Detola* had been trying to conceive for about two years. The first year saw her casually trying, and just hoping passively to miss her period. She was enjoying the alone time she had with her hubby, and knew first-hand how invasive parenthood could be on a marriage. She had been an only child for sixteen years, and was alarmed when she got a call from her mother, the first semester in the university, with news about a sibling being on the way. She cringed at the mere thought of it, and ended the call abruptly. She had wanted a sibling when she was much younger, not now that she was already sixteen and in the university.
When she went home on long vacation, her baby brother was only a month old, and Detola, who had zero experience with babies, was alarmed to see how much work went into taking care of a baby. “Why does he cry every night? Why does he eat so much? Why won’t he let me carry him?” were a few of the questions that she asked her mom, whenever she got the chance. “He is a baby, Detola, what do you expect? You were even worse than him when you were a baby oh” her mother would reply, apparently very patient with the new born “No wonder you wanted just one child” Detola said to her mom on one occasion. No, we chose not to try again after you, because I was sick all through my pregnancy for you, and even lost my life trying to give birth. Your father who was with me through it all, swore that we were never going to get pregnant again. With Boluwatife however, I had a smooth sailing pregnancy and at 44, you would be surprised at how beautiful I looked with my bump”. In spite of herself, Detola smiled and was grateful that her mother indeed had a smooth sail with baby number two, despite the fact that she was an older mom now.
After she got married, subconsciously, Detola decided that the first year of her marriage was simply going to be between her and her husband, Ifeanyi*. No babies, no relatives staying over longer than a few days, no friends coming to spy on her marriage in the name of sleep over…nothing like any of that! Their first year was blissful, but on their first anniversary, when she celebrated her husband and the marriage on her social media platforms, the response she got catapulted her to a phase of “I want a baby and I want a baby NOW!”. Amid the congratulatory messages were the undertone questions of a baby. Some were even bold enough to ask directly. Even though she ignored most of the comments, a lot of them still stung.
By the time, her second anniversary met her still trying, she had gotten frantic. This time, she didn’t mention anything about her anniversary on her social media, but some people remembered. One of the brazen messages came from her “friend” Helen, who wrote “Hmmmn, this one you didn’t post anything about your anniversary today Dee, did you forget? Congratulations oh! Most marriages today don’t make the two year mark, especially when the woman hasn’t given birth yet and the man is starting to get pensive.” Detola read the acid-laced message and quietly deleted Helen from her BBM contact list, muttering “God forbid all these monitoring spirits” under her breathe. She looked up to the ceiling again and prayed, “Lord please, let my third anniversary meet me with a child in my arms”. She was starting to wonder if she should have started trying for a baby from day one. “At least if I started trying from day one, I would have had a baby by now.” Her husband was quick to remind her not to regret the time they had alone, reminding her of all the fun they had had together, and how much they had learnt about each other. In the end, they decided it was time to seek medical help. Even though Detola agreed to this, she realised she was inwardly petrified at the thought. She was scared that maybe something was truly wrong with her, and worried about the physical, mental, and emotional toll it would take on her.
Two months passed and Detola found her asking questions and checking websites for fertility clinics. Everywhere she turned, she saw babies and pregnant women in church, at work, at the mall, everywhere! It was as life the universe was orchestrated to remind her of her painful situation. Eventually, she settled for a hospital she felt she liked, and called the clinic administrator and scheduled an evening appointment for the next day. As Detola sat in waiting area to see the consultant, she was surprised to see women looking calm as they waited, some even chatting happily on their phones; while she was practically freaking out and close to having a panic attack. Detola hated waited, and as she sat waiting for her number to be called, all sorts of thoughts were running through her mind. “But how can these women remain so calm? This is strictly a fertility clinic, so everyone else is apparently trying to have a baby, why are they all so relaxed. Or is it a camouflage? Are they freaking out on the inside just like I am? Or maybe because it’s my first time here.” She was still talking to herself when she heard a light voice say “Madam, are you alright?” She looked up and a kind woman who was probably just a few years older than her was looking at her intently. “I am freaking out” Detola replied honestly “I have been trying to conceive for about two years, and this is my first time in a fertility hospital. I am so scared of being told that I have a problem.” The lady smiled before saying “Wouldn’t it be better you found out if there is any issue, and then deal with it promptly instead of staying at home in ignorance?”
“I don’t want to be told that I am barren, I don’t know what I would do. No woman is barren my dear. It just takes a bit longer for some of us, but no one is barren”. The lady then properly introduced herself as Erica. Erica told Detola that she and her husband had tried for a baby for four years, before moving on to IVF. It had taken them about eight months to save for the treatment after the doctor recommended it to them. The worst part was knowing that the cycle could fail, and although the reality stared at them in the face, they had chosen to be hopeful. We knew it would be eight months of pulling resources together, as well as many tears and prayers going down the drain, but we kept faith alive and prayed. Luckily, the cycle was successful and I am here with my best friend Ijeoma, who has also decided to try IVF. Detola could relate to everything Erica said she had gone through in those four years of trying. She was surprised and relieved to know that she wasn’t abnormal, after all. “It’s good to know that I am not alone in this. I pretty much avoided friends and relatives because I wasn’t sure who was happy for my misfortune or not.” Erica laughed before saying “Waiting for a baby is not a misfortune my dear. It is just a journey, and it helps to find true friends who make the journey bearable for you. Having a travel partner always makes the ride fun.”
Before Detola knew it, it was her turn to see the consultant. She and Erica exchanged contacts and they soon became friends. Erica became her go-to person for tips and her shoulder to cry on when she was melancholic. Erica’s pregnancy was a constant reminder that she was also going to have her baby too, someday. As she and her husband were certified fine by the doctors, all she had to do was hope, keep trying and wait. Three months after their third anniversary, she found out she was pregnant, and immediately called Erica, after talking to her husband and mother. “I told you, the journey was going to end someday!” Erica shouted excitedly into the phone. “Thank you for keeping me company and helping me through the journey An emotional Detola said “Ifeanyi is a man and pretty much didn’t know what to do with me on a lot of my blue days. But you knew, you understood and you helped. God bless you for me”. Equally emotional Erica replied “No matter what you are feeling, you are not alone. There are people facing the same storms and fighting the same battles. I am just glad my own journey helped me to assist you in dealing with yours”.
A few years later, Detola and Erica are still solid friends, staying strong and supporting each other through the multi-faceted stages of life, and organising almost weekly playdates for their sons.
No matter how bad you think things are, just know that you are not alone!
Baby dust to all!
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