It was a naming ceremony, albeit a very quiet one, because the mother of the newborn was barely out of her teens and, as you might have guessed, it was an unplanned pregnancy. But Christiana went because the new mother was her Godchild, and she needed to comfort the new reluctant grandmother, who was her childhood friend, Yinka.
Christiana had gone with her two year old son, Chidi, who managed to make his presence felt in the house with the amount of scraps he got himself in, which someone always had to help him out. It was during one of these incidents that a lady, who, at most, would only have been a couple of years older than Christiana’s 40 years, asked that someone put a leash on Chidi before he hurt himself. She asked who his mother was and when Christiana responded “He’s my child. Sorry he’s disturbing you, he’s a very active young man.” The lady scoffed “Your child or your grandchild? Are you not too old to have a child this young?”
The reluctant grandmother, Yinka, quickly stepped in and gave the tactless a severe tongue lashing, before whisking her best friend away.
True, Christiana was late in having kids, but it was not intentional. She had not expected to have any challenges in that department, and so had not started fertility treatments early. She did not know she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant as easily as most of her friends; some of whom she believed only needed to be smiled at by their husbands to conceive. But instead, for her, she had to wait for years before she finally got the BFP she had been praying for, and then deal with the anxiety of praying, and hoping, the baby would survive the 9-month journey in her womb.
The baby survived and came exactly on its due date. It was a joyous occasion. Everyone who heard that she finally had a baby came; the ones she knew and even the ones she did not know; they all came…even if was just to confirm that she had a baby. Christiana had a baby at last! Just when all her friends had children who were already in their teens…she finally had her baby.
Even though she now had a child of her own, Christiana never forgot the numerous pregnancy announcements from her clique of friends, which had resulted her becoming de facto Godmother to most of these kids. She sat through several baby showers, even organized some, attended first birthdays, took and shared pictures of her friend’s children on the first day of school, and even back-to-school pictures for every term sometimes. While she did all of these, their worlds were moving apart at a faster rate than all the friends imagined.
Although Christiana and her four friends had all gotten married within the space of two years, she was the only one who suffered a childbearing delay. It was Tolu who first got pregnant, and she had been the last to get married. Immediately she announced it to her friends, it led to more pregnancy announcements within months…yes months…but none from Christiana. And thus began the cycle. With 2nd, and even 3rd babies, the friends seemed almost in sync, as they were pregnant often at the same time. It quickly become a clique of four pregnant women and one unpregnant chick. Life, you would say, but she learnt from that experience. She learnt how to deal with hormonal and demanding pregnant ladies.
In as much as Christiana was happy for her friends, she wondered what was happening to her, and why was she not getting pregnant. All the teasing about her not wanting to share her husband with a baby, about her wanting to maintain her figure, and other silly insinuations, only added to her growing concern about her seeming inability to get pregnant.
As the babies came to her friends and their families, their worlds diverged. Each friend slipped off the path seeking newer planes and alternate universes. Christiana did not have stories of exhaustion from childcare to share, she did not have to do the school run, she did not have to juggle meals for kids with different preferences. There was so much she did not know about the new world, which her friends now inhabited.
Pulling herself up by the boot spring, she too stepped back. Their baby world was suffocating her anyway! It was becoming a struggle to continue to pretend that all was well, that she was really happy being childless, that she was happy having to deal with the pokes and prods of the medical practitioners, as they sought a solution to what ailed her body.
She was tired of the helpful advice and solutions her friends brought to her. She was just sick of it, and she out rightly asked them to stop. She knew they were coming from a good place, but in the end, they did not understand her pain or how thei innocent comments of their children asking her about her own kids stung. No, only she could understand that, and perhaps some other women, who were walking in her shoes.
Christiana took a detour from the path she had charted with her earlier friends, and moved on to women who were walking on the same path as she was at that time, women who knew what it was like to mix medication, inject themselves; women who knew what it was like to go crazy during the two week wait, women who knew what it was like to get a BFN at the end of a cycle, women who knew what was it like to carry a baby in their womb for some time and then lose it to miscarriage; women, who knew the numbing pain and tears that followed every evacuation of the remains of the hoped-for baby.
She found them, and they walked hand in hand, supporting each other until they got their babies. In the end, she reached all the milestones; getting pregnant, having baby showers, birthing a healthy baby, breastfeeding, lack of sleep, she went through them all but it was with new friends…friends, who had paid a hefty price to be where they were.
Christiana hit those milestones but missed having friends to celebrate them with. They were in a different plane of motherhood, and she was in another. They had tried to find middle ground as fellow moms, but it just never felt the same.
They would always be mothers but to children whose world would always be far apart.