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Nigerian Women Who Eventually Emerged Victorious After Many Years Of Waiting To Conceive Share Their Heartrending Journey 

Nigerian Women Who Eventually Emerged Victorious After Many Years Of Waiting To Conceive Share Their Heartrending Journey 

Some Nigerian women who have gone through the pain of trying to conceive, TTC, and who decided to be selfless about it are sharing their journey to motivate other women going through what they have been through.

At 20, Mrs Ibiwari Duke, visited her father’s house with a man she decided to marry. Her father, the late Mr Pepple, welcomed him with a broad smile and gave his consent to the union which was solemnised the following month.

The beautiful young lady had no idea what marriage had in store for her. She told Saturday PUNCH that the night before her traditional marriage, she recalled telling her sisters not to fail to come to her new home after nine months so they could carry her baby.

She added that going to her husband’s house was not just exciting but came with an expectation that, in no time, another life would be growing inside of her.

“This meant I had to do everything humanly possible to bear give birth,” she added.

After the first year of her marriage and there was no sign of pregnancy, Ibiwari said she went to see her stepmother in Bonny, Rivers State, to seek some help.

“My mother told me not to worry that I would conceive at the right time,” she said.

Ibiwari said she was not convinced so she sought diverse opinions from older women around the village until one told her she could be battling with a spiritual problem. Ibiwari said when she went back to her home in Port Harcourt, she was uncomfortable because the people who got married around the time she did either had a baby bump or had put to bed.

Tears of an endless wait

Ibiwari said in the third year of her marriage, she became depressed and would snap at every slight provocation. That same year, she found out that her husband had a son who was almost seven for another woman even before they got married.

“I became a shadow of myself because I saw that he was not bothered at all – or maybe that was what I felt. If I raised the matter (of childbearing), he would tell me to calm down and that it was God who gives children.

“I lost so much weight that the skin around my arms became slack and flapped when I walked. Everybody in the neighbourhood was worried. My sister who married a few years after I did already had children, and they were growing up so fast,”

she added, her voice solemn.

On one occasion when she went to bathe the child of one of her sisters, Ibiwari noted that a woman who had also come to see the baby asked her when ‘they would come and also bathe her own child.’ Ibiwari said:

“That statement broke me. I knew I didn’t deserve that kind of comment from her because it wasn’t my fault that I was unable to conceive. I knew it was time to be more radical in my quest.”

She also noted that for nights her husband was away on nightshift, she would cry herself to sleep and resume crying when awake, noting that she began to grow grey hair.

She noted barely in her mid-twenties, anywhere she went, she tied a scarf to cover my head as if “covering my head would cover what I was going through.’’

She also added that because of the nature of her husband’s job, he was hardly around and she was always left alone with his son in the house.

“Sometimes, he (the lad) would reach for a cloth and wipe my tears whenever he saw me crying. I began to find some form of consolation in him. I began to summon some courage to call him my son and accept it with joy when he calls me mother,”

Ibiwari continued, sighing deeply as though burdened by the weight of reminiscence.

A tiny ray of hope

Ibiwari said after a few months of emotional torture, she became pregnant but lost the child in her eighth month. She said:

“The doctors said I had a loose uterine wall and that I would not be able to carry any child full-term. Another doctor said my womb was too heavy and would suffocate the baby. I was placed on some medications which made me restless.”

Ibiwari recounted that she was awake many nights because her stomach would be too hot no matter how much cold water she drank. She added,

“It was like I had a pot of yam boiling in my stomach. I would roll from one end of the bed to the other but would not be able to sleep. Shouting out of my sleep became a regular occurrence even whenever my husband was around.’’

In search of other options

Ibiwari’s search for solutions came after her fourth miscarriage in two years. She revealed that she began to seek traditional healers and herbalists who had a track record of helping women in a similar situation.

Despite her strong Pentecostal background, she said she explored other options when people showed her some women who the procedures worked for and how affordable they were. According to her, the option is not as viable one as people advertised it.

“It was the most draining thing I have ever done. The places were always too far, and they were mostly done at odd hours,” she noted.

