The house was full, it was during the festivities, and there was so much to eat and drink. Everyone was in a jolly good mood. Fadekemi was curled around her husband on one end of the couch and they were having their own private conversation, while keeping an ear peeled for whatever was going on around them.
Till date, Fadekemi cannot state exactly what prompted that statement, but the next thing they saw was her mother-in-law putting her hands on her back and saying, “I want to carry my grandchild oh, stop all this useless romance.” As you can imagine, it was as though, someone doused a fire! The din of conversation went out and you could hear a pin drop, while everyone tried to find the appropriate reaction for the drama they had just witnessed.
They were yet to recover, when Mama went on say, “Fadekemi, Iwo ni mo ba wi o, iwo ati oko e.” (Fadekemi, you are the one I’m talking to…you and your husband). At that, Fadekemi had burst into a disconcerted laughter, and outstretched her arms in question, “Why are you doing this mama?” and looked at her husband, her son, who was downcast but wasn’t saying anything.
Fadekemi was not happy about that at all and stormed out of the house, to the car, where she called him and told him to meet her there if he was still interested in going home with her. As she went out, her Mother-in-law kept up with the “I want to carry my grandchildren oh” dance. Meanwhile, everyone else was behaving as though they were not there.
That incident set the tone for their relationship, for a very long time, and it never recovered. She heard the song when MIL came visiting (which was very rare), she heard it when they dared enter her territory, when they had to attend events together, when other people were present, even when they were the only ones.
The few times someone had tried to caution her, it had quickly degenerated into, “So, are you the one who is going to give me a grandchild abi?” or “I don’t blame you, shebi you have plenty, why won’t you talk.” And when her daughter dared try to dissuade her, Fadekemi actually pitied her sister-in-law that day. Her mom told her her life history and how even she, could not give her a grandchild, even though she was over 30, but then, “You have to bring home a man first.”
Like mother, like daughter, Fadekemi’s sister-in-law knelt down before her mother and apologised for even thinking of saying anything, and promised never to say anything anymore, concerning the way she was treating her brother’s wife. And she walked out, not waiting for her mother’s response, which she got anyway.
“What can your husband do? Did I not give birth to him, did I not breastfed him, so why would he disobey me or think what I’m doing is wrong?” She turned to ask Fadekemi, who had ran to the bathroom, in preparation of her escape out of the house.
You see, their relationship was not always like this. In fact, this same mother-in-law was Fadekemi’s bestie in the house, while they were courting, during their wedding preparations and afterwards. She pampered her so much and often cautioned her husband not to stress her. She would make food in her own house without being asked, and bring to their kitchen, arrange for her housekeeper to clean their house twice a week and such, but one and a half years into their marriage, Mama changed. She just went cold all of a sudden.
It was at this stage I asked Fadekemi, a University mate of mine, if they had given any thought to kids before then. Her honest answer was, “No, I mean it did not really occur to us that we were already over one year into our marriage and that we should make babies. I wasn’t on contraceptives, and my period comes on time, but we were young, both 28, and just enjoying each other. We did not feel any real sense of urgency.”
However, after her mother-in-law changed, they began to take the conception business seriously. While her attitude changed something, it did not provide a solution. Fadekemi learnt to track her cycle and they started with timed sex. They graduated to a fertility doctor after six months, now two years into their marriage, with the Grandma in waiting on their neck.
And that was where the real battle started! Not only was her husband’s sperm count low, its motility was near non-existent. Their first doctor looked at them and told them the only option they had was IVF, ICSI in particular. IVF, they ‘d heard of, ICSI left them scratching their heads.
While, they were going round hospitals, they did not put Mother-in-law in the know. She was just doing her own thing, telling them, whenever she saw them, how much she was waiting to carry their baby on her back.
Not once, did Fadekemi’s husband stand up to his mom, rather, he would always apologise to his wife, pleading with her to calm down. “You know Mama is old, and doesn’t understand.” This statement often made Fadekemi crazy, because she knew mama knoew exactly what she was doing, and that was simply to make her life hard, all because of a baby. And 58 was nowhere near old.
When she suffered a miscarriage after a successful first cycle, weirdly, her mother-in-law was happy, “Eh eh, now you are getting there, you have finally taken me serious.” She said, as she sat at the edge of the hospital bed. Fadekemi said she was more exasperated than offended at that stage.
When they finally had their baby, this Mama went back to her pampering mode, but Fadekemi was long over it. She knew it was because she now finally had a baby to back. What about the next time she wanted to carry a baby, and they were not ready?! Would that be how she would be egged on, as though she was some baby-making machine, producing on demand? She asked me.
Well, I could understand where she was coming from, especially as her mother-in-law’s approach lacked finesse or even concern. It was all about, her being able to carry her grandchild, but it did come from a good place. She wanted her son and his wife to have children.
Good or bad, the purpose was eventually achieved, but relationships were soured in the process. Fadekemi and her Mom-in-law will probably never be able to go back to the way they were, before the issue of TTC raised it’s ugly head. But, hopefully, they will find a new rhythm to their relationship and that will be just fine, as long as it serves it purpose.
Stay strong moms, no matter the storm.
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