For some couples, having a baby is easy as 1, 2, 3! We all know friends who just try once and hit the jackpot, or make a baby on their honeymoon. The average couple takes about six months to conceive a baby, and it’s not uncommon for some to try for a year or more. For some couples, however, making that baby is hard work, and the road towards becoming parents is a long and lonely one.
It can be difficult to pinpoint a clear reason – stress, genetics, an erratic ovulation cycle, other health problems, and even “plumbing” issues. Sharing that journey is even harder, because it really is a burden that no one else can fully understand, without having gone through the process themselves. We are thankful for the honesty and courage of Yann who is willing to share her story with us.
Thanks, Yann, for being so open to share your journey with us. Could you start by sharing about when your husband and you first began trying to have a baby?
My husband (I affectionately call him “Mr Thick”) and I were married in 2008. Less than a year after getting married, we decided to chuck the contraceptives aside and start trying to make mini-mes.
When did you realize that things were not going to be so smooth sailing?
Well, after almost a year of trying the ‘natural’ way, we decided to get ourselves checked up by a gynaecologist. The news was grim. For most of two years, we struggled with infertility. Or rather, I struggled with infertility. I can safely say that this period of time was the darkest I have ever lived through… honestly, I don’t know how I survived it.
During this time, friend announced their pregnancies, delivered their babies, and went on to conceive their second, while I remained stubbornly childless, despite my best efforts. Needless to say, there were a lot of tears and emotional upheaval.
It must have been such a painful process for both of you… I understand you went through seven IUIs during that time?
During this time, I went through countless blood tests, a laparoscopy, seven IUIs and an IVF. Then there were the meds prescribed by the doc. I had to take my Clomid tablets, and get injected with Ovidrel and Puregon on a daily basis.
I had many meltdowns, some in front of my husband, many in the solitude of my bathroom. I blogged. I confided in a few close friends, but only a few could really understand what I was going through. I wept bitterly every time our hopes were dashed yet again. I was furiously committed to making this work – I took all my meds and did all the procedures required conscientiously, even the daily self-administered injections to suppress my natural ovulation cycle (for IVF).
When your first IVF attempt failed, what did you do?
By that point, we were extremely disappointed and seriously disillusioned by the whole process. We decided to take a break and penciled in some holiday plans before the next IVF attempt. The plan was to take a break from all this infertility nonsense and just live life!
And then… a miracle happened?
Just before we left for our trip, I discovered, very unexpectedly, that I was pregnant! For the better of two years, I had kept my life as still as possible just in case I got pregnant, and nothing had happened. Now, the moment I decided to sod it and enjoy life, I hit the baby jackpot. Talk about Murphy’s Law…
But anyway, we were thrilled, of course.
Looking back, what helped you get through those two years?
Thank goodness for the wonderful thing called the Internet. I surfed around to seek solace in company and found many, many women sharing their infertility tales online. I decided to break my silence and started talking about our journey on my blog and received many emails from those in a similar situation.
Even after birth, when I was grappling with feelings of depression and the steep learning curve of being a first-time mum, the online community has been my greatest source of comfort. It is on the Internet where I found many supportive posts and comments, and learnt from many mothers.
In fact, it hit me that we don’t really have such a community here in Singapore, where women can freely share their experiences and tips and feelings. And so, the idea for bubsicles.com was planted, an online community where mothers and mothers-to-be can make friends, share stories, and experience the becoming of motherhood together.
What were some things you have gained or learned from this whole process?
There are some people who, when faced with infertility, dither and fall into deep depression because they cannot fathom going through the whole shebang of assisted reproductive technology. To them, the cost of going through something so deeply intrusive is just not worth the end result of possibly having a child.
But it was never like that for me. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn’t pursue relentlessly what I wanted. I would have gone on to my second or third or even fifth IVF if I needed to, finances permitting. I would have done everything I could in order to have our baby.
I do think the whole process has made me a better person. I had always been the instant gratification sort of person, so you can imagine what kind of cosmic joke it is for the Universe to put me through infertility! I would say, I have learnt patience and empathy.
Plus, I think IVF has shown me just exactly what stuff I was made of. I’m proud of myself, actually. I didn’t moan excessively, even though I was so sick towards the end and was bordering on bloody ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. I endured the jabs myself and even helped myself to more. Along the way, I even made new friends, both online and off.
IVF has even made our marriage stronger than before. We’ve been through so much and we emerged more in love than before. He has seen a side of me that even I never knew existed, and he took care of me so tenderly and selflessly. It’s true, what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger.
What would you like to share with other couples who are facing the problem of infertility?
Ultimately, all infertility survivors are champions. Every journey, every experience is different. Some are stronger than others, some are still searching for that happily ever after. But in the end, we are all brave, brave souls because we dare to take the unknown by the horns and wrestle for a different future.
Don’t give up.
I’ve also learnt that the infertility scar will forever be engraved deep in our minds. We’ll never react to news of our friends being pregnant with the purest and sincerest joy because a little niggling voice at the back of our hearts will feel sore. And that even if and when we have kids, we will always be reminded of what we had gone through and just how far we have come.
Not a day goes by without me taking a long, sweet look at my little man and saying a little prayer of thanks. To whoever made this happen, to my baby boy for being here with us, to the beautiful ending to what could have been a long-drawn and deeply painful journey. Even on days when he wakes up for the nth time in the night and I am trying desperately to keep those heavy eyelids up at work, I feel no sense of resentment. Simply because he is here – with me.
And that’s all that matters.
Thank you so much, Yann, for sharing this with us. We wish you and your family all the best!
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What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) literally means ‘fertilisation in glass’ giving us the familiar term ‘test tube baby’. During the IVF process, eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm in the laboratory. The fertilised egg (embryo) is later placed in the woman’s womb.
What is IUI?
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from more sluggish or non-moving sperm. The fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman’s womb close to the time of ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle.