Shaking, I walk to the bathroom to use the pregnancy test kit I got from Heathway Pharmacy on Allen Avenue. I am fed up of going to the doctor’s to get pregnancy tests done. I have decided to cut down the whole suspense and pain and instead go for the new age DIY method.
As I remove the kit from its pack, my heart is beating heavily, almost thumping. Usually, I would do this type of thing with Uche who would have been here to hold my hands as we waited for the result together but I am so tired of seeing the look of disappointment on his face each time Dr Ajenifuja started his speech with, ‘I am sorry but…’ He always looked so shattered yet always wanting to be strong for me.
My fingers are trembling, but I manage to follow the instructions on the pack of the kit. As I wait for the result, my mind travels back to the ordeal I have experienced whilst waiting for a child of my own…
Uche and I got married on Thursday, the 12th of April 2007. Our traditional marriage took place in my late dad’s village, Uzo-Uwani in Enugu state upon my dad’s family’s insistence. The church wedding was however in Lagos. It was such a beautiful wedding with our families giving it their all and I was eagerly looking forward to life with my husband, Uchenna Andrew Obi. Myself and Uche had dated for two years and I had absolutely no doubts that I was marrying the man God Himself had hand-picked for me.
I can never forget how we met. It was at my sister, Ada’s 25th birthday party which was held in our house in Ogudu. He had come with his sister, Vicky, who was Ada’s classmate in Unilag. I noticed him briefly simply because he was so quiet, even bordering on anti-social. He didn’t eat, didn’t dance and was on his phone throughout, either making calls or receiving or sending texts whilst sipping on white wine. I was totally put off by his attitude and as is my custom, I made a conscious effort to ignore him. Why would you come to someone’s birthday party and sit down looking glum all through? I felt that was an attention seeking behaviour and the best way to handle attention seekers, in my opinion, is to blatantly pay them no mind and pay him no mind, I did.
3 days after the party, I received a call. ’Hi, is that Onyeka?’, the husky yet deep voice asked.
Intrigued, I replied in the most sultry voice I could muster, ‘this is she’.
The voice then proceeded in a long tirade.
‘This is Uche, Vicky’s brother. I was at Ada’s birthday party on Saturday. I got your number from Vicky. Or rather I stole your number off her phone because I just wanted to apologise for my behaviour at Ada’s party. I’m not usually like that, but I was trying to direct someone to a place I sent them and he couldn’t find it so I was pensive and could not really enjoy the party because my mind was not settled and…’
He went on and on and as much of a cliche as this may sound, I fell for him right there and then. After about three months of unnecessary fronting on my part, we began dating. I was 22 and just finishing from Law School in Lagos. Uche was 27 and had been working for a while in an Insurance company in Lagos and was doing very well. He had graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and had completed his Masters from The University of Johannesburg in South Africa.
Our relationship was well-defined from the beginning. Uche was a serious-minded person and had only been in one relationship before me. He introduced me to his family as soon as we began our relationship and within the first year, he proposed to me whilst on a date. Wedding plans started almost immediately and exactly 2 years after I said yes to be his girlfriend, I said yes to being his wife. Uche was 29, I was 24. He had quit his job at the Insurance company and has started his own business as an Estate Agent. His father had heavily invested in him and they were so happy that he was getting married too.
After the wedding, Uche’s business absolutely boomed. It was true what God said that he that finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord. He got so many valuable contacts during the wedding preparations and even at the wedding, really important people thrust their cards at him and some others called up afterward looking for how they could work in partnership with him. It was indeed overwhelming. Even his family’s love seemed to have multiplied towards me. His mom doted on me. She was always fussing over me, calling me ‘Nne mo’. She loved me so much…or so I thought…
After about 5 months of marriage, his mom came over to see us. As I opened the door for her, her eyes never left my midriff. She was as friendly as ever, but I was no fool. I knew what she was looking for in my abdomen and it wasn’t there.
‘Not yet mom’, I told her taking her handbag off her.
She smiled sheepishly. ‘Nne mo don’t mind me oh, I’m only very eager and excited. Don’t worry your pretty self. God’s time is the best dear. He makes everything beautiful in His time’.
She spent the entire week with us. On the Friday she was leaving, I overheard her speaking to Uche. I should have just walked off, but my feet just wouldn’t obey my head. I moved closer and heard her ask Uche if I had ever conceived and then had a miscarriage or if we were trying to be like modern couples who didn’t want children immediately. Uche told her we were waiting on God for His perfect timing. She then snickered and told him not to accept any rubbish from me in terms of not wanting kids yet. Despite his reassurances that we definitely wanted kids, she kept on urging him, ‘don’t take any rubbish’.
I broke out in a cold sweat. Was this Uche’s mom speaking or was I going crazy? I could not believe it. The very same woman who I had taken to be my own mother. The same woman who fussed over me all the time. I replayed her words in my head and they pierced my heart each time. Slowly, I inched away from the door and went into the kitchen. Minutes later, Uche’s mom walked out of the room they were in. I froze.
‘Onyekachi my love!’, she called out.
My feet were firmly rooted to the ground and it took me about 4 seconds to answer her call.
‘I’m off to Magodo dear. You’ve been an absolutely darling’, she said pulling me into a tight embrace. She kissed both cheeks. I stood there smiling. Very numb. Very stunned. Yet, I managed a cool, ‘thank you ma’.