Recounting one of the experiences, she said one of the male healers asked her to strip naked before him and his aides and would bathe her, which she said she rejected. She noted,

“One of the healers said it would be until he slept with me and injected his ‘holy semen’ into me that I would conceive and it would ‘open my womb.’ I heard a lot of things and was getting fed up when I became pregnant again.

This time, the foetus stayed for almost six months. I told my husband and we threw a small party. Everybody in the area saw it and was even calling me ‘Mama Ejima’ when I suddenly realised that the foetus was no longer moving.

I visited a clinic in Port Harcourt and they said the baby died weeks before then and I needed excavation. I refused to listen. I went to another hospital in Port Harcourt and three others in Owerri, Imo State and Yenagoa, Bayelsa State but got the same response.

It was in Bayelsa that the excavation was done, and I almost lost my life because the foetus had already begun to rot when the procedure was done. I thank God for my life.”

Ibiwari said she told herself that she would no longer bother herself with childbearing and focus on raising her stepson, who, at the time, was almost rounding off secondary school.

“People said many things. I heard a lot of prophecies. Some said I had a spiritual husband. Others said I had run mad in the realm of the spirit. There was nothing I wasn’t told. It was hard but I had no option but to continually believe in God.

One of our doctors was helpful. She brought supplements for me for free. She called many times to check on me. She became a sister to me. She even recommended I try adopting a child if my husband would permit it as I was almost clocking 35.

“At this time, one of my sister’s children was in SS 2, and whenever he came to visit me, I would look at him and tears would well up in my eyes. He knew how to sing, cook and clean. He would spend the holiday with me and would call me his mummy.

I thank God for my sister, his mother; she never withheld his love from me. My husband also loved him. He and my stepson became buddies and I was so happy that for just a little twinkle, my life was falling into place,”

she added.

Hope at last

Ibiwari told the interviewer that it took her five months to notice she was pregnant, adding that she did not see her  menses and went to a hospital for check-up when a nurse asked her when she would be due to deliver. She said,

“I was confused. ‘When will I be due? How?’ I told her I was not pregnant, but she laughed and told me to get baby things ready because it would not be long before I was delivered of the baby.”

Ibiwari said she reluctantly went for a test which came out positive and a scan also showed she was pregnant but she was not excited because she knew anything could happen since she already had a fragile womb as a doctor told her.

She stated,

“It was in the sixth month when my stomach began to protrude and I told my husband and our family doctor and they registered me for antenatal. I stayed in the hospital for another four months where I had my baby girl.

“She came out without stress. She is 13 now and is in SS 1. God does not come late. I look at my daughter whenever I bathe her and I see the journey and the roads I had to walk to get her and I cannot but give God all the glory for making me carry my own child.”

Similarly, 52-year-old Abia-based woman, Florence Morgan, said that she waited for 12 years before she had her daughter, Mirabel.

The businesswoman who doubles as a prophetess said she lived with her husband, Mr Inye Morgan, before they decided to get married. She also said they had already begun to have sexual relations, but to her surprise, they didn’t result in pregnancy. She said:

“It was not much of a problem. I thought we were just being lucky. It was after he came to meet my family officially that I gave it a thought. People also began to ask questions.”

Florence said she visited a hospital where she was told that there was nothing wrong with her and that she should just ‘relax her body.’

She stated that a woman once asked her to keep quiet during a meeting because she had yet to give birth and wouldn’t be able to contribute to the discourse.

“I got home that day, and after crying for hours, decided I was going to shame her by getting pregnant soon,” she added.

Florence said the more she tried to conceive, the more it became even more difficult to lead a comfortable life as anxiety engulfed her. She noted that she prayed for people to conceive but her own situation didn’t change.

The woman said,

“I would ask God painful questions about my being. I didn’t understand why I would suffer so much. I almost lost touch with reality with the way I questioned everything that happened. I prayed as though I had never prayed before. I drank many herbal concoctions and was scared I would damage something inside of me.

On a particular Sunday, after dedicating the child of a woman who waited almost nine years to conceive, I locked the church door, lay on the altar and cried for hours. I told God to take my life if He won’t answer me. It was a really terrible day for me, and I was ready to do anything.”

A few months later, she said she went for a scan, and the doctor placed her on some drugs and asked her to return home after she complained of a protruding belly.

