I was grieved when my mom and sister shared this story with me, and you will probably feel the same way when I’m done.
For the purpose of this article, I will call the young mom who had lost her two children at birth because of an archaic belief, Amina.
Amina is in her late 20s. She had gotten married to her husband five years ago and they were happy. Not long after getting married, she got pregnant with her first child and everyone became happier, if that was possible.
Her mother-in-law came to Lagos to stay with the newly married couple months later, under the pretext of helping her son’s wife during her pregnancy, so she wouldn’t stress herself, especially as it was her first time of being pregnant.
While I will not go into the details of that arrangement, it did not work out at all. Rather than reduce stress, mama was a major source of stress for the pregnant Amina, and even between the couple. At one time, Amina walked out of the house close to midnight, headed for her mom’s house.
Anyways, if it had stopped at that, it would not have been that bad, but it became worse and, no thanks to Mama’s insistence that “A real woman pushes” and doesn’t go under the knife, Amina lost her first child due to foetal distress after three days of labour and in the end, she had to undergo a caesarean section to get the dead baby out.
Understandably, she was devastated and withdrawn. She refused to eat or drink until her mother came. She didn’t even go home immediately with her husband. She spent one week, being nursed back to health with her mom, before leaving for her home later.
Soon after, Mama left for the village and Amina and her husband set about repairing their broken relationship. They found a way to get past the distrust that had come between them in the months Mama had been around.
Life went on, but her scar was a daily reminder of her loss. She wanted to try for another baby immediately but remembered the doctor’s warning to wait a while before trying again. So, she waited.
One year, two years and then she started to try for another baby. She was frantic about it, as so many couples who got married the same month as they did and even later already had babies, and some were even rocking another bump. So, she wanted to get pregnant as soon as possible.
After months of trying, Amina got pregnant and on her first visit to the doctor, he mentioned the likelihood of her undergoing another c-section and she was fine with it. Her only condition was that nothing should happen to her baby.
However, on telling her husband about what the doctor said, he hit the roof, saying, she wasn’t going to have a c-section, but a vaginal birth like a “real woman.” He parroted his mom. This wasn’t the reaction Amina expected of her husband. She expected him to jump at any option, as long as it led to them having them a living baby…alas, she was on her own
She got her way with one thing though; Mama wasn’t coming until the baby had arrived. In fact, she wasn’t informed Amina was pregnant again.
As with most rainbow pregnancies, Amina was extra careful with everything, eating well, taking her supplements, attending her antenatal classes religiously and incorporating exercises that supposedly open up the pelvis, if a vaginal birth looked possible.
And then, she went into labour and it looked like a repeat of everything that happened the first time, everything that she had tried to avoid. It was simply sad.
Amina went into labour on a Saturday and by Wednesday, when my sister mentioned her matter to me, she had yet to have the baby. Her husband wouldn’t sign the papers authorising the procedure, instead he was busy calling friends and family informing that his wife had been in labour since Saturday and the doctor was now suggesting a c-section and that they should pray against it. That was exactly what he told my sister on the phone, in my presence.
When my sister told him it will be in his own best interest, his wife and unborn baby, if he signs the papers and lets the doctors carry out the surgery, he started saying his mother said, “A real woman gives birth by herself.”
I didn’t know when I asked him over the phone if his brain was functioning properly. Two lives were at stake and he was coolly defining who a real woman is. What misplaced priorities!
Amina’s husband did not heed reason or the doctor’s advice early enough. He agreed too late to the c-section. Amina was cut open too late. She was so weak, the anaesthesiologists stayed near her head, hoping she didn’t slip into a coma or worse, just die.
Once more, a well formed baby was brought out dead from Amina’s womb. It happened in early November, Amina hasn’t stopped crying and neither can I, whenever I remember. It’s beyond painful. Those two babies had a very good chance at life, yet, they were cut short due to one mama and son collusion.
I will not lie, I have thought about how a grown man is unable to loosen himself from his mother’s apron strings, even when lives are involved. Is he jazzed or something? Now, he’s crying to anyone who will listen, how his wife is giving him the cold shoulder. Why not? He deserves a cold body sef.
I can’t even begin to imagine how she feels; gotten pregnant twice, lost both babies, and still have to nurse her c-section wound. It’s just cruel. Just cruel, not something to wish on one’s worst enemy.
While I can understand why some older generation of women can hold such views about c-sections, younger generations shouldn’t share such views, even when passed down. Millions of lives, both moms and babies, have been saved by the fact that they had a c-section, so how did it become the standard for determining who a real mother is? It’s about lives, not a lifestyle choice.
It’s sad. I’ll continue to pray for healing for Amina and some sense for her husband.
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