My journey began in 2014 when I was 29 years old. Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 16, I knew that trying to conceive would be a challenge.
I went for a diagnostic laparoscopy in 2014 for the doctor to determine how severe my PCOS was. During the surgery, the doctor determined that along with PCOS, I had blocked fallopian tubes. He couldn’t determine why, and I’d never experienced anything that could have caused this such as an STD, pelvic inflammatory disease or tubal pregnancy. He tried unsuccessfully to flush out my tubes while I was still in surgery and was told afterwards that it would not be possible for me to conceive without in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
We continued to try fall pregnant the natural way, as we’d only been trying for six months and we weren’t in a financial position to go for IVF treatment. After still no success, we saw a different doctor in late 2015. He couldn’t find any reason for my tubes to be naturally blocked and went on to do two medicated rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI). Unfortunately, both rounds failed. He then told me to try again naturally and if this didn’t work, he would perform a laparoscopy to check my tubes.
I’d often heard of people falling pregnant naturally if they stopped trying so hard, so my husband and I decided to take a break and let nature take its course. After still no pregnancy by 2017, we decided to see a different doctor in the hopes that a fresh pair of eyes could help and maybe pick up something our other doctor had missed.
In 2017 I saw yet another doctor who guaranteed he could get me pregnant in six months but I would need to lose 25 kilograms before he would treat me. With a body mass index of 40, I was classified as obese. Losing weight is difficult, yes, but with PCOS it’s that much harder. I tried and tried but couldn’t lose more than eight kilograms. When I went back to the doctor, he refused to treat me as he thought I wasn’t taking my weight-loss seriously enough.
In November 2018, I started getting severe stomach pain and went to another gynae. He determined that I had a huge ovarian cyst and I had to have surgery to remove it. He also confirmed that both my fallopian tubes were blocked, and explained the risk of fixing my tubes. They were blocked at the bottom/entrance, therefore fixing that part did not necessarily mean that the rest of the tubes would be clear. There was also a chance I would end up losing the tube entirely.
The surgery would involve a full bikini line cut, and they would have to cut the uterus to get to the tubes, which I was told could affect the “quality” of my uterus afterwards. There would also be a six-week recovery period afterwards, with no guarantee that my body would then work. Instead, he suggested we try IVF and referred us to a fertility specialist.
After seeing the fertility expert in December, we started our IVF journey at the beginning of 2019 as we were in a better position financially. It was a long and painful road, as my body always seemed to play games. I was meant to start a contraceptive for a month before starting stimulation for an egg retrieval but I didn’t menstruate in January. Eventually, the doctor gave me Provera to start my period, only to have it continue for five weeks with excessive clotting and pain. I then had to go for a hysteroscopy to remove polyps. It took antibiotics to finally clear up the spotting, and I only started stimulating my ovaries in April 2019.
My egg retrieval was nearly cancelled due to my oestrogen levels dropping but we eventually went on to retrieve nine eggs, four of which fertilised. Only three embryos were viable. We did a transfer of all three “embabies” in June 2019 as we felt that this was our only way of conceiving and wanted to ensure we had the highest chances. We believed that if it was in God’s plans for us to be parents, we would be.
On 2 July 2019, we were devastated to find out that none of the embryos stuck. We decided to look at other options for becoming parents, and hubby enquired about the adoption process. He was quite set on adopting a baby as he had also lost faith in the fertility process. While my tubes remained blocked, IVF was meant to bypass the tubes so he couldn’t understand why we weren’t falling pregnant. He also didn’t want me to put my body through the physically invasive and mentally challenging process of IVF again, but I felt that we had to come to terms with losing our three embryos before going that route.
“I started suffering from anxiety and depression and for a while, I wasn’t the same person any more. I was much less tolerant in the workplace and at home”
After our failed IVF in July, hubby got the details about adoption in August. I felt like that was just putting a Band-Aid over the wound and that I needed to heal and come to terms with my infertility before proceeding with adoption. Adoption was always in our plan before we knew of all our fertility issues and we still plan on adopting. I just didn’t feel like the time was right and that I was in a good place emotionally to adopt.
I started suffering from anxiety and depression and for a while, I wasn’t the same person any more. I was much less tolerant in the workplace and at home. I was moody all the time, snapping at people. I couldn’t tolerate being around people or going to social events. I preferred being alone and had less empathy for others. I just felt sorry for myself.
I decided that I needed to pull myself out of the dark hole I had sunk into and started to see a homoeopath who specialised in infertility, and she treated both hubby for his insulin resistance and me for my hormonal imbalance with Chinese tablets, herbal drops and Himalaya products medication and acupuncture. On her advice, I also started intermittent fasting and working out. I only lost around five kilograms but I started feeling great about myself and life. I started going out more and my life revolved around working out. I knew that every extra step I took counted because I wanted to lose as much weight as possible before we even thought of trying another round of IVF. I felt like I had purpose again.
In November, I spoke to hubby about trying another round of IVF if I could continue to lose the 30 kilograms I needed to increase our chances. I started losing the weight and we were set to see our same doctor in January 2020 to start IVF the following month.
However, on 23 December I took a home pregnancy test. Although I have PCOS, I was regular most of the time. I felt heavy period pain and knew it was due any time, so when my period was two days late I first thought it might be due to my workouts and lifestyle changes. But then I started noticing tender breasts (that was not normal for me) and I also felt quite feverish.
I did the test as a “tick the box” exercise, not expecting anything and the second line appeared almost immediately. Hubby was sound asleep and had no clue that I even suspected I could be pregnant. I went to him, howling! We then Googled the possibility of a false positive before going for an hCG beta test – and that number was a whopping 1603!
It was definitely a Christmas blessing and our little miracle is due in August 2020.