La Mode AfriWoman Forum and Dinner


RL: My name is Laurie Idahosa. I am the Director of Campus Life at Benson Idahosa University, Senior Pastor Church of God Mission- Church Unusual. I am the proprietor of Nathan American Academy and Big Ben Children’s Hospital in Benin City, Nigeria. I function on many boards including that of Faith Mediplex Hospital, the Above Only Group and that of the Christian Women’s Fellowship International. I love people. I love making meaningful connections with people. I love helping people develop and maximize their potential in life.


RL: I was raised alongside my brother, Eric in a Christian home by parents who are both pastors and business owners; Dr. Gary and Faye Whetstone. I am married to the love of my life, Bishop Feb Idahosa and we have 3 wonderful boys; Feb Jnr, Nathaniel and Judah. They are all miracle children.


RL: The CDC tells us that one out of eight women will suffer infertility in their lifetime and I happen to be one of those one-in-eight. Infertility is a very difficult thing for a woman to go through especially in the African culture where women are generally expected to produce children to prove their womanhood. When you have a problem with bearing children, it can affect your morale, self-esteem and your overall view of life. It is one of those things that you cannot physically control and when something is out of your control you can feel frustrated. Because I went through five years of infertility with numerous interventions, I have a special compassion and desire to help other families going through the trials of infertility.


RL: I’m excited and encouraged by what Nigeria is doing around issues of infertility. Back in 2002/ 2003 when we were first married, there wasn’t much available in Nigeria in terms of treatment or large scale awareness about infertility solutions. Back then, about 15 years ago, with couples that were not having children, people would just assume it was the woman’s fault or some kind of spiritual problem. The medical sector is doing a much better job than what it did in previous generations in educating the public about infertility, and providing information about the options that are now available. There is hardly a state you can go to in Nigeria now that doesn’t have a reproductive endocrinologist or someplace where you can undergo advanced infertility treatment or assisted reproduction. I am quite impressed with what is happening in the medical sector in this regard. There are so many babies being born in the country now because of the advancements in medicine. I applaud the doctors hat have been courageous to break new ground in this field and really bring infertility to the forefront, providing solutions for families and individuals who are suffering.


RL: I was married in 2002, to my childhood sweetheart. I expected my life to be like a ‘fairytale dream come true’ after my wedding day. I assumed things would be easy. I’d hoped to have children right away. Not long after we got married we started trying for children and it wasn’t happening immediately so we went to some doctors in the US to just give us a checkup. We were not expecting any bad news. When they performed a check up on us they told us that between my husband and myself that we were 99.9% infertile. They said that it was impossible for us to have children without assisted reproduction. This was a big blow to us because we had thought that everything was going to be easy in that area. We had a dream of a family and we just assumed that we would be able to make that family happen just by our love alone. We found out that it took more than that.
My husband always had the courage and faith to reassure me that he was so certain that we were going to have our children. Unlike his optimistic approach, I was discouraged by what I heard the doctor say. I was discouraged by the test results that we got. He had problems with male infertility and I had problems with female infertility and when you put the two of us together it was a double whammy. We started to go through in-vitro fertilization treatments unbeknownst to anyone. We were very quiet and very private about it.
We liquidated some investments that I had made when I was a single person and got some funds from our parents so that we would able to pay for the treatments. We did this so that no one would know what we were investing in. We had told my parents and his mother and just one or two other people that were close to us but we kept it a secret and very much between the two of us. We did several IVFs that didn’t work. We went through 4 unsuccessful IVFs in Delaware, which is the state where I am from. After they failed, we went to New York Presbyterian Hospital, Cornell University which was at the time the best IVF center in the United States. We paid the extra money to go to New York and undergo the IVF treatment. We got pregnant on our first try at that facility and had our first child, a miracle baby through IVF. Unfortunately, 12 hours after our miracle baby, “Ben” was born, he unexpectedly and tragically died. He was a full-term baby but he had something called Primary Pulmonary Hypotension- something we could never have detected while he was in the womb although I went through extensive prenatal care. Needless to say, it was devastating to us and to everyone who had rejoiced with us over his birth.
Three months later, miraculously, God gave us a natural pregnancy without IVF, any doctors or any intervention of man. That baby is Feb Jnr, he was born on the 9th of July, 2008. He is now a thriving 8-year-old and we thank God for his life. After I finished breastfeeding Feb Jnr, I wanted to have more children so I went back to the doctor because I was not conceiving. The doctor retested both of us and said that we were worse off now than ever before. He told us that it would be impossible to have a third child, he said; “Nobody wins the lottery twice.” He told us not to hope or expect a second miracle and that if we wanted to have more children we had to do an IVF. My husband and I, frustrated that we were now being told we would have to do another IVF, went ahead with the treatment. Unfortunately, it failed. We came back home to Nigeria and said that we were done trying as it was too much pain, too much frustration, and too much time away from Nigeria. We decided that we would just face our lives here and be happy with our miracle child when suddenly I got pregnant naturally. I was pregnant again, just a couple of months after the failed IVF. That baby is Nathaniel Victor Benson Idahosa. He is 5 years old now and was born on November 14, 2011. I was still nursing Nathaniel when he started being fussy and he didn’t want to breastfeed anymore. He was pushing me away and I couldn’t understand why until someone told me that sometimes when children reject breast milk it could be because the mother is pregnant. I laughed and said there was no way I was pregnant. However just on a whim I took a test and found out that I was pregnant with another child, again without medical intervention. Judah Victor Benson Idahosa was born on January 2, 2013, just a little bit over 13 months after Nathaniel. They are three wonderful children all miraculously conceived and all to the glory of God because only God could have done such a miracle in our lives.


