Ex-Beauty Queen, Ibidunni Ighodalo, got married to Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House in 2007. The rather private pretty woman has opened up about her struggles with conception in a rare interview with ThisDay.
The coping mechanism for the CEO of Elizabeth R in these 9 years of marriage without a child of her own has been to help other childless couples through her Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation, IIF.
Read excerpt from the interview below…
According to report, throughout the interview, it remained almost a whisper. With each sigh that preceded her response, she yearned to share her heavy burden; to find an understanding soul, apart from her husband.
The words came through her teeth, almost without parting her lips.
“I have heard stories of in-laws calling the woman painful names. Those are hurtful things to say. There are names you don’t want to call a woman that is looking up to God.
“People may not want to be mean, but they don’t know that certain statements and body language hurt. When you are waiting on God, you can be sensitive to what people say or do and they might not know it will hurt or hit you. It is good to raise awareness and understanding about childless couples.
”Friends and relatives should be a bit more sensitive to women or couples who are waiting on the Lord. I know that because of our culture, the pressure is so much. The shoes of women who are waiting on the Lord are not very easy shoes. Emotionally, mentally and psychologically, hormonally, when you are going through treatments, it’s a roller-coaster, you deal with in-laws, society, friends, there’s a lot going on.
“People who get married and have children don’t know how lucky they are. I mean you are even careful not to get pregnant again, you are so blessed by God, you should thank God every day.
”It is not easy to find yourself in a situation where your friends are doing school runs, you don’t know what that is, you don’t even know what your first trimester is. The friends you had bridal showers with are having baby showers, it takes the grace of God to remain sane, honestly.”
She also revealed that she experienced a turning point in her life when she celebrated her 35th birthday last year when she finally decided to turn the lemon that life had thrown at her into lemonade.
It had become her fashion to write a wish list on the day she was born and then tick-off the accomplished ones on her next birthday. Every year, she scored high on every point, but one: The issue of childlessness had become a sore point that could not be addressed. \
She had prayed and sought different avenues for a medical solution, but the problem just could not be wished away. Although she enjoyed the understanding and love of her husband and in-laws, the quest for a child consumed her.
”I had tears in my eyes when I told God, ‘you know what? This is enough. You are going to do it when You want to do it, in Your own time and if You are not going to do it, let it be left undone. This is You. I trust You. Right now, it’s ok, I’m going to live my life.
”I found out that I had stopped living, because that was all I wanted. I said no, I’m going to be happy, live my life and leave it all to God. I’m grateful to God for my own family, for the family I’m married into.”
Mrs Ighodalo then decided to step outside herself, reaching out to others going through the same predicament. She shared her desire with her husband who supported it wholeheartedly.
“My focus now is to help others, one at a time. I want to make a family happy and with the help of God, their prayers would be answered. I know the pain and what it feels like. It will give me joy to see them jumping and rejoicing, saying that they are expecting their own children. I have seen it happen.
”I have seen the two sides during my course of treatment. I said God help me, let me do this. When you focus on helping others, you don’t know the blessings that come back to you. It is difficult but I said, ‘Lord you have put this in me, You have to provide.’
”When I was going through some treatment, I would get to the clinic and someone who has just done a pregnancy test was being told that it didn’t work, it was always so devastating for me to hear them wonder aloud where they would get money for the next treatment.
”I have met women who came to the hospital to get the treatment but they couldn’t afford it. Some couldn’t even afford the test to know what was wrong. I have also met women who decided to share their burden, this is how financially draining this treatment can be.”
However, through her IIF platform, Mrs Ighodalo will award grants for fertility treatment such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Frozen Embryo Transfer and Intrauterine Insemination. Her initial plan to help one or two couples was shelved owing to the tonnes of applications she received. The plan has now changed to accommodate 28 couples.
”There are some couples that have applied that have been married for between 20 and 25 years and when I read their history, they have come to a point where they are tired. I even found out that it was their family that applied for some of them.
”A lot of people have asked me why I don’t face my life, why am I trying to be Mother Theresa. What is it? Is it that you have so much money you don’t know what to do with it. I can’t even explain it.”
The power woman seeks to help address the prevalence of couples in this situation while providing enlightenment on the causes of infertility and ways it can be dealt with.
Photo credit: ThisDay