pregnant
File photo: Pregnant woman

My mum gave birth to me when she was 17. The man who got her pregnant was someone else’s husband.

My mum told me about her encounter with my dad, she didn’t know my dad was married. It was when she got pregnant and asked him to marry her that my dad confessed that he was married. My aunt has a different version of the story. According to her, my mother knew right from the start that my dad was married. She fell for my dad because he was very kind to her.

I believe my aunt’s side of the story because she has nothing to lose. My mum thinks she has to whitewash her past to me so I don’t judge her. It doesn’t matter now. I’m the child that came out of that affair. I can only be grateful to them both for giving me the opportunity to be in this world.

My mum went on to marry another man. After a child and four years together, they got divorced. She got married again because she loved to be married, maybe to prove a point that someone loves her. That marriage lasted for only three years and resulted in a baby girl with the man. Three girls, no husband. She retired from marriage and instead concentrated on taking care of us.

My mum’s senior sister has four kids. Two of the kids have the same father. The next two have different fathers. My maternal grandmother had seven children with four different men. She died without a husband.

It’s a trend in the family. People say it’s a curse that exists in the family. My mum had many pastors lay their hands on her to break that curse. She fasted and slept in many churches before she got married to her last husband and that too didn’t work out.

I was in Senior High School when I got pregnant—a teacher got me pregnant. To protect her job and dignity, I never mentioned his name to anyone. He promised me heaven on earth if I kept mute on his name. He said: “After everything, I would sponsor you through school until you become of age so I marry you.” I believed him. When I left the school to stay home and deliver, he sought transfer and left the school.

I went back to school after delivery, completed Senior High School and got admission to teacher training school. Second-year in teacher training school, I got pregnant again. A boyfriend I found in the school got me pregnant. He took responsibility for it but did nothing that showed he was the father. Again, I came home, delivered, and went back to school.

Gossips started swirling about the curses that existed in my family. Three generations repeating the same mistakes couldn’t be a coincidence, right? The curse might be true. I came to believe it but did nothing about it. If it was a curse, then nobody can blame me for whatever was happening in my life. MUm was very helpful. She was happy about the fact that I always went back to continue my education while she took care of my kids.

After training college, I told myself: “The next one will be my last stop. If it works fine, if it doesn’t, that would be the end of me and men.” My mUm told me: “It becomes difficult when entering into a new relationship with your past mistakes trailing you. The men don’t take you serious while you give youR all thinking you’ve found the one. Soon they leave you after another pregnancy.”

“…Past mistakes trailing you…” She was talking about the kids from my past relationships but my kids were not a mistake. If they were, they were my own mistakes and I was proud of them. But that advice helped me a lot. Anytime a man shows interest in me, I declare my asset: “I have two kids, a boy and a girl. They’re everything there’s to me. If you truly want me, you’ll have to want them too.”

Many men left after hearing that I had kids. Others stayed for a while, tested the waters and soon left when they realiSed how hot the water was. C’est la vie…so no problem.

Then I met James, the man who promised to bring me a piece of the stars if I wanted it. He loved me and everything he did showed that he had mad love for me. He didn’t know about my kids so it was normal. I told myself: “Wait till you see the two trails of my past relationships.” So one night when he was aggressively proclaiming his love for me, I interrupted him: “James, you don’t need to tell me anything more to show your love. I know you love me but can you love my kids too?” He looked shocked when I told him that. He asked, “Kids? You have kids? As in you’ve given birth to children already?”

I smiled and said:  “Yes, I have kids already. Two of them and they’re my everything. Can you love them too?” “Where’s their father?” He asked. I answered,  “They have different fathers because I had them at two different points of my life. The fathers left my life and it’s been only me and them through it all. I had them through my mistake but they’re not a mistake”

I didn’t hear again from James for close to one week. He wasn’t calling or texting. The last text between us was from me. He read it and didn’t respond. I thought to myself: “He couldn’t handle the truth. Maybe he’s not the one.” I really liked him and wanted him to be the one but I couldn’t force him to be there for me. One morning he sent me a text. “How are you? When are you introducing me to the kids?” I said: “They are always with me. When you come home, you’ll find them.”