She revealed that she had to seek a second opinion a few weeks later since her stomach didn’t stop growing and she began to feel pain in her lower abdominal region.

“The second hospital told me I had a fibroid which I also started to treat. It was so embarrassing because anyone who saw my protruding belly would tell me congratulations. There was no way I could tell them it was a fibroid,”

she laughingly said.

SEE ALSO: Nigerian Woman Who Welcomed Triplets After 12 Years Of Infertility Tells Her Unique Story: ‘A Colleague Taunted Me That He Was Skillful at Impregnating Ladies’ 

Florence said her doctor placed her on some medications for some five months. She said the treatment, according to them, would make the fibroid shrink, but it didn’t seem to be working because her belly grew bigger.

She also said she felt a stagnant movement and a sharp back pain at night while she slept. She noted,

“I didn’t see my menses during that period and the doctors said it was okay since I was undergoing a procedure. Something happened 11 months during this fibroid palaver.

I was in Enugu State for a church programme when I suddenly felt the urge to pee and pass out faeces at the same time. Before I could even move to the toilet, I peed on myself. My stomach contracted and my waist seemed like it wanted to pull out of its position. I called the reception, and that was all I could remember.

“I woke up after a few hours and I saw faces around my bedside, staring at me with smiles. One of them congratulated me and others joined. I was confused until the doctors came in and told me that I was delivered of a baby girl. I almost fainted in joy. Who would have thought I was pregnant during that time?”

she said rhetorically.

Nigeria’s burden of infertility

The World Health Organisation said that infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.

WHO states that infertility affects millions of people of reproductive age worldwide – and has an impact on their families and communities. It added,

“In the male reproductive system, infertility is most commonly caused by problems in the ejection of semen; absence or low levels of sperm, or abnormal shape (morphology) and movement (motility) of the sperm. In the female reproductive system, infertility may be caused by a range of abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and the endocrine system, among others.’’

According to Fertility Research and Practice, in a 2019 research titled, ‘Use and pattern of previous care received by infertile Nigerian women,’ infertility is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa with about 10 to 30 per cent of couples affected in Nigeria.

To get solutions, infertile women and men may resort to different forms of treatment. The research further stated that the majority of women have ‘multiple and unnecessary visits to several hospitals for infertility care with little positive results despite time and resources spent.’ The FRP stated,

“Its aetiology in Nigeria was found to be mainly related to post-infectious causes, sexually transmitted infections, post-abortal and puerperal sepsis, amongst others.’’

The research proved that being able to get pregnant is a ‘big part’ of the marriage institution, especially in the African cultural context.

Despite this burden, a few infertility-management programmes exist. Fertility care, its development and access are limited in resource-poor countries such as Nigeria, overshadowed by competing and more important reproductive health issues like high mortality rates.

Most times, the burden of infertility lies on the woman as seen in the cases of Ibiwari and Florence.

More heartrending tales

For 53-year-old Israel Essien and his 42-year-old wife, they waited for 18 years before their daughter, Blossom, came.

Speaking, Israel stated the experience of waiting that long. He said,

“When we got married on December 6, 2003, we never envisaged we would stay that long. He the first three months of our marriage, we were so worried. We even went for a medical check-up then. I was in Port Harcourt then. The doctors said we should wait because it would be too early to conclude that we have an issue with childbearing.

“As a human being, I really felt the pressure. I spent a lot of money. I even ran into a fake doctor who confessed when he was exposed that he only injected me with water and not medication. This was after I spent over N750, 000, thinking I was getting the right treatment.”

He said his friends advised him to marry another woman. Israel added that after a few years of treatments in one hospital and another, he was diagnosed with a low sperm count and watery semen.

“My wife was okay. Although due to some of the traditional remedies she took then, she was also negatively affected. She visited some herbal homes that gave her some concoctions to drink and did a lot of other things around her belly, but none of those remedies seemed to help as she never got pregnant for once. Instead of things getting better, it got worse.”

He said a friend later introduced him to the Ibiduni Ighodalo Foundation for in vitro fertilisation–a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm in vitro.

