Ibidunni Ighodalo Talks About Her Search for a Child
Ibidunni Ajayi Ighodalo, wife of Clergyman Itua Ighodalo opens up about her search for a child in an exclusive interview with Thisday's Nseobong Okon-Ekong.
When the former beauty queen (Miss Lux) was getting married in 2007, her dreams like most married women was to become a mother. It's been almost a decade and Ibidunni is still waiting on the Lord for the fruit of the womb. Nonetheless, she decided to channel her frustration and anxiety into helping other women who are also trying to conceive.
Ibidunni Ayayi Ighodalo
In the interview, she talked about dedicating her life to supporting childless couples through her Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation (IIF). The mission is 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.
"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." Mrs Ighodalo said.
“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.”
According to This Day, .... she hid her tears, but you could tell a woman who had previously cried her heart out. In fact she was not ashamed to confess she was frequently given to such emotion in the past. On her 35th birthday last year, she decided to turn the lemon that life had thrown at her into lemonade. It had become her fashion to write a wish list on the day she was born and then tick-off the accomplished ones on her next birthday. Every year, she scored high on every point, but one: The issue of childlessness had become a sore point that could not be addressed. She had prayed and sought different avenues for a medical solution, but the problem just could not be wished away. Although she enjoyed the understanding and love of her husband and in-laws, 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.”
Though having a baby is list at the top of her wish list, she will not let that blur the brilliant idea (helping other childless women) she got from the whole experience.
“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. 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. You know when God gives you a vision, He makes the provision. I have been amazed at the response. It is unbelievable.
“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. If you have extra eggs, you can sell them in exchange for the treatment. When women share eggs left from a successful IVF on another women or they use the woman’s extra cycle that has been paid for, these are ways women support one another because getting an egg donor can be very expensive.”
As a pastor's wife, she also shed light on the challenges of being a "preachers wife." She is the 'First Lady' of Trinity House where is called Pastor IB as a form of respect. "I think you have to be called by God to be called a pastor. You know how it is when they say two have become one. Automatically, when they call your husband a pastor, they call you a pastor, as well. I’m under the leadership of my husband. I’ve learnt from him and I’m still learning. I’m just taking it, one day at a time. I provide a support system for him. I believe that being by his side is what God has called me to do. I lead sessions of prayer. I do that more. We all pray and should be able to lead prayer sessions. I allow the spirit of God to lead me really. There is no pressure whatsoever from my husband. He just allows me grow and learn as much as I can,” she told This Day.
Working for God and being a support system to her husband is another thing that brings joy to her heart. She said "I have ministers’ wives in church who help me to fulfill these dreams. They are so supportive. Some of them guide and teach me because they are much older. God has blessed me with the support system of women who have those skills to deal with the elderly ones, mature singles, women with the issue of the fruit of the womb, single parents. They surround me. I’m everybody’s mother.”
In furtherance, she talked about the insensitivity of some people towards childless women, advising them to be compassionate because “It is so strange and funny, but when you sit back and think about it, every family has somebody who is waiting on God for a child. The person might be your cousin or mum’s sister. There are certain ways we will treat the person. But do you know that there are certain ways we treat somebody else coming into our family with the same issue? We don’t treat them the same. It is not intentional. If you have in-laws who are not nice to you, they will think it’s your fault. They will call you names, talk down on you. If your in-laws have somebody in their family who is waiting, they will never speak to the person like that. We really need to have a support system and also learn to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.”
Right now, Mrs. Ighodalo who is a graduate of Microbiology from the University of Lagos is using the platform of IIF to award grants for fertility treatment such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Frozen Embryo Transfer and Intrauterine Insemination. She was forced to change her initial plan to help one or two couples when she received tons of applications. 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.”