Advocate. Inform. Empower

Kelly and Leon’s Journey

By Kelly Van der Merwe

We have decided to share our story for the sole purpose of giving hope to other couples
currently going through their own personal journey in the hope that one day they too will
be able to share their story of answered prayer and encouragement to someone else in
need of inspiration.

As most couples our journey began when we got married and wanted to settle down and
start a family. We had been married for little over a year, both my husband and I had high
powered careers at the time and travelled extensively so trying to start a family the “normal
way” of let’s wait and see what happens was already a challenge. We would go for months
without seeing each other and when we did see each other it wasn’t always the best time of
month to “try”. Leon, my husband is 11 years older than me so his desire for a family was
very real and he always said he doesn’t want to be 70 at his childs 21st. For me it was more
of another box that society forces you to tick, none the less we started looking forward to
having a baby without ever dreaming it would turn out the way it has…..

Year 1 nothing! So we decide to go to a well known fertility clinic and get checked out. Well
to my dismay it turned out that both of us had issues. Of course the big word in infertility
circles is endometriosis its kind of the ADHD of fertility. Everyone has it and it’s the first
thing that is diagnosed (who knows how they do it). So I’m scheduled to have the
laparoscopy and then follow on once I’ve healed straight onto IVF as we were told our
problems were so severe time was not on our side and this was our only hope of ever
having our own babies. As terrified as I was we got shunted down the “feedlot” of infertility
clinics and start our IVF treatment. Of course all the while reading everything I could get my
hands on from the internet and books (not always a good thing).
I remember somebody who I chatted to said to me once: “you will have children one day if
you want them badly enough, your goal posts will just move” and at the time I did not
understand what she meant.

As terrified as I was of needles (lifelong fear) I knew IVF was our only chance we had. Luckily
finances at this stage in our life were still fine and the thought of spending R50 000.00 on
this treatment was small in comparison. I could write a book on all the hysterical things that
happened to me while I was trying to function normally in a job that took me into Africa and
out of my comfortable clinic zone all the while not telling any of my work colleagues my
silent torture that I was going through. It’s a silent and very private battle so many people
face alone (especially men) because of the stigmas attached.

Well needless to say we went through the egg harvest and I had 18 eggs!!!!! Yay for us well
done me….. actually we found out later, not so well done and not so great as I was over
stimulated and very ill after that and my eggs had no quality. The 2 week wait took 2 years
for me and of course everything goes through your mind. After the blood test we had the
stoic conversation with the doctor that “ this cycle didn’t work, but don’t worry there is
always next time”. Wow I wish these doctors knew what they were saying sometimes! Heart
broken is not the word.

After 8 months of getting over our loss and picking ourselves up again I decide to join an
infertility group to help me talk about our struggle and to share with people going through a
similar process. I highly recommend doing this as I found out that I wasn’t alone and that I
could talk to people who understood this all consuming battle we were facing. On one of
the ladies advice we changed clinics and started from scratch at a new doctors rooms. New
tests, new assessments and a new strategy! Another 2 operations later and we were ready
to try again.

This time what was recommended was something called ZIFT where the egg and sperm are
fertilized in the lab and grown for 5 days then a surgical procedure places the embryos into
the fallopian tube to naturally travel down and implant on their own. Well, risky but this
time we trusted our doctors and we knew if it was to be then this would work.

Another IVF cycle started and this time they harvested 8 eggs of not so good quality. Only 6
survived the 4 days and fertilised successfully. Of those 6 only 5 made it into embryos. The
quality of the embryos was so bad that the doctor prepared us for the worst and we made
the joint decision to put all 5 embryos back into my fallopian tube.

This time I couldn’t wait the full 2 weeks and I had to do a home pregnancy test to prepare
myself mentally for the devastation I had been blind sided with on attempt 1. So I did a test
2 days early and low and behold it was positive. Now you must understand that I had done
roughly 100 000 tests in the past and all of them were negative so I was in disbelief!!!
We waited until it was our day to have the blood test at the clinic and much to our
amazement my blood HCG was 157!! Wow what joy. Finally. Oh but wait, they put back 5!!!
This may not only be a baby but it may be 5!! At this point you can only trust me when I say
we did not care if all 5 took. We were over the moon and very thankful.

Of course there were lots of ups and downs but for ease of reading this story, we were
pregnant with triplets and we were blessed with healthy twins! One boy and one girl. How
perfect! Full term twins with a C section born on 21 Dec 2010. Our little miracles our family
is complete!!!

But that was not the end of the story. When the twins were 6 months old I found out I was
already 11 weeks pregnant naturally with baby number 3! How strange this life is with all its
ups and downs. One thing I am sure of is that God hears our prayers and it will be so in His
timing. Cut yourself some slack (and your husband) and enjoy this season you are in, viewing
it in a way that one day you can help somebody else get through this very same struggle and
be their light at the end of the tunnel.

I realised that we moved our goal posts by doing IVF twice, having numerous operations,
having needles stuck into me. All those things I would never have done to myself if it wasn’t
for the promise of a baby. You too will have your baby even if it means for you those goal
posts are adoption, egg donor or what ever your personal choice is. Don’t give up hope, God
is listening.

Tags: #1in6

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