RL: Number one; be armed with information. Find out what are the causes of your infertility, don’t just take everything as just faith alone; faith without works is dead (James 2:14.) I believe that as women (and men) it is important that we know what we are dealing with. The family needs to understand the problems that they are having so that they know how to direct their prayer as well as their intervention. I highly encourage couples facing infertility to have faith and believe for the impossible. In-vitro fertilization requires Faith, just like natural conception does. I still believe in the value and benefits of assisted reproduction. I have seen it be effective and I encourage people that are having infertility problems to go for assisted reproduction, to see doctors and have medical interventions if they are able to. I don’t believe that medical intervention is a lack of faith in any way. In fact, I can tell you from experience that getting medical intervention requires just as much faith as God doing it naturally. You have to have faith that every injection is going to work, you have to have faith in every process and truly I believe that God is the only giver of life. If you’re going to get pregnant through assisted reproduction or natural conception, it is God that gives life, so I encourage women to trust, to have faith, to believe, and not to give up hope. Keep standing, be armed with information and get the right kind of support around you. Have the right kind of word that you listen to, the right kind of things that build you up on the inside and give you the courage to keep going when things around you make you feel like giving up. Remain confident that it is possible and that God will answer your prayers.


RL: I love youth; people who are young and in a position in life where they are able to be trained and developed. I love being around people who are moldable. This is probably why I have my greatest joy professionally working with the amazing students of Benson Idahosa University. My biggest vision for the youth is that they will discover their purpose and walk in the fullness of that purpose. I believe that a person without purpose is a person who is frustrated internally and yearning for something more in life, even if they don’t express it through conventional means. A person without purpose can live day in and day out and do absolutely nothing that has value or meaning. I don’t believe that we are called to just live an aimless life. My vision for young people is that they will discover their abilities and purpose, I pray for them to discover why God created them. I pray that they will walk in the fullness of their purpose and that they find fulfillment in life.


RL: I have always had a passion to reach out, support and help people. In fact, last week I was reading a book to my children and talking to them about what Jesus wants us to do on this earth. We were discussing that the greatest things He wants us to do is to bring people healing emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was sharing with them how important it is to reach out and support people. People who love and support others are people who never lack. That is how I have always lived my life. I have looked for opportunities to serve mankind. I look for where there is the greatest need and give myself to it. I may not have always had all the resources I needed but I have made myself a vessel for people who may have those resources.
Over the last few years I have been working with the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria. I have been involved in serving at an IDP camp in Benin City, building structures at the camp, helping to ensure that their physical needs are met as well as their spiritual needs. And I have done that for the camp here in Benin City as well as sent financial support to some other camps around the country. I thank God for allowing me to be a conduit of His blessing. People have so much to do and give but rarely know how to get their philanthropic gifts to the people who really need it. I like being that connection for people and take their desire to help and make it into a reality. Most recently, I have done this for international donors, celebrities and state governments.

