June 2015… My son would have been a little over a year now.
I had put getting married off for as long as I could, and when it finally happened, all I wanted to do was get down to having my babies. I love children. I’ve taken care of every niece, nephew and cousin available. I couldn’t wait to have mine. I would pore over baby fashion website and fill my cart with supplies. Whenever I travelled, I would always buy about a quarter of a suitcase full of baby clothes. We even refer to the room designated to our children as “Nwando’s room”. And every time my husband says to me that we are having a boy first, I just roll my eyes and say “Nwando is arriving first”. I mean, it’s only logical that she arrives first because I have lots of bags and shoes for her to inherit and I’m tired of my sister and her daughter always oppressing me when they dress alike. He just wants a boy to be dressing alike with…but I said it first!
Few miscarriages later, I was getting tired. I never even knew I had fibroids until during one of the evacuations. The doctor explained to me how bad fibroids could be during pregnancy and how I needed to take better care of myself before and during my next pregnancy. He also ruled out a myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids) since it wasn’t impeding conception. He said that most doctors try to avoid invasive procedures on a female that has not yet had children. It made perfect sense. I prayed. I hoped. I took my vitamins. I ate healthy for the most part and worked out too. Soon after, I was pregnant again…Nwando would soon arrive.
Everything looked good. It was an enjoyable pregnancy. The only challenges I had were smell aversions. My husband always smelled like clay and his car always smelled like metal. Don’t ask…I don’t even know what clay smells like myself. All I could eat were peppery “Ofe nsala” and “Udara nwannu”. We didn’t tell anyone in our families that we were expecting a baby because we were tired of always getting them excited with a pregnancy announcement then making them sad with the news of yet another miscarriage. I didn’t like that I had to travel to the neighboring state for my first ante natal appointment; this was clearly dangerous as I had been specifically warned to be on bed rest. I’d lost confidence in the other doctor I’d been using and I’ll tell you why : NEGLECT.
He neglected to follow standard protocol of administering RHogam shots after I lost the last pregnancy. I am Rhesus negative and everyone in the world knows that in the case of bleeding during a pregnancy and after a miscarriage, RHogam shots must be given, in the case where the partner is not Rhesus negative. My husband is not Rhesus negative; it is clearly indicated in my medical records with the hospital. When I pointed it out to him, he told me I had a “bad case of too much Google”. The fear we felt while waiting for the result of the Indirect Coomb Test I did when I found out I was pregnant again…the way I hoped and prayed that I had not been sensitized because I wasn’t given RHogam shots…
We decided that it was wise for me to travel home so I could get proper antenatal care pending when I would travel to have my baby. My family was shocked to see me with a baby bump, but they understood. Everyone was happy. My first appointment went well. They kept asking me if I was sure I calculated properly because the baby was too tall for that age. They finally understood when my husband showed up. And the scan showed we were expecting a boy. (NWANDO, WHY???) I was over the moon. I couldn’t wait to get back home and set up the nursery. Someone was happy he was having his way and I was in my little corner of the world, planning how I would be weaving my son’s hair since Nwando decided to be a slacker. Few days later, I started bleeding profusely. That marked the beginning of the worst two weeks of my life, ever.
Red Degeneration of Fibroids. I’d already been informed about this by the doctor and I’d also read up on it a lot. I was just hoping it wouldn’t happen to me. But it did. Someone in my family said it was a spiritual attack and we needed to go to church. I refused. She offered to bring her prophet to come pray for me. I was having none of that. I knew exactly what it was and I needed medical intervention and not just prayers. While on admission for bed rest and further observation, I met this woman. She made me very angry. She just lost her baby after trying for over ten years. Apparently, her pastor/prophet told her that she should stop antenatals and come to church for prayers instead. She was also told that going against medical advice to have her baby through Caesarian Section was the only way she could successfully have her baby. She was well over forty. Her baby stayed in for over nine months, the hospital kept calling her to come in for a C section and she kept dodging because of what her pastor/prophet said. She woke up one morning and her whole bed was covered in some black gooey substance. Meconium mixed with blood. That was when she rushed to the hospital. Her husband refused to approve a C Section but they went ahead and did it anyways. The baby was already dead and her own life was in danger. I tried to feel any empathy for her. I couldn’t. Her pastor/prophet was nowhere to be found. Neither was her husband.
So I was in and out of the hospital for two weeks. The pains would come and go and when they came, excruciating didn’t quite cut it. Every time a speculum was inserted and I was told my cervix was still closed and my baby alright, I would take the pain in good faith. The last trip to the hospital…I lost my baby. I didn’t realize that all the intense pain I felt all day was actually me in labour. I pushed him out and he was TALL, just like his dad. He didn’t make it out alive. Evacuation, blood transfusion and no tears later (I was in shock), I was asked to have a myomectomy. This same woman in my family went “I reject it in Jesus name”. This is after she had also rejected a Csection I was advised to have at thirty-six weeks, because “I would give birth like a Hebrew woman”. While she was busy rejecting it, my parents had concluded plans for me to go have it done peacefully. I finally cried. I cried a tanker-full. And I was angry with God for killing my baby. And I hated my husband for getting me pregnant. And I hated myself for not being able to ever carry a pregnancy full term. That was then.
