Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Mrs Mabel Onwuemele. I am a sex therapist, public speaker and an author. I have written three books: Sex and You; Priceless Jewel; and Spark Under the Sheets, which is my bestseller, released during the pandemic. I teach basically about the girl child, economic empowerment and health of women, because I am also the National Coordinator, Women of Purpose Development Foundation, which is my NGO.
When did you get married and how many children do you have?
I got married in 2000, and I am a mother of four boys.
You spoke about having some complications during the birth of your last child; what really happened?
My third born was five years old when I got pregnant with the fourth one. I had been hoping that God would give me a baby girl. Since my teachings most times centre on the girl child, I craved having a girl that would be my playmate.
So, when I discovered that I was pregnant, I was happy that it could be my chance to have a girl child. I dreamt of a peaceful pregnancy but unfortunately, it was the hardest pregnancy I have ever had.
I think that what contributed to that was that my husband was transferred to Abuja at the time and I was alone with the children in Lagos. At the time of delivery, the baby presented in bridged position and I had to be operated upon.
After the surgery, I kept hearing mumblings from the doctors. Everyone kept saying that something was wrong but they were only whispering. I was bleeding profusely. And I saw people becoming apprehensive in the hospital. At a point, I heard the doctor say, “God, help me to help this woman in Jesus name.”
What did the doctor do to help?
The next day, they had to take me in for another surgery. All of a sudden, my body just became bloated. My tummy was bloated. I realised that I was losing strength and life. They called my husband and he flew down from Abuja. I was rushed to another hospital, where I was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit.
At this hospital, I had a third surgery. And a doctor there told my husband that the first surgeon forgot a small pair of surgical scissors and a cotton wool in me. That was the genesis of my problems. I took 27 pints of blood, according to my husband.
The last surgery I had, as they opened me up, my husband said the doctors told him that all my veins had collapsed. They had to drill my leg with some medical equipment. My husband said when he saw what they did to me, he wept. The openings became infected and I began to smell. The smell became so much that no one could enter into the ward I was without wearing a face mask.
I lost the use of my legs and became bedridden. It was such an unpleasant experience. But my husband and family stood by me and I think the love they showed me helped in my healing and survival. It was one year after that I began to walk again. But I couldn’t walk properly; I had to learn how to walk again, like a child. But in 2019, I suffered a relapse.
I can’t tell. The doctors didn’t really give any explanation. Eventually, through physiotherapy, I regained my strength and I am finally okay.
What was the experience like for you losing the use of your legs for a whole year? Did you think you would never be able to walk again?
It was a time of sober reflection. My husband and children were around me all the time. I didn’t have a maid at the time. I told my husband to take me out of the hospital because the bills were mounting. I resorted to fasting and praying even in my condition.
My tummy was heavy; my legs were so heavy, they felt like bags of cement were placed on them. But I just knew I would walk again. I had a revelation in which a man gave me a wheelchair as a gift. I was in church, preaching and he walked up to the altar and told me he had a gift for me. He told me to sit in the wheelchair.
I was about to sit in it when I came to the realisation of who I was. I called him back and commanded him to sit in his wheelchair and take it away from me. The next day, the condition of my legs case worsened and the exact picture of my revelation played out. They brought a wheelchair for me to sit in. But I said, “No. I won’t sit in that wheelchair!”
I began to seek God more. It struck me that God took me through that experience to be able to help other women going through post-partum stress.
Initially, when my husband was told about the surgical scissors and cotton wool that the surgeon forgot in me, he was so angry that he wanted to sue, but my life was more important. And when eventually I got better and wanted to sue, my husband told me to forget everything and just be grateful to God that I was still alive.
I remember that while I was in the hospital, some people died right in my ward. I saw a 21-year-old first-time mom who gave birth to twins and died. I knew that God had a special assignment for me.
Seeing some people dying, what effect did it have on your psychology?
Deep down, I was very strong. I have always been a prayerful person. Never was there any time that I lost faith in God. My faith was stronger than what I was going through. I had had very bad experiences in life as a child. I came from a very poor home. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go to school.
I had to work as a home help to raise my school fees. I have always been a determined person. I became born again quite early, and I had experiences where God came to my rescue.
When I gained admission, it was my community who paid my first school fees of N35, 200. God had delivered me from all kinds of difficult situations and I had faith that what I was going through then wouldn’t be an exception.
What lessons did you learn from the entire experience?
There is this actress, Nse Ikpe-Etim, who had a hysterectomy. I need to meet her. God used her for me then. I read about her and what she went through and I wept. She was so happy and opened up about it. I told God that, “If you could do it for this lady, you will do it for me!” I was not backing out on God, because he has been faithful to me. I knew God was stretching me for ministry.
How were you able to foot the bills for the numerous procedures?
I married an angel, because if it were other men, they would have run away with the many things that were going on with me. But my husband was supportive from day one. He sold one of our properties while I was in the hospital just to foot the hospital bills.
He was there physically and emotionally as a strong support system for me. He kept assuring me that everything would be fine. With the infection that affected those two operation sites, pus was always flowing.
It was a messy situation, but he was always there, praying for me. He would massage me. I have always been an active person, so seeing me lie down helplessly there made him feel sad.