It’s my Birthday today and here I am after a short sabbatical from blogging ready to re-enter the Blogosphere. I decided to take a short break this summer to just enjoy life, the little new addition to our family called Alexie and to rethink the direction of the blog. In the past 2 years a lot has changed in my life and instead of being just a food, travel & family blog I thought it would be great to write openly about not just the happy go lucky times but also the tough ones. I’ve honestly wanted to blog about my IVF procedure for a long time but then within the span of 2 years I had 2 small humans come into my life and somehow time slipped out of my hands.
This summer, I promised myself to make more time to write and the one thing that was high up on my To Do List was this blog post.
It is nothing like I’ve ever shared before however with it I hope that some of you who are dealing with this nasty monster called INFERTILITY will know that many of us have already been down the same path and you are anything but alone. My own struggle with infertility is a reality I’ve been extremely private about. (so private that most of my family and friends are going to have their jaws dropped down as they read this)
Like us If you’ve tried everything to start a family and nothing has worked so far then this post may be able to give you some insight into the world of infertility. Quite simply my goal here is to start a dialogue about the good, bad and the ugly so you know that through all the pain there is hope. From my experience I find the issue of infertility to be progressively increasing among our tribe almost making it some sort of generational problem. Since undergoing the procedure I’ve had many women confide in me about conceiving using artificial reproductory treatment which leads me believe that we may have come a long way ahead as a society yet through all of our successes infertility remains to be one of those taboo topics of shame among us. I strongly believe that more of us need to start sharing our experiences, our successes and failures so together we can grow, learn, and uplift each other ultimately giving hope to those that are trying their very best to hold life within them. With that in mind
Here is my story – (a short version)
A few years ago my life may have seemed rosy to most around me. I was travelling the world, eating exquisite food and experiencing the most wonderful sights there is to see. Little did anyone know then that I was anything but happy? Having been dating for 3 years + and married for over a year or so we had decided we were ready to start a family. However in a few months we noticed that things weren’t quite working out for us as planned. Eventually as anyone would be I started to get extremely frustrated. One night during dinner we got into a long discussion and began venting out at each other. The outcome of that talk was that it was time for us to seek some medical advice.
At our first appointment we were both made to run some regular scans and checks. The reports of which came back showing that I had PCOD. (Polycystic Ovary Disease) For those of you who do not know what PCOD/PCOS is, it is a hormone caused Disease (occurs all the time) / Syndrome (occurs occasionally at different periods). This disorder causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges making it hard to conceive as instead of eggs the body mostly or only produces cysts. If you haven’t heard of PSOD until today, then let me tell you that it is a very common disease among women and like most, after living in my body for 30 odd years I too was sailing in that very same ignorant boat. Well anyway a doctors visit later we were goggling this stuff to know more. I wondered how did I ever get PCOD? but neither the doctors nor Google could give me an answer cause no exact reason has yet been discovered and the disease is thought to be genetic. Read more here – PCOD
Post that initial check up, the doctor suggested that we mustn’t worry too much and said eventually things would work out or at least he hoped. We went on to our living our normal life and continued to try. However after several months of failed attempts and tons of disappointments we started to weigh our options again and this time more seriously. Our gynecologist couldn’t seem to help us beyond the regular scans so eventually we landed up making an appointment with an infertility specialist. We needed to get more clarity on the issue.
The doctor/ clinic we decided to visit was based in India and so the following month we flew down to research more. Once the initial investigation commenced time went by pretty quick. We were sent for further round of tests and scans and just like that another process had begun. The check ups needed us to go through a couple of normal menstrual cycles and routine scans on my uterus. There was a lot of back and forth of flying doctors visits etc. that then revealed some stubborn cysts that did not leave. Instead they only kept growing in size. At this point we were advised, that to increase our chances at conceiving it would be best to get rid of the cysts through a simple ovarian laparoscopy surgery which without a doubt we booked me in for.
The entire routine took up another few months of lives and we were back to checks, results, tests and travel. Post the surgery, more than a year and a half had gone by but we were finally starting to feel in control of the situation. Having detected and dealt with the issue, hopeful is what we were after a very long time.
Few months after the procedure and nothing had improved. By this time it was all getting extremely emotional for me to handle. With every failed pregnancy test I was losing hope and diving deeper into some sort of depression. The days got harder to go by. I was bitter, frustrated, and angry at myself for not paying a visit to the doctor earlier, for not doing a routine check, for not knowing my own body I lived.
In the mean time everyone around me was getting pregnant even people that didn’t want to get pregnant. News like that made me jealous, it made me angry at the unfairness of the situation. There I was in a loving relationship and yet the struggle endless. My frustration was soon being vented out at the one person I loved the most and things were getting harder between us. Quite frankly I was turning myself mad. I spent hours of my day going through my troubles but somewhere in my mind I knew I had to do something about who I was slowly turning out to be.
I spent most days alone in our apartment, far away from my family, which I think made it harder to deal with. Having to pick up the phone to talk to someone to discuss my fears, my anxiety, my frustration felt like too much of an effort. It needed courage and so instead I opted to stay silent and cry it out by myself. In the meanwhile I had to put a brave front for Thijs coz I was becoming quite a downer in his life too. Through the entire time the only one I person I did speak to was him and even that sometimes felt impossible to do. It was too much of a private situation to let anyone into my troubles then but now in retrospect I wish I had been more open about it. Maybe the pain, the suffering, the disappointments would have been a lot lesser to bear.
In the meanwhile I was suggested to try out different diet that would help heal PCOD to some extent and I was giving everything a shot. Then one follow up visit to the doctors and a scan finally showed one healthy egg after many unfruitful cycles. It was then that we were presented with the idea to give IUI a shot instead of trying naturally. This would increase our chances we were told and so obviously we tried that too. Sadly at the end of that cycle another pregnancy test showed negative results. IUI had failed us too.
