It takes a lot of courage to talk about your infertility issues if you’re a woman in this part of the world, and the trio of Yewande Zaccheus, Laurie Idahosa and Nneka Kyari are exhibiting just how courageous they are in the latest issue of ThisDay style.
Having fought and won their individual battles with infertility, the three women share their stories in a no-holds-barred interview.
See some excerpts from their interviews with the weekly publication below!
TDS: Most of the inspiration for your book – Breaking Through The Haze, came from your own experience with infertility. Can you tell me a little bit about your own infertility story?
My challenge with Infertility was unexpected. When my husband and I got married, we never thought that we would ever have to battle with infertility because I was young and undefiled. But a few months into our marriage, though, my husband thought I must already be pregnant because I hadn’t seen my period for a while. However, I naively explained that I wasn’t pregnant and that it was just that my cycle is was irregular; I didn’t menstruate every month (amenorrhea). It had been like this since I was a teenager and it grew more and more irregular occurring several months apart, if at all. As ludicrous as it may sound, I had never considered it to be a sign of infertility. But my husband immediately realized that something was wrong and suggested we visit a doctor for advice. That was the first step on my journey to overcoming infertility. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is a disease that affects a woman’s hormone levels, periods, ovulation and more. It is referred to as a syndrome because it encompasses a wide variety of signs and symptoms. In fact, there are so many symptoms that two women with the disease can exhibit completely different symptoms from each other. Now, what is interesting about PCOS is that medical science has not yet established its cause. Some doctors think it is genetic, while some think it is caused by too much insulin in the body. Others blame even environmental factors. We visited many hospitals and saw several specialists but for some reason, I just wasn’t responding to any treatment. Several months grew into years of frustrations, dashed hopes, endless tears, countless drugs and treatments, and major disappointments with absolutely no results to show for it. It finally dawned on me that I may be doing something wrong. I was putting the cart before the horse. So I decided that it was time to face this battle and give it the focus it required. I uncluttered my life from endless activities and split – focus, then I realized that there is only ONE who knows it all and can see beyond the limitations of Doctors to the real underlying reasons behind my challenges. So I returned to God. I plunged deep into an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit because there is a difference between knowing of God and knowing God intimately. Once my relationship with the Holy Spirit was sound, I was able to follow His leading step by step into victory. Today, I have two children. A girl and a boy. The PCOS is completely reversed. I menstruate every month and I can have as many children as I desire. Being unable to conceive, for whatever reason, is just a symptom. Find out the underlying cause of the symptom, beat it, and you will have as many children as you desire.
How did the idea for God’s Waiting Room (her book)come about?
I got married in 1989 and had my first child Teniola exactly 9 months later. However I had to wait for 9 long years before my daughter Iretidayo arrived. My condition was called “unexplained secondary infertility”. The time of waiting for my second child was a most frustrating, painful, depressing and anxiety filled experience. It was during that time of waiting that I promised God that if He ever did give me a second child I would write a book to encourage women who were going through same experience and help to give them strength and courage for their time in God’s Waiting Room. The first book was published in 2005 and Book 4 was published earlier this month.
You went past your waiting experience years ago. What kept you so passionate about the topic that saw you going ahead to write four books on it?
My son is now 25 years old and my daughter 16, so indeed my waiting experience was quite a while ago. However, after writing the first book and seeing the positive impact it had in the lives of waiting couples, I realized it wasn’t a one-off assignment and it really just became a responsibility. I am truly passionate about and totally committed to helping people who are undergoing this difficult experience.
What was your experience like and how did you cope with it at the time?
I was fortunate that I did have one child and my husband Teni was very supportive. In fact he pretended he was quite happy with the one child just to take the pressure off me! However the desire for a child can totally consume your life if you are not careful. The cycle of raised hope and crushing disappointment month after month is an emotional roller coaster. The frustration when medical experts say there is nothing wrong with you or your husband yet you are unable to conceive can drive you crazy. This situation brought me much closer to God and He has turned it around by using the experience and these books that have come out of it to encourage other women going through this challenge. My coping mechanism essentially was to turn fully to God and then to get on with my life confident that there were many other facets of my life that were just as important and should not suffer for want of another child.
Rev. Laurie Idahosa
In this part of the world, women more often than not take the blame for childlessness in marriage! How did your husband take the news that he was also infertile?
When we were told shortly after marriage that there was only a .01 % chance of us having children naturally, we never blamed ourselves. We were shocked and disappointed with the situation because it wasn’t something we foresaw. Being married to the only son of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa was an added pressure on me because everyone expected me to give the Idahosa family an heir. I learned very quickly that in the African culture, nobody would look at him, but instead all eyes would be on me and my belly. Our infertility challenges were with both of us. Mine included PCOS, a blocked tube, severe endometriosis and an inverted uterus while his was male-factor infertility. However, we didn’t feel insecure or inadequate but decided to see it as an opportunity for God to create a miracle, just as He had done for my husband’s parents in the 1970’s, when they didn’t have children immediately. So my husband kept declaring in faith that God would give us our children. The truth is, neither of us would have known what the issues were if we had not undergone diagnostic testing. We were blessed to have had the resources to find out what the challenges were. We strongly felt that God could handle the case and miraculously He did. Our story is long and emotionally charged, but the shortened version is that we are now blessed with three naturally conceived boys. They are 7, 4 and 3 years old.
Was it something you both were willing to share with both family and friends at the time? If yes, how did they receive the news?
We kept it very quiet within a small circle of people we could trust. We did inform my parents, his mother and a few close friends. We did not share details of our journey until it became a testimony. I even went as far as to using a fake name for myself in the online support groups that I belonged to. We wanted to remain private, however, when God stepped in and we had our children, we felt compelled to share this remarkable miracle with the world and encourage couples to have faith to believe in the impossible.
IVF can be a very complicated process between timing, drugs, and ultrasounds… How did you stay sane?
We are both very meticulous and detailed people. Feb kept an eye on the timing for the injections, even going as far as using an app on his phone to ensure that I received the treatments on time. It also helped that during the treatment cycles we were not working a daily 9-5 job. We live and work in Nigeria at Benson Idahosa University and the treatments were done in the US. We were blessed to have the freedom to be on a medical vacation whenever the treatments were happening. We stayed sane because we took on the project together. When you lost your first child, did you give up the thought of trying again? Absolutely not! Sadly we saw the child die despite the best efforts of the doctors. We were given time to mourn our child after a ‘time of death’ had been called and with all the pain and the tears that flowed, my husband and I knew in our hearts that we were already parents. I wanted to try for another baby right away but it was not possible at the time as I had undergone a C-section and we were advised against going into an IVF treatment so soon. We came back to Nigeria after this and immediately started putting our efforts into a women and children’s hospital in Benin City called “Big Ben Children’s hospital” in memory of our first son. While we were working, God gave us a natural pregnancy without the aid of Assisted Reproduction or IVF. That pregnancy resulted in a baby boy who is now seven years old. We had two subsequent natural pregnancies after that and those boys are now 4 and 3 years old.
Read the rest of the interviews here
Photography: TY Bello
Styling: Yolanda Okereke
Makeup: Yewande – Bimpe Onakoya| Laurie– Jennifer Alegieuno | Nneka – @meekness
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