Infertility in the Public Eye

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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 €œmarried 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.

Giuliana Rancic

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.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Hi ma’am, I followed you t from bella naija 🙂 so inspired. I got married in august 2014. @ age 30. Had a fibroid diagnosis in April 2014, and after consulting several doctors, was advised not to do surgery as the fibroid wasn’t disturbing conception. We started the sex @ ovulation ish in august and I had so many pregnancy symptoms including delayed period. The day I decided to test was the day period came. In January 2015, Went To A Different Hospital AND did A Vaginal Scan And Pelvic Scan. Still no issues, doc says we should keep on trying and it’ll come naturally.
    I’m worried oh, but not obsessed. Have not bought the home test kit since the last time months ago. I have faith that God will do it and also take comfort from many testimonies, I do not over read nor over research, just taking it calmy.
    So next thing I posted a photo on Facebook and started getting congratulations, I was confused cos the picture was from my honeymoon in august ( awkward) posted another and many more congratulations, I want to remove that one now. This is me that didn’t even publicise my wedding on the said facebook, why on earth would I now be posting preggy shots, biko 🙂 I refuse to get annoyed. Just turn the comments to prayers.
    Please, how do you suggest i do this.
    Also, despite the targeted intercourse, what could be the reason we have not seen results yet.
    God bless you and your family

  2. Hi Busola! Thanks so much for joining us!

    I’m glad that your fibroids are not positioned in a way that will disturb conception. It’s always a good thing when surgery isn’t required. I would advice that you eat right, and do what is needed to ensure they are well managed, and don’t grow in size.

    As for the pregnancy symptoms, girl….that is what so many of us have had to go through. Pregnancy symptoms so real, it is always a complete shock when one’s period shows. You have adopted the right attitude to be calm and just take it easy. The stress of symptom spotting will not help at all!

    Whilst you are still trying, I would suggest you take Pregnacare Conception, to properly prep your body for pregnancy. I would also advice you ask your doctor to run a complete hormonal profile on you. Women that have fibroids often have diminished progesterone and an overload of estrogen. I’m not saying this is the case for you, but it’s a good idea to rule them out. If they turn out to be the case, your Ob/Gyn will know what to prescribe.

    As for the Facebook congratulations, welcome to my world 😀 😀 :D. It got to the point that I stopped uploading pictures of pregnancy before I had my kids. Every picture was a bump picture to the nosey FB public! Just ignore them….Nigerians like gist too much!!!

    Good luck hun!

  3. As someone who is somehow in the public eye I can relate to this. If I had a penny for every time someone congratulated for being pregnant even though I was not, I would be rolling in serious cash by now. People even ask me ” how are your kids” or “when did you put to bed”?. It used to bother me so much before, but now I just take it in my stride and say my kids are fine.

  4. Agbomma, that’s the perfect approach. We Nigerians are just downright tactless, and sometimes it’s a waste of time and energy trying to correct their misconceptions. Some people are well meaning, but sadly most are not.

  5. Hi Nicole,

    You are doing an awesome job and I think this is the first Nigerian online support group for women ttc. I can only ask God to bless you beyond your imagination. I came across your posts on BN at a time when I was almost giving up and they have encouraged me.

    I’ve tried to register on your website, but it’s not working. The first time I tried, an activation link was sent to my box. When I tried activating my account, I got an error message “Invalid Activation”. I tried again and got a message that I cannot be registered and that I should contact the webmaster (with email address provided). I sent an email and it bounced back. I also had this experience with your email address too. I sent you a mail but the email bounced back.

    Please advise on how to go about this. Thank you very much and God bless you.

  6. Hi Ibk. I’ll have it looked into right away. So sorry about that. My administrator will be sure to activate your account asap!

    Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I would really love for this to be a gathering point for women in the TTC journey. I know how isolating it was for me when I was still trying for a baby, and would love to create a happy place for women.

  7. Nigerian’s like gist and when you give them a reason to gist, they will utilize it to the maximum.

    I have had my own share of embarrassment in public, recently i went for a burial. I entered the venue to greet and on seeing me, the wife of the bereaved immediately started praying “anything stopping u from conceiving, i destroy, i scater e.t.c” I was speechless. The Amen chorus was all around me, everyone around got to know that i had trouble conceiving.

    Yes, one will say she had good intentions but Come onnnnnnnn.

    • LOL!!!! I actually laughed out loud! So you mean she actually forgot about her mourning long enough to pray for you?! That’s hilarious! You’re right that her intentions were probably good, but we Nigerians don’t know a thing about time and place. We are so tactless it’s unbelievable!

    • The same thing happened to me yesterday. I called my aunt who lost the husband to offer my condolences and she gave this exact prayer. Binding and scattering all the forces stopping me from conceiving. Mine was slightly worse cos she added that in the place where we come from, you are a nobody till you have a child; may God give you a child so you can become somebody. I was dumbfounded. Good intentions abi? Well after 7years of waiting, there’s hardly anything I haven’t heard, but girl, does it still it still hurt……. it will end in praise.

