You have listened to Whitney Houston sing her rendition of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m every woman’. You have watched the video where she dances with her belly showing the promise of life. You’ve believed that you too are every woman, just like she is.
You are young and you believe that when the time comes. When the time is right, you too will carry your baby inside of you and after nine months, you will get the chance to carry your baby in your arms. It will fill your life with joy and you will love it and care for it, and take on motherhood like a second skin.
Years pass by. You finish school, you join college, you get into your career. You however do not forget to date and lucky for you, you find someone who you believe fits into your future. Someone you love. A heartthrob of a Romeo who is head over heels in love with you. You get married (naturally)
You are a wife now. Your life is panning out quite well. Your parents are proud of their ‘little girl’. They wonder how you grew up so fast! How you were just a baby the other day. How you are about to start giving them granchildren.
You are ready for a baby. A talk with Romeo and you both agree that indeed it is time to end the terrible two’s that you have become. That it is time for you to add a small pair of pattering feet into your home.
You stop your Depo-Provera shots or stop taking your contraceptive pills, or arrange to have your IUD coil extracted. Knowing that that is not all there is to having a baby, both of you commit to your baby making sessions, and none of you is complaining about these sessions – which is always a good thing.
You are hoping that anytime soon, your breasts will have a slight swell and become sensitive to the touch. That anytime soon, morning sickness will introduce herself to you when frying eggs reach your nostrils and you have to rush to the bathroom to throw up. Anytime soon, your periods will tend to delay and delay much longer, and eventually not bother to show up.
You are waiting for this tell-tale signs of pregnancy so that you can run to the chemist and get a pregnancy testing kit to confirm the good news of your pregnancy. You even prepare a surprise on how you will break it to your partner.
You are a creative person, you have several ways planned on how you will do it. A ‘baby on board’ sticker on your tummy to be revealed to him when you get ready for bed? Pink and blue balloons littering your home written ‘Welcome home Daddy” to welcome him at the doorstep when he gets home from work? Maybe you can present him with a t-shirt. Clueless he will think that you just went out on a whim and bought him a t-shirt, so he might toss it aside. You might have to convince him to look at the writing on the t-shirt which will read “Daddy-to-be”
You decide that when the time comes, you will know which of these special ways to use. But now you wait. For a sign. Any sign of pregnancy.
It is not forthcoming.
You are disappointed. Crushed. The neighbors have no manners and keep asking you when baby is coming. But you don’t care about them. They should mind their own business. You stick to minding yours. It is when your mother in law joins the neighborhood bandwagon that it really bothers you. She does it casually, throwing in ‘baby’ and ‘granchild’ in a long sentence as if it means nothing. Only it does. Only you know the weight carried by her words. She wants a grandchild. You should get pregnant. You need to give them a baby.
How do you tell her that you want that too more than anything in the world? How do you keep a straight face enough to explain to her that your body cannot be willed to do what it isn’t ready to do? How do you make her see the desire that slowly turns to anguish in your heart?
How do you explain to her that you cannot stop thinking about it every single day? That you see small feet running around and that your biggest wish right now is that your womb would listen to you and bring forth a pair (just one pair is all you ask for) of such small feet to call your own?
You’ve been to hospitals. Your husband has undergone tests. You’ve undergone tests. You’ve done every test in the book that the doctors have asked you to. It has cost you money, money you don’t mind spending because you just want your bundle of joy. You are a woman damnit; the universe owes you a bundle of joy!
You ask yourself questions that you cannot answer. Questions that no person can answer either. You torture yourself. You ask yourself if you really are a woman. You are tempted to believe that yours is the fake version of womanhood, not the original (as if there is such a thing!). Now you cannot stand to listen to Whitney’s song anymore? What’s the point you say?
I am compelled to ask you to snap out of it. To remind you that womanhood is not a title bestowed on those who bear children. That though you might not carry a child inside you for nine months, you can still be a mum to a child who needs a mother. I need to remind you that even though your womb lets you down, your spouse should not. He should still respect you and love you and care for you. Nothing less. Because you, are nothing less of a woman.
No silly, you’re every bit a woman!