CONFESSION: I Never Knew I Will Carry My Own Baby - Woman
• After having her first child at 52, midwife speaks on the agony of seeking a child for 19 years
In March 1994, it was jubilation galore, as Kate Odondiri, a lady from Alebiri in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, got married to Pastor Dokubufei Hezekiah Fezigha from Korokosei in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state. They were married at the Deeper Life Bible Church in Alebiri.
Naturally, what preoccupied their minds after the wedding was preparation for their first baby. During courtship, Pastor Fezigha had told his would-be wife that he would want two children but his wife said she wanted four. Little did they know that they would have to wait for a long while to even have any.
In 1995, when she was yet to conceive, she was not agitated. But she started getting worried when, in 1996, there was no sign of pregnancy.
The 52-year-old public health nurse, in an interview with Daily Sun at their house, narrated her pains and joy to the reporter. “Normally, in every marriage, the expectation is that in the first year, you would have a baby. For me, after the marriage in March, the expectation was that by December or January, 1995, I should be with a baby.
However, in 1994, I did not conceive, in 1995 nothing happened. In 1996, I became worried and people around us also became worried. People suggested that we should go for a medical check-up. As a nurse, I decided to see one or two gynaecologists and they discovered a little problem, relating to one of the fallopian tubes that was blocked. It was just one and we started the treatment.
And in another hospital at Owerri, they did what a layman would call flushing of the other fallopian tube. But since that was the problem, I was not bothered because I know that as a nurse, with one fallopian tube, you can conceive.”
According to her, she was advised to come with her husband and after she had completed her treatment and her husband was subjected to series of tests and nothing was found to be wrong with him, the couple was eager to see the signs of pregnancy. However, the signs were nowhere to be found. And as the years rolled by, anxiety and frustration enveloped Mrs. Kate Fezigha.
According to her: “After five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, then 15 years passed and there was nothing, I now told my husband that we should stop going anywhere to subject ourselves to embarrassing procedures and save the little money we have to take care of ourselves.
But my husband was always encouraging me to understand that God would give us children. He told me that before he knew and married me, God had assured him in the ministry that he would marry somebody and that we would have children of our own. My husband was always assuring me that God would not make a mistake, that God had spoken and He would do it.”
“At a time when the pressure became so much, I suggested to my husband that we should adopt a child. I told him that since we had one house and land somewhere, let us also adopt and have a baby so that when we pass on, the baby can bear his name. My husband rejected the idea.
He quoted the scriptures where God affirmed to Abraham that Ishmael was not his heir but that Sarah would bear him a child. He said God would give us a child.”
Even though her husband and sister-in-law rejected the adoption option, Mrs. Fezigha was prevailed upon by her friends to give it a try. She got the shock of her life when she was asked to pay N50, 000 to adopt a child. She paid the money but even after that, she got no child.
Embarrassed by the development, she decided to keep the thing to herself. She did not press charges against the coordinator of the orphanage.
“My friends advised me that in many instances, where husbands did not agree to adopt, the wife would go ahead and get the child and that the husband would eventually accept. I tried that method but I was duped. My husband pitied me and told me that I would now rest since I had been swindled. It was after that adoption saga that I made up my mind that I wouldn’t die if I didn’t have a child. That was how we were living until last year 2012.”
In 2012, a miracle happened in the form of a mysterious illness. By the end of 2011, Mrs. Fezigha, being a nurse, started noticing changes in her menstrual cycle, giving her the indication that menopause was fast approaching. Then early last year, she had epileptic menstruation.
But in July, she had a heavy flow of blood and that fuelled her concern that she might be having some form of cancer. She discussed it with her husband and he immediately denounced it.
“Around October, I was feeling sick and I decided to move my annual leave forward from December to October so that I could go and take care of myself. But somehow, the person I was to hand over to had not reported. So, I continued going to work, even when the leave had been approved.
