“How far will you go to have a child?”
Her cousin, Nnenna, turned from the movie they were watching to look at her. “Obi, I have a child.” She said, her voice quiet. “Is something wrong? Why did you ask that question?”
“I don’t have a child. I probably will never have a child. That’s what is wrong.”
“Don’t say that. Of course you will have a child. It has not happened yet, but it will definitely happen.”
She sounded so certain. “Eze finally agreed that we go see a gynaecologist.”
“That is good. When are you going?”
“We have gone. We’ve seen one.” Obiajulu paused, and then said it. “He’s the problem. His sperm count is too low. Even with treatment, the doctor doubts we could ever conceive.”
“Oh my God! Obi, I’m so sorry.” Nnenna reached out and hugged her. “I am so, so sorry. This is so heartbreaking. But I want you to know doctors don’t have the final word. God does. He makes a way where there is no way. His word says there’s none barren in the land.”
“I’m not barren. My husband has low sperm count.”
She made a sound like she bit back a laugh. “Oh Nnenna, barren includes the man. It includes everything. With God, no one, and nothing, is fruitless. I know this is sad and depressing, but I believe it will work out. I believe a miracle can happen.”
A miracle. How? When?
“Besides, there’s IVF. I know it’s expensive and not easily affordable, but we can all rally around and come up with something.”
“It wouldn’t be Eze’s sperm.”
“I know. But people use donor sperm and at the end, the baby is theirs.”
“Eze objects to it. He doesn’t want us using donor sperm even if somehow we can afford IVF.”
For a moment, Nnenna was speechless. “But it’s probably the only way you two can have children.”
“I thought you said a miracle from God is another way.” Obi said with half a smile.
“IVF is a miracle provided by God. Obi,” she took my hand, squeezed it. “You have to talk to him. He’s just being a man. You know how they think every questions their masculinity. Let him know this is like adoption, only better, because the child is actually yours. One of yours.”
“He objects to adoption too.”
“What? But why?”
Why? Well, because he was Eze Udenta and possessed a narrow-minded view of everything.
“I don’t know why.” Obiajulu said aloud. “I suppose that’s just the way he is.”
“It’s not right. We can’t be close-minded in situations like this. There’s nothing wrong with using donor sperm. Nobody will know if you don’t tell them.”
“I know. I don’t mind if we use one. But he doesn’t want to and there’s nothing I can do. Nothing, Nnenna.” Obiajulu felt so sad. “I never thought I would never have a child of my own. I mean, children are not the primary, or even secondary reason I married Eze. But you just think it’s going to happen. You have this unspoken belief that it’s going to happen. Someday, one way or the other.”
“It will happen. I believe that. You and Eze will have children of your own. Don’t lose hope.”
“I think I lost hope after seeing the doctor and Eze made his stand clear.” Obiajulu murmured, then let out a sigh. “Anyway, that’s life. I can leave without a child if I have to. It’s the glum he’s now buried in that bothers me.”
“He doesn’t want to adopt, doesn’t want to use a donor sperm and he’s gloomy? Isn’t that just like a man, compounding issues and crying wolf.” Nnenna made a derisive noise.
“Do you think I should leave him?” It surprised Obiajulu that she asked the question, that she was considering it.
“Of course I don’t think you should leave him. Are you thinking of leaving him?”
“No, I don’t think I am. I don’t know why I asked the question. I guess I’m tired.”
“I understand. It’s hard. But it will be fine. You two will be fine.”
Obiajulu wondered if they will be. Before he’d left on his official trip yesterday, they’d barely spoken to each other. It hurt her that he isolated himself from her as if he blamed her for his problem. Or, as if he didn’t think he could share his pain with her.
“Does his family know?”
Nnenna’s question brought her back. “Yes, they do. I mean his parents know. I don’t know if anyone else does. You’re the first I’m telling in the family, by the way, and I’d like you to keep it to yourself. I’m not ready to make it a big family issue yet.”
“You know my mouth’s sealed, if you want it to be.” Nnenna said. “But it’s good his parents know; takes away any pressure from their side.”
“It doesn’t.” Since she was confiding, she would go all the way, Obiajulu decided. “His mother suggested I go out and get pregnant.”
“Go out and get pregnant.” Nnenna looked genuinely confused. “I don’t understand.”
“She wants me to sleep with another man, get pregnant and bring the pregnancy home.”
“Jesus! God forbid!”
“She told me to think about it.”
“What? And are you thinking about it?” Nnenna gaped at her. “Obiajulu, tell me you are not considering this insane and horribly wrong idea?”
“I don’t know if I am, Nnenna.” Obiajulu confessed. “It’s abominable but…”
“There’s no but. It’s abominable, end of it. My God! I can’t believe Eze’s mother can suggest such an atrocious thing. Is she crazy or something? Or, is she testing you? Trying to see what ‘their wife’ will do now?”
“I don’t think it’s a test. She’s serious. She said it’s not unheard of. That people do it.”
Nnenna hissed. “Then she must be mad. I know she’s your mother-in-law, but she’s mad.”
“Maybe she’s just desperate.”
“If she’s desperate, let her convince her son to either accept the idea of adoption or using a sperm donor. Nonsense!” Obviously annoyed, Nnenna hissed again. “You are not doing it, Obi. Forget it. It’s not going to happen. You hear me?”
Obiajulu heard her, but she wondered now if she could stay in a marriage without a child and an unhappy husband.