When you are on the TTC journey, you know how hard it is to stay truly joyous at another pregnancy announcement from your family and friends. But when you work in a fertility clinic, and you are unable to conceive, but at the same time practically helping other women get the baby of their dreams, you can only imagine how hard that can get.
Oluchi* was a nurse with some years under her belt by the time she got married to the man she had been dating for the past three years. Shortly after their wedding, she got a new job offer at a fertility clinic. It was a welcome blessing, as it meant increased income for the new couple.
At the fertility clinic, she got to help with the treatment of many couples trying to conceive. Although new to the establishment, she had such a nice personality that soon, both patients and her colleagues warmed to her.
She provided a listening ear, if any of the women indicated a need for it. She generally made them feel better about TTC, although, as time went on, she could not very well relate. It was later she understood the pain and the sorrow of these women, when treatment option failed. She understood the agony of dusting yourself back up again, and getting back on the fertility treatment treadmill.
Oluchi, after having been on the pill for as long as she could remember, never for once thought that she would be unable to get pregnant naturally. She thought, if it did not happen immediately, all she would need would be a maximum of six months, for the effect of the contraception to have completely left her system.
But when six months turned to a year, and still no pregnancy, she started to worry. The worry showed on her face, and it started affecting her work. The once smiling and patient Oluchi became a person with little patience, barely doing the minimum amount of work she could, leaving the rest to her colleagues. She wondered if simply being on contraception for a long time could be enough reason for her chances of getting pregnant to be affected. And it couldn’t be age. She was just 30, and had seen many women older get pregnant, and give birth.
She never really opened up to anyone, as she thought she should know the answers, being a fertility nurse. Sometimes, she did take to asking questions casually, but the answers she got confused her even more. On the first anniversary of their wedding, what dominated the romantic dinner her husband had set up were talk of babies. No matter how much the man tried to steer her away from the topic, she would still meander her way back to it.
For Oluchi, it was a daily struggle and there was nothing more difficult than seeing new mothers going home with their babies, which was exactly what she wanted. And while she loved her job, nothing was harder than going to work! She would recall the times in the maternity ward, when young girls had gotten pregnant by mistake and had beaten themselves up over their stupidity. Some barely glancing at the baby once it was born, as it symbolized pain to them.
And there she was, her arms empty with no baby to cradle. It was a difficult time for her. Eventually, when she finally decided to seek medical help and stop trying to diagnose herself, the doctors around her were surprised that she had kept it to herself for so long,Â but finally understood her pain and recent behaviour. Her colleagues, and even the patients (who had heard about her situation from the grapevine) all empathised with her, and their concern and support made her so emotional. She was incredibly grateful for the support system she had suddenly been gifted with, and prayed that it meant her TTC journey wouldn’t be a long one.
But, that was just the beginning for her, as it took six years of trying, several Clomid cycles, 3 IUIs, and 3 IVF cycles, until she got her baby. A baby girl. She had her when she had completely lost hope. It was the last time they were going to try, when their funds had all but dried up. If that cycle had failed, it might have meant the end of the road for them. But, thankfully, it had worked.
The BFP she had sought all these years happened. It was blessed news. When she got the result of the blood work back, she wished she could roll on the floor in gratitude to God, she wished she could do some energetic dance steps but alas, she was unable to, but tears flooded her eyes, as she thought back to the struggle they had gone through to have a baby, and finally to be blessed with this gift from God. It was too precious a gift for her to take lightly.
Even after two years, she is in no hurry to give her baby a sibling, as she said, “I want to savour this moment first, for a long time. I thought I would never be a mother, but now here I am, being called by my child’s name; that alone is worth all the pain I went through. As for a sibling, I can’t think that far ahead now, I just want to enjoy her.”
It is so great to hear stories that end on a positive note my personal encounter with another nurse has not yet ended in a baby. She was one of the nurses I met at the antenatal clinic during my first pregnancy. Back then, she looked in her late 30s and was very nice. While the other nurses had no qualms about shouting on a pregnant lady, she always spoke softly and paid rapt attention when spoken to.
Whenever, she was one of the two nurses who took vitals of pregnant moms before they saw the doctor, everyone angled to ensure that she was the one who attended to them…she was that nice. Some of us moms to-be even prayed she was the one on labour ward duty, the day we gave birth. Needless to say, I had no such luck, but I wish she had been the one there, as she was very caring.
But the day I heard that she was still trying to conceive after thirteen years of marriage and had only a son, whom she had in her teenage years, my heart went out to her. She and her husband had no biological children together, just the boy from her teenage relationship.
I heard about her TTC when another pregnant mom and I were talking about how she was so different from other nurses on the maternity unit in their relationship with patients. We were talking when another lady from the seat behind us; who obviously had been listening to our conversation, added that, maybe the reason she was being so nice to us was because she was looking for the fruit of the womb.
I was surprised and almost did not believe her. But the mom to-be, who had given us that news, was one of the teenage moms around, that the nurse had taken special interest in since they started coming for antenatal clinic. The nurse knew them by their names and even telephoned them, if they ever missed their appointment dates. The teenage moms were often jokingly referred to as her children. So, when she said it, I reasoned it was possible, especially if, maybe, the nurse saw herself in them.
This mom went on to tell us that the nurse had initially tried to abort her baby and had nearly died. In fact, it had been the wonderful care and help she had gotten from the doctors and nurses who took care of her that had influenced her choice of career and life’s path.
I can only imagine how she felt, working in the maternity ward, and having to attend to so many pregnant women and their worries day in, day out, seeing what she desired, but yet, it was out of reach.
She however made good use of the opportunity; she helped teenage mothers and left good impressions in the minds of her patients concerning nurses. Hers was a world filled with constant reminders of what she was missing but she still chose to be happy.
I don’t know what became of her in the years following our meeting, as I didn’t keep in touch. I just pray that she would have gotten her happy ending by now. But, in the event that she hasn’t, that she will somehow find a way to find happiness and fulfilment in her calling as a nurse…with the hope that it might be succeed in filling the baby vacuum in her heart.
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