In an earlier interview with PUNCH, Mrs Temidola Ladeinde and her husband, Olukayode, said they waited for 12 years before welcoming a set of triplets.

The family stated that it seemed like a dream when they discovered they would be having a baby soon after many ‘medical helps’ failed. Temidola shared,

“We sought medical help from the simplest to the advanced (ovulation tracking, Intrauterine Insemination and IVF). We went through both invasive and non-invasive treatments, including fibroid surgery. We consulted multiple doctors at different times in private and public practices. Initially, all indicators pointed at “unexplainable primary infertility” for many years.”

ALSO SEE: Actress, Wumi Toriola Narrates How She Battled Infertility Before ‘Miraculous Conception’ 

She, however, highlighted that as she kept growing older, she developed a few medical conditions such as fibroid, endometriosis, low anti-mullerian hormone and hormonal imbalance which made the process even tougher for her union with Olukayode.

With a deep sigh, she noted that it was a really tough and rough journey. She said,

“We made so much effort but not one single pregnancy (to show for it).  I’m not kidding. Our triplets were my first and only pregnancy! God is awesome.”

On experience regarding societal pressure, she said,

“There were outings and gatherings that we didn’t attend because I didn’t feel like it. We make excuses for people and know when to withdraw from any particular relationship. Nobody was more important than either of us to the extent of making us unhappy because of children.”

IVF procedure

See Also

Specifically, an online source noted that IVF is a process of assisted reproduction whereby a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs are combined outside of the body in a laboratory dish. The source noted,

“One or more fertilised eggs (embryos) may be transferred into the woman’s uterus, where they may implant in the uterine lining and develop.’’

Unlike the Essiens, whose IVF procedure scaled through and they had a child in September 2021, there are stories of failed IVF processes.

That is the case of a 47-year-old man from Edo State identified as Prince Argheghan and his 42-year-old wife, Carol (Pictured above), whose first IVF process which cost them over N4.3m failed in the lab. The man said,

“We were broken when the procedure failed. After spending that amount and it didn’t work out, it wearied us. We encouraged ourselves that it was not the end of the world. One thing we didn’t do was to seek a solution from one place to the other. Our resolve was that if God didn’t do it, no one else could,” he said.

The Argheghans waited for 11 years, having been married since 2010, before they could have a child which came in January 2022 through another IVF procedure facilitated by the Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation.

Speaking about their experience, Prince, who said he is also a pastor, said they were ‘healthy virgins’ when they got married, noting that he was shocked when it took long for them to have a child. Argheghan said:

“Being from a strict Christian background, the thought of childlessness never crossed our minds at all. We kept hoping pregnancy would come. But when nothing happened, we decided to carry out a medical check on ourselves and the doctors confirmed that I had a low sperm count.

“He placed us on some multivitamins and promised us that things would definitely fall into place. But, years later, nothing changed. By the grace of God, the second one worked out. I am a proud father of a strong boy who came on January 26, 2022. We were elated at the hospital when the baby came. Our status changed. I have no fears at all, but I know I have enough strength and time to raise my child.”

His wife, Carol, who also said that though she paid no attention to what people said about her infertility, sometimes, the vile words got to her.

“When I was 40 years old and still hadn’t conceived, I was advised not to celebrate my birthday so people won’t know I was 40. But the fact that I was without a child didn’t bother me. One thing about my husband and I was that we never saw ourselves as barren; we knew we were going to have our own kids, but just didn’t know when,”

she noted.

Trado-medicine healers

Essien told PUNCH that because of the different places she went to and the kind of remedies she sought, her menses became irregular and womb ‘almost affected.’ She said,

“Sometimes, for six months, I wouldn’t see my menses, and when it came, it would flow for 21 days nonstop. In fact, when it was time for the IVF procedure to be done, I knew it was a miracle when it was confirmed I was pregnant. I also went for a womb massage. They inserted some substance into my private parts and promised it was going to help. I went through hell. I never knew I was harming myself.”

Although Essien’s experience with the trado-medicinal experts failed, some women told PUNCH that the procedure worked for them.

A Lagos-based woman, who identified herself as Joy Dominic, narrated,

“It (trado-medicine) is a gift from God. My mother-in-law does this too but people might not believe her. I tell you; this woman is genuine.”

