A 52-year-old Lagos-based businessman, Deacon Michael Nwankwo, and his wife, Victoria, 50, recently welcomed a set of triplets after being childless for 25 years. They speak about the long wait and the eventual arrival of their bundles of joy in these interviews with GODFREY GEORGE
Please, introduce yourself.
My name is Deacon Michael Nnamdi Nwankwo. I am a businessman involved in the sale of health and natural wellness products. I am 52 years old.
Your wife was delivered of triplets after waiting for 25 years. When you got married to her, did you ever think you would have to wait that long?
Ultimately, the journey was a tough one. I am one person who earnestly desired children, and my purpose of getting married when I did was to have children and see my children and I grow together. I couldn’t imagine it would get to that point where I would have to wait for 25 years. During our first two months in the marriage, my wife got pregnant and unfortunately, due to inexperience we travelled to Ghana and she miscarried the baby. Thereafter, it just went up and down. It was not an easy journey to walk. My joy is that at the end of the day, when it seems like all hope was gone, God brought these triplets – two girls and one boy.
At what age did you get married?
I got married at 26. My wife was 24, and we married as virgins.
When you couldn’t achieve conception for years, were there medical and trado-medicinal interventions you sought?
Of course, yes. I sought help. Generally, you know how it is in Africa and even all over the world. Once you marry, people start counting (years) for you. So, when we couldn’t have a baby after some months, we went for a medical examination to know what was happening and the doctors gave us some medications. I deal in health and wellness products too, so I administered them as well. I have had couples who walked up to me with complaints of infertility and after I handled the case, a few months later, they’d come back with the good news that they had conceived. I have many people like this. We, as a couple, sampled all godly opinions which came as advice in search of solutions. But the matter kept lingering from one point to the other. My wife was even operated upon in 2006 for fibroid. Thereafter, we also kept waiting from one point to another. So, it was not easy at all. We even did an IVF (in vitro fertilization) but it didn’t work for us. We spent so much, yet it didn’t come out successful. After some months, it just flushed out. We did whatever was godly as Christians. In all this, we had absolute faith in God and did not step out to try anything outside God. Many pastors and ministers also prophesied to us that God would answer us, urging us to be more patient. That was exactly what we did, but I must tell you that it was not easy at all.
One time, I remember a mentally-ill man met us around Jibowu Street, Lagos, some years back, and told my wife that she was not going to have a child but God would give her children at the right time. It was amazing and surprising.
How did all of these many failed interventions make you feel?
Time was ticking and it was of concern to us. When we looked at the people we got married together with or those who married after us, their children had finished university while some are already in school. Others have even got married. It was heart-aching. At a point, I started calculating. I kept asking God, “When will I start having my own (children)? When will my own be?” There is nothing like seeing your own children grow before you and giving them all the necessary support and running around with them as they grow. It was tough. It was not easy.
The Nigerian society was also not helpful. Whenever we went out, people would ask us how our children were and we’d just say they were fine. Even when you try to forget it in order to stabilise, Nigerians are there to remind you. You will keep getting questions that will remind you of what you don’t have yet and it would keep flashing before you. Sometimes, people would say some things and I would begin to sob because I knew if I had my own children all of those things wouldn’t have happened to me. But the most important thing was our faith in God. Since we married as virgins, we devoted our lives to the service of our God.
What were some snide comments you got from people during these trying times? Were there occasions you had to avoid so they wouldn’t remind you of your childlessness then?
Those things are inevitable. I remember in the place I used to live some years back, my neighbour gave birth to a baby boy, and in excitement, I walked out of my flat and wanted to carry the boy. The speed with which they zoomed into the room immediately I entered, I became cold. Did they think because I didn’t have children I would be a devourer of other people’s children? In organisations, when they want to talk about family, because we didn’t have children, they seemed not to pay attention to us, irrespective of age. They wouldn’t even ask you to comment or anchor such programmes because they’d feel you have no experience. When I went out with other men and they started talking about their children and what they did at home, I would seem so lost. I wouldn’t even be able to enter into such conversations so I don’t cross the line or for someone to bring in a word that might hurt me. Most times, we stayed away from several meetings and activities that would remind us of those things. The journey also helped us grow stronger in God.
Something happened when my friend died. He had no wife and no children. So, it was me and another friend who buried him in Lagos. After the burial, I began to ask myself if that was how I would also end up without a child of my own to continue my lineage. I even started considering adoption (laughs). It brought a lot of fear into me. “What becomes of me when death calls?”I asked. It was serious mental and emotional torture.
Was there a point in your life when you didn’t care anymore whether or not you had children?
The point when I felt like this was in the early part of our marriage. In fact, it was one of the things that helped. It was positive for me. Honestly speaking, I told my wife that outside companionship, my reason for getting married to her was to bear children. God helped me that I took off my mind in the early time till about 10 years after our wedding. I remember one of our pastors who used to tell us, “Anything you are not angry about, you cannot change.” I began to ask God if it was because I was not angry enough that things had refused to change. Some of my friends, up till this moment, when the news broke that I just gave birth to triplets didn’t even know I didn’t have kids all this while we were friends. One called me yesterday (Tuesday, March 15) to say he couldn’t believe that I didn’t have kids before now. He said it didn’t show in our faces.
