One would have thought that with a degree, she was conversant with matters family planning. She was, but they did not know her story.
Elishiba was twenty eight, a college tutor in a private institution living with a thirty year old electronics sales agent. There were plans to get married some time in the future. But money was scarce.
Then an unexpected turn of events happened. While she thought she had malaria, the doctor gave her different news. She was pregnant.
“We had agreed to give it a year Shie, what happened?” Her boyfriend asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I always take the pills as instructed.” Elishiba replied, unsure whether to be excited or disappointed at the realization that they would have a child at that time when both were pursuing further studies and money to cater for the little human being would be inadequate. It was definitely bad timing.
Bedan sat next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“We have no choice but to accept it. We will be parents nine months to come so we better start preparing.” He said.
“How? I have two more semesters to finish my studies, you have to sell electronics to earn a living since you haven’t found a decent job that suits your educational background! How will a baby fit in, in all these?” Elishiba asked, frantic and flustered.
“You will have to defer your studies.” Bedan recommended.
“Me? Why not you? Defer yours, I will not.” She retorted.
An argument ensued afterwards. Elishiba would not accept that her dream to achieve a Masters by thirty would not go through. She was determined to continue pursuing her studies, pregnant or not.
Yet the unborn baby had other plans for stubborn mummy. It was like father and child were conniving to kick mother out of school.
She was in class teaching, when a bout of nausea attacked her. She tried to ignore it but it grew more forceful. She could not hold it anymore. Right there, in front of students who held her with high esteem, Elishiba spewed all her breakfast eatings. It was humiliating to say the least. The college director was not merciful either. He sent her packing for gross misconduct.
Elishiba had to take long bed rests while her partner struggled to make ends meet. He too had to put his studies to a halt.
Fortunately, friends sympathised with her and so offered help . Even though she could no longer complete her studies, she was happy that they never lacked a plate of food everyday.
The baby finally came. Elishiba was determined to be great at being a mother. She attended clinics faithfully. Even the sixth week clinic meant for the mother, she did go. She listened as the doctor lectured her on the various types of family planning methods. She went home after having a contraceptive implant that would be effective for five years, just how she wanted.
Parenting is not easy for many first time parents and this was the case for Elishiba and Bedan. Moreover the child was colic. It was hard trying to overcome the financial problems they had on top of this. The two parents barely had time for each other and when they did, it would be a quickie done in haste , more like a duty towards each other.
Then Elishiba started to feel sick. Bouts of nausea and vomiting begun to attack her. She was worried that she would die. They visited the nearest doctor.
“God, please don’t let me die and leave my six month old baby!” She cried kissing her baby, as she waited for the test results with Bedan by her side.
“Elishiba!” It was the doctor calling out for her. The couple and baby got into the office. The doctor had a strange look on his face when he saw the child. Their hearts started beating.
“Doctor, what am I suffering from?” She asked trembling.
“Actually, your health is great.” He said as the couple exchanged confused looks.
“Elishiba, you are pregnant.” He announced. Elishiba’s head started to spin. She prayed she was dreaming!
“Elishiba, I thought you said you have a 5 year contraception.” Bedan who was holding the sleeping baby, spoke to his wife with a controlled tremor in his voice. She looked at his angry face.
“I do still have it!”
“Then what is all these?” He shouted.
“Um…no contraceptive method is 100 percent effective but your case needs to be investigated. Probably the practitioner carrying out the procedure did not do it well…”
“But the milk has already been spilt doctor!” Bedan shouted back at the doctor.
The baby woke up and was carelessly handed to his mother by an angry father who left the doctor’s office in a huff.
She met him at home seated on the chair, supporting his chin with both hands, in deep thought.
“I barely have enough to support the three of us,now another?” He finally spoke.
“I…I…” Elishiba could not find any words . She broke into tears. The baby sensing his mother’s sadness started to cry too. Bedan could not handle it anymore. The noise was too much. He banged the door behind him.
Elishiba’s second pregnancy was onerous. Pregnant, with a breastfeeding baby and a moody partner. But that was just the icing on the cake. Outside there was worse.
Friends became scanty and gossips being milled about her became so loud that she caught some of them.
“We really helped her the first time, she must have seen a jackpot…ha! This time she is on her own!”
“Another pregnancy? The first one hasn’t even learnt to walk yet. A bad decision for such an educated woman!”
“What does she aim to achieve by giving birth every year?”
And they went on even after Elishiba gave birth. Whenever she walked along the streets with her two children, strangers would stare at her for being so clumsy.
One time she walked with her blouse buttons all open and her breasts , almost falling out from her bra, fully exposed to the world. Women sneeered at her while men leered at her. It was not until a kind woman helped her to button up.
Her house always looked like it had been hit by a tornado. Sometimes she carried the two children, one on her back and the other on the front just to have some work done.
Wait till the two cried at the same time in the house. Bedan would start screaming too for her to shut them up, as if she wasn’t doing so. If Elishiba did not lose her mind then, she never will.
But nothing lasts forever. Pain and suffering must end too. The more the children grew, the lighter the burden was. The unexplained tantrums reduced. With time, they could afford an eight hour undisturbed sleep. Intimacy was shared without interruption albeit carefully to avoid another conception.
When the children finally went to school, Elishiba started a job hunting mission. A public college called her for an interview. She got the job. Soon she resumed her studies. This allowed Bedan to embark on his too. It was a lovely sight in the evenings in their home while the four family members sat round a table each engrossed in their studies.
Although her dream to have her Masters by thirty was not achieved, she was happy she had done it anyway. It even helped her get a promotion at work.
Bedan’s Masters in Commerce helped him start a business consultancy firm that became successful within a few years.
Her two children were like twins. They even attended the same class. When they completed their primary education, Elishiba thought it best to hold a party for them.
“Congrats Elishiba, the children are big now. What a beautiful family !”
“I can’t help but admire you and your family!”
“I think the idea of having them with a short age gap was very wise of you!”
She smiled all through, more amused than flattered. The same people who mocked her for having children in consecutive years were now showering her with praises. When she needed help most, they fled but when called them for a party they poured.
Such is life, when days are dark, friends are few. And to all mums, struggling with parenting, it gets better with time. And it comes with great rewards. Hang in there.