This is not an easy story for me to tell, so I recorded and got permission to share. I had met this mom of twins at a small workshop/birthday celebration, where the celebrant wanted to give back, by offering free counselling services to 50 people, as well as break the silence of certain issues affecting women, infertility included. This mom of twins was one of the people who offered to share her story.
She started her talk, by bringing her beautiful twin girls to the podium with her, and there was some smatter of applause for the girls and murmurs of “Iya beji.” When the girls had left the room and the oohs and aahs had reduced and, she said, “They were adopted.” Now, you could feel the shift in the room. You could just imagine the wheels turning in people’s head and the questions in their minds, not to mentions the reactions, which were actually showing.
“My husband and I adopted our children, after waiting for five years, and we had been told there was no way we could have our own biological children, unless we went the donor route for everything, and still use a surrogate. You know, like, get donor sperm, donor eggs, fertilise and put it in a surrogate to carry for us, and pray it works out as planned.
You know, left to me, that offer was what I would have taken. My thinking was this; from the beginning, that child would be created just to bear our name, it would not matter that the child had no genetic or biological ties to us, all that would matter was that I had a child, just for me. I even prayed for twins. Who knew I was going to get those twins anyway, but not just the way I was thinking about getting them.
It took my ever-practical husband to get me out of that spot. He just looked at me one day, while I was going on about this surrogacy business and said, “Honey, you know, we could just adopt instead.” I got angry with him, for intruding on my nice thoughts and ordered him not to mention the word to me again!
The man did not listen, he said, “If we are doing everything donor, and also using a surrogate, are we not adopting?” and walked out of the house. My husband never ever walks out on me in the middle of a conversation, more so, right out of the house. I knew, I was overdoing it, and needed consider his suggestion.
So, I packed my daydreams aside, nobody was there to listen anyways, and really thought about adoption. For the five years we had been on the TTC journey, I had never given a thought to adoption, not even as a last resort. It just did not cross my mind. Not even when the doctors kept coming with their negative feedbacks, I had merely always asked, “So, what can we do next?” and we had continued to do something next, but only now, my husband was rocking the boat. He did not want to do the next thing, instead he was suggesting another next thing.
After much thought, I agreed that his statement, “If we are doing everything donor, using a surrogate, are we not adopting?”, was so true after all. Besides, he had done it my way for ages, it was time to do it his way. That night, when he got back home, he was drunk. That was one aspect of this man, whom I have known for over 10 years, that I had never seen. He’s a social drinker, and not one to go out deliberately to get drunk.
My sisters, that night, my reset button was pressed. Biko, if this man wants us to adopt, then, that was absolutely fine by me. All my plans to romance and talk flew out the window, I had an inebriated man on my hands, he did not want my food, he did not want to talk, or that I even touch him, he just wanted to be left alone. This had never happened before.
The next day, we ended up talking things through. He wanted to do donor everything and surrogacy, and I was now open to adoption. In the end, we agreed on adoption. That was a good start to the day.
But, it was not easy to get going. They were so many obstacles, so many bureaucracies, false calls and such, but one day, the call came in the middle of the night, and asked if we could come for this new born, who was just in. My sisters, I was still answering that call, when I started to pull on my trousers and a blouse.
It was when we got there, that we both realised that we had twins on our hands, not just a baby. They had wanted to give the babies to separate families, but that night, I knew why my husband heads the marketing department of his oragnisation. He persuaded them not to separate the girls, but give both to us.
We got them and brought them home that night. We started out with the meagre baby things I had at home, and got more the next day. Literally, we had slept as a couple and woke up as a family. It just happened!
Now, this will probably shock you. I breastfed them for one year. I knew, you would be shocked and wondering how I did I,t or even, if it was possible. See, I come from a family where we are big on breastfeeding children, and my mom had often breastfed her grandchildren, when their moms were not available. She was very big on breastfeeding a child. With her, it’s either, you come with your boobs to visit, or you pump enough breast milk to last, if you are dropping your baby with her. Don’t expect her to mix that thing you call baby formula.
I had also done some research into what can done to stimulate the production of milk, the foods that help, and even discussed it with my doctor, and he had pointed me in certain directions. Knowing that I wanted to breastfeed, I went back to the doctor, and we started with pumping six times daily, changing my diet, and by the end of the week, my milk had come in and I was able to nurse them, at least three times daily and supplement with baby formula, which I always had to make myself, because, as per her usual self, my mom was not going to touch that stuff.
Ladies, I may never experience what it was like to get pregnant, go through all of the joys of the trimesters, or ever give birth, not with a life threatening condition like I have, which I could very well pass on to a biological child, if it was possible to have one, or the constant male factor infertility that doubled our “joys”; I thank God that I was at least able to mother a child, twins for that matter. The first in my family, and that I did not miss out completely on the joys of early motherhood, I was able to breastfeed them. That makes a major difference to me. Oh, the bonding at those times, two pairs of eyes looking at me, at the same time, everyone connected in the most basic way. Sometimes, I think my husband was jealous of our feeding times.”
When she ended her story, the room burst into applause, which literally went on for minutes. It was an affirmative story that, indeed, we plan, but God’s plans over rule and are always the best.
She thought about twins, and she got them, not the way she planned it, but the way she was supposed to, and the ability to breastfeed…that one, I’m just going to call an awesome bonus.
Never give up hope. It might not be your way, but be rest assure, it will come.
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