I was still working until the flood sacked our hospital and I had to come to Yenagoa. I had bouts of malaria and typhoid, HBP and more. Some people even suggested that, perhaps, I had been poisoned. This was the situation until a friend of mine and a member of our church, Deeper Life, in Botswana called me.
She knew I was sick in October and when she called me during our annual December retreat and I told her I was still not feeling fine, she expressed surprise. In January, during the leadership strategic conference of all Deeper Life leaders all over the world in Lagos, she did not see me and my husband told her I was still sick. So, she called me.
She told me that as a nurse, I should take care of myself. She made enquiries from me on the nature of the sickness and when I told her that I couldn’t really place my hands on what was wrong with me, she told me to go and do a pregnancy test. She reminded me of the testimony of another pastor’s wife in Deeper Life, who had a similar experience.
“She kept on reminding me but I did not see the need. After the congress, she stayed back for two more weeks. During that period, she insisted that I should do the test. She even said if I didn’t want to go to the hospital to do it, I could buy the test kit and do it at home. She mounted pressure and by the end of January, my husband bought the kit and when I did it, it was positive.
“I expressed surprise. But a thought came that as medical personnel, there are false positive and negative results. I recollected in my mind the menstrual cycle I had gone through preceding the sickness in October.
When I told my husband, he said he was convinced that it was pregnancy. During my sickness, I had done a scan and the doctor said he saw something like fibroid or ovarian cyst. I told him that it could be the latter and not the former because I had never had it before.
“In February, when we decided to repeat the scan, the doctor looked at my face and asked to know how many children I had since I got married but I told him that I didn’t have any children. He began to congratulate me and thank God. Somehow I was quiet and I asked him if truly it was pregnancy. He answered in the affirmative and tears of joy streamed down from my eyes.
He advised me to go and register for antenatal care. I told him that we should wait a while but he told me that the earlier I registered, the better because of my age. He sent for my husband and advised him not to allow me do any strenuous work at home.”
By the time she registered at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) where she eventually put to bed, the story of her pregnancy had gone round the hospital and her fellow nurses trooped to the office of the matron where they began to thank God. During her pregnancy, she was admitted twice for a period of one month until June 3, 2013 when her bundle of joy, named Prudence, was born into the world.
So, how was it during the 19 years of her childlessness? Mrs. Fezigha said she remained committed to her work as a midwife, taking special interest in pregnant women and praying to God silently to give her a child.
She explained better: “It has not been easy – a midwife delivering other people’s children and you don’t have children of your own. But one thing is that, I so much cherish children and pregnant women. I did nursing first, then midwifery before I trained in public health.
I just found out that I have interest in delivering babies. In all hospitals that I have worked, I don’t play with pregnant women. I go the extra mile for any pregnant woman. If a woman is in labour, I would not sleep whether it is my shift or not. I would ensure the woman is delivered safely. With this passion for children – and I didn’t have any child – I was telling God, making reference to Egyptian midwives in the Bible, who refused to kill children of the Israelites and were honoured by God. As a Christian, I tried not to allow it to bother me. But I was telling God that since I am an instrument in his hands, he should give me my own child.”
Mrs. Fezigha said her greatest pain was to see her nieces and nephews whom she raised as babies now having children of their own while she had none. She was full of praises for her husband for standing by her throughout their period of childlessness.
She advised couples, going through similar experience to trust and believe in God, saying He would surely remember them like he did to her family.
“My advice to childless couples that are not Christians is that they should believe in Christ and accept Jesus as their Lord and personal saviour. Because it is only God that can do this; no human can.
If they are passing through this challenge and they are not believers they should accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and commit their lives unto him so that he could remember them.
“For the Christians, they should hold on to God. It is a period of trial. My counsel to all believers is that God is faithful and bigger than our problems. Since He has promised to do it, He will do it.
“A lot of people tried to persuade me to go and see some herbalists. My uncle came severally and tried to force me to go somewhere. Even some Christians advised us likewise but we did not go anywhere until God did it.”