These days I seem to have a dumping ground for stories of marriages which failed due to infertility. Perhaps it’s because I go probing too. But the reason the woman, whom I will call Naomi, went through two marriages, spent eleven years of her life married to two different men, yet had nothing to show for her marriages, is what’s interesting to me, or perhaps it’s her penchant to attract certain kind of men. I really can’t decide, but read and make up your own mind.
Naomi’s first marriage had been contracted when she was just 19 years old. She was a big girl and looked older than her real age, but that wasn’t the reason she got married. She married because marrying Edet had looked a lot better than staying in her aunt’s house, in whose custody she had been, since her parents died when she was only ten years old.
Edet had seemed like an angel; they met in church, he showered her with love, he proposed, they went through a short courtship, and they got married years. Thereafter, the wait for baby started.
She expected to start having babies. Everyone expected her to, but that wasn’t what was happening. One year turned into two, two into three years, and the abuse started.
When it got to that part, I recalled the story of the Kenyan woman whose husband cut off her hand, because she wasn’t getting pregnant. Ironically, he was the one with the issue.
That wasn’t what was happening with Naomi, even though it was close. Naomi had started the hospital rounds since the second year into their marriage, but her husband never stepped out. Every single detail of her doctor’s visit was passed on to him. Unfortunately, sometimes he used those details against her in the heat of an argument.
However, he never for once offered to go with her to the clinic. He enjoyed telling her there was no problem with him, that she was the one with the issue and she had better sort herself out on time, so they could have kids.
As the years went by, the abuse grew worse and she ran home to her aunt, who refused to accommodate her, rather her husband was pleaded with to accept her back, while she was told it was normal for men to beat their wives…that it was a show of love. She was counselled to be patient and to do her best to get pregnant soon.
That was how Naomi endured more years of abuse, until she heard about a shelter for women, and ran there for help. Her husband did not look for her, her aunt never asked after her. It was as though she simply existed, and wasn’t actually born into a family. She had never felt that alone, but thanks to the help of the shelter and its coordinator, she was able to rebuild her life. Start all over again.
She had settled into her business, had a decent apartment of her own and was doing well, when she met Lanre. He was a returnee and had just broken off a long term relationship and was looking for something more meaningful…or so he said.
They started off staying in each other’s houses, but after a while, he moved into her apartment and they became live-in lovers.
Even though they weren’t married, Lanre often wondered out loud if she was pregnant. Month after month, he asked and when her answer was always a negative, he would talk about how her body was a strong one o, how he always used to get his ex-girlfriend pregnant, almost every other month in the past.
Naomi felt hurt by this comparison, but when she suggested that they go to see the doctor, he refused, saying she should go and see the doctor alone and that nothing was wrong with him.
This was a repeat of the situation with her last husband. Even with this less than ideal situation, they got married legally at the registry, and for a few months, Naomi was in heaven, enjoying the legendary marital bliss. It was as though she hadn’t lived through the first bad one, that his words and actions hadn’t happened, but they had and soon, they revisited that time again.
This time around, her husband didn’t talk about, he acted it. She heard the results of his actions. Lanre started to date, “fertile” girls, girls who would make him a father soon…according to him.
At this, Naomi returned to her doctor and apart from the newly discovered blocked tube, she was fine. She started treatment, she again suggested he go in for a sperm analysis, he refused at first, but after many months of cajoling and stroking his ego, he accepted to do the test and that was when it was discovered that his sperm count was low. He insisted on doing another SA, at another clinic, just to confirm. The result of the second test was worse; his sperm count and motility were borderline low and he would require months of therapy, to get him to an average level.
For weeks, he was morose. No more outings for him or any of those “fertile” single ladies. His manhood had received a huge dent and it took a while for him to recover.
Lanre shook off the dark moods eventually but rather than return to the doctor to commence his treatment, he headed out, adding heavy drinking to his usual routine, which led to wife battery.
This time around, Naomi knew better. She didn’t allow it get worse. She reported to the police and when her former mentors heard about her situation, it was escalated, Lanre was arrested, and detained, and when his mother came to the police station, she looked Naomi in the face and said, “So, this barren woman, you got my son arrested? Ha! Even without being told, you should know you are no longer welcome in my family. In fact this is the end of your marriage.”
It took a lot for her to remain standing, after that barren word was flung in her face.
Naomi is still in her early 30s. She has spent 11 years of her life married to two different men, and both marriages had produced no children. She wonders if she isn’t truly barren, she wonders also about her attraction to egoistic, abusive men, who couldn’t deal with male factor infertility and refused to seek treatment.
I do not know what that feels like but it takes a strong person not to settle for abusive relationships, even if society would be counting the number of failed marriages for her, as Yoruba people used to say.
To the millions of women like Naomi, who are abused because of infertility, may God grant you a brave heart and loads of balm of Gilead to heal your heart. Amen
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