I’m my mom’s firstborn and, incidentally, so is my husband, and for as long as I have lived, I have heard about how I was supposed to be the perfect example for my younger siblings and practically everyone that was younger than I am around me, even till now.
My academic excellence and shortfalls were examples of how to behave and not to behave for others. There are still some things that my Dad tells my younger siblings and I’m like, “Baba, can you stop using me as an example already.” I can say that now, not before, when all I did was work harder to fit his image of me.
I didn’t have any challenge with TTC and that in itself remains a reference point for them; praying for others that they have twins like me. Okay, can it stop already?
Let’s not even talk about the running joke from my husband’s side of how none of his siblings were yet to have a set of twins, yet we have managed to corner two sets. Again, God is watching all of us.
In this area of babies, even I know that I will remain a reference point of some sort, whether I like it or not. Being mom of twins sort of overshadows a lot of other aspects of my life. I’m still wondering why, because those twins didn’t come with a blank cheque like I was told.
While that sinks in, just for a moment, take a step back and imagine that both my husband and I being first borns didn’t have any kids, even after 8 years of marriage, meanwhile our neighbours, siblings, friends and family keep popping babies every year. Just imagine what it will be like.
Well, whatever you imagine, and which I imagine is nowhere related to the reality of being a first born and finding yourself trying to conceive, worse is if both husband and wife are firstborns, first to get married and then, there are no babies. That can quickly turn into a nightmare if care is not taken.
A couple that I’m close to is currently living through that reality right now, and I know it is a struggle for them…especially the woman, who somehow still manages to still “pancake” her face every morning, after often a night of weeping and vigils all for the sake of a baby.
For starters, they are both from adjacent states of origin and a people known for their hot tempers but genial ways, which, as you may guess, has both negative and positive impacts on their relationship…with each other and then with their extended family.
With their extended family, there are moments of such vivaciousness, when they can’t get enough of their in-laws, and at other times, they can’t even stand her/his sight. That adds unnecessary strain to their relationship but they are still together.
To their own relationship, this couple, let me call them, Mr and Mrs O, who have been married for 8 years, are quite fantastic together. I sometimes envy the passion so obvious in their relationship after all these years. They are very quiet and personal about their TTC efforts, and I will not blame them for that. It’s private business after all.
However, there was a crack over the holidays (why do families members who don’t see each other all the time fight when they see anyways?). A sister-in-law of Mrs O came into the country with her three children, one of whom was a six month old baby girl, and guess where they stayed? Mr and Mrs O’s house. The first lure was the fact that they always have light, thanks to a factory that was close by, which needs 24 hours of electricity to work, so either with their generator or with PHCN, they were sorted.
This was Mrs O’s first meeting physically with her sister in law, since she married into the family. They had spoken over the phone several times and even Skyped, but for the first time, they could touch each other and really see.
The meeting went well. They had flowed conversation wise before this time and it sort of translated into real life. For the first few weeks, they were joined at the hip, as they dumped the children at Grandma’s for the day, while Mrs O took her returnee sister in-law about town, visiting family, friends and places she hadn’t seen in close to two decades.
It was like Mrs O was seeing Lagos for the first time, as she saw it through her sister-in-law’s eyes. They talked about every and anything and laughed a lot. Until sister-in-law started talking TTC issues and mentioning doctors and IVF and procedures and generally saying that eight years was a long time to have been married without children. That was the worst mistake she could have made.
One, they had never EVER talked about their TTC efforts. Ever! So, what was the premise for starting such a conversation?
Two, it felt like her mother-in-law had unleashed her daughter on Mrs O and that one just joined the persona non-grata list where Mrs O’s life was concerned.
You see, every morning, when they dropped off the kids, Grandma would make comments about how nice it was to finally have grandchildren to fill her home with laughter and noise, unlike all these years. Sometimes, she would make a lot of drama out of welcoming them, with a dance and a big smile on her face.
No doubt, the smile was one of pure joy but it still didn’t reduce the hurt Mrs O felt at the underhanded jab at her infertility. But when her sister-in-law contributed to the matter, everything went up in flames.
Not wanting to cause problems between siblings, she didn’t tell her husband about her “interesting” one sided conversation with his sister. Her husband can be extra protective where she was concerned. She needn’t have bothered, as her sister-in-law did the honours herself.
Mrs O had been taking care of some business in the kitchen when she started hearing raised voices from her sitting room. On getting there, it was her husband and his sister, fighting over their TTC business; her husband vehemently telling her to mind her business and she responding she wasn’t going to allow him die without having a child to carry on his name.
She carried on about how all their younger brothers are already family men overseas, his friends were done or about to hang their boots where child bearing was concerned, and he was yet to have one child. “Whatever is the problem, you must state it and let’s find solution to it together. Mom has been telling how you both have been stubbornly keeping quiet about having children as though it doesn’t matter. We have to look for a solution before I leave Nigeria.”
Mr. O was no longer talking and that was a bad sign. Now, he was beyond furious. His sister did not sleep in their house that night. He called a cab that took her, her suitcases and children to their mother’s house.
When Mrs O cried to her mother, hoping to be comforted, she was surprised to find that her mom concurred with her sister-in-law, although she stated her concerns mildly, but they were the same. She wanted her to have a child soon; her sister that got married five years after her was already mom to one child and expecting another. She was the first born and should be leading in everything, not being a non-player in the baby-making field.
Her baby sister, who is about to become mom of two doesn’t have any inhibitions about talking TTC matters with her sister. In fact, she over-involves her in her pregnancy and child birth, even more than their mother, and it was to her she went seeking some comfort, only to find her sister in-law visiting with her sister. There was no need for a prophet; she was the topic of discussion. They had nothing else in common.
It’s sort of a cautious business, as she is walking on eggs shells around her family members, and they are doing the same; no one wanting to talk about the elephant in the room. Mr O is still too angry to talk reasonably about the matter.
And that was how Mrs O entered the New Year with a heavy heart, calling her sister, mom and in-laws half-heartedly to wish them a Happy New Year.
It’s quite sad. While their intentions are good, the manner in which it was handled has added more pressure to Mrs O than before.
Worse is the fact that, they that are supposed to be her support system are the ones setting her on fire, so who does she turn to?
TTC can be lonely at times…its time like this that a TTC woman needs to strengthen her faith, and look inwards to find a reason to be joyful, to keep hope alive.
I don’t know what the challenge is with Mrs O and her husband and I don’t really want to know, even though it intrigues me, because they are so tight-lipped about it, it’s scary.
I just pray for that baby to come soon and put an end to the drama with their siblings and anxious grandmothers.
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