“All I want is that you give me a child. I don’t really care whether it is a boy or a girl. Just… get pregnant.”
“But Bode, why are you being this way? You know I’ve been pregnant before.”
“Yes, I know. Before I married you, even before I met you. And you did not have an abortion, it was a miscarriage. Yes, I have heard those tales more than enough times, Morenikeji! But they are history, past tense. What about now? Ten years into marriage, nothing to show for it!”
“No! Nike, I am not your baby. Get pregnant, give birth. Maybe then you’d actually have someone to call that.”
I watched him storm out of the house, slamming the iron door behind him. This had become the norm in our house. I was grateful that we owned the house and had no neighbors or landlords as witnesses or audience.
There was no point crying. Ten years waiting for the fruit of the womb had taken its toll on my tear glands. In fact, it had taken its toll on everything.
In the early years of our marriage, Bode was the one encouraging me.
“Ife mi, stop worrying. Like the doctor said, that would only make it more difficult to get pregnant. Just relax! Look at uncle Jare and my sister Tope, they waited four years before conceiving. Now, they have four children. God will answer us too.”
He would go on to compliment me on my beauty, intelligence and wife materialness. He would shun the subtle hints from his family and show me off proudly to his friends.
Our doctor, Dr. Kunmbi, had advised about fertile periods, regular, adequate and unprotected sex and prayers. He was once married but lost his wife to a road traffic accident barely nine months into their marriage. He had remained single since then. He understood our desire for children.
In our sixth year of marriage, things had started changing. Bode started getting irritated at my menstrual periods.
“Hope you’ve gotten sanitary pads. You are stained again”
There was no appropriate answer to his questions and no proper response to the attitude he started putting up. One night, my hormones were raging, I needed to be touched. This was expected just before, during and few days after my period. Bode was reading beside me on our king-sized bed.
I moved closer to him, placing my legs over his and playing with his chest hair. I allowed the arm of my night gown slip off and the edge ride up my thighs.
“Nike, you are on, what do you want me to do?”
“Just… touch me now… I know you can take care of me without going all the way…”
“I’ve gone all the way before and you are here pouring it out yet again. Please sleep, I’m busy.”
I did as he said. The next morning, after preparing his breakfast, I took my Toyota Camry to The Heritage Hospital to see Dr. Kunmbi.
“Mrs. Kuforiji, how are you today? You’re here quite early.”
“Doctor, I’m sorry…”
That was all I could muster before the dam of tears held overnight came crashing down. I recounted every instance Bode had been mean to me.
“How is any of this my fault?”
I blew my nose into the roll of tissue Dr. Kunmbi had passed to me.
“I’ve done all the tests, they came out normal. I’ve done procedure after procedure, ovulating drugs upon ovulating drugs… what else?”
“Please stop crying. You’ve been really strong over the years and I am proud of you. I am actually surprised at the change in your husband. If you don’t mind, I can talk to him.”
“No doctor. Thank you. Bode won’t be pleased that I even came to see you today.”
I smiled weakly at him, grateful that my eyes had respected themselves and stopped the tears.
“But Mrs. Kuforiji, why has your husband refused to be tested at our hospital?”
“He gets tested regularly at his friend’s hospital and he has no reason to doubt the results.”
“I understand and I’m not trying to cast shadows on his friend’s hospital. However, a second opinion never hurts anyone.”
I had also wondered at Bode’s insistence on having his Seminal Fluid Analysis done only at Faith&Hope Clinic. There was the good side of it belonging to his friend and being close to Skye bank where he worked. But, what if their laboratory technicians or the likes are not competent? I had discussed it with my younger sister, Tinuke, and she had an even weirder angle.
“What if his friend is helping him doctor the results?”
“What does that mean?”
“I mean, what if Bode actually has issues but his friend has been helping him cover it up?”
“Haba Tinuke! The guy is a pastor now. Besides, remember that Bode already impregnated someone before we got married.”
“Hmmm, you’re right though. But I still find it strange that he would not be tested elsewhere. I mean, couples with similar issues are known to repeat those tests over and over and in different places. I still think he is hiding something.”
When I brought it up with Dr. Kunmbi again earlier this year, just a few weeks after our 10th wedding anniversary, he emphasized what he had told me the first time the issue came up.
“ You need to convince him. Your investigations have all checked out fine. We have given you drugs even though we knew you didn’t exactly need them. The only other factor is your husband’s fertility.”
But I knew my husband; stubborn and difficult to convince.
“I don’t understand you. Do I have a cancer or what’s all this about a second opinion? I have proven my fertility with evidence. My test has been fine. What else do you want?”
“But my tests have been fine too, done in different hospitals by different doctors. All we have for you is from your doctor friend. How am I sure both of you aren’t hiding something?”
“Watch your tongue Morenikeji!!! Just watch it! Are you accusing me of lying? And accusing Dr. Tijani in the process? He is a man of God for crying out loud! Instead of finding out what is wrong with you, you are busy pointing accusing fingers. Please don’t get me started tonight.”
“Okay, I am sorry. I am sorry I doubted you. I just want us to get over this hurdle in our marriage.”
I kept quiet for a while, contemplating if that was the time to bring up the issue of artificial conception again.
“Bode mi, I know you’d make a great father. Hmm, let’s reconsider that in vitro fertilization method Dr. Kunmbi suggested to us. I know it is expensive but I have been saving up and…”
“Enough! Please. Did you hear the women in the Bible getting pregnant that way?”
“But that was then. These methods did not exist during Bible times.”
“And I choose to believe they do not exist even now. And by the way, you have been mentioning this Dr. Kunmbi too much around me. Do you want to marry him too?”
That was when I stopped telling Bode about my visits to The Heritage Hospital. I started going to the state hospital in Akure in addition and that was what he knew.
There was no point seeing Dr. Kunmbi again but he had such listening ears, sympathy and a deep well of encouragement.
And maybe I was attracted to him.