There is this lady I know, let’s call her Aunty Abii*. Aunty Abii is a cousin to my husband, so I got introduced to her when I got married. A middle-aged woman, she got married at the age of 41, three years back, and has been trying to conceive. I learnt that before their first anniversary, they had already gotten proactive and went for a diagnosis. She was apparently concerned because of her age and wanted to be sure she did not have any medical issues.
Thankfully, she was certified okay, but she and her husband were placed on supplements. When we travelled to the village last December, I saw her and you could tell that she wasn’t taking kindly to this baby thing. She had deep frown lines, eye bags and wore a woe-is-me face, despite all the weddings, festivals and carnivals that the yuletide season was filled with. Everyone pretended not to notice that she was sad, knowing that showing concern was going to make matters worse for her. But behind her back, people talked. There were those who prayed for her, and those who thought her case was hopeless. A silly woman even asked rhetorically, if she hadn’t hit menopause yet.
This past week, my sister-in-law came visiting and while we were all watching a movie, DH casually asked her about Aunty Abii and if she was pregnant now. To our shock, my sister-in-law yelled and almost pinched herself for forgetting to tell us that Aunty Abii had given birth. I turned my focus from the TV screen and asked, “How can she already have given birth when she wasn’t pregnant at Christmas?” Nonye, my sister-in-law, first chuckled and said Aunty Abii had gotten tired of being the object of gossip, and decided to get a baby for herself.
“Oh, she adopted a baby?” I asked.
Only for Nonye to say “No, she didn’t adopt oh, she went to a woman in Aba who helped her get pregnant”.
“How?” my husband asked, everyone totally forgetting about the action on our TV screen.
Since Nonye stays in Enugu, she is privy to some inside scoop on all family matters, and I usually rely on her to keep me updated on everything happening on my husband’s side of the family. I was very curious to know how this Aba woman helped Aunty Abii get pregnant. Did she give her some miracle local herbs or something?
As the story went, Aunty Abii heard about a local fertility doctor in Aba who helped women get pregnant and give birth. I learnt she has helped even women who have lost their wombs to get pregnant and carry the baby until delivery, and apparently charges clients according to the gender and number of children wanted. I started to feel a foreboding when I heard the part about charging according to the desired gender, but that was only the beginning. Upon payment, the couple is given herbs to take, after which the woman will definitely conceive. The couple is, however, required to continue on the herbs until the baby is born. I wasn’t sure why a man needed to take fertility herbs after his wife was pregnant, but then, Nonye was still on the story and I didn’t want to interrupt with my questions. DH was just as curious as I was, and even muted the TV so he would hear his sister well. When the woman told Aunty Abii that she was now pregnant, she told her not to go to any hospital because no ultrasound would detect the baby. She however assured her that she was indeed pregnant, and told her when she was going to be due for delivery. She also had to visit the woman regularly for ante-natal check ups.
Nonye said, quite alright, Aunty Abii’s belly grew, and one could tell that she was pregnant. When Aunty Abii was about seven months gone, it was time to deliver the baby, and she went with her sister back to Aba. The woman had earlier warned her that the baby was going to die if she went to another hospital for delivery. Nonye said the sister wasn’t allowed into the delivery room, so she stood by the door praying. Aunty Abii was delivered of a bouncing baby boy, which was what she had paid for (note that I said paid, and not prayed!). The happy woman went home with her baby, with instructions for his welfare. He was not to come out in the sun until he clocked a year, and he was also going to be eating only food that Aunty Abii bought from this Aba woman. Apparently, she was also forbidden from breastfeeding him. My head was reeling at what I was hearing, and then my husband says in Igbo “Abigail has gone to get an Ogbanje child for herself!”
Nonye added “Can you blame the woman? She really wanted a baby!”
From the recesses of my mind, I remembered a similar story that a friend shared with me sometime back, about a woman who also went to a local doctor for a baby, after waiting for so long to get pregnant. She did get pregnant, and was also instructed not to go to any hospital, as no-one else would see the baby.
According to the ‘local expert’, the baby was housed in a sac, that wasn’t in the womb; but apparently put there by God to help women who have problems with their wombs. When she did give birth, she was instructed not to take the baby near a pool, or the beach, until the baby was two years old. Creepy much? I mean, every sane person should know that there is something fishy about all these procedures and instructions, so I wonder why people still fall for such gimmicks.
While my husband was concerned about the perceived nuisance these children would cause when they grow, I was more concerned with what could prompt a woman to the extent of doing just about anything to have a baby.
I know society is not kind to TTC women, trust me I know. I know it can be frustrating looking over your shoulder, and wondering what people think of you and your situation. It can be frustrating to see a group of colleagues laughing and chatting, and your next thought is that they were talking about you. It can be frustrating to answer annoying questions at family gatherings, as if you are the one that gives children.
Yes, I know all about the high road we take to have a baby. I have heard of women who usually have OCD not cleaning up after sex, because they are scared of washing off sperm before their eggs get fertilized. Their skins would crawl and they would be so irritated, yet they would endure the discomfort, if it was going to translate into a pregnancy. But then, just how far should we go? How far is too far? Aunty Abii is really a nice person and as an educated person, I didn’t expect that she would go so far to get a baby, to the extent of ignoring all the warning signs.
It is so easy to get frustrated to the point of desperation when it is a baby you are craving, and there are those who have made a profession out of preying on our desperation. Caution is needed as we proceed and try this out, and try that out. For one, I would not want to get a baby that would make my life miserable years later. A wise quote says that what is worth having is worth waiting for, and I think this is apt.
Babies are like rare Burmese Sapphires..exquisitely beautiful and hard to find, but they bring joy at the end. If you are tempted to try one obnoxious thing or the other, please give it a second thought. Would it really be worth it in the long run? Somehow, I think not.
God speed to us all!
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