49 year old Mary, who is a lawyer and banker, shared her experience with Punch on the challenges of being married for so long without a child and the support she got from her husband.
"When they told me I was pregnant, I screamed and cried in the hospital and everyone present rose up and gave thanks to the Lord. Since then, the story has been one testimony after another. But that was not all, when I was to put to bed, I was told there might be complications as a result of all the operations I had done. They said that might make it a very difficult and dangerous birth. Yet, the Lord saw me through. It feels great and I thank the Lord for wiping away my tears and making me a mother at last. It is a dream I have had since I married at the age of 27. Now, I am more than 49 years old, it has taken a long time but the Lord has done it for me. I have shed a lot of tears. Our story is like that of Abraham and Sarah. I am already in menopause but I told God that if He did it for Sarah and gave her womb the strength to conceive, then He would give my womb the same strength. Even when doctors in London told me in 2011 that nothing could be done, I knew that it is only Him (the Lord) that could help me. I focussed on the Lord and He did it for me." Unbelievable! Miracles do happen. Continue...
Congratulations on the arrival of your baby 23 years after marriage. Did you ever think it was going to be like this?Before I got married, my view of the marriage institution was that marriage was a sanctuary; a place where a woman could actualise her dream together with her partner. I understood very early that marriage usually gives some form of security and the expectation was that in it, one should blossom, be fruitful and multiply generally as the Bible says. That was basically how I saw marriage in my youthful age because I finally married at the age of 27 and I was still quite young.
In essence, you did not anticipate the challenge of having a baby…No, I didn’t anticipate it, the truth is that as a young child who was brought up by a very strict mother, I saw life as a bit of calculation: a sort of ‘1+1 =2 and 2+2=4.’ So if you get married, you expect that after nine months, as they say, you will have a child or children. My challenge has made me very sensitive to what parents and well wishers normally do at wedding ceremonies. During a wedding, people start talking about gathering again for a naming ceremony after nine months. They say it as a joke but that is the genesis of pressure on married women. So, if yours doesn’t happen after nine months, there is a question mark there and you begin to fret and other problems come in.
Did you have any health challenge when you were growing up that could have delayed your giving birth?Not really, it was much later in life that the health challenge came. I have been a banker since 1987 when I undertook my National Youth Service Corps. I served in a bank as a lawyer. I continued to work in the bank thereafter. Because I ended up in the banking industry, I decided to update myself in everything related to the industry.
During these trying moments in your life, did you feel that somebody somewhere was responsible for your predicament?The truth is that in the whole of the 23 years, I refused to focus on such things. I didn’t worry about who it was, what it was, where it was or how it was. I did not want to get myself involved in what would cause me anguish for the rest of my life.
You are from Cross River State while your husband is from Kogi State. Was there resistance from your parents when you initially wanted to marry Mr. Humphrey Abbah?The way we met each other was very peculiar and our marriage was also peculiar. Our families did not actually affect us. They were not there when we met and when we started courting. Our families were not so involved and when it came to the decision of marriage, we took that decision on our own but involved our families later. My husband is not somebody that you can force to do something which he doesn’t believe in. So, even when we got married, that was already established in his family . When he said this was the young lady he wanted to marry, I don’t think he had too much opposition. If there was any at all, it was very insignificant. The truth is that my father-in-law was a very lovely person; a gentleman who had a lot of respect for his son. By the time we got married, his mother was late and my parents were late too. So, his father was the focal point and the cordial relationship they had made it easy. The rest of my family and the elders gave us a little bit of tough time as you would expect in inter-cultural marriages. But it didn’t take us time to be able to woo them to our side and that was it.
At what stage did you begin to get worried?My first signal was when I was 30 years and three years in my marriage. At first, it didn’t really worry me because as a career person, I felt we should take it in our stride. I was already beginning to make waves in the banking industry and the demands of the job were already telling on me. Also in my innocence, I didn’t really feel it was an issue. But by the time I was 30 and nothing had happened, I asked myself, ‘what’s going on here?’ Then I began to be conscious of it and started making deliberate efforts to get pregnant. Before this time, there was no real effort. When the pregnancy was not forthcoming, I began to suspect that there was a real problem. But as usual, I went to the doctors, they said there was no problem and suggested that I should give myself time because I was a busy lady. But after about a year, I went back and they gave me one or two interpretations as to what could be wrong and we started tackling it from there and it came to the point that by 2011, the doctors were saying nothing could be done.
Read the full interview on PunchWhich was your first point of call, church or hospital?By 1991 when we got married, we became born again and the church had become a focal point and integral part of our lives. We were praying and fasting; good relationship with the leadership of the church had become part of our daily lives and so the church was always there for us. The church was never against consulting orthodox doctors. The only no-go area for us was to seek help outside God. So I think that was why very early in the journey of this crisis, we knew that anything outside God was not an alternative to take at all.