Bridge Over Still Water

Think you Can't have a baby? This story is for you.
Wunmi has been married fifteen years with no children. Not her husband’s fault, but hers. Her husband, Mike, has proven he could father a child and has a teenage son to show for it from an earlier marriage. She is now forty years old. How can she face a life without children of her own? True, she had a couple of missed periods which ended up being dashed hopes. Even when the pregnancies stayed in about three situations, they were only about an average of four weeks to six weeks before miscarriage occurred. She just could not hold pregnancies. She is not getting any younger and both her in-laws and parents are getting really worried.
She was reading the newspapers one day, when a caption got her attention. It was a story about surrogate mothers. Young healthy women screened and certified free from sexual diseases including HIV, between the ages of twenty and twenty-five years and willing to carry pregnancies for a fee. No, not in vitro fertilisation ( IVF), but in this case, the male client will actually have to have sexual intercourse with the young surrogate mother to get her pregnant, while her job would be to carry the pregnancy full term, then hand over the baby after delivery. Why not? I will do anything to have a baby in this house, she thought.
Wunmi immediately made enquiries, before even discussing with her husband. Yes, the story is true, and yes it is possible to accommodate her at a fee that is running into hundreds of thousands of Naira. The cost includes allowances for the woman for nine months, ante- natal costs, medical tests costs and a final payoff to the surrogate mother for using her body.
Wunmi became lean and unkempt for weeks. What is the matter, her husband, Mike, would ask over and over, until she just had to blurt out the surrogacy idea.
‘You must be out of your mind’, Mike shouted. ‘Surely you have been watching too many movies and reading too many syrupy books, these are starting to distort your thinking process. You want me to sleep with a woman I hardly know. My God, what has come over you?’
‘Look at me, just look at me. Do I look the same woman you married fifteen years ago? It is better to die than go on without a child. My friends look at me with pity, my in-laws think I am not good enough for their son, even my own parents are not any better. You want me to go mad, don’t you,’ Wunmi replied, sobbing. Mike stormed out of the house.
The coldness between the two went on for about a month, until Mike came round and agreed to give the surrogacy a try. They went for several appointments to assess if they were a credible couple, before a deal was struck. The Agency promised to bring the young woman over to Wunmi’s house for first time introduction. Wunmi had her own picture of the woman, while Mike had his. But none of them bargained for the woman that walked into their house one Saturday afternoon.
A stunning brown complexioned girl of medium height, she looked more like eighteen than the twenty five years in the contract form. Polished, polite, and well-spoken. Wunmi stared, while Mike simply lost his voice. Wunmi was not sure whether she wanted to go on with the arrangement. My God, my husband is going to fall in love with this girl, for sure. She got almost nauseated by her husband’s immediate attention to the woman.
‘Please, call me Agnes’, the young lady said, showing a perfect set of white teeth.
‘You are welcome Agnes; we will show you to your apartment.’
Wunmi turned to her husband later with so much hurt.
‘How could you?’ she blurted out
‘How could I what?’ Mike asked.
‘You seem to be enjoying this already, remembering your initial objection to this arrangement.’
‘Well, I have to make the best of a shocking situation. Don’t forget this is your idea. Don’t start making me feel guilty. I have to put myself in this thing psychologically you know.’
‘Psychologically indeed,’ Wunmi said and went to the kitchen, hissing.
‘Women, you just can’t please them,’ Mike said.
Agnes soon became the little madam in the house, putting husband and wife at her beck and call. Though her apartment was the boy’s quarters at the back of the house, she felt more comfortable in the main house. Mike spent as much time as possible with Agnes, and Wunmi’s heart bled each time she knew Mike was with ‘that woman’ alone. She tried to blurt out the image of their lovemaking by getting busy.
‘God take me through this. I’m going mad,’ Wunmi muttered to no one in particular most times. She kept reminding herself of the joy of having a baby to call her own, so any emotional trauma was worth it. After all, just a few more months to go and it would all be over. How off the mark she was.
Agnes had a baby boy, with no complications, but when she held the baby in her arms, there was a sudden surge of love for this little bundle she could not fathom.
‘No, I can’t part with this baby,’ she thought. ‘I’m going to find a way to pay back all the money just to keep my baby.’
Agnes knew it would not be easy to just backslide on the agreement, so she devised a means to ‘kidnap’ her own baby.
 The nurse brought back the baby for breast-feeding and Agnes was allowed to keep him beside her for the night. Despite the fact that she was still feeling weak, her determination overshadowed this physical disability as she lifted the baby, wrapped him in the shawl provided, and sneaked out of the hospital, without being apprehended, into the night.
Wunmi got the shock of her life when told about Agnes disappearance with the baby from the hospital. She felt her world crumbling, while Mike just stood there in disbelief.
Have they been conned or what? It is not so much the money, but the hell they had to go through just to have a baby, and now this. So what was the point of going through surrogacy if it is ending this way? Perhaps it is God’s punishment for not waiting on him and losing faith. Mike’s mind was in commotion.
Wunmi refused to be consoled and went into depression. Mike attempted to bring his wife back; even tried love making which most times were one sided as Wunmi had lost all interest in any form of intimacy. Mike did not give up but continued to love his wife.
When Wunmi missed her period for two consecutive months, she thought nothing of it. But when she went to see her doctor over a pain in her lower stomach that refused to go, a full stomach and uterus scan showed pregnancy.
‘Pregnancy? How come? I don’t even feel pregnant. No nausea, no vomiting? A little swell in my stomach, which I put down to weight gain. Are you sure doctor?
‘No mistake. Look at the screen yourself and listen to the pumping action of your baby’s heart.’ the doctor said.
‘Incredible and unbelievable. I have given up hope of getting pregnant.’ Wunmi told the doctor.
‘Well, I don’t see why you should not carry the pregnancy through this time. Just keep to your regular ante- natal checks for a successful full term,’ the doctor advised.
Wunmi finally saw her dream come true when she delivered a baby boy at the age of forty five, precisely twenty years after her marriage to Mike. At the end of the day, their experience on surrogacy was taken as a lesson from God, and the disappointment a blessing in disguise. After all, a surrogate baby with one parent would have been a daily reminder of Wunmi’s failure to have her own children. But now her happiness is total without blemish.

Story Credit: Waving in the Winds, by Bisi Abiola
Photo Credit: Creative Commons.


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