NIGERIA: Beauty of a Woman- Making lemonades while smashing stereotype

Tola Makinde
Posted March 6, 2019 from Nigeria

New Mom on the bloc!

Don't be afraid, hold your breath because the pain will soon be over.  

Did I hear you say over?  She just called me to say her baby passed.  I was angry, I wept. I wish I could help.  She struggled so hard to raise funds for her daughter’s heart surgery, her husband was torn apart. I met her a couple of months ago and every time I checked, no money had been raised.  She had no precious gold or investment to trade to enable her get a cure for her daughters heart disease.  She prayed for a miracle.  She has faith but sometimes we can’t explain why somethings happen to some people.  Nobody shops for disability.

I fret when I get calls that a baby has been born with Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.  Just like the doctors gave their verdict when I had my daughter, she broke down while explaining how she felt when she got the news and how she had gone from pillar to post seeking for funds.  Her little angel was 7months old and she had lost her first child before now; may her tender souls rest in peace. This experience is surreal!

I must have been dreaming 8 years ago, yes! I dreamt that one day I would have a princess, I would hold her in my hands, look in her lovely eyes morning and night to see a reflection of myself.  I was too right.  I finally woke up from my sleep. It was real and viola!  a New Baby Alert! So beautiful and angelic.  She has Down syndrome, but grateful Down syndrome doesn’t have her.

A woman, after the birth pains would cuddle and hold her baby to her breast and that is such a precious moment what I call the blessings of the womb and of the breast a promise from God.

I lay there with this weird feeling of unsettlement as I did not hear the cry of a baby immediately she was born, something was wrong. 

In my country, nobody loves to be associated with disability but a multitude love corruption and abuse.  The woman she is to blame for her child’s disability.  So many times, we want things our way, we want everything to be perfect.  She would be labelled a witch and sent out of her matrimonial home.  Oh! the mockery and shame, the child surely gets a dose of the stigma as he or she is labelled all kinds of ugly names.  She faces the music and all the sweet childbirth pains keep coming back to her….I will not rest my case!

I often imagine how evil and hostile our world is and the thoughts leave me asking so many questions…..thankfully, i have answers to some today.

Woman weep no more!  The same woman who is at risk of loosing her life while birthing her child to this world is judged and mistreated if she has a child with a disability.  I will not keep quiet; my ears are full.  They forget or they don’t know that some disability will never be visible.  Sometimes, people come with their judgement upon you, never wanting to listen to your truth.

Woman, be strong! You are not alone. Life is only a mixture of the sweet and bitter and yes you can make or get a fruit punch or lemonade in the end.  It’s kind of refreshing if you taste it, if you face your fears!  You learn to take the sweet along with the bitter. 

A woman, very unassuming, after carrying the gift of life for 9months, delivers through caesarean section is called weak in my country.  Another superwoman tells her to her face that ‘’the devil really got you there’’ because c-section to them means you had no faith having a natural birth.  Many women who want to be strong to prove ‘the devil can’t get them’, but medically can’t pull through having a natural birth, die during labour.  I ask again my fellow women, is poverty the cause of this?  I ask because some blame it on poverty…..well that’s okay but not too okay depending on the circumstances as I’m not saying you should not have faith.

Finally, the baby is born and there is a disability…a not-so-perfect baby they say, not a bouncing baby they mourn.   The family, friends and community mourn the birth of a baby, they mourn life….i hope you are still reading???  I figure they would rather the woman poison, bury or return the baby to the angry gods in any way possible.  Not only in my country, I guess.

Suddenly, I remember Africa,… Africa!, my Africa!  I remember the strength of my country, the giant of Africa’’.  This is my NIGERIA, my country I so love dearly but so many cultural beliefs would not make her great in this ever-evolving world.

How will I continue my rescue mission for women who have been demonised after birthing children with Down syndrome?  I will use my voice for as long as I live.  I am a change agent and I am looking for many more affected women to raise their voices with mine.

In our country, yes, our great Nigeria…our voices would ring louder because we have found our place, we have found that we are not alone.

Sisters, in our country, we can shatter stereotypes, we can become unstoppable if we raise our voices together as ONE.

We can stop the hate, the rejection of anyone with disability even if we just do it because they are born of a woman like you and i.

What if this is the answer to or cure for depression??  Just asking.

