After living in Nigeria for some time now, I’ve noticed that pregnancy doesn’t hold any magical qualities here. Having a baby doesn’t automatically transform you into a mystical superhero, garner any special sympathies or transform your life. Motherhood is perfunctory and expected. As normal as a period at the end of a sentence. If there is any anxiety around pregnancy, it’s only around the inability to conceive, since that, of course, would be unexpected. So it’s no wonder that after the nurse told me that I was pregnant, she efficiently set me up with an appointment with the midwives for the next week and sent me on my way. There were no congratulatory smiles, no box of tissues on her desk strategically placed to catch tears of joy, no slick pamphlets with a cartoon of a white mother and child on the front with titles such as “You’re Having a Baby. What Next?” or “Motherhood and You.”
For Nigerian women, pregnancy seems to be a given. That’s why I have to take time now to tell you that I never made the mistake of taking the possibility of you for granted. You were never a given. You are nothing short of a precious gift.
Your father and I were making plans for our wedding when you were conceived. We were in Kansas City on a long anticipated meet-up after spending months hundreds of miles apart, him in Iowa and me in Nigeria. In between dinners with my family, meeting with our wedding planner, previewing the venue and arguing about a live band or a DJ, we found time to make you. Truth be told, I think this was your father’s plan all along. To have you with us as we exchanged our vows, witnessing our union from the best seat of the house, snuggled in between us, enveloped in love.
I will admit, I was afraid at first. I forbade your father from telling anyone, planning to hold out until you were at least 12 weeks old and past the highest risk of miscarriage. We hadn’t planned for you, but once we found out, you were fiercely wanted. The thought of telling others about you and then losing you seemed an unbearable possibility. But common sense won out, along with the fact that holding such a large secret was giving me headaches, and we told your grandparents. My mother was seeming nonplussed, almost hostile. But she was scared too, as she later told me, chocked up with emotions that manifested in huge, racking sobs. She was afraid that the distance was too great, that she wouldn’t hear about the morning sickness or changes in my body, or be there to answer the inevitable motherhood questions. She thought that I would give birth in Nigeria and that she would never get to see you. She was afraid of not being able to be a grandmother.
I tell you all of this to say that you were not expected, but you were definitely not a mistake. You were an inevitable and spectacular conclusion. We’ve only known about you for a week and already you are deeply loved.