Uju woke up that morning with a grateful heart. She looked lovingly at her husband, Olumide, still snoring gently beside her, his gorgeous body curled in the fetal position he so preferred. She was tempted to snuggle closer and hug him, he was looking so adorable. She silently rose up. She had always been the early riser, which had become an advantage now, with three kids to prepare for school and a five month old that she was still breastfeeding. She smiled at the thought of her lovely daughters but the smile was quickly followed by a grimace at the thought of the theatrics they always put up whenever she had to wake them up for school. The oldest was 5 years and the twins 3, the very age when the thought of dawn did not bring smiles to children. How funny how these same children woke up early to watch cartoons on weekends and holidays, just when the parents need the sleep.
She checked Sophie, her baby. She was still sound asleep. Of all her children, she was the least demanding in feeding, as though she knew the battle that had raged before her conception. Uju unconsciously shuddered as she remembered the emotional trauma she had gone through convincing her husband to try for another baby. They had initially agreed on having just three kids when they got married regardless of the gender. Their decision was based on the evaluation of their income and desire to give each child adequate attention and love. Also to give both parties time to further their careers. She had hoped for a boy when the first child turned out to be a girl, and would not have been so dismayed at the birth of another girl as a second child, but the arrival of female twins marred her last chance at having a boy. Her husband adored the twins, after all, having them was a gift many people hoped for but never got, especially in his Yoruba culture and more so, he hated gender discrimination; knowing how his nine sisters had been deprived of education just so that he could thrive as the main heir of his father. But his uneducated family was not impressed. They wanted a male child. Olumide was the only son of his late father and on him was laid the duty to carry on the family name. All the blame was laid at her feet, and they had begun threatening her with talks of bringing in another wife to fulfill that task. Uju became unsettled. The fact that she was Ibo and they had never really warmed up to her, ever since the full-blown war against the only son marrying from a different tribe had been won by her husband’s insistence that he would marry her and never return to the family. She begged and begged him to reconsider his stand. He was annoyed with her for not trusting him enough to remain faithful to her as a Christian and that there was no assurance that the next child would be male. She quickly goggled new medical methods used to determine the sex of a baby during conception. Olumide finally succumbed only when he got promoted at work with a higher pay and felt they could take the risk of having another child. She had to postpone her Masters which did not seat too well with her husband. Finally she got pregnant and alas! It was a girl. She hung her head in shame. Her husband fumed for weeks and refused to name the child, claiming it was her idea. He even refused to put on the same ceremonial cloth at the naming ceremony as was their tradition. She was only too glad he was even present at the occasion.
Uju snapped back to the present and quickly carried on with the day’s chores. Things were looking up for her now. She would be resuming at the Pan Atlantic University to run her Masters in a month’s time. It was expensive and would surely limit the family budget but it was time to move on with her career. Her husband had gone as far as taking a soft loan to pay for the school fees. She just loved this man. He was willing to invest in her. Thinking of that, made her heart soar.
Towards evening, she began to shiver and experience unusual weakness. She decided to take a little nap, only to wake up feeling nauseous. Within minutes, she was vomiting. She went to the Pharmacist nearby to get anti-malarial tablets , just as she was about turning away from the counter, she sighted a pregnancy kit. Her heart skipped a bit when she remembered that her present symptoms were similar to those she exhibited when pregnant. With a feeling of foreboding she bought the pregnancy kit. She rushed home to use it and behold it was positive. The next day she went for a proper test and was told she was 7 weeks gone. The world came crashing down indeed. Immediately thoughts of abortion came rushing through her mind. Her husband would think she deliberately got pregnant again. If it was a girl, it would only get her in-laws more angry. To kill an innocent baby and face the wrath of God or lose her husband for good, and ruin her chances of furthering her career was like being caught between the proverbial red sea and the devil.
(Piece by Ololade Okedare)
Ololade has a degree in Physiotherapy from Obafemi Awolowo University and is a writer (screen and prose) by profession. She is passionate about women empowerment, family institution, child rights and social justice. She is deep rooted in her Christian faith and has a platform where she mentors young women. She is an alumnus of Orange Academy and currently running her post-graduate programme in media and journalism at the Pan African University. She is married to her beloved Fiyinfolu.