A week after I got married in November 2008, a popular home video actress also got married. Neither of us got pregnant soon after. However, as I battled my own infertility in relative private (well not quite so, but comparatively), she had to battle hers in full public glare. My heart always broke for this lady, every time I read a negative tabloid story about her. Every single move of hers was scrutinized and analysed by the self appointed baby watchers in this wicked society of ours. If she gained weight, the gossip was that she was surely pregnant. If she lost weight, she was unhappy about not being pregnant. It was like everything about her life, her acting included, had been relegated to the back burner, with all the focus being on her apparent infertility. Once, I read a story in one of the blogs, with pictures from a birthday party she had apparently attended that weekend. I was completely taken aback by the viciousness of the blog comments. One of these, and I paraphrase, basically implied that she was as good as single because she didn’t have a child. I could not believe the sheer malice of these comments.
When I started doing some research to write this article, Google was awash with stories of how this actress’s marriage was in trouble over her infertility, how her husband had become fed up of the situation and was under pressure to leave her, how she was married but living single, etc. Since that time, her marriage has unfortunately truly packed up, ironically, and allegedly, as a result of infidelity.
Infertility is hard enough in itself, without having to deal with wicked talk and innuendo. I am no celebrity, but I know what I suffered in my own 3-year battle with infertility. And I’m not even referring to me dealing with my own personal issues with it. A good number of times, the whispers made by people who really did not know anything about me would filter to my ears. The vast majority of these whispers were neither constructive nor well meaning. It was a long and difficult road to travel. But as hard as it was, it was restricted to my home, office, and social circle and lasted for only 2 years and 3 months. For this poor actress, she was constantly under a microscope, with Africans home and abroad, watching, analysing and criticizing and she lived that way for 6 years!!!!!
The sad part is that this is not just a Nigerian thing. International celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Nicole Kidman, Mariah Carey, to name a few, have all battled infertility at some point or the other, and I have read more than a few articles these celebrities could have done without. But my opinion, and this has been argued heatedly, is that we are much uglier with it in this side of the world. The international community seems to have a bit more empathy for people walking this road. Guilliana Rancic (whom I love love love) is America’s sweetheart and all because she put her infertility out there, sharing every single move of their journey with the world.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Guilliana was Nigerian???? Lawd have mercy!!!! She and her husband would have been torn apart. People would have called her husband, Bill Rancic, a fool. People would have said they had village problems, especially with the breast cancer scare. And then the surrogacy?! Hmmm, totally different ball game entirely! Thankfully, she lives in a far more accommodating and accepting society.
I will end this article by imploring everyone to show people who are battling infertility some love. Before you open your mouth to pass a statement or make a comment to, or about, someone in this situation ask yourself if it is constructive, and if the person will feel better or worse after you say it. If your comment is neither constructive nor uplifting, please keep your observation to yourself, drink your tea, and mind your business.