In The Beginning: When The World Was Our Canvas

Time check: 2am.Day: 18th December 2011Place: Wedding Night Suite (not to be confused with the honeymoon suite. At least not yet).

We were about 13hrs into our marriage. My freshly minted wife and I were sitting on our bed. After our wedding reception, we had joined a few friends for what was-by our very modest partying standards- a wild after-party karaoke. The wedding committee had gone home. The parents were all gone. Sengas, friends…everyone was gone. All the sleepless nights of planning, anxious fundraising, stressful drafting of the guest list, dealing with difficult relatives…it was all finished.

It was just me, her and the rest of our lives.

We had it all planned out. We were going to do two years of learning on the job what it means to be husband and wife before having babies. We both wanted to do our Masters degrees and get some more working experience, maybe purchase a piece of land, certainly grow our restaurant and farming businesses and then, when we were both in our dream jobs and had some money in the bank, we would drop our first bundle of joy.

We had talked through all manner of things years before and agreed on what should happen. She had initially wanted six kids, I had wanted two. Through a complex web of negotiating and renegotiating with hugs and kisses (or the denial of the same), we had settled on having a minimum of 3 and maximum of 4. Our family is full of twins, you see. So that had to be worked into the equation. Both of us were also passionate about adoption and had agreed that when we were ready to have kids, our first would be an adopted child. The logic here was simple. We wanted our adopted child to truly feel like s/he was ours. Having him/her first would mean that in spite of being adopted s/he was…well, our first. It’d be a bond that couldn’t be taken away by anything, not even the experience of a biological birth. She wanted a cute little boy. I wanted a beautiful little girl. Whichever it turned out to be, the second child would be the opposite. Then we’d have a third. In the event that the second (first biological birth) or third were twins, we would end up with four. Double twins? No problem. Five would still be within her desired range 6. Life was good. What could go wrong? We, the children of the most High God, would certainly have our way. Didn’t God promise that all we needed to do was ask and He would answer?

I have always enjoyed debating and considering various angles and perspectives of things. During one of our pre-marital counselling sessions with Rev. Can. Dr. John Senyonyi and his wife Dr. Ruth Senyonyi, we were discussing child-bearing.

“What if you don’t have children?” they asked us.

It wasn’t a question meant to question God’s promise to us or His ability to grant us our hearts’ desires. In the ensuing conversation, they explained that marriage is about the two people involved in it and their God. A man and wife are a complete family. Children, they explained, are a gift from God. And because they are gifts, the receiver really can’t dictate the manner or numbers in which they come. Or IF they come. And so, some come biologically, others through adoption, some through mentorship, while others still through a family tragedy that thrusts your kin into your care…so many packages.

And sometimes, they don’t.

So in that wedding night room, with my bride and I staring at the forever in each other’s eyes, were ready for whatever life brought our way. Or so we thought.

A few weeks after our honeymoon, the questions began. When are you guys having kids? When are you giving us twins? Even fringe friends who we last saw in college and don’t know my last name would ask us when they are becoming uncles/aunties.

Here’s a side note to anyone that has ever asked this question of a couple they know (myself inclusive): it’s never right to ask such things, even as a joke, unless you have explicit permission to. And by explicit, I mean that you have checked with them and they are okay with you asking about such things. If you haven’t, assume they aren’t. Just because you are a friend, relative etc doesn’t mean you have the right to ask. That’s not to say your intentions are wrong (sometimes they are). But good intentions alone are not good enough reason. For starters, asking people when they are going to have children presupposes that it is them that determine this. But it isn’t. Sure, they can decide to try to have kids, but ultimately, whether they conceive or not is really not up to them. So if you really want to know when they are going to have kids, go to your room, close the door, kneel down in prayer and ask their Creator.

Anyway, I digress.

At that point (early on in marriage), these questions can all seems like harmless jokes. You laugh it off and tell them you are waiting for them to make you some nieces and nephews or something along those lines. You recognise that it is coming from a good place. At least most of it anyway. And because you are not trying yet, it doesn’t feel offensive or intrusive. Society, especially our Ugandan society is brutally laser-focused on child-birth as a measure of the validity of a relationship. It probably doesn’t help that Ugandans have for a long time been ranked the most fertile people on earth. People expect their people to be with child as soon as they shoot their shot. And they demand that it happens sooner rather than later.

But marriage is about a lot more than having children. It is a lot more than being in a relationship that enables you to have socially acceptable sex. More on this later. For the time being, we took everything in our stride. In any case, our plans gave us a two-year buffer.

In May 2013, Diana and I got the news that we had both been awarded Commonwealth Shared scholarships to do our Masters. To understand the miraculous nature of this news, I’d need to explain a few things. I had been applying for scholarships for 5 years by then. 3 years for Diana. Each year, I’d get shortlisted in at least two scholarship applications, but never got picked. By the time we got the news, I had applied for admission to various universities 129 times. I received two offers: the University of Leeds and University College of London. Diana had received an offer from Leeds Metropolitan University, which is just a stone-throw away from the University of Leeds. The Commonwealth lady I mentioned our situation to in London said to the best of her knowledge, it was the first time in the history of the scholarship that they had offered a husband and wife separate scholarships in the same year. The choice of which university offer I should take up was never really a choice. Where she went, I would go.

In September 2013, just three months shy of our second marriage anniversary, we headed to Leeds. We were going to earn our Masters degrees, we were going to be able to save up some money, our businesses were doing well and we had a piece of land we could build our home on. Sure we had to resign our mid-level management jobs, but the scholarship stipends more than balanced things out.

The stars were aligned. Our God had thus far, given us all we had asked for, when we had asked for it. It was time to think of babies and shut those inquisitive friends and family up once and for all.

The trying begun.

Our Story Of Waiting To Be Ramya’s Parents Part 1/8

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Written by Ganzi Isharaza (1)

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Frank memo to Makerere students

Dear “Maama”, Did you speak as First Lady, Minister of Education, Pastor or Grandma??