Another woman, Maryann Igbokwu, said Africans were richly blessed with traditional remedy, noting that she conceived through the help of an Ijaw woman based in Lagos after two years of waiting. Igbokwu said,

“The way medicine and IVF can fail is how massage can also fail. I was massaged with different hands in Bayelsa for over three years, but no result. I later met the one that worked with my system. This was after many failed medical attempts.’’

Experts comment on issue

A Lagos-based Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Ogungbe Muiz-Olawale, identified tubal and ovulatory factors as the major causes of infertility in women, especially in Nigeria.

According to him, the tubal factor is the commonest cause of fertility in this part of the world. He said,

“Tubal factor has to do with the fallopian tube. Issues such as untreated infection and previous tubal surgeries may pose as factors.  There are psychosocial, socio-economic and behavioural issues. Poverty is a factor. If a girl doesn’t have a means of sustenance and she is having indiscriminate sexual activities, she may come down with an infection. If left untreated, may degenerate and pose a problem later on in life.’’

On ovulatory dysfunction, Muiz-Olawale, said,

“Since ovulation is when pregnancy occurs; if these women don’t ovulate regularly or have irregular ovulation, it may pose a problem. There is also pushing syndrome and some chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes may be a cause of mal-ovulation.”

He also said that men could have infertility like women. He added,

“In fact, the percentage of male to female factor infertility is the same, and in some cases, that of the male may even be higher. That is the trend we are seeing in recent times.’’

He further identified undescended testes, mumps and previous groin or testicular surgeries as well as other congenital issues like the absence of the vas deference – the tube connecting the testis to the outside of the penis through which the sperm is transported out of the manhood to the female private parts– as major factors.

Muiz-Olawale noted that absence of diagnostic facilities to investigate the cause of infertility could make couples seek help in traditional medicine.

Also, an Abuja-based fertility expert, Dr Ekinyi Destiny-Ochete, stated that some women’s wombs may not be ‘properly-placed’ and may need ‘setting’ by trado-medical experts. She said,

“I know how to set wombs and I use herbal ingredients to treat infertility. Before one can be able to use oil to massage a woman for fertility, one should also be able to understand the essential ingredients in the oil. Alternative medicine is a major key one can use to fight infertility in this part of the world.”

She also highlighted that stress and hormonal imbalance could cause infertility in both men and women. Destiny-Ochete stated,

“A woman trying to conceive is supposed to have sex as much as possible, but it should not be just because they want to conceive. That is why you would see people with unwanted pregnancies more than people actively looking for a child.

“There are hormones you release during sex that helps your body to receive the sperm when it is released by the man. One of the triggering factors of fertility is relaxation at the point of sex.’’

It’s wrong to blame only women for infertility, says sociologist

A retired professor of sociology at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Prof Adetanwa Ibironke, urged society to stop blaming the woman alone when a couple is trying to conceive. Ibironke said,

“The women are always blamed in society and this is not right. They would say the women are responsible for infertility and have been promiscuous with their lives when they were younger.

Sometimes, they encourage the man to marry another wife especially if the mother-in-law is from the village. They would visit and say,‘ Take another wife who would give you children.’

You know when you get married, society starts counting for you. After two years, they may begin to ask questions and their eyes start rolling. I have found out in all my years of practice that most of the time, the fault is not actually from the woman but the man.’’

Ibironke noted that some couples could separate due to incompatibility, stating that they eventually have their own children with new spouses.

She also urged waiting couples to be resolute and not let family members come between them and ruin their unions.

In his contribution, a senior psychologist at the Yaba Psychiatric Hospital, Lagos, Mr Marcel Nwogu, said the waiting couple may need to also present themselves for therapy by a psychologist.

“The couple has to be in the right psychological state to be able to conceive. When one is relaxed, the other factors that encourage gestation would start to take shape.

The hormones which may be imbalanced because of anxiety may start normalising because she is now being accepted by society. This is a two-way thing; both parties need to be involved. They should go for couples’ therapy,”

he stated.

He also urged society to support couples actively trying to conceive with kind words to make them feel accepted and loved by society thereby enabling them to make a well-informed decision on how to go about fertility issues.

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