  8. Hi Nicole,
    Great job you are doing here God bless you. I have been looking for a forum like this to join, I am excited I have found one. I have been trying to register but it’s not going. What can I do? I also want to speak with you. Thanks.

    • Hi Frieda. Thanks for the kind words. It means a lot to us that we can be there for you and many others.
      About your issue, what is your experience around logging in? Did you get any error message while trying? What email was used?
      Once we have these details we can look into fixing you in.

  9. Hi Nicole, I absolutely love your blog, I have been trying to conceive for almost five years and talking about the insensitivity of people hmmmmmmm, let me reserve my comments for now.
    I am having issues with registering, a mail was sent to me but when I tried to further register it says “invalid activation code” pls help as I really want to be part of this blog. God bless u Nicole

  10. HI Nicole. Great community you have here. I stumbled on this site after hours of searching the net for a Nigerians perspective on infertility. I am sure I would have found a needle in a haystack faster. Please can you help me with the hospital you used in lekki 1? Hubby and I are currently looking for a fertility hospital for ivf and we don’t want to use the popular ones because we feel we won’t get the kind of care we need. Thank you

    • Hi Linda. Thanks so much! You’re correct about it being a needle in a haystack. When I was cycling, I was so frustrated about not being able to find any information/forum specific for Nigeria. It’s one of the reasons I started the site.

      I used (in fact that should still be present tense, as I still use them) Georges Memorial Medical Centre, located at #6 Rasheed Alaba Williams Street, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1 (phone numbers are 01-7419044, 01-2718727, 01-2718728, 01-2715320 or
      0709 812 1685). Dr. Faye Iketubosin has been my Ob/Gyn for years and I would recommend him wholeheartedly!

      Good luck! Please don’t hesitate if you have any further questions!

  11. Nico God bless you for good works. I really like your blog and I do follow you from BN. Nico pls share your idea on this my issue. I got married two years ago and am still ttc. We have done necessary tests. We even used two hospitals. Was told I had PID and was treated including my hubby since last year.Still nothing. When I ws single I used 2 have this egg white cervical mucus. Since I got married have not been seeing it cus I heard is one of the signs of ovulation and am only seeing creamy mucus cus I do check regularly. Nico can i conceive without the egg white mucus? Am just confused

  12. Hi there, Sarah. Thanks so much for your kind words!

    The egg white cervical mucus is not necessarily a compulsory sign of ovulation. Some people don’t have it and ovulate just fine. Some people have a lot of it and do not ovulate at all. The truth is, a good lubricant like Preseed imitates cervical mucus by helping sperm swim easier and better. But just to be sure, you could try using a good OPK (Ovulation Predictor Kit) like Clear Blue, to see whether or not you are ovulating.

    What concerns me though is the PID you said you just treated, as, in some instances, PID results in tubal blockage. Did your doctor carry out a HSG test on you, to confirm tubal function? If this wasn’t checked, it needs to be done ASAP, to make sure your tubes are fine and clear. If they are, you could proceed to have a more comprehensive test to confirm that you are ovulating, by way of hormone profiling (via a blood test early in your cycle).

    Good luck hun :hugs:

  13. Well done ma.God bless you for this great work you re doing. Pls ma am experiencing secondary infertility over 2years nw. I gave birth tru CS in 2010 when I had my first child and I had a total breakdown dat led to secondary switchure since 2013 nw we av been trying no way. Av been treated for PID and av been giving many infertility drug such as clomid, evion and injectn to increase my oestrogen level but no way. What am thinking nw is dat may be am having tube blockage or my womb have been tampered with during d process of operatn.

    • Hi dear. So sorry about what you’ve been through. If there was a post surgical infection (as evidenced by the PID), it is very likely that there is tubal blockage. I think you should have a HSG test to check for tubal function. I don’t think your womb has been affected, but it might be worth it having a hysteroscopy, just to make sure. Good luck hun!

