My story begins 8 years ago. For the longest time I have worked with and been surrounded by children, as an au pair both in London and in Johannesburg. They have always been like tiny friends to me, and I’ve thought for the longest time that with all this “training” I will be the most natural mother.
2010 was the year I returned from England. I had experienced very unpleasant cycles up till then- once I bled for 5 months straight. I knew I could never use any oral or injectable contraceptive as they all left me experiencing debilitating migraines. So there was no pill or injection option for me.
Before we got married, I didn’t want children outside of marriage. Of course there were times we thought I may be pregnant and panic generally ensued, what with a preacher father and a strict christian upbringing, this would have been a fate I felt ill equipped to have to deal with. Little did i realise the Late period every month was simply due to extremely long cycles, among a myriad of other problems.
Fast forward to 2018 and there’s not much I wouldn’t do for an “accidental pregnancy” now. With literally every second person I know falling pregnant around me for the last couple of years, I’ve had to develop an extremely thick skin and just get on with life.
2015 saw a drastic jump from subtle realisations that we weren’t falling pregnant, to scheduling visits with a fertility specialist. To this day my doctor is the only one i trust with my fertility issues. I distinctly remember leaving his office after the first day, full of optimism for all the remedies, potions, ops and timing he suggested. I felt a desperate sense of hope. But despite the timing, scheduled visits, countless blood tests, a variety of medicines, many chats and way too much money spent, we still came out of 2015 childless.
2016 was laparoscopy time. Countless women suffer with PCOS and endometriosis, I am no different- add to that an “inhospitable womb” irregular cycles where sometimes I simply don’t ovulate and poor egg quality when I do. Poor counts on hubby’s part were easily remedied with specific meds and to this day I blame myself for us being a barren couple. We also visited Steve Biko academic hospital as we had heard the IVF is more affordable at government hospitals. But with my husbands goods having vastly improved, IVF was put off the table, with them telling us we needed to do 3 cycles of IUI first. This frustrated me, as I know the chances are so much lower. We would also now have to delay the very procedure we had hoped to have. The laparoscopy proved my tubes are clear, but no results were achieved.
2017 brought three medicated cycles of IUI, one of which we could not proceed with because despite the administered injections meant to put me in a state of hyper-ovulation, my eggs the one month were simply too small. So two cycles actually took place, but failed. It was a very draining year in many senses and fertility stresses were moved out of mind.
We now hope to go to cape town to do ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) at Tygerberg hospital. It’s more advanced than IVF and the chances are slightly better. Our case needs to be assessed and they will ascertain if we are a worthwhile case to take on.
Surrogacies and egg donations have cropped up in conversation but never been explored. Deep down, I want to carry my own child- but if in 5 years time that has not happened, I’m aware of the world of options out there.
The heartache is sometimes dulled, however it’s always there. But I’ve learnt that seeing a mother carrying a newborn, or an expecting mommy- I cant judge or be jealous. No one carries a sign with a list of problems they had getting to where they are now, a roadmap of potential sorrow along the way. For a lot of women, pregnancy just happens. For the silent hundreds, those who fear to speak, who are embarrassed to be heard, pregnancy is a far off pipe dream.
In my quest for solace for myself, and to attempt to help others climb out of this dark cave, I started my blog Fertility Matters. I post there sporadically, I don’t force it- but when I do post I have questions, emails and comments thanking me. We, who face this journey with no foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel, are braver than we give ourselves credit for.
So I pray for a year of further bravery, courage, kindness, empathy, miracles, compassion, strength, boldness and above all faith. Without that, I’d have given up long ago.