Me barren? No way!
I am not sure of how or when my health issues began. I left home at age 9 to live with and assist a relative look after her new baby. The arrangement was meant to be temporary, but it did not work out that way. My uncle was harsh! I was forced to withdraw into a reclusive shell where books were my only source of joy and I read everything I could lay my hands on. My relatives had a well-stocked library and I would read for hours. I also became a member of the local library.
It was during my stay here that puberty arrived and I started menstruating. The atmosphere at home was not encouraging to discussions about such matters, so I kept it to myself and looked for information in books. My first period was very painful. I used to cry silently when alone, pretending to be all right when my uncle was around. I received a lot of abuse because I was accused of feigning laziness to avoid housework. Keeping my periods secret meant I had to find a way to take care of my personal hygiene. Obviously, my methods were not always the most hygienic.
I left that home in my early teens to go to boarding school. I had finally summoned up courage to let my father know I was being abused and would not want to continue living with my uncle and his family. I was probably the only school student happy to resume school that September.
However, school presented another set of challenges because the toilets were not clean. It was not long before I started to itch in places I was too shy to discuss with anyone. Though the itching eventually stopped, it returned a few months later with accompanying pain, which I would grit my teeth and bear. Very shy and timid, I became an expert at hiding pain. I’d been made to believe I was ugly and the presence of all the beautiful and carefree girls intimidated me thus, I could not tell any of my friends of my pain. When it eventually became unbearable, I went to the school nurse, who referred me to the hospital. I was treated and sent back to school. Months later, the symptoms returned worse than before. The drug I was given caused long-standing vomiting and nausea, I threw it away when I reached my limit. I became an expert at ignoring the symptoms until I felt like I was okay.
12 years later, at age 26, I fell in love with Dennis Oghenekaro while working as a journalist in my nation’s capital. When the question of marriage came up, my health issues returned with a ferocity that took my breath away. I would vomit, lose my appetite, develop a fever and go through the most excruciating pain I’d ever felt. The pain literally took my breath away; unlike the past, it did not stop after the first few days, but continued even after the bleeding stopped. I quickly consulted a doctor friend, who referred me for more tests, suspecting ovarian cysts that would require surgical removal.
Though I did not desire surgery, I balked at the thought of living with pain for the rest of my life. After a lot of thought, and my fiancé’s support, I had successful surgery in August 1993. However, I received terrible news at my post-surgery checkup. Originally, I was told only a quarter of my ovary would be removed and my chances of childbearing would remain fine. Now, I learned the surgeons found my right ovary worse than the left; consequently, they had to remove three-quarters of the right ovary and half of the left. I was devastated that my chances of childbearing were suddenly not looking so good.
My fiancé Dennis, however, dismissed this news, replying that the doctors were not God. His reaction gave me hope and courage, so I sought a second opinion with a highly respected gynecologist who had helped countless women. However, he declared my chances of having children “very low.”
By this time, I had decided to put my hope in the Lord Jesus Christ and trust His ability to heal me, so I refused to accept his verdict. However, I continued to see the doctors and take the drugs that had become my constant companion. A month after the surgery I had my first period, and the pain was bearable; I was very happy. Three weeks later, I had another period, and this time the pain was straight from hell! I ran to the hospital in fear and when the doctor examined me, he said they would have to open me again. This time I refused, and the pain continued. I would have about two weeks pain free, then it would resume with bleeding. Each subsequent period was heavier and more painful than the last, causing me to pass out from pain and loss of blood. The worst part this time, however, was that the doctors could no longer be certain at the source of the pain.
We got married and started trying to have a baby, and I started decorating the nursery with boy things because I wanted a boy as my first child. Eventually, I had a period that was light and painless, so I ran to my doctor to tell him I was pregnant. He shook his head in exasperation, telling me to stop nurturing false hopes. It was not the first time this had happened, but this time I felt different. I begged him to conduct a pregnancy test, but he refused, instead doing a scan. He told me there was a blob of blood that looked like an improperly formed placenta that would wash away with menstrual bleeding. I told him that blob of blood was my first son. He was an experienced doctor and I was an inexperienced Christian, but I believed with all my heart I was going to have a son. Sure enough, nine months later, I delivered a 7.4 lb. boy.
I went on to have four more kids over a 10-year period. My children grew accustomed to seeing their daddy carry me into the car every few weeks and rush me to the hospital. I would bleed so heavily that I would pass out.
The pain would paralyze my right side, causing me to move slowly, as I dragged my lifeless leg behind me. I was a real mess! Eventually, after every possible diagnosis under the African sun, I was advised to remove the uterus.
When I had my hysterectomy in August 2007, the surgeon brought out the uterus and held it up, wondering how I was able to have five kids with such a bag! I told him I serve a God who makes beauty out of ashes and who gives life to the dead and calls those things that are not as though they were!
I still cannot get used to my testimony; my two oldest kids are in the university and the others are in high school and elementary school. Today, I encourage people to believe in the power of God to save, heal, and deliver. I still do not know for sure the cause of all the problems I had, but whenever I look at my kids and I recall my former pain and suffering, I cannot help but give God praise!
Elsie is a professional writer and can be reached at [email protected]