“You can’t go to school anymore! You have to sit at home and nurse your baby. That’s the life you chose!”
Your head is bowed in shame because you had this coming. You know that you have always been stupid and never made the right decisions, this was just one out of many. You know you can never be composed as other primary school classmates, that is all the confirmation you need to push your face farther into the ground.
By the sixth month, wearing big gowns did little or nothing to hide the obvious. All the neighbours knew – even the four-year-old girl knew that a child naming ceremony was close. Some treated you with pity, others with contempt, but you didn’t care less. This was the aftermath of your tasteless decisions, all you had left was to bury your head in a pillow and cry up a river.
It is the ninth month and your mom musters the courage to talk with you since she got to know an unwanted grandchild was on the way. She cannot even hide her bitterness. But, does it matter now? You know you have always been a disappointment. There is no money for baby wears and all the things – you don’t even know the name of the baby things. She says something about calling the boy responsible but you know this suggestion is dead on arrival. Not because you planned to disobey her but, which of the boys are you calling? You can’t cry enough.
How you survived that nightmare, you cannot even tell. “How did I push out that little thing? – Oh they say it is a girl”. All you can remember is the peak of that sharp pain and the voice of the matron shouting ‘push harder! But you are done now; at least no bulged stomach. Or so you think; because mum comes talking about hospital bills. And ehhhm, you have not had anything to eat. “Who is bringing the food?”
Which is worse now? The nine months of walking about with the bulged stomach and having little to eat, or these days of breastfeeding this little thing while having nothing to eat. You are so sure that you are an idiot! How did you get yourself into this?
You can better understand the joy you had when the pretty soft-spoken lady met you and how she treated you differently. You can recall the gifts she brought with her and the words of hope. She says you can heal – that you indeed are not an idiot. You could have your life back. She is the reason why your sun can shine again, she held your hands and convinced you that the road to success still had your name on it. She is Paschaline and she became the reason you could walk again with your head held high; the very reason you can hope for a better tomorrow.
Paschaline works for GEANCO on the Maternal Health Care Program. She helps teenage mothers find their lives back, and guides hundreds of others from following that path. Paschaline’s work is made possible by generous people like you who support GEANCO’s mission in Nigeria. She is indeed thankful and encouraged by your generosity.