my generation I can count without thinking too hard, at least 5 people I know who have no biological children of their own and in the generation below mine, the number seems to have doubled. Thankfully, more couples are experiencing the joys of parenthood due to the advances in technology and science.
Infertility, whether its primary or secondary (secondary meaning you have at least one child but can’t seem to have another or can’t give birth to another child) is a serious problem and it takes a great toll on the couple especially the wife as most people still have the deep rooted thinking that the fault is the wife’s just as they persist in thinking that the gender of a child is determined by the woman.
Society is cruel to waiting couples. As early as 10 months after marriage, couples are besieged with questions, suggestions, prayers and accusations but the woman bears the brunt of it all- reference is made to her apparently flat stomach, she is dragged to all sorts of prayers meetings, prophets and herbalists, expected to go out for prayer wherever there is a call for “barren women” even though she may have gone religiously and faithfully for years and is tired of the unsaid expectations of people, she is abused, vilified and insulted to her face and referred to as a man , refused certain rights and privileges in her husband’s home and family and the subject of assumptions about her life before marriage. The man is largely left alone even though he may be the one at fault and most times he is advised to have children outside the home so his name will not be forgotten and his legacy will remain after his demise.
Many marriages are breaking down due to infertility issues whether or not one partner hid their medical history and facts from the other partner before marriage and it is understandable, because most people cannot cope with the stress, sorrow, shame and unfulfilled expectations that infertility brings. For some couples, the partners have resorted to having children outside their marriages sometimes with the knowledge and consent of their partners especially for the me. On the part of the women, most times it’s a covert operation with them passing off their lover’s children as their husband’s. However, some couples (I know a few) are living their happily ever after lives in spite of their inability to have their own children, though I must say that they are people of deep faith and convictions.
I believe that as a people we need to be more mindful of the ways we express our desires and expectations when it comes to a couple with infertility issues. Our expressions of help can be hurtful even though that may not be our intention and sometimes infertility can be unexplainable as seen in the story I narrated earlier.
Finally, for those waiting please avail yourself of all the options available to you within reason and hopefully your desires will be met but in case you have done all you know to do and still don’t have a child live life fully and joyfully. There is more to life than having children as my people say, whether or not you have children they will be the death of you.