I attended Alicia’s wedding to Caleb* two years ago and it was such a beautiful ceremony. Her Maid-of-Honour, Queen, was over the moon with happiness. After six years of dating, her elder sister was finally getting married to the love of her life. I wasn’t a personal friend of Alicia*, but as Queen’s best friend, Alicia and I got on just fine. She deserved to be happy; she was a cheerful, decent, domesticated, prayerful woman, who was sure to make her husband very happy. Alicia was the kind of woman you joked about and said “she is wife material 100 yards!” She is beautiful, but acts like she doesn’t know it, never fails to give compliments, and is also hands on around the house. Everyone had best of wishes for her on her wedding day, of course with the attendant prayers from pastors and elders for us to gather in celebration after nine months.
About ten months after they got married, Queen called me and asked if I knew of any natural remedies for weak sperm. Before answering in the negative, I asked her who needed the herbs, and she told me her elder sister asked her to ask me, seeing as I was TTC for a while myself. From what she told me, Alicia had complained to her about her husband’s sperm being weak and almost watery, and she was worried they were not going to get pregnant with such low quality swimmers. I asked if they had gone to the hospital for proper tests and Queen replied in the negative; they wanted to try out natural remedies first and see what happens. Going to the doctor was going to be like a last resort, and not the first call. I said, “Ok, whatever rocks their boat” before giving recommendations on supplements for both of them to try. “No, they don’t want white medicine, we heard herbs are more effective and less expensive” Queen said. I couldn’t help them there, so I asked Queen to ask her mother or aunties for recommendations.
About a month later, we all travelled to the village for Christmas, and one day, I went to Queen’s family house to spend some time there. The most incredible incident was taking place. Caleb and his people were there, and they were in a meeting in Alicia’s people. Topic of discussion? The childless state of Alicia and Caleb, after almost a year of marriage. I was stunned as Queen filled me in, from the comfort of her room. We were lucky to be close enough to hear the conversation taking place in the main sitting room. Caleb’s mother was complaining about her daughter-in-law’s childless state, and even asked Alicia’s mother if she was sure her daughter had a womb. When Alicia’s father, obviously trying hard to hide his anger, said it was too early for the elders to be concerned, adding that he and his wife waited for about four years before they had their first issue; Caleb’s mother interjected saying in Igbo “I knew the problem was from Alicia’s side! Papa Alicia, my husband is old, we can’t wait for four years before we carry our grandchildren”.
From Queen’s room were I was, I wondered why Caleb wasn’t speaking up. Why was he allowing his family put pressure on Alicia when he knew that the issue was from him. Finally, we heard his voice “My wife and I are still trusting God. Indeed I came for this meeting, not knowing that we were going to be the object of discussion.” He begged the elders to leave them alone, adding that when they needed the help of the elders, they were going to ask for it. Taking that as a cue, Alicia’s father quickly changed topic and started talking about some other matter that didn’t hold my attention. “I like how he handled it though” I told Queen, |”At least his people would know better than to pick on Alicia. Queen did not agree with me “It”s a lie oh, they will continue picking on Alicia since they don’t know the fault is from their son, until she gets pregnant soon”. I asked if they eventually found the local herbs, and Queen replied in the affirmative. They were already on fertility herbs, which we prayed was going to be effective as soon as possible.
After the meeting ended, Alicia came to Queen’s room to spend some time, before heading back to her husband’s compound. “Why didn’t Caleb tell his parents that he is the one that has the issue, and not you?” Queen asked her sister. Alicia smiled before saying “My dear, he can’t. Who knows who would hear? I don’t want my husband to be the ridicule of town please. Tomorrow, someone would insult him and say he can’t even impregnate his wife. And who knows, when I give birth, they might imply that I got pregnant for someone else. I would rather be the focus of ridicule than him, please”. I stared at Alicia tongue-tied in admiration as she continued “It doesn’t matter who takes the fall for it, what matters is that we have a problem we are trying to resolve. What matters is that we don’t trade blames, but work things out together and get pregnant”.
Right there in that moment, I saw what married couples going through infertility need; the togetherness, the understanding, the common goal, the unified effort. Most times, when couples battle fertility, it is usually one person that has the issue. It is easy to relax and feel like all you have to do is wait for the other person to get treated, and it is also easy to put the blame on that person and go all “If you had quit smoking when I asked you, we would not have this issue now or Why is your system taking too long to respond to the medication? I am tired of waiting for this baby”. Those are easy routes that do not tell well of you, nor give your spouse the support they require. When one party has an issue, both are affected; the issue should thus be treated as a common problem, not the problem of the husband or the wife. There is nothing as important as getting a stronger bond with your spouse through infertility. There are few opportunities to show unwavering support and unity than this. In the end, you would most likely than not get the baby that you crave, but what would be said of your marriage afterwards? I hope you stick together and rise above everything that tried to pull you apart.
God speed to us all.
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