2014 went by in a haze. I have no idea of a lot that happened last year. It was all about one medical thing or the other. I told a few people I was scheduled for surgery in a few months. My OBGYN friend in the UK kept assuring me it was nothing and I would be fine. She also advised me to brave it and have an open surgery. She checked up on me till the very end. Some other friend kept sending me scriptures on divine healing and asked me to try for another baby as “affliction will not rise again”. I just wanted it to be over and done with, and I was still mourning my loss. Finally, I had surgery. It went well. I had post op checks, I was given an all clear. I also got counseling for depression and grief. We decided to put off trying for another baby because we were it emotionally in a good place at all.
I belong to some groups on Facebook. Once, I logged on and visited one of the groups. There was a prayer request from a lady who had difficulties getting pregnant because of fibroids and though her doctor had recommended a myomectomy, she wanted the group to pray for divine healing so she would not need surgery. Ladies dropped prayers and declarations of divine healing, paid advance congratulations for a baby that would arrive in nine months and such like. I simply commented and said if she had been asked to have a myomectomy, she needed to go for one as she didn’t want to deal with the pain and possible loss that Red Degeneration could bring on, if she eventually got pregnant, like it happened to me. Nobody liked my comment save two ladies. And I got lots of messages via inbox berating me for “trying to weaken her faith”. I wasn’t angry, just dazed at what religion is still doing to a lot of us.
I see this a lot. Every other day. My husband pastors a church. We meet a lot of couples with fertility challenges and when we ask what they have done to get help, all we hear is that they are praying and trusting God. No medical intervention. Over and again, the very same story. And I wonder …. Why would God give medical professionals all that wisdom for medical breakthroughs when Christians end up shunning them? Why would some religious leaders, who are Illiterate as far as medical sciences are concerned, interfere in medical issues? Who ever said that taking drugs or availing oneself of medical help is a sin? When did religion become synonymous with ignorance? When did faith become foolishness? I’ve got too many questions and too few answers but I’d take this time out and address Christians, as this is my immediate constituency.
Dear Christians, it’s about time we stopped being ignorant about life. I find that most of us are of no earthly good, just annoyingly heavenly-minded. It really irks me to see how irresponsible we are about almost everything.
– We want to get rich and live the good life but we are not ready to pay the price. All we rely on is a good preaching, scriptures on wealth and hope for miraculous wealth transfer, but how many of us are willing to be diligent enough at our work, disciplined enough to save regularly and watch our money grow, bold enough to take the risk of investing and getting returns and responsible enough to get information or mentoring from financial experts?
– We constantly complain about governance and accuse leaders of “chopping our money” but how many of us pay taxes, vote, run for elective office or get involved in governance at any level? How many even own PVCs? Did you vote this year or were you at home sleeping, doing laundry or being a nuisance on Social Media?
– We keep whining about how “unbelievers” are dominating every sector but how many of us have educated ourselves enough to even venture? How many have taken time to add value through service provision? Have you even successfully grown any business venture to the point where you employ labour AND pay your workers minimum wage or take it a step further by paying your qualified worker a salary that is comparable to what obtains in Corporate Nigeria?
– How many Christians carry out yearly comprehensive medical checks? Do you know your HIV status, blood group, genotype, Body Mass Index (BMI), height and weight? How many times have you proceeded to treat for malaria when you felt feverish, instead of running a test to know exactly what the issue is, before self medicating? Have you ever accused your wife of only giving birth to only girls?
Medicine is a huge blessing. The Holy Bible says that “the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy, but I am come that you may have life, and that, more abundantly”. (John 10:10). When you have fertility challenges and medical science offers you a child through IVF and surrogacy, that is abundant life. When you decide to stop beating yourself over a fertility issue you have no control over, and adopt a child you will love and care for like your very own, that is abundant life. When you are faced with cancer, and medical science offers you chemotherapy, mastectomy and what not, that is abundant life. You can choose to do nothing and die way before your time. When Myomectomy takes the fibroids away so you can live healthy, get pregnant and have children in peace, if that is your goal, that is abundant life. You cannot go through vaginal birth and your doctor recommends a Caesarean Section, that, children of the living God, is abundant life. Don’t even listen to anything contrary. The devil would rather you had no solution at all, but God has provided an option, so when your pastor/prophet/ bishop/evangelist/pope/whatever advices you otherwise, that is criminal. They should tender their medical certifications first AND sign an undertaking to be held responsible if anything goes wrong after you obey them, before you decide to obey them.
I am a Christian. I love God. I trust him. I believe his Word. But I read my Bible in context and with revelation. I totally believe in divine healing; I have testimonies to that effect. I refuse to be ignorant of the provisions that God has blessed me with, including medical science. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that my brain has shut down. I am tired of needless deaths, especially women dying from things that medicine has already provided solutions for. I will continue to read my Bible and also update myself and others with information about everything, medical breakthroughs inclusive, because you see, faith and foolishness are mutually exclusive. If you ever tell me about a fertility challenge, please be sure that I will refer you to a qualified medical person because I am but a bilingual translator cum fashion entrepreneur. I will never support self medication or your going to church when you should clearly be headed in the general direction of the hospital or medical laboratory. Ignorance has ceased to be an excuse, dear Christians. You don’t want to die before your time because of ignorance. Choose life. Take advantage of every solution that God has so graciously provided for you to live your life here on Earth, with ease. Go ahead and explore the endless possibilities that medical intervention offers. Pray for financial provision to be able to access these options. Refuse to die from ignorance … this is a good time to be alive.
– ‘Ama Obi-Chinedu