Peoples disability should not give permission to others to abuse them or invade their privacy.

 

Woman the ball is in your court, I dare you to speak up, then you will start to live, you will start to breathe again.

I am looking to empower women who have received a Down syndrome diagnosis for their children, we can give emotional support and much more to enable them once again be joyful mothers.   A support group to help us connect several other women together.  We can teach boundaries and set our children free from abuse.

Finally sisters, i found World Pulse and I ask you to join me here so we can, as women, turn lemons to lemonade for breakfast in our country and the world. 

This story was submitted in response to Change Starts With a Story.

Comments 16

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Jill Langhus
Mar 06
Mar 06

Hi Tola,

Thanks for sharing your sad, but also inspiring story. I agree that together, women can become unstoppable. I think if women stopped beating up on one another, and themselves, for that matter, then men would follow suit. I think life can have enough curve balls without unnecessary ones being added. We need to be loving, respecting, and working with each other, and not against one another.

Hope you're having a good day dear, and good luck with your story submission!

Tola Makinde
Mar 26
Mar 26

thank you

Hello Jill,
We need to keep educating women.
Trust you are having a good day?

Jill Langhus
Mar 27
Mar 27

You're welcome:-)

Agreed.

Yes, dear. You?

Olutosin
Mar 06
Mar 06

Thanks so much for doing in depth analysis on this issue. You are a very strong woman. I am grateful to you for carrying other women along. You write so beautifully. E ku ise ma.
Welldone.
May Almighty God crown all your beautiful efforts with success. Amen

Tola Makinde
Mar 26
Mar 26

Amen sister Tosin. Ese ma

Wow you are a strong woman I must say! It's not easy to lead a course like this, especially In a country like ours, were people with disabilities are marginalized. But I want to encourage you to keep up the fight, keep pushing, the world will feel your impact in no distant time. More Grace to you Ma.

Tola Makinde
Mar 06
Mar 06

Thank you dear Esther, I'm grateful I answered this call to save humanity. I never hid my daughter and because of her, people can put a face to the condition. I want women who are helpless to know that there is hope after a diagnosis. They are limitless and need 101% support from birth. Many still reject the obvious and live in denial. It pains me that down the line, the child would never find his or her voice. We must try over and over again and not faint or give up. It sad that our poor health care system is not helping matters. We would keep hope alive.

Thank you

J Brenda Lanyero
Mar 06
Mar 06

Hi Tola,
You are a strong woman. This is really great. Thank you for sharing.

Tola Makinde
Mar 08
Mar 08

Thank you Brenda, you are amazing

J Brenda Lanyero
Mar 08
Mar 08

:)

JANEKALU
Mar 07
Mar 07

Sister Tola,am really pained Thank you for your courage.The sky is your stepping stone.
With Love
Janekalu

Tola Makinde
Mar 08
Mar 08

Dear sis Jàne,
I'm pained too. We can't just continue to watch the babies die when they have a 79% chance of survival.
Help is coming, we won't be quiet.
Happy IWD

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 07
Mar 07

Dear Tola,
We have many forms of discrimination against women to work on, and here you have raised such an important one, the harmful and disrespectful treatment of mothers who give birth to children who have Downe's Syndrome. You are shedding such beautiful light on, and have been doing such important work to bring forward the discrimination that needs to be stopped. What many do not realize is the pure love that children with Downe's Syndrome have. Mothers raising children with disabilities deserve loving care from the community, and proper support from Governments.
In sisterhood,
Tam

Tola Makinde
Mar 08
Mar 08

Dear aunty Tam,
Thanks so much. While driving home today after receiving a consent letter from a 24 year old lady with an eighth months old baby to help raise funds for her baby's heart surgery, I was down cast.
I pray for strength for every woman with disabilities or with a child living with one to face their fears till they fade away.... But guess what the fears can only fade away when they find support and succour.
I have a chat room where mothers are asking so many questions and I know with enough support, they will continue to live life joyful and unperturbed.
We shall get there if we don't quit.

Happy IWD

Obisakin Busayo
Mar 07
Mar 07

Thank you for sharing my Sister, you are so strong and inspiring .Together our voices are unstoppable
In Sisterhood
Busayo

Tola Makinde
Mar 08
Mar 08

Dear sis,
For sure we are unstoppable.
Thanks for all you do.
Love
Tola