What many people don’t expect when they see our family is that we had fertility issues when we were trying for kids. A and I married when we were 27 after dating for two years. We’re friends since polytechnic days so we didn’t have plans to date for long nor delay family planning. After two years of unsuccessful tries, we went to see my gynae and he did a sperm count test for A (I didn’t undergo any fertility tests because I’d suffered a miscarriage before). The test result was grim, he only had 3% healthy sperms.
The gynae put him on supplements which may potentially help to increase his sperm count and he’s scheduled to do the test in another three months. Three months later, the test came back with unfortunately the same results. The new option open to us was to try IUI – Intrauterine Insemination, a treatment process that involves placing healthy sperm inside my uterus to facilitate fertilization. The aim is to increase the number of healthy sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and therefore increasing the chances of fertilization. This is less invasive and expensive than IVF – Invitro Fertilization. A was expected to provide sperm samples which had to be treated, and I was given hormonal pills to stimulate my ovaries to produce good quality eggs. On the day of insemination, I received a jab which was suppose to help me ovulate, and A’s treated sperm sample was placed inside my uterus via a long tube. I laid down on the clinic bed for 30 minutes or so before I left the clinic.
We attempted IUI twice and during this time we’re also seeing a Chinese sinseh and on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to improve our chances of conception. But no, we still didn’t have a baby. Then finally, the gynae discussed the option of IVF with us. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make—A’s sperm count was still consistently low; we’ve failed IUI twice; the most important decision factor was that A was planning to go on a clinical drug trial to manage his Hepatitis B virus (A was born a Hep B carrier), and one of the criteria was no family planning until after the 1.5 year trial. To play safe, the medical doctor advised that we wait another six months for the medication to flush out of his body system before trying for a baby. We were 30 years old then and unsure if given another two years his sperm count would deteriorate further. The logical decision would be to attempt IVF and for him to go on a clinical trial after.
Going through IVF was a huge emotional and physical challenge. I was already so disappointed, to say the least—seeing friends who got married around the same time as me grow their families and wonder why God was withholding children from me. My body was also thrown off balance with the hormone treatments. I repeatedly turned to Abraham and Sarah’s story for comfort and trusted that in due time, it will be my turn.
The process is really lengthy to describe and I will just include a short excerpt from an old blog entry here:
I reacted well to the hormone stimulant , in fact too well until I suffered from over-production. In order to reduce the bloating symptom, I had to ingest six raw egg whites a day and that increased to eight after my blood test result reflected a huge spike in the hormone level. When it was time to extract the eggs from my ovaries, I had a total of 27 which were taken out of me—out of which only 20 were optimally viable. 19 were fertilized (on Valentine’s Day) but only 9 embryos could be harvested. I used the best three for the transfer.
I’ve been sleeping a lot since my embryo transfer last Tuesday. Three 8-cell embryos were placed near my uterus. I am now in the midst of what they call the two-week wait (2ww). This is as close as we can humanly and scientifically get. The rest is really up to God. I have another six embryos frozen for use in case we don’t succeed this time. One of the embryos resembles a flower, so pretty. Prompted me to think of names for my baby(ies). This was the only joyful thought I had. Other than that I felt weepy and depressed most times because it’s been such a grueling process. What kept me sane and calm during the 2ww was the bible. I started reading from 1 Peter. It spoke about faith and deeds. Many times I didn’t know what God was trying to tell me but I carried on reading and there was a particular Sunday where I simply placed the bible on my tummy and prayed for God to breathe the breath of life into my embryos. That had a calming effect on me.
I remember the scene where I was walking into the IVF clinic on 3 March 2009 with much trepidation. I was praying for a baby, I was praying for a positive sign, I was even praying over my pee while I was peeing.
And N is my first miracle from God whom we welcomed into the world in October 2009. We dedicated her to God.
Afterthoughts: Looking back, I still ain’t sure why God decided we should have a baby through IVF. But some conclusions I came to were:
- We were not ready for a baby – A and I may have known for a long while but there were many issues we were dealing with as newly-weds. I’m glad we had time to work things through as a couple before we embarked on parenthood.
- God wanted us to acknowledge His sovereignty. It was about His timing, not ours and we were taught a great deal about submitting to His will. A and I came to a point where we sat down to have a good chat about adoption. We were open to the idea that it may not be part of His plan for us to have our own children and we were willing to parent someone else’s.
- I was never to take motherhood or my children for granted. God does not intend for each and every woman to experience motherhood. The fact that we went through so much to have N reminds me that this was something special I had wanted badly and it is only by God’s grace that He has blessed me abundantly with three wonderful girls.