By Carol Ariba
She starts to talk, then suddenly stops; swallows a big lamp, takes in a deep breath and tries to talk again, but stops.
Her lips start to quiver. She rocks her legs and makes an attempt to speak, but instead, a tear rolls down her eye.
“My…my…,” she manages to whisper, amid tears. Biting on her lower lip, she tries to control her emotion and then looks to the ceiling as if to gather her calm.
“My daughter… my little girl, might not have chil… chil… children!” she stammers, as a stream of tears flows down her face. Everything stops; she pulls out a handkerchief and blows her nose, completely overwhelmed by emotion, she cries herself to silence. Her facial expression defines a mother’s agony. Her eyes are exhausted.
But who can blame her, she only learnt recently that her daughter — her sweet and kind teenage baby — might not be able to have babies of her own, not naturally at least.
“Can you imagine — no babies — not even one, in this society where childless women are tortured!” she wonders in a hushed tone as a fresh string of tears fill up her eyes.
Mary (not real name), a rather jolly lady was not like this. Everything was fine, or so she thought until a few weeks ago when she got devastating news.
Her 16-year-old daughter walked up to her, scared that she was not getting her period, yet she had painful cramps every month.
“When she was about 12 years old, she had a spotting (light bleeding), but that was all,” she says. Worried, Mary took her daughter to a gynaecologist.
She was started on hormonal pills, which the doctor said would help. However, she still did not get her period.
“Recently, I decided to take her to hospital for a check-up and scan,” she says, breaking down afresh.
This time, the tears are heavier; it is obvious the events of the day were playing in her head. “As soon as my daughter was scanned, the doctor came out and asked who the mother of the girl was. He looked so worried,” she says.
He told Mary that her daughter had an under-developed uterus and to make matters worse, she also had no ovaries! “I…. I, wa…watch Nigerian movies, I see what society does to women without children. They are accused of having aborted and are called time wasters,” she cries.
Her biggest fear is that she will not always be around to defend her daughter, who is a girl of few words. “My girl is good, she always tells me….”
Her voice fades off again, “she te...tells me, mummy I love you,” she manages to say, amid sobs and nose blowing.
“I do not want people to think she is a bad girl, she is a good child. Last Christmas, I had to beg her to join her friends for their teenage gatherings, but she did not want to,” Mary cries.
Sadly, her daughter learned of the truth, but because she is a girl of few words, she just keeps quiet and that worries her mother even more.
“I know she doesn’t want to stress me because I am a single mother. Can you imagine she once told me not to worry that she would take care of her little brother after university?” she cries even more, as she says this.
At this point, heads are turning and emotions are high. I realise Mary needs help, and she obviously needs someone to share this pain with.
“I wonder if I should tell her father, but how will he take it?”
She further explains that the doctor said the condition could have been genetic, though she was not sure on which parent’s side it could have emanated.
She then takes out a copy of the scan, which shows a uterus dimension of 35x16x6mm, and then starts to shake her head. “I want my baby girl to choose not to have children, but not to have nature dictate that. It is not fair!” she exclaims in a hushed tone.
“To make matters worse, a doctor client of mine told me not to waste my money, that such conditions are irreversible. She told me to keep my money and start preparing my daughter for the life ahead, because apparently, she knew someone with the same condition who had tried everything possible in vain,” she says.
However, despite the doctor’s advice, she promises to work twice as hard, open her small saloon much earlier and leave much later, just to raise the doctor’s fees.
As a mother, she hopes that maybe, somewhere, somehow, just maybe, there will be a ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel.
“God, please God, have mercy on my child,” she begs while staring into space with a tearstained face.
What causes absence of uterus and ovaries?