I am not less of a woman because I don't have a son

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Posted March 1, 2018 from Uganda

We live in a world that is not fair and just and it is up to us to ensure that we create an environment that will favour the generations to come especially when the focus is on women and girls. The pressures that society puts on women and girls is a times insufferable causing them to withdraw from the world resulting into inferiority complexes that are passed on to their children and their grandchildren. I remember when I was planning to get married; we had our traditional marriage in October and the wedding was slated for January the next year. Many people thought I was rushing to get married because I was pregnant. That was not true. When I eventually got married, I felt the pressure from society again. It was time to start having children, from the day of the wedding people started whispering that we were given a legal license to have children. Yes this was true but no one thought it was necessary for us to enjoy some time as a newly wedded couple before the kids came into the picture. As the norm of society, it was time to have children. The pressure was immense. Six months down the road there was no sign of me getting pregnant and I sought medical advice where I was advised that I had a hormonal imbalance so I was given medication to balance my hormones and within a period of two month I got pregnant. I then felt like a woman. I was able to carry a child in my womb. I didn’t care about the sex of the child all I wanted was a healthy baby with no complications and that was my constant prayer. I now knew that I had surpassed the expectations of society and I was welcomed into the family of motherhood, parenthood and given the status of a woman who can bare children. Little did I know that society was not yet done with me. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The delivery was so fast mainly because I did not know what to expect. I was so naïve about labour despite the many stories I had been told of how painful labour is. I went into labor and I didn’t know I was in labour. I remember my mother asking me what I was feeling and when I told her that I felt like I was cramping she brushed it off and said that was not labour. But the cramps kept intensifying to a point when I felt so much pressure pushing downwards, I informed my husband and we rushed to the hospital. Within the next ten minutes the baby was out. I remember being so confused; it took a while to register, for me to digest that I had given birth. The midwife asked me why I was not happy and I had no answer. I guess I felt cheated by nature, nature had cheated the labour exam for me I don’t know why. I expected to go through what other women go through but I guess God knew that I would not manage the pain. Anyway, after my daughter was born society reminds me that I needed to give birth to a son, an heir. Now the pressure was too intense. No one bothered to find out my struggles of how I got pregnant but they wanted me to give birth to a son who would carry on the legacy of his father. I felt offended because my daughter is child that I was blessed with and she too can be an heir to her father. Why should she be left out because she is a girl? All these questions and emotions were within me and I had no answers to give myself so I succumb to the pressure of society again instead of being grateful to God for giving a child. Before my daughter was two I was pregnant again, this time I didn’t want to know the sex, I didn’t want to ask God for a son because I thought he knew what I was going through. The second time in the labour ward was no joke. This time I had the full labour experience to a point I saw death peeping at me and I called for Jesus to intervene. To add to my troubles the midwife was a frustrated young lady who was working alone in the night shift. The hour was edging to midnight, we were five women in labor and she decided to break my water to rapidly increase the contractions. Being so naïve about what transpires when your water is broken is terrible. I remember I pulled my aunts hair to a point I thought she would be bold. After about two hours of labour I had a beautiful baby girl. This one was lighter she looked so white with curly hair. That is when I said I was done with trying for a boy. I was grateful to God for blessing me with these lovely beautiful girls and I vowed to myself that I was done with the labour ward. I remember the midwife telling me that my work was not done and that my husband deserved a baby boy. For some reason at this point I thought my husband was now sending me messages through the voice of the people in society. But when I confronted him he said he was very happy with his daughters and grateful that God has blessed us with such a responsibility to look after two amazing daughters. But society never tries to understand where you are coming from, you either pass their expectation or you are not considered a woman. Working with women in the community you are judged by whether you have a boy or not, not by whether you have children. Those who cannot bare children are not even looked at, they are given names like “The woman who cannot bare children”. And what hurts the most is that the women are judging fellow women and convincing the men that it is okay to have a second wife if your wife cannot bare a boy for you. That it is a must for a man to have a boy as their heir to his legacy. I remember one woman approached me after one of the trainings and advised me that she had oral medicine that had the power to enable a woman to conceive a baby boy. I declined and told her my days in the labor ward were over. However, she still continued and told me that if I didn’t bare a boy, my husband would get him outside wedlock. This happens a lot in our African setting and we look the other way and make excuses like” it is okay Africans are polygamous by nature” or that “men will always be men”. It is not okay, as women we need to be more sensitive and supportive to our fellow women. So anyway I thought my days of the labour ward were over but God had other plans. Four years after my second daughter I was blessed with another baby girl. And I remember a close family friend was so saddened by the news that when she came to hospital she told me that I should have consulted her before I got pregnant and she would have given me the tricks together with some medicine for a baby boy. She claimed that she used this medicine and it worked for her because she has two girls and two boys. This third pregnancy was a night mare for me and she didn’t bother to find out what I went through the whole nine months or how my labour was. This time I knew I was going to die. The baby was so huge and the doctor was worried I would not have a normal birth. I remember I had gynecologist and three midwives together with my aunty in the labour ward with me. I have never felt such pain like the pain I felt that day. I knew I would never walk again. I could not move my left leg for almost three days. But NO this young lady’s concern was that I was giving birth to girls only. I am standing up to society and saying enough is enough. If I am blessed with children that should be a plus for me, if I am blessed with boys or girls that’s a credit for me. Don’t judge me because I cannot have a boy. It is my destiny and not yours. It is what God planned for me. If he destined for me to have boys and I had girls it is God to judge me not you. If a woman cannot give birth don’t hold it against her. Many times it is something in her body and many times it is the problem of the man but because men are held so high in society we never want to say that the problem is with the man. Children are a blessing from God and to be able to have children is a blessing and even when we are unable to have children, we should be able to look after those children who are abandoned and orphaned. Children are children and by caring and loving them whether from our womb or not they are our children. As women we should be there for our fellow women and support them, encourage one another instead of shunning them and making them feel damaged in society.

Comments 4

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Hi Anita. Thanks for sharing your story. I totally agree with you that women should be supporting other women, and not be perpetuating shame, pressure and polygamy. The encouragement of polygamy by women is really surprising and disappointing to me. I hope these attitudes and norms are changing in your country, even if it's slow?

Thank you Jlanghus

The change starts with us being very supportive to our very own.  Thank you once again for taking time to read and comment. 

Hello, Anita,

I agree. You are a woman for who you are and what you do. Your ability to bear children is an extension of you. You are not less of a woman because you have no sons. Just as I am not less of a woman because I have no daughters.

You are now given a great opportunity to raise daughters to be women leaders in their generations. And that is awesome!

Thank you for sharing!

Jensine Larsen

You are pure woman! Keep standing up, and we as women can love the global children even if we don't have our own. That is my path.