I was beyond disappointed and disturbed at this point. The endless tears, sleepless nights were draining me out. I was so tired of being hopeful, positive and then shattered every month for over a year.
I was so fed up that I decided the only way out was for me to redirect all my negative energy towards actually doing something constructive. I finally seemed to find some clarity in my thoughts, which helped me operate less on emotions and more on practicality.
During the next few days I spent my time researching IVF and IVF clinics, a procedure I had heard of but never given much thought to. I had zero knowledge about the process but wanted to make sure I understood and knew all about it. Thijs at this point had no clue what I was up to until one day I sat him down and gave him names of a few clinics. After much deliberation we went back and forth about the pros and cons and were convinced that IVF was our last try at working towards that dream of our happy little family.
Finding a Clinic
The clinics shortlisted were not in Doha and we opted to look outside for obvious reasons such as laws, cost, reputation etc. We had to email each one of the clinics get and we shortlisted as much information as possible before hand as we needed to narrow down on one that worked for us.
The following month after a lot of calls and correspondence we received the processes /cost details and had picked one. We flew out to have our very first appointment and upon reaching the clinic were surprised to see how many couples from around the world just like us were there to seek help. The clinic and the staff seem to know what they were doing and from the get go, the nurses and our Doctor made us feel extremely comfortable. At no point did we ever feel pressured to make a decision about starting the process nor was it made to be about the money. We had a one point contact person after our first appointment and from then on everything was smooth sailing.
It was now November 2015 and we had finally made up our mind that this was the way forward for us. We were given a realistic percentage of our chances and upon hearing the success rate were more hopeful now than we had ever been despite bring told there was a 20% chance of the intake not working.
The Procedure took a couple a months. First I had to get on a ton of medication, which got me on doses of progesterone & estrogen all female hormones that my body lacked or was unable to produce enough of. These were administered in all sort of ways. Injection, tablets, suppositories etc. I was this is walking talking bag of hormones and mood swings but who cared I was finally happy. We were working towards our goal. All the meds were administered for me to have a normal cycle and to stimulate the ovaries to produce more follicles thus increases the number of eggs, which would then be extracted and cultivated. (That’s how IVF works in a nutshell) This was followed by a long period to prepare the womb to house new life.
After months of medication my body was finally prepped for the intake. It had taken daily visits to a doctor after work to be injected with 3 doses of medication, some of which were administered directly in my stomach. To say is was a painful process is the very least of things, but there is no gain without pain right? Once physically prepared our doctor gave us the option of the no. of embryos we wanted to implant. In our case we were suggested to implant one embryo first and if that did not work then go for 2 in round 2. We had decided to go ahead with the one that was the healthiest of them all. Making a choice based on gender/ sex was clearly out of the question for us for all we wanted was to have a baby and that was it.
The New Year had just passed, the clocks had turned and it was now finally our time. We had been through a whirlpool of events that led to a whole lot of emotional imbalances but there we were back at the clinic ready for the intake, saying all the prayers we knew, crossed fingers, arms and limbs to receive the child we had so hoped and longed for.
Fast-forward 9 months later… On 23rd Oct 2016 10:32 pm after 24 hours of labor I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Amélie Pari. A name we had chosen a long, long time ago. The journey to bring her to life was one of the toughest things I’ve ever been through but the joy and reward in return is worth every drop of tear spent over her. She gives me hope everyday of her life and teaches me that everything is possible. To see her bloom into this little bundle of joy is more than I had ever wished for. She with all her personality and persona manages to bring entertainment, laughter and sheer happiness to all our family, friends and following. What a blessing it is to be called her – Mother. A tittle I had for so long dreamed to have attached to me.
As I write this post and go over the facts and the information it all seems so straightforward. So emotionless in a way and yet the reality of living through those 2 years was anything but easy. I was unable to talk about my problems to anyone except my older sister. We went though the process quite privately and found it no point then telling anyone else about it. Not because we were ashamed in any way but just as to not burden others with our situation. I knew my mum would be stressed out if she knew what I was going through and so I even told her about how we had gotten pregnant after we crossed the first few safe weeks of pregnancy.
I am sharing this story because I was close to losing my mind, my love, and my faith, my hope but through this saga if there is one thing I have found about myself is that I am stronger than I think. Truly God’s delays are not his denials.
For those of you wondering about our baby girl no 2, she was conceived naturally. We were convinced that getting pregnant was one of the toughest things for us and so we didn’t need to play safe. However little did we know that the procedure which stimulates the ovaries and the pregnancy itself made me fertile. 9 months after Amélie, we found out we were pregnant with Alexie and just like that our dream of baby no. 2 had come true.
Lessons learnt and Advice:
- If you are currently battling infertility I suggest for one you stop feeling guilty or sorry for yourself. Instead get out there and research your problem. Infertility could be caused by many thinks and sometime you don’t have to resort to IVF at all. In fact make sure you have tried all steps before resorting to IVF.
- Talk Talk Talk… talk to your family, a friend, a doctor, and a specialist anyone that you think could give you proper guidance. Vent out your frustrations. It helps to clear your mind and think straight.
- Don’t lose hope. There is always a way out of every situation. Be strong.
- If IVF is an option for you then research clinics, find out details, cost etc. and book an appointment. There is no shame is asking for help. We are human and we created this technology to help us, cure us, and put us out of our misery. The procedure is expensive so get a number and start saving up if you have to.
- I haven’t written about the clinic we used for the procedure but will be happy to share any information or my experience. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultimately I wish you the very best and hope that you too can live to experience the pleasure of holding a little piece of your heart in your hands.