Following the drama that trailed her marriage to Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House in 2007, the rather private Mrs Ibidun Ighodalo has opened up about her struggles with conception in a rare interview.
The former beauty queen who, expected to get on the baby-making business immediately after marriage, got very candid about her experience and what she is doing about the situation.
Though it’s been 9 years of marriage without a child of her own, rather than dwell on this challenge, the C.E.O of Elizabeth R has opted for a coping mechanism: to help other childless couples through her Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation, IIF.
Speaking with Thisday, she noted the pressure of being childless in this environment and how she came about starting her foundation.
Read excerpt below.
“I have heard stories of in-laws calling the woman painful names. Those are hurtful things to say. There are names you don’t want to call a woman that is looking up to God.”Her Turning point was last year when she turned 35.
“People may not want to be mean, but they don’t know that certain statements and body language hurt. It is good to raise awareness and understanding about childless couples.
“The shoes of women who are waiting on the Lord are not very easy shoes. Emotionally, mentally and psychologically, hormonally, when you are going through treatments, it’s a rollercoaster-you deal with in-laws, society, friends, there’s a lot going on.”
“People who get married and have children don’t know how lucky they are. I mean you are even careful not to get pregnant again, you are so blessed by God, you should thank God every day. It is not easy to find yourself in a situation where your friends are doing school runs, you don’t know what that is, you don’t even know what your first trimester is. The friends you had bridal showers with are having baby showers, it takes the grace of God to remain sane, honestly.”
Going through with her ritual of a wish list on her birthday and then ticking-off the accomplished ones on her next birthday, she scored high on every point, but one: Childlessness
Prayers and medical intervention were yet to birth the desired result as the issue remained and the quest for a child consumed her.
“I had tears in my eyes when I told God, ‘you know what? This is enough. You are going to do it when You want to do it, in Your own time and if You are not going to do it, let it be left undone. This is You. I trust You. Right now, it’s ok, I’m going to live my life. I found out that I had stopped living, because that was all I wanted. I said no, I’m going to be happy, live my life and leave it all to God. I’m grateful to God for my own family, for the family I’m married into.”Ibidun Ighodalo then decided to step outside herself, reaching out to others facing the same predicament. She shared her desire with her husband who supported it wholeheartedly.
“My focus now is to help others, one at a time. I want to make a family happy and with the help of God, their prayers would be answered. I know the pain and what it feels like. It will give me joy to see them jumping and rejoicing, saying that they are expecting their own children. I have seen it happen.Through her IIF platform, Mrs Ighodalo will award grants for fertility treatment such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Frozen Embryo Transfer and Intrauterine Insemination.
“I have seen the two sides during my course of treatment. I said God help me, let me do this. When you focus on helping others, you don’t know the blessings that come back to you. It is difficult but I said ,Lord you have put this in me, You have to provide.
“When I was going through some treatment, I would get to the clinic and someone who has just done a pregnancy test was being told that it didn’t work, it was always so devastating for me to hear them wonder aloud where they would get money for the next treatment.
I have met women who came to the hospital to get the treatment but they couldn’t afford it. Some couldn’t even afford the test to know what was wrong. I have also met women who decided to share their burden, this is how financially draining this treatment can be.”
Her initial plan to help one or two couples was shelved owing to the tonnes of applications she received. The plan has now changed to accommodate 28 couples.
“There are some couples that have applied that have been married for between 20 and 25 years and when I read their history, they have come to a point where they are tired. I even found out that it was their family that applied for some of them. A lot of people have asked me why I don’t face my life, why am I trying to be Mother Theresa. What is it? Is it that you have so much money you don’t know what to do with it. I can’t even explain it.”Ibidun Ighodalo seeks to help address the prevalence of couples in this situation while providing enlightenment on the causes of infertility and ways it can be dealt with.