By Njideka Eze
Mr. Okeke (not real name) is married with 4 girls. In a quest to have a male child, friends advised him to go for IVF. Because he didn’t have the money too, he discussed with the wife to take a loan from the bank where the wife was working. The wife finally went for the IVF which later on failed. The disappointment and inability to pay back the loan caused the wife her job in the bank.
A friend told me how his uncle ended up having 6 girls he hadn’t the capacity to carter for, in a quest to have male children. The man gave out the children as house girls to other families. Am sure you know the stories around foster children and their foster parents, it doesn’t always end well.
An uncle of mine once threatened to send his wife packing because she failed to give birth to a male child. I told my uncle that the inability to have a male child is not from the wife but from him. He didn’t believe it and insisted on marrying another wife. My uncle told me that a male child serves as widowhood insurance for his mother, because a widow’s claim on her deceased husband’s properties is given increased social legitimacy if she has a male child. He eventually did and the woman gave birth to a set of twins, baby girls.
A friend told me she went for scan on one of the occasions she went for antenatal clinic. The scan result showed she will have a female child. Coming back home, she excitedly shared the good news with the husband because according to her, she wanted a girl child. Her husband flared up and told her he the husband went for prayers and was told the wife will give birth to a baby boy. According o the husband, the ‘evil’ ones have changed the boy to a girl and the wife must follow him to the prayer house for the sex of the baby to be changed back. The woman obediently followed him to the prayer house. They ‘mixed’ prayers for her and among other things, she was given a bottle of olive oil. She was told to say the prayers they gave her and afterward, open her stomach while the husband mentions the proposed boy’s name for 21 times and make other declarations. The man will rub the olive oil all over her stomach while she sleeps without washing it off. These ritual-like prayers the woman told me she did for 3 months. Finally, she gave birth to a baby girl, all hell was let loose. She blamed the wife for not taking the prayers seriously which resulted to the evil ones having an upper hand.
Sounds like a joke right? Take it from me that his is a true life story
The male child has been overrated especially here in Nigeria. A son is viewed as one who propagates the lineage or the family. Though we desire to have either male or female children, there’s a limit to how far our desires can push us.
Men have this thing about having a son to carry on the family name (daughters are deemed to get married and carry on the family name of their matrimonial home). As a result of this inaccurate perception that is nonetheless deeply entrenched in African culture, it is common for a man to feel somewhat incomplete in the absence of a son. At this stage, it is not important to get into scientific reasons as to why you have only borne him daughters because this is not a scientific issue but a social problem anchored strongly on our cultural believes. Women are also seen as not been deeply rooted in their matrimonial homes if they don’t have male children yet. And seen otherwise if they have male children.
The hard truth is that there is not much you can do to ensure that you bear him a son other than just trying your luck. Often, men do not understand that in such situations, every woman so much desires to give birth to a son but women have no input into the sexual orientation of the children they bear. We should always be ready to accept the child that God blesses us with regardless of their sex and our expectations. This takes some level of counselling and willingness to accept on the man’s part since if things don’t go as planned; this gap will always exist and may become a source of conflict in the family.
You see families who may not even have the capacity (like my friends Uncle above), have so many children in a quest to have male children. Some people may advice you to try one more time if you have had many girls if you are both psychologically and financially prepared to have another child. But for how long will you continue trying? You see, if it doesn’t work out, then there are always ways of dealing with this. Counselling goes a long way in assisting people to accept situations that they cannot change and in learning to make the best out of them. Essentially, daughters are just as good as sons and `while every man wishes to have an heir, not everyone is lucky enough to have one.
As a woman, make him understand that it is your utmost desire to bear him a son but unfortunately, some things are beyond you. Let him know in case he doesn’t that Gender is determined by chromosomes. Chromosomes are cells that carry genetic information. They act as a blueprint for other cells and determine how the human body is formed. Sex chromosomes determine gender. Both men and women have sex chromosomes. Men usually have one X and one Y chromosome, while women have two X’s. The XY chromosome regulates male development eg. the development of testosterone and testicles while the XX chromosomes controls female development. When an egg or sperm is made, it only gets one of the sex chromosomes from the parent. This means that women can only make eggs with an X chromosome. However, men can make either X or Y sperm.
During fertilization, the sperm cells race toward the mother-to-be’s egg cell. If a sperm with a Y beats all others, then the fetus will be XY and the pregnancy will result in a boy. But if a sperm with an X wins the race to the egg, then the fetus will be XX. And the parents will have a baby girl. The sex of the baby depends on which sperm gets to the egg first. So it’s actually men’s chromosomes that dictate the gender of the child. You have limited influence on this matter. So , worry- less about the possibility of him looking for a solution from another woman, this is not entirely dependent on the children you give him – it is a matter of choice and conscious decision to cheat.
Desires should be within reasonable scope. We know that our desires are getting out of hand when we begin to disregard what we already have. You have a great family that your husband is putting at risk just because of what he does not have.
Now that you also know that from the science point of view, the gender of a child is determined by the male parent, let him know that he is the one being stingy with the male chromosome
However, get to a point where you truly appreciate the children you already have. Girls can and have turned out to be a great delight to the parents and so have boys. The opposite too is true.
Give attention to the children you are already blessed to have. They will make you proud and give you the satisfaction you are looking for.