I was reeling in laughter when I heard this story and even more hilarious was Biola’s* solution to the matter. Before I tell you about Biola’s encounter with “the poor proud woman”, and those were her exact words, let me tell you about one cartoon I saw of recent, where a man was pleading with his “crowd” of children, and a young man had offered him a condom instead of the cash he wanted.
The expression on this begging man’s face had been surprise and it did not instantly sink in with me until I thought about it later; if he had used a condom, or some form of contraceptive, he wouldn’t have had more children than he could take care of. That’s a similar scenario here too.
So, Biola and her husband had taken special interest in this young lady in their place of worship, who happens to be a fertile chick, as in, she is a touch-and-get-belle kinda chick. While breastfeeding one, she is pregnant with another.
Seeing that she was struggling with the kids, Biola and her husband often went out of their way to come pick her and her battalion to service, every week, so it soon became somewhat of a given. The woman expected them every Sunday, and her kids looked forward to the ride.
Having done this for years, perhaps it was overfamiliarity or a case of downright overstepping of boundaries, the poor proud woman started showing some nasty attitude during the ride towards Biola. But she always chose to overlook it.
But it came to the fore recently. While they were waiting for the young mom to reach their car, Biola noticed that this lady was pregnant again and her last baby was…well still a baby. That was after bouts of morning sickness that had seen Biola’s husband helping out with medication and even food.
That day Biola decided to have a chat with the young mom en route to their place of worship. She just wanted her to give herself and her babies a chance to recover and grow, before having another baby. But it turned into something else.
As the young mom made to enter the car, Biola jokingly asked if it was a bump she was seeing so soon after the last time. The next thing was, “True, na belle you dey see. Na like so God dey bless me oh.”
As they continued on their journey, Biola asked if she had thought about family planning. A question she had visibly blanched at, as though it was taboo, “Why will I want to do family planning? Abeg, na like this God dey take dey bless me and I no go do anything to stop am.”
That was when Biola lost it and asked her why that her God was not blessing her with money and a better house, so she could take care of her kids, rather than blessing her with kids, whom she was struggling to take care of.
After that outburst, she snubbed Biola and made conversation only with her husband, right there in their car. Biola was soon labelled the one who didn’t want her husband to help them. Even relating the story, Biola was getting angry and told me, she had decided to buy twin car seats to fill up the backseat where this young mom and her kids used to fit, so as to discourage her husband from going to pick up the woman.
Imagine, empty car seats to fill up space, Mehn! Biola operates on a different level. I tried to discourage her but I have not found out the latest development since our last discussion.
I can see where Biola is coming from; someone she is helping rubbing it in her face, that she wasn’t getting “blessed” the same way. The young momma obviously feels like some sort of a rockstar for having kids and being able to get pregnant easily, whereas these her “helpers” are still waiting on God for the fruit of the womb. There is nothing wrong with her stance, after all, motherhood is one special gift and perhaps the sole thing that defines her existence. At least by society’s standards, she is a real “woman.”
The interaction between both women boils down to infertility shaming. It happens all the time, TTC moms feel ashamed, blame themselves for not being able to get pregnant as quickly as the girl-next-door. People around them and society at large make them feel sub-human and a failure, for being unable to do what is ‘expected’ of them.
Shame attached to infertility is such an odd thing, considering infertility is so out of one’s control? No one could voluntarily say I want to be infertile; no one makes that kind of choice in life.
True, STIs and some lifestyle choices can predispose one to infertility but for a vast majority of TTC moms, it had nothing to do with their choices. It has all to do with symptoms of a medical problem that causes other issues- physical pain, hormonal imbalance, irregularity in cycles, or medications with side effects. Or worse in unexplained infertility, where everything is working as it should, but baby is just not coming.
At those times, a lot of thoughts and emotions come to mind. Even more suffocating is the silence about infertility. Oftentimes, a TTC mom would wonder about her stand with God. She would wonder why He is being selective in dishing out babies, I mean, He gave four and counting to a struggling woman and one He hasn’t given to someone, who can take care of four.
And the faith Stretchers club are not helping matters, as they believe the babies will come, with the right words in God’s ears, no need for medical intervention.
Infertility shaming can make one doubt one’s identity. As per the society we live in our reproductive identity plays a huge role. So, a deficiency in that area can affect a man or woman’s view of themselves. We think it reflects on our femininity/masculinity. If a woman has a fertility issue caused by high levels of the male hormone, how do you think she’s going to feel about her womanhood? What about the man diagnosed with a testosterone deficiency? Almost around us, we are bombarded with commercials describing how important it is for men to have enough testosterone so they can be real men?
The question now is what can be more manly than impregnating a woman? What is more womanly than carrying life? In our society there can be a lot of shame about not being the fullest expression of manhood or womanhood.
It’s a lot to bear for the TTC woman but thankfully, she has learnt to cope, developed a thick skin, gotten hit comebacks for the insincere questions and show of concern but ultimately, kept their head up.
I will leave you with the prayers of a TTC mom said to me during the recent Fertility walk I attended, “May God deliver us from this journey, as I don tire.”
Amen and soon too, however, it is we are going to get to our babies.
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