I am not sure why I wanted to become a parent. I am sure I know why I had more than 2 children. More on that later.
I am probably the least maternal person I know. I don’t like hugs and kisses, especially when they come with dirty, sticky fingers and mouths. I am a little bit of a germophobe and very much an introvert, who hates being touched.
My first child took us 5 years and nearly R 250 000 to conceive through fertility treatments.
I was fairly young when we started treatment, just 25 years old but I had a history and so the specialists started treatment right away. Generally they wait until you are around 27 and have been trying for at least 3 years. We had only been trying for a year.
They say that if your marriage can survive fertility treatment, it can survive anything. After nearly 30 years of marriage, I think that is true. I believe that they now have counselling for couples going through treatment.
Once all the testing phases were completed and we still had no idea why I wasn’t managing to conceive, we went through 10 rounds of artificial insemination (AI).
The tests included blood tests for hormone levels, his and mine. Test for immunity to all childhood illnesses. Tests for chemical compatibility, a woman can be allergic to her partners sperm or have a very acidic body which will kill the sperm. Then I went for a horrible procedure that was not supposed to be painfull but it actually was!
They inject dye into your uterus and watch under xray to see that the Fallopian tubes are not blocked and that the eggs once released will be able to travel to the designated spot for fertilization. The dye leaked slightly into my abdominal cavity and caused the most horrific cramping. I was having visitors that night and I even had to drive myself home. I was told I would be fine, so I had made no arrangements and sent my husband off to work that morning!
AI involves, going in for (in those days) hormone injections every day for 12 days,somewhere between day 10 to 14, you have an ultrasound to see if you are producing eggs and to calculate ovulation. No intercourse aloud during those days. When they think you are about to ovulate, your partner has to then ejaculate into a little bottle (this can be done at home or they have a special room), the sperm needs to go with you to the clinic, you only have a very small window before they start to die.
The technician then cleans up the sperm so you only get the best. You now lie on a bed with your underwear off and your legs up in holders. The doctor then inserts a long thin tube attached to a syringe containing the sperm into your uterus and pushes the plunger.
AND then you wait. After the longest 10 days of your life you go for a blood test that tells if it worked or not. No peeing on a stick allowed!
The idea behind this is that the sperm are ready for the eggs that were hopefully released and are ready to be fertilised. The release date is triggered by another different hormone injection.
Fertility treatment is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy! The rounds of medications, scans, blood tests and disappointments, month after month, can really put a strain on your relationships, finances and body.
I was pms’ing for nearly 5 years! I had to stop work because I wasn’t able to deal with patients who were pregnant.
I am still not sure how my husband put up with the bitch that I was for those 4 years! Finally the specialist decided it was time to move on to In-vitro-Fertilization (IVF). We decided that if it didn’t work, then we would just not have children!
Before this could happen, I had to go back and repeat the dye procedure as it had now been 3 years. This time I was prepared, everything was organised at home, my husband was with me to take me home. NO pain, nothing. I was perfectly fine this time round and we were given the all clear to begin treatment.
The IVF was even worse than the AI. I had to be on birth control for a month, no hormone activity allowed! Then the injections begin and this time they are stronger and cause more severe mood swings than ever. Finally the day of the scan arrives and your egg sizes are carefully measured. You get given a date and you need to be in hospital for them to harvest your eggs. You partner needs to give his donation at the same time.
A light anesthetic is given and when you wake up you have a little drawing on your hand to say how many eggs they got.
The sperm is then injected into the eggs, now you wait again. Another long 3 days! Back to the doctor to now have the fertilized and growing eggs put into your uterus where they will hopefully develop into a fetus and then a baby.
Thankfully the IVF worked and after 8 months I gave birth to a very special young man, *Joseph. *Joseph was 3 weeks early, he had been in a rush to get out from around 27 weeks. I was hospitalised a few times to stop the contractions but now it was time. He was born weighing a whopping 2,5kg.
For those who never struggle to conceive, just remember everytime you bend over that toilet bowl to hurl, someone is wishing they were you!