Another phase came when I became crazy about doing anything and everything godly, including adoption, just to have a child to call my own and one that my heart would go out for. I needed someone to be with me. If my wife travelled, I would just be all alone, and I didn’t like it.
How did you know your wife was pregnant?
We both knew when she became pregnant. It was not accidental. She went for treatment in the hospital and all the medication was given to her. We were told when to meet and what to do in those periods. That was around December 2020. She gave birth in September 2021. We started noticing some changes. The medical doctor where she had the treatment would visit Lagos to check how she was and all that. So, till the day it became nine months, she went with my elder sister. One of our church members, one of her friends went with her to the place she gave birth.
Did you know you were going to have triplets?
We were informed that it was not going to be one or two, but three (children).
What was your reaction when you heard the news that your wife had been delivered of the triplets?
So, that beautiful day, I was in my friend’s house in Surulere, Lagos and my elder sister called to tell me that my wife had given birth and she had triplets. In fact, I didn’t even know what my reaction was. I knew I didn’t jump or shout; I was lost in between what to do and what not to do. I closed my meeting with my friend and drove home. I kept wondering if I was dreaming until someone else called to tell me the good news. I was so happy. The most important thing is that there is nothing God cannot do. I also thank God for the faith he gave us to wait through the whole process. She stopped seeing her menses for a very long time, so having hopes for a child naturally from her was mission impossible. But when God did it, it was clear. There is absolutely God cannot do. We are sure that so many people would be encouraged by that miracle of God.
What was the inspiration behind the names you gave to them? Did you already have the name planned out waiting for them to come?
(Laughs) I gave the first daughter Uzumma, which means ‘Shout of goodness, good happening or good event’. I called my son ‘Chimbuchhi’ which means ‘My God is God’. The last one is ‘Oluedo’ which means ‘Wealth’.
I want more kids after triplets –Wife
How does it feel being a mother of triplets after waiting for 25 years?
(Laughs) I feel very happy. I am more than happy. I am even loss for words. I am just overflowing with excitement.
Was there a time some friends or loved ones said things that hurt you during your period of waiting?
Of course, yes. That one is sure. What really helped me was the word of God in Daniel 1:8, which says, “This book of the law shall not depart from thine mouth but thou shalt meditate on it therein day and night.” So, I studied the word of God like I eat food. I knew what God said concerning my situation so whatever anybody said wasn’t my concern. I didn’t even listen to anyone despite my ‘big ears’. In my church, they know that I dance a lot. I make sure I am the architect of my peace. I am peaceful. Even in the midst of problems, I was not moved because I knew what God can do. People laughed at me. People said many things to me, but I wasn’t moved. I also thank God for the kind of man I married. He didn’t listen to all of the things people were saying. At a point, men were even approaching me to tell me to try them since my husband was not working. I knew nothing was wrong with my husband and nothing was wrong with me. It was just a trial of our faith and I didn’t let it bother me.
How did you feel after your failed IVF?
I didn’t feel too bad. I had emotionally worked on myself. It is only the living that can expect a miracle. So, I took out whatever would distort my peace. When I did the IVF, it didn’t go out immediately; it stayed for some weeks. When it didn’t work out, I took it off my mind. Even before the IVF, I had had several miscarriages but I didn’t let it disturb me. By the grace of God, I have a big heart to accommodate shock. When you have challenges and you keep troubling yourself, it would attract sickness. Supposing I had high blood pressure or any terminal disease, we wouldn’t have been talking about pregnancy or having children again. When I went to the hospital, the doctor saw that I didn’t have any blood pressure or blood sugar palaver. That was another thing that helped the process.
Having had some pregnancies which didn’t stay, did you have some kind of fear when you were told you were pregnant with these children?
Not at all! This was because I had been waiting and expecting the miracle to come for many years because God spoke many years ago about our case. There were a lot of things he showed me personally. When I became pregnant, I reminded God of his word in I Timothy 2:15. I kept telling God that he alone could deliver me.
I had stopped seeing my period before the pregnancy came. What really happened was that I told God that we don’t celebrate menses rather what we celebrate is childbearing. So, I told him (God) that I didn’t want to be seeing my menses every month again; I wanted children, not blood flow. So, when it ceased, I wasn’t worried. I knew it was the hand of God.
You were not worried it could be an underlying medical condition?
If you are a child of God, you would know that everything is possible with him and He does His things in miraculous ways. I was also expectant.
What was it like in the delivery room?
I pushed my baby out myself. I was not operated upon. It didn’t even take up to 20 minutes and my three babies were out. It was a miracle.
Do you still want more kids?
Yes o! I want more kids