Health | National

Connielove Dzodzegbe: The childless mother

Childlessness in marriage is arguably a most unspoken pain that married couples deal with.

In this part of the world, it is expected that after a year of marriage, the couple must have evidence- in this context, a child.

When a year goes by and there is no evidence, the woman begins to get uncomfortable. Slowly, she has to answer questions about where her child is or when a child is coming into the picture.

Unless, of course, the couple decides to wait after a year before they have a child, but aside from that, slowly, with people constantly asking when a new member will be introduced into the frame, it becomes worrying.

The human brain is such that it tends to assume that repeated questions about a particular thing points to what should be the norm.

Let's put this into perspective: I never really understood the stigma women without children experience until this my encounter.

Take note; I am unmarried, still in school and have no plans on settling down or having kids soon.

I once visited my seamstress for a dress fitting. Her apprentice, a new mother, was working, and her toddler was crawling around. My mother who is very fond of children, asked me to pick up the little girl from the floor so she could play with her.

As I picked up the child, I immediately felt something unlock within me. I cannot fully explain what this feeling was, but one thing I am certain about is that in that moment, I wished the child was mine to hold and have permanently. It seems to me like a deep longing to be a mother. Wow! I never fully understood this feeling and why I should feel that way, especially because making babies was not among my top five priorities yet.

Then it occurred to me that if I, who was not ready for this season, felt this way, how much more women who have gone through dating, traditional marriage, and all the other processes to be legally married would feel.

Although most women would not admit to the trauma, some are ridiculed and sometimes called names.

To be unmarried without a child is different, but to be married for at least five years without an issue, one could wish for a better world.

Childlessness, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is a state of not having children. According to science, there are several causes of childlessness, including low sperm count, ovulation disorders, endometriosis, hyperthyroidism, and various other factors.

However, this article focuses on the trauma that women endure.

The trauma women endure is often overlooked, and in most cases, the women themselves are blamed for their childlessness. Who would not want to be married and someday, if not immediately, have a family? Yes, there are a few exceptions, but I am addressing married women who are in search of children—women who are desperately searching for children to "feel complete."

According to the National Institute of Health, motherhood is a state in which one experiences maternal roles. It has a strong intrinsic meaning for women, such as the qualities and values of a mother, and goes beyond mere fertility.

How many individuals understand that motherhood does not necessarily imply being able to bear children?

Most women are mothers; the difference may only be that some are childless.

From the aforementioned definition, it is clear that women have an innate capacity to nurture children. Bearing children only brings these potentials to fruition, and when women, for some medical reasons, are unable to live up to this potential, society exacerbates their woes.

Unconsciously, a typical Ghanaian society operates by some default settings.

At 25, pressure is mounted on ladies to settle down as their biological clock ticks, and that if they fail to do so on time, they might struggle to conceive.

If the ladies are fortunate to have met their life partners, they settle. Yes, and most often with so much joy. During the marriage ceremony, individuals already start praying that they have children—twins or even triplets.

At that moment, the ladies smile and say, "Oh, yes." A year down the line, slowly, the realities of childbirth dawns on them. They begin to see that childbirth is not dependent on sex alone; so much more comes into play.

Women begin to visit hospitals to determine what the problem could be, and when most of these hospitals say there is nothing wrong, many then resort to spiritual warfare. Sometimes their desperation leads them into the hands of manipulators posing as pastors, yet these women persist.

Women travel the length and breadth of the earth to seek spiritual help. Despite the psychological pressure they endure, some mothers-in-law come screaming about their barrenness.

A marriage is complete with or without children, but do we even want to hear, let alone understand that?

Actress and TV personality, Nana Ama McBrown says she faced harsh criticism about not bearing a child. Unbeknownst to the world, she visited countless fertility clinics yet with no results.

She recounts that even when she stepped out with her husband, people would criticize her for not having a child yet.

There is also the case of Selly Galley Fiawoo, who posted a picture of herself on Instagram, only to have a woman comment about her childlessness.

Now, most people seem to forget that producing children is a man and woman affair. But no. Here, women are always blamed.

In some instances, women lose their marriages due to fertility issues. Divorcees are already treated as outcasts, and a childless divorcee faces even worse stigma.

Mawuli Quanyor, sharing her journey of childlessness, said she has tried to have children but to no avail. She mentioned undergoing surgeries to remove fibroids in her womb, but after each procedure, the fibroids grew back.

It was a constant back and forth until the doctor suggested that her womb be removed. He explained that by constantly going under the knife, she might end up losing her very life.

Throughout this time, her husband decided to leave the marriage because he couldn't envision staying with a woman who couldn't bear children.

Imagine putting your life at risk, only for your partner to decide to walk out because childbirth is solely "your problem."

After her divorce, Mawuli said she found someone else and then decided to remarry. Four years into the marriage, her husband impregnated another woman. She said she was broken to the bone and did not know what to do. Each time she raised the issue, many people advised her to walk out of the marriage, but was she ready to marry again? No, so she decided to stay.

Each day, she faces constant ridicule. When she attempts to send anyone else's child to run an errand for her, some mock her, so she has chosen not to engage. Despite yearning to experience pregnancy and all its symptoms, there was nothing more she could do. She was a childless mother.

McBrown rightly said that the experience of childbirth was one every woman must undergo because, "The feeling was different," and words cannot fully encapsulate what it was.

There are moments where words fail, and this is one of them.

Childbirth is a blessing, and it's an experience every woman capable, should have. But what of the incapable ones who daily mother us? They deserve our understanding, care and love. That burden cannot be their own alone, we must shoulder it together, that their pains may be assuaged.

I dedicate this article to the many childless mothers out there. You are on our minds.

In this season of celebrating mothers, remember that you are celebrated too.


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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.