‘I pretended to be infertile just to maintain my career’

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My name is Immaculate but I’m not so immaculate. I have a dirty little secret and that dirty little secret has now succeeded in robbing me of so much joy in my life.

My career has always been my first love, but when I was 30 years old I agreed to marry a lovely man that I had been seeing for several years.

Chima was really keen to have children straight away but I was focused on my job and doing really well so I managed to convince him to wait a few years.

He kept bringing up the topic and, although I was still not interested, I eventually agreed to start trying for a family.

I started taking folic acid and calcium and stopped drinking alcohol.

But secretly I kept taking the pill. I felt terrible but I knew that if I got pregnant now I would lose my job, I figured this was the best way to keep everyone happy.

Besides, by this time I was still only 34 and figured that I still had plenty of time to have children later, when I had achieved what I wanted at work.

Chima was so excited, he started buying little presents for our ‘baby’ and spent time researching the best cots, car seats and carriers.

I felt bad but I’d just been promoted again and was able to throw myself into work and forget about my lie.

Each month when I got my period Chima was so sad, and I had to pretend to be too. He would always buy special ingredients for me to cook special meals full of baby-making vitamins and burn oils that supposedly promote fertility.

After a year of “unsuccessful attempts” Chima suggested seeing a fertility specialist. I put it off as long as I could but eventually I had to agree to go along.

I felt sick sitting in a waiting room surrounding by hopeful looking couples waiting nervously.. I had to lie to the doctor and undergo a series of tests.

When I couldn’t take it anymore I broke down and cried to Chima that all the testing was too intrusive on my privacy and made me feel like a failure.

I was consumed by guilt. As always, Chima was so wonderful and supportive, I hated lying to him.

By this time Chima has spent a lot of money on all kinds of “natural treatments” and with the stress of it all, along with me working longer and longer hours at work, we began to fight.

Chima resented me spending so much time at work and putting extra stress on my body. Gradually we stopped fighting and gave up on the idea of a baby of our own.

Today I am 46 and have pretty much missed out on my chance to have children. It hurts me to watch the sad look on Chima’s face when he plays with our friends’ children.

And it hurts me even more to watch the sympathetic look that my poor childless husband gives me; misinterpreting my guilt for the pain of being unable to give him what he wanted.

I know that some of his family members and friends have been telling him to marry a second wife who will bear him children. I really don’t mind.

Even if my husband marries a second wife in secret I will not be angry with him because I know that it’s all my fault.

No job is that important. If only I’d realised this 10 years ago, I would have had several children for my husband by now.

Looking back, I can clearly see that I stupidly put my career first before any other thing like family, and in so doing, I deprived myself of the joy of having children.

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