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Sister Evangeline Njiofor shares a heart-warming experience.
I was appointed matron of Grimard Catholic Hospital, Anyigba, Nigeria, in December 2019. Having settled in I saw another need beckoning on me to respond without delay. It was about fertility issues we were surrounded with in the area. With the support of the Sisters and the Diocese, I decided to open a fertility clinic, based on Natural Family Planning, within the hospital to attend to couples as much as I could , in January 202o.
In the first week of February I welcomed a couple who had been married for six years without a child. They told me their story. The wife had conceived in their first year but ended up with an ectopic pregnancy after two months. Major surgery was done and one of her fallopian tubes was removed. She was left with only one tube. From that moment she never conceived again despite all the private doctors they visited.
I still remember how sad they looked entering my office that first day. There was no joy in their faces; I observed a feeling of hopelessness. After sharing their story something in me gave me hope and so I encouraged them with the words, “God is able.” The man asked me immediately, “But Sister, are you saying that after all these years we will still have a child, despite the fact my wife has only one tube?” I responded that nothing is impossible with God. Tears dropped from his eyes.
I recommended some laboratory tests, after which I placed them on treatment for infection to fight the micro-organisms discovered. As they were completing the treatment I suggested a procedure known as Hydrotubation which would help work on the tube and get it sanitised. This involved Medical Superintendant Dr M Abah, who willingly carried it out in April. After that I continued working with the couple, encouraging them never to lose hope, prescribing drugs for them and coaching them on how to make good use of the body signs of the wife.
They were beginning to relax by this time, frequently visiting just to sit and discuss with me, telling me how difficult it had been for them over the last six years, sharing the insults people had heaped on them, even telling them to the face that the man is not a real man. But they said, coming to Grimard had rekindled hope in them, so that they were ready to follow every instruction given. I honestly experienced a glimpse of hope in them and a willing spirit to wait on God. It was in June the same year the women missed her period and that was another excitement altogether! When she had completed the number of days I instructed her I invited them to the hospital for a pregnancy test. Both of them came and while the laboratory technician was running the test I kept them in my office. The result was brought to me, I read it, and I smiled, seeing it was positive, then handed it over to them. Seeing the result both of them knelt down at once in my office praising God and expressing gratitude with tears in their eyes. Tears filled my own eyes too as the man exclaimed, “So at last I am a real man! Sister, what you have done for us will be told for many generations!” I encouraged them to get up from the floor and they did. They received further instructions of do’s and don’ts and left the hospital very grateful and happy.
At last the woman delivered a bouncing baby girl and I was asked to choose a name for her. I chose an Igala name I love so much, and it coincided with what the man had chosen for her: Ochojomeni, meaning God is my own. Neither of us knew we had both chosen the same name for her, and that was the will of God for her.
Three other clients have also delivered after three years of searching. Our clients come from different parts of Nigeria. We have at present a couple who conceived after fourteen years of marriage, now in their seventh month. They are from Port Harcourt. Another couple, based in Warri but coming to our clinic, have conceived after eleven years of marriage, now in their seventh month. And there are others. During this time too a couple requested coaching for a baby boy. They learnt the method and achieved their heart’s desire.
It has been God all the way and I pray that He will answer prayers of so many couples who come to our clinic for help. For many of them, they say, Grimard is the last bus stop.
I learned Natural Family Planning during my nurse training at Immaculate Heart School of Nursing in Onitsha, and teach it to our student mid-wives here in Grimard. The couple featured in the above story have given full permission for their story to be shared.