Beautiful love stories start very simply. Like helping a stranger who later becomes a lover. Our story is very similar. I bumped into an old high school friend at a bank a few years back. After a brief chat we planned to hookup for coffee later that evening.
The rest as they say is history. The lady I met at the bank that day is Anne Kamau, my wife. We have been married for the last 6 years and we continue to live out our love story.
Like any relationship, it has not been easy. I remember when we were getting to know each other, she confided in me that she may never be able to have children because of a condition she had, called PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). At that point, I didn’t even consider what she had just told me because having children or not was not a big deal to me and at that point I hadn’t thought she was going to be my wife. Perhaps it was love that was clouding my judgement, because after all, they say love makes you do and say very foolish things.
After dating for two years, we got married in June 2014.
We both did not want to get children immediately so we settled on getting to know each other first and enjoying each other’s company before kids came. (Well at least that was our plan). While I was enjoying this new status, my wife had something that was apparently bothering her. She was still not sure whether she would be able to conceive. Once in a while she would hint that we should start trying for a child but I would be adamant because we had agreed on how long we will wait. (For those who know me well know that i can be very stubborn if i want to) Slowly Anne began to get depressed and the roughest season in our marriage began.
When I realized that the situation was getting out of hand and my wife really needed to find out if she could conceive for her own peace of mind (read mine), I gave in and we started trying for a baby. In that season I realized why people say “mtoto ni zawadi kutoka kwa Mungu.” (Children are a gift from God). We always assume that it’s the contraceptive that allows you or keeps you from not being able to conceive but alas, I came to realize that conception is one of those things only God, the Giver of life, can do.
Days passed, weeks, months, years yet nothing. All this time my wife was on constant medical attention, moving from one drug to another and yet none of the interventions were working. I too began to get frustrated. I felt helpless – a feeling that is unpopular among men. Nothing I did seemed good enough and this began causing a rift between us because my wife didn’t feel I was according her enough support. I did not know what else to do, considering I always accompanied her to her doctor’s appointments, listened to her when she needed to vent and gave her a shoulder to cry on.
Our house became a warehouse for pregnancy test kits. Anne even felt kits sold locally were substandard and sent a friend in the UK to buy her dozens! The problem with the PCOS condition is that the hormones lie to the body that it is pregnant, hence at times when my wife would do the home test, the kit would show that she is pregnant only for her hopes to be shattered when she goes to the gynae and she is told there was nothing. This happened a number of times. (felt like a million to me considering the kits that were in our house)
At one point, I began wondering if perhaps I was the one who had a problem (not a very common thought among our species). You know we always laugh about the phrase “shooting blanks” but at that point this had stopped being a laughing matter. I started researching about it and looking around to find out if there was any man in my circles who had ever gone for a fertility procedure and what it entailed.
Soon the awesome newlywed sex turned into a chore and I started feeling like an “insufficient” sperm donor. The doctors advise did not help me much as he recommended that we have sex on a schedule. Trust me even though this may have meant more sex it wasn’t as good as it sounds. Woe unto me if I came home late or dared to say I was tired! That would be cause for us to fight for the rest of the month and yes still perform my “rightful duty” nonetheless. She even started doing weird things like keeping her legs up for like 30 minutes after a session to assist the “boys” swim deeper. (There are things we men will never understand 🙂 )
At times things got so bad that we had to get counsel from our best couple, sometimes even as late as 1am. Anne eventually stopped going to church or any social gathering because she didn’t want people asking her why we were ‘keeping them’ and not getting babies. Anytime someone jokingly commented “Mumetuweka sana, mnangojea nini?” (Why are you keeping us waiting), I knew that was the end of that day and the week ahead would be hell.
This went on for months. More tears, more pregnancy tests, more doctors’ visits until the doctor finally made the call. I remember his statement word for word..”I have done everything possible as a doctor to help you guys conceive and now we need to look at other alternatives” He gave us two options; we try IVF (In Vitro Fertilization- an assisted reproductive technology of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish) or we do surgery both of which were still not 100% guarantee.
This was the last nail on the coffin and all our hopes of ever getting children started dimming. We started considering adoption as we researched on the pros and cons of the surgery which we hoped would have better chances for us. We later agreed to try out the procedure and I also decided to go for a fertility test before my wife went for surgery just to be sure that I was not the one with the problem.
To be honest, at this point Anne and I had given up on ever having children of our own and all we could do is pray and wait. I remember coming home from work in December only to find 3 pregnancy kits on our bed all indicating positive – I would know! I had become somewhat an expert pregnancy kit reader. I asked whose pregnancy kits they were as if they could have been someone else’s.
We refrained from getting too excited as we had gone through episodes of false pregnancies a couple (read millions) of times before, so we chose to wait for the holiday season to end and confirm results with the gynae.
We were pregnant! The doctor was possibly more excited about the good news than we were. What a journey! “People often lightly say that the final report is not the doctors, but God’s.” For us these words will remain very dear for ages to come.
Children are a gift from God!
I learnt a few things that I would like to share with you especially if you are in the same place Anne and I were a few years ago:
- Doctors often do everything they can to help, but some situations are beyond human ability. Put your trust in God.
- I know we do it on a light note but asking people “Kwanini mmetuweka?” can be very insensitive because you never know what the couple is going through.
- Men, let us be bold enough to get checked during such times. We may be heaping all the blame on our wives and perhaps we are the cause of the problem.
- During such times we men may never fully understand what our wives are going through but we can offer the best support. Be there, listen and care for her even when you think she is just being petty and unrealistic.