He came home the next day with gifts for the kids. They were very happy. They kept screaming and hovering around him asking him when he’ll come around again with gifts for them. I asked him: “I didn’t hear from you for over a week. What happened?” He answered: “I needed time to think about the whole thing and assess how much I really wanted this.”

“An yeah, I’ve thought about things. It’s good you told me when you told me. They are lovely kids. I don’t think they can impede or change anything. What I feel for you is still intact. Yeah, I got scared but having enough time to think about it makes it not scary at all.”

So we started dating. Both of us didn’t have time to waste. I was beyond the recklessness of new love and he was determined to make me his wife in no time. My mum didn’t have any issues with him. She treated the whole affair as though it didn’t matter. Maybe she was counting on the days she’ll wake up and hear: “He left me.” She was still believing in the family curse. Jame’s parents gave us the biggest trouble. He is their only child and expected him to marry someone he could have a fresh beginning with not someone who started the journey when she was 17 and in Senior High School. The mother didn’t want to see my face in their house and the father always told him to be careful about women who have kids with other men.

Two years after dating, his parents still said no to me. One morning I told him; “Your parents are right. They love you enough not to watch you take a step that will ruin your future. Let’s listen to them. Find someone else. Marry her and make them happy. No, I won’t hold it against you. You did your best.” He answered: “No, we won’t let go just like that. They don’t know you too well that’s why they’re judging you through a warped lens. Let’s give it another year. I will change things.” I asked: “What are you going to do differently?”

Not too long after this conversation, he called me one day to tell me his parents want to see me. I asked: “What do they have under their sleeve? I hope they’re not waiting to throw acid on me.” He laughed and said: “They’re loosening their stands now. We’ll be fine.” That day in his house with his father sitting face to face with me and his mum sitting next to me, I was so uncomfortable I wanted to leave immediately, but his father was calm in speech when he apologised for not meeting me long ago. He said: “My son really loves you and wants to make a home with you. We have no option than to give you our blessings.” His mother didn’t say a word.

I asked James: “What changed? What did you do differently?”

He said: “I sent a delegation of family members to talk to them. Our pastor too went to see him with a church delegation. But you know one secrete thing? My father’s father didn’t take care of him. It was his step-father who took him to school and took care of him till he completed university and started his own work. His mother got married to his step-dad when he was only six years and both parents stayed married until his stepdad died. Many people didn’t even realise that he was a step-son so why would he not allow me to have step kids of my own.

Wow. Stories.

Every family has their own. Until it’s told, you’ll never know the journey they’ve traveled to become who they are. We got married in 2011 and after nine years of being happily married, I now understand why we had to go through all the troubles and waiting periods before getting married. Good things take time but when they finally happen, you realise the juice was worth the squeeze.

We have two kids of our own and all four kids had been raised in an environment of love and care. Our kids don’t know my kids have different fathers. They think of themselves as siblings of the same father. Before we had our own kids, it was James who took them to school, brought them back and helped them with their homework. He’ll take them out on weekends and they’ll come back home with lots of fun stuff in their hands. For once, I saw deep carved smiles on the faces of the kids. As though they’ve found something of theirs that got missing long ago. The father figure they lost was replaced and their heart was glad.

James’ parents have learned to love me as one of their own. Until his mum died recently, she spoke to me every day and I went to see them almost every weekend. She said: “You’re like the second child I never had.” I told her: “Thanks for giving me the best man I could ever find on this earth. May God keep her soul wherever she is. My mum—she’s always worried. I’ve been married for over nine years but somehow she still believes anything can happen to destroy the happiness they’ve found. I told her: “There’s no curse. We met too many wrong people. We only had to find that right person to right all the wrongs.”

James—my dear James, may God bless the winds that blew him to my path. It sounds cliche to say he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He’s the best thing and more. He’s love and he’s care. He’s all the good things that one needs to break an old age family curse.

—Anita, Ghana