RL: My favorite quote is from my father, Dr. Gary Whetstone and that is “Enjoy the journey.” He has always taught me to enjoy the path that I am on, regardless of whether it is particularly pleasant or not. He has always taught me that in every situation I go through that there is a purpose for it and to find the joy in it. I have taken this to heart and regardless of where I am on my path or this journey of life; I smile, I enjoy each moment and I see purpose fulfilled through me and the people around me.

RL: The most important thing to me, outside my relationship with Jesus Christ, is my family. I believe that when it comes to leisure, spending time with your spouse and your children is the most rewarding and fulfilling way that I can spend my time away from the office. I love to read and study new things, but mostly, I enjoy playing with my children and looking for opportunities for us to go out and do things together as a family. I love spending time with my husband. Our life in Benin City can be quite demanding. Feb and I enjoy traveling and exploring new environments and places together. Family time should never be seen as work. It is a blessing from God to have a family. So, I find as much quality time as I can to spend with them.

RL: You know, it’s funny I don’t get to read magazines the way that I used to. When I lived in the States 15 years ago, I was an avid reader of magazines and every time I was in the grocery store I would buy them, read them and share them with friends. The last one I had a subscription to was Oprah’s O but it has been quite a few years. Maybe magazine reading is something I should get back into, now that my boys are growing up. It is the same story with Nigerian magazines. I don’t have a magazine reading culture anymore, but I do enjoy La Mode Magazine and of course, I greatly appreciate La Mode for the opportunity of this interview today. God bless you.

RL: Left for me, my fashion style would be simply comfortable. I’m not a very high fashion type of person. I like classy, simple, elegant and comfortable with extra emphasis on comfortable. I don’t believe that clothes should make you have to adjust your personality or act differently; clothes should be an accent to your natural personality. I am a very accessible, fun loving and caring person so I try to keep my wardrobe to things that can help me express my personality so that my clothes don’t take away from who I am, they don’t become the discussion. Our lives should be the discussion and our clothes are just the accent. Having had said that, I have recently been invited to innumerable formal wear functions and parties. I have a new found love for evening gowns, strappy high heels and fake eyelashes! I suppose all of us are subject to change over time.

RL: The greatest things that I have accomplished have not been accomplished on my own; I have accomplished them through the grace of Jesus Christ. I believe that having my family, my children, is the greatest thing that I have ever been able to do in life. I believe that the best things we can do are things that reproduce after themselves. Another accomplishment that I place high value on are the people I have led to Jesus Christ and the impact I have been able to make through ministry, helping and encouraging people. To me those are the biggest accomplishments because they are the ones that go with us into eternity. Yes I have built buildings and great things in business, in the university and ministry but at the end of the day it is only the lives that we impact that really matter and so I believe that the greatest accomplishments that I have are the people that can testify that their lives have been impacted through mine.

RL: My advice for youth is that you will discover your purpose early. Don’t wait and just throw your life away thinking that you have forever. Early in life, find what you love, what you enjoy, how you can impact your world, how you can make a difference and start living your life to the fullest. Find expressions of your gifts. Every one of you has a gift, every one of you has something you can use to make a difference in society. I encourage you to find what’s uniquely yours, what is your individual and unique purpose. Find your niche in this world and start to make it. Maybe it is your voice or your fashion sense, maybe it’s your singing or your writing; whatever it is you do, do it with excellence and passion. I encourage you to nurture that gift and to make your impact in this world, don’t let the days of life just pass you by. Capture each day, live it to the fullest and find your purpose. I also encourage you to avoid the pitfalls that so many of us fall into. The pitfalls of having wrong relationships, wrong friendships or wrong motives take us on twisted journeys in life and create pitfalls for us. I encourage you to be motivated by what really matters. Make good decisions with your friendships. Make good decisions with who you are going to partner with in life. The people you partner with make a huge difference in the success or failure of your life’s journey. Alliances can make or break you.


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