  14. 9 THINGS INFERTILE WOMEN WANTS THE WOMEN WITH CHILDREN TO TO KNOW]
    Please know that we in no way hate you for being able to bear children and would never wish this hurt we feel on our worst enemy. But there’s no use in denying it… infertile women are jealous of women with children. We see the connection, the love, and the amazing bond that you have with them. We see the joy they bring to your life every day and we want that for ourselves more than anything. We would give up everything for it, spend our last dime to get it, and die to know what it’s like. We aren’t mad that you’re happy… we just want some of that happiness too. So there… now you know. Ok, let’s not kid ourselves – you already knew, but now it’s out in the open so we call all stop pretending we can’t see the green monsters sitting on the shoulders of all the infertiles. LOL!
    2.) Cards, emails, words of kindness, and caring acts are appreciated more than you know.
    Infertility breeds tons of self-esteem issues, insecurity, and feelings of being on “the outside”. One little handwritten note, text, or thoughtful action could make our entire week. Mother’s Day is an especially hard time for women who want to, but are physically unable to become a mother. I will NEVER forget the handful of friends that sent me a message this year on that day. I went from feeling extremely depressed to feeling overwhelmingly encouraged and touched that someone was actually thinking about me and took the time to let me know. Though Mother’s Day is one of the more difficult days for childless women, infertility is always looming no matter what day it is. One simple thought could brighten one of those days.
    3.) Don’t take it personally if we decline a baby shower invitation.
    Honestly, our not being in attendance is doing everyone a favor! Seriously… do you really want us to look sad the entire time and risk a sudden outburst of tears? Nah… I think not. You’re safer to accept the fact that we are truly happy for the lucky lady, but don’t want to ruin her special day by being a gloomy guest.
    *NOTE: Personally, I do ok at showers. However, I have talked to many ladies that don’t handle these types of events as well. This point is for them.
    4.) We are constantly hurting.
    I’m sure that sounds like an overstatement to someone who hasn’t been in our shoes. For those that have, you know EXACTLY what I mean and can probably still feel that bitter pain every time you think about that time in your life. Things the average person would never think about add to our hurt every day. Something as simple as a commercial about diapers with a baby crawling across the floor or seeing a mama out with her little ones or even just walking by the baby clothes in Target are all daily reminders of what we are missing. It feels like a huge knife is stuck in your chest and every time you are reminded of your emptiness that knife gets pushed deeper and deeper. The pain, though less intense at times, never goes away.
    5.) Telling us to “just adopt” doesn’t help.
    Adoption will not magically erase the pain of infertility. It is definitely something that most infertile couples consider, but the desire to bear your own children won’t just disappear by adopting. Then there’s the money aspect. Here is my response to that… “Sure! After we have spent thousands on infertility treatments let me just pull out that extra $25k that I have stashed under my mattress and ‘just’ go adopt!” I won’t go into greater detail about that, but financially, legally, and emotionally it’s really not an easy fix as some might have been led to believe.
    6.) We still want to be friends with you even though you have kids.
    I understand it can be awkward at times. You might feel bad about inviting a couple dealing with infertility to an event involving your kids or a birthday party for a child. Yes, There are times where we will decline the invitation when we may feel emotionally unable to be in that environment, but please don’t assume that we never want to attend if your kids are present. We already feel isolated because of our circumstances… please don’t add to that by excluding us from your lives because you’re worried about us feeling uncomfortable.
    7.) Please don’t give us advice on how to get pregnant. Believe me, we’ve already read, heard, and tried it all!
    We do understand that you are sincerely trying to help, but more than likely everything you say to us we have already tried (and more!). We have heard every story, researched every option, and we really don’t want to hear about how your cousin’s best friend’s sister-in-law knew a girl that tried such and such and magically conceived. That’s great for them, but we aren’t that girl and you probably don’t know the details of her situation or ours. I’m sure that sounds hateful… you might be able to tell that I’ve heard one too many words of advice from people who have no idea what is medically wrong with me.
    8.) Understand that we can’t empathize with you when you complain about pregnancy or your children.
    I think part of the “infertility rite of passage” is making a promise to God and/or yourself that you will TRY as hard as you can not to complain about pregnancy or your children if that day ever comes. In fact, I would wager that 99% of the women affected by infertility will know exactly what I mean when I say that hearing someone complain about morning sickness, lost sleep, or whiney kids can literally make you cringe inside. When you wait, hope, pray, and shed countless tears as we have you simply can’t relate to women that take the miracles they have for granted. We would gladly trade your worst day with children for our best day without them.
    *NOTE: We understand that motherhood is hard. We aren’t expecting every day with children to be perfect. The point is that we can’t relate to women who make a habit of complaining about something we give anything to have.
    9.) We covet your prayers.
    I personally feel this is the most important thing that you can do to help and encourage us. There can never be enough prayers going up for women and couples dealing with infertility. Not sure how to pray? Pray for our emotional and physical state and for our faith in God to stay strong. We are dealing with the reality of possibly never being able to have a family, with the physical problems associated with the cause of our infertility, and are on a constant emotional roller coaster month after month as we continue to try to conceive. In addition to all of that, most infertile couples are dealing with extreme financial stress since insurance does not pay for ANYTHING related to infertility. All of those things can be taxing on our relationship with God so prayers for our spiritual well being are welcomed as well. I came across Galations 6:2 while writing this post this week. Don’t you love it when God says things so simply, but perfectly?!

  15. hello Nicole. tnx fr the advises u ve been giving to us,i ve dated this guy fr about a year and ve been trying to conceive to check his fertility status and mine,but nothing is forth coming,this is really getting me worried.

  16. Hi Onyinye, I know your comment was directed to Nicole, but she is currently attending to a family emergency, so if you don’t mind, I would give you my opinion. I think it would be safer if you and your boyfriend go for tests to ascertain if there are any issues with your fertility. Trying to conceive, just to be sure you can have a baby is not wise. I am sure you want your babies to grow under a family structure, and you can’t tell for sure where your relationship is headed right now. There are great fertility hospitals that can get you the answers you want, without you putting yourself in a cornered position. Take care!

  17. Hmmmm… story of my life! Met a random woman (hubby’s friend’s mum) for the 1st time over the weekend and she said “my pikin, wetin you dey wait for??” Then went on to pray.
    Was dumbfounded and still dumbfounded!

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