Tolulope Patrick is a 28-year-old mother of five from Ile-Ife, Osun State, who was recently delivered of triplets at a private hospital in Lagos State. She tells ALEXANDER OKERE how tough life has been since her husband allegedly abandoned her seven months into the pregnancy
What do you do?
I am a fashion designer from Osun State. I have O level certificate.
When did you have your triplets?
I had them on April 14, 2020 at a private hospital. I had two boys and a girl and they are healthy. But after the delivery, I fell ill. I was told I lost a lot of blood. I was later taken to the Lagos Island Maternity Hospital where I received treatment. I didn’t pay for the treatment because I was told treatment was free in April.
When did you meet your husband?
We met in 2012 at my parents’ former residence in Bariga, Lagos. But they have moved to Mowe/Ibafo in Ogun State. We got married in 2013. We had two children – two girls aged six and three – before he left.
Did he have any issue with you concerning the children?
No. He did not complain.
Did you two agree to have another child before you got pregnant?
No. It (pregnancy) happened as a mistake. When I told him I was pregnant, he said it was not the right time because our second daughter was still very young. He also complained about the economy but later stopped complaining. But I told him that I was not God and did not plan for the pregnancy.
Did he accept the pregnancy?
He accepted it. But when I did a scan and told him I was expecting twins, he was shocked. He said he had been complaining about having another child not knowing I was expecting two babies.
What does your husband do for a living?
He used to work as a despatch rider in a private company. He later joined another private company as a commercial motorcyclist in November. But he lost his job when the Lagos State Government banned okada (commercial motorcyes) and tricycles in February. He is from Benue State. In the middle of February, he told me he wanted to go to his hometown in Benue. I told him that he was not supposed to leave because I was heavy with pregnancy. But he promised to return. He did not tell me when he would return; he only told me not to bother.
How old was your pregnancy at that time?
I was over seven months pregnant.
Do you think he ran away because you were pregnant?
I think he ran away because he was already aware that I was pregnant with more than one child. He has been away for more than two months. He abandoned me with the children.
Why do you think so?
When I was heavily pregnant, I had to ask someone to bathe my children for me. His number was still available at that time. Each time I called, he told me he was coming home, but that he could not find a means to transport himself and did not have any money. But later, his number became unavailable. I am suffering alone. I am the only one taking care of the triplets. I think frustration must have made him run away.
Is he aware that you have been delivered of triplets?
Yes. Although his mobile phone line could not be reached, one of his friends gave me the phone number of a man who lives in my husband’s village. I called the man and he promised to tell my husband about the triplets.
How did you manage to pay the bills for the delivery?
I was charged N65,000, but we pleaded with the hospital to consider my situation and reduce it. It was later reduced to N40,000. But I was able to pay N30,000. On the day my children were born, a woman I didn’t know came and gave me N15,000 in an envelope to support me. She said she heard that I had triplets and decided to support. I was able to raise N30,000 in addition to the money she gave me.
How have you been coping with the triplets and your eldest daughters amid the lockdown due to COVID-19?
I am just managing. I have no business fetching me an income. I only get little money from people who visit me and my triplets. Some give me N500 or N1,000. I am not happy. I cry every day.
Have you sought help from government or private agencies?
I was told at the government hospital that I could not get help at that time. But I know if the government hears about my condition, it will help me no matter how small. I need government assistance to feed my children and give them education. I know they will go far because God will help me. My rent has expired. I live in a single room and my landlord asked me to tell my husband to pay the rent. But I told him I was the only one at home taking care of the children.
What would you like to tell your husband?
I want him to know that the solution to the challenges we are facing is not for him to run away. He should return home and see the children.
Have you forgiven him?
For now, I have not forgiven him because I am not happy with him. I am very sad because the children haven’t seen their dad. I am scared because it is not easy to take care of triplets. But I know that God who gave them to me will help me.