That was the beginning of my woes in her hands. After ten months of marriage, she stopped being sublime about her frustration at me not being pregnant. The antagonism became open. She made it a point of duty to come visiting us in our Ikeja GRA home as often as she could. She would openly ask me why I was not yet pregnant. Sometimes, she would come to the house and upon learning that Uche was out, she would go into her car without a word and ask her driver to drive off. This happened at least three times.
To say I was frustrated is to put it mildly. I became weary. My sister, Ada, took me to MFM where I prayed and fasted like my life depended on it. And in reality, it did. I cried myself to sleep at night. I pleaded with God. Yet, nothing. Despite my sadness, I tried so hard to maintain a happy exterior. I didn’t want people wondering what the matter was. As if they didn’t know all too well already. I tried to keep a smile on my face at all times but it is hard to do that when you see people’s eyes constantly roving on your belly with looks that wonder, ‘is she not yet pregnant?’ Uche’s mom’s constantly picking on me did not help matters at all. The only consolation I had was the fact that I was married to a good man, a man who stood beside me through it all, a constant encourager, my best friend, Uche.
The worst experience I had with Uche’s mom was on one Saturday afternoon, about two years into my marriage. Vicky, Uche’s younger sister by 2 years had just had her second baby and we were at theirs for the naming ceremony. I had remained calm and composed all through my ordeal with my mother-in-law, but on this occasion, I could handle it no more. We were all in Vicky’s living room gushing over her new son when her mom went on and on about the rewards of not being loose as a young woman and how God punishes promiscuous women by making them infertile and how she was so thankful to God that her daughter was so fertile that she had birthed two sons in the space of 19 months.
Everyone’s eyes went to me. Some looked to the ground, surprised at Uche’s mom’s harsh words. I saw a few eyes whose minds she might have echoed too. I saw red. I did not know when I quipped. With tears running down my cheeks, I looked her in the eye and said, ‘Mom, Uche disvirgined me on our wedding night so your theory about those that don’t have babies straight after marriage may not be accurate after all’.
I itched to say more and even spurt out some stinging words so that she too could hurt like I did, but I controlled myself, picked my bag, walked off wiping my tears, got into my car and drove off.
As I drove, I began to think on the fact that my friends who got married after me all have their own children, some of whom are now even toddlers. I am godmother to about four kids now. I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me or Uche which the doctors were not being able to identify. We had gone for at least ten different opinions and all said we were fine. I was starting to question the truth in this. Why, after three years of marriage, was I still not a mother or at least pregnant? Uche has been my rock through it all. He constantly encourages me, telling me God created marriage for companionship first before procreation. But each time he says this, I look into his eyes and I see deep sadness. I know how much he loves kids and how badly he wants his own. He told me, even before we got married, the names of our three unborn children. We had planned to have two girls and a boy.
Last month, late into the night, I watched quiet tears stroll down Uche’s face as he got up in the middle of the night to pray. He had tried so hard not to wake me, but I was barely asleep myself. I cleaned his face with my palms as I knelt down beside him in prayer. Earlier that day, Dr Ajenifuja had given us yet another negative report. Seeing Uche, who was my rock, break down tore me apart. I wanted to make him smile again. I wanted to give him the gift of being a father. I wanted so badly to be pregnant even if I ended up miscarrying, just to prove to myself and my mother-inlaw that I was not barren.
This is why this pregnancy test means so much to me. I have not seen my period for a week now. I look up at the ceiling saying a quick word of prayer to God that I am pregnant before I look at the result. I hold my breath as I slowly bring my eyes to the kit to see the result of the test.
There it is. I am not pregnant. My legs suddenly give way beneath me….
After what seems to be three days, I find myself lying on what appears to be a hospital bed. I hear voices around me as I struggle to open my eyes.
‘Baby, you’re awake’, I hear Uche’s voice say as I feel his strong hands gently hold my head. I try to smile at him, but then I remember the pregnancy test result and I burst into tears.
‘Sweetheart, please don’t cry, I love you so much, baby please’, Uche cooed into my ears with tears in his eyes.
‘You fainted and we are very lucky I came upstairs at that time. The doctor will soon be here to see you’.
The more he speaks the more I cry. I am totally fed up with life. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take this anymore. The pain is becoming unbearable for me to handle. I’m too young to be going through this. Why is life so harsh? Where have I erred? What is my crime? I was a good girl and kept myself for my husband. I did all I should do. I prayed. I fasted. God, why?
I see the Doctor walking towards us, the stern look on his face makes me wish I had never been born. ‘Mrs Onyekachi Obi, I have had a look at your chart and results. Aside of the minor stitch we need to do on your forehead where you hit the toilet seat, you are well and I am also happy to let you know that the baby is well too’.
I stare at him blankly. I look at Uche who looks like he has just seen a ghost. Instinctively my hands reach for my stomach, and so does Uche’s. “Pregnant?” we both ask in unison.
Yes, one month pregnant, reaffirms the doctor.
“Thank you Jesus!” Uche screams as he begins hugging the doctor and all the nurses he can find. I rest my back on the hospital pillow. My God has answered my prayers; my husband will be a father and I a mother. This is all I ever wanted. Indeed God’s time has come!
Photo Credit: Publisher’s Weekly