Hi everyone (including all the silent readers who make up the statistics of this blog but has never ever left a comment 🙂 ),
Thank you for the love shown after my 31st December 2013 blog entry. It was lovely to read your congratulatory comments, your private messages on Facebook, on Instagram, etc. Where did all of you come from? I had no idea. The blog stats for that entry sky-rocketed but I am not sure why. Perhaps everyone was at work that morning and was just waiting for the year-end office party? Either that or people like reading about personal stories, especially those that involve long-drawn struggles with a light finally at the end of the tunnel. Or perhaps, there are a lot more “fertility-challenged” people out there than we think. As I have mentioned before, no one in Singapore/Asia really talks about such “sensitive” matters. It’s all hush-hush and if you admit to seeking help to procreate, you are seen as a FAILURE. Like, how much of a failure are you if you cannot even do something as simple as procreate, right?
Wrong wrong and wrong.
Creating a life is not as easy as everyone makes it out to be. Fair enough, most people have it easy but NOT ALL. It doesn’t help when there are shows like “I didn’t know that I was pregnant!” on cable TV that show teenagers getting pregnant and then giving birth without even knowing that they’re pregnant. I had to avoid watching the show for a long time, for obvious reasons because I always wanted to throw a sledgehammer at the TV.
The number of friends I have made because of the inability to conceive naturally has almost overtaken the number of friends I know via “normal” routes (i.e. school, work, etc). The number of people I see sitting at IVF clinics looking downcast and crestfallen are many. And for the record, it transcends age, race and religion. I see young foreign women (from Vietnam, China, etc) sitting with their obviously-older local Chinese husbands. I see young Muslim couples who don’t look over the age of 25. I see Indian couples with one child but are trying for a second one via IVF. I see busy executive women sitting alone, furiously punching into their phones while waiting for their turn to get their embryo size measured at the clinic. The list goes on. I repeat, infertility transcends age, race and religion.
Even typing the word “infertility” sounds scary. Try saying it out loud. INFERTILITY. I AM INFERTILE. It almost sounds like a disease, doesn’t it? Like I HAVE CANCER or I HAVE AIDS. And I am not sure why it is so. Perhaps it’s got to do with the “save face” Asian mentality. Being unable to conceive naturally is akin to being a FAILURE. And no one likes being called a failure, right? So fertility-challenged couples simply skirt around the issue when asked the dreaded question: So when are you going to have a baby?
Going down the IVF route is not an easy one. It is an emotionally, physically and financially draining process – in that order. I read a report once that 30 (or was it 50?) women were given unlimited amount of money to undergo IVF. They can do it as many times as they want without having to worry about money. The result? The majority of women stopped at 3 attempts, citing emotional and physical pain.
And I understood. I understood completely.
We are very fortunate that we can afford these crazy expensive treatments. I am also not too afraid of blood and needles, i.e. I can quite easily jab myself on a daily basis (sometimes twice a day) to get hormonal drugs into my body. However, what I could barely cope with were the emotional side of things. I was again pretty lucky to get through work days pretty normally. This means that I wasn’t snapping people’s heads off (or at least I think I had it under control!). However, what was very hard to manage were the anticipation.
The waiting. The “did it work this time?” questions that ran through my head at breakneck speed every time I had a quiet moment to myself. The crazy nightmares brought on by the myriad of drugs in my body as well as the pumped up hormones coursing through my veins. Worst of all was not knowing whether all the “hard work” and money that we put into each IVF cycle would end up in a positive result. It was, to say the least, hard to stay sane in the mad, drug-fuelled, emotional journey.
We took a really long time before we were comfortable in telling people around us that we are expecting a baby. Right up till today, at 31 weeks. Even when our gynae assures us that all is well and normal. But can you blame us? After 4 rounds of IVF and too-many-to-count rounds of IUI, it is hard to believe that it finally happened.
I do not claim to know any ‘miracles’ that led to the final round of IVF resulting in a positive pregnancy but I do want to share that after the last round of failure, I decided that my body needs a break. This was October 2012. My BFF suggested her TCM doctor and asked if I wanted to see him. I have seen many TCM doctors (as you would when you are fertility-challenged and everyone has a “good TCM” doctor to recommend, right?) and every single one told me that there is “nothing wrong with you” and to “just relax and be natural”.
Long story short, I started going for weekly TCM sessions which included acupuncture and oral medication. Yes, every single week (save for public holidays, etc). I decided that even if these sessions did not help me conceive, I would at least build up my poor wretched body that have been pumped with hormone drugs for too long. To be honest, I was never a huge believer of TCM. I wasn’t against it but I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I was never quite comfortable downing dark liquid with dubious ingredients. But hey, when you’re desperate, you’d try anything.
Anyway, as we all know, TCM does not work miracles in one visit. It is a long drawn process and one needs to be patient. I did not see any results till about March 2013. When I say results, I don’t mean I got pregnant. What I mean is, I felt my body become stronger. I was putting on weight (which is a good thing because I’ve always been “too skinny”) and sleeping a lot better. I actually do love acupuncture because after each session, I will feel extremely relaxed and happy. Almost like a drug, yes. Or a damn good massage session. Like I mentioned above, I am not afraid of needles so acupuncture was no big deal for me. Also, the size of the acupuncture needles were no where close to the ones I used to inject myself for IVF!
It was only in June 2013 that I felt ready again to try another round of IVF. And that resulted in the pregnancy.
Do I attribute it to TCM? I’m not sure but I do feel that it played a part. You can read more about it here.
Do I attribute it to my “whatever will be, will be” attitude for the 4th round? Maybe.
Or I can attribute it to Fate. That it was finally our turn to be parents.
So yes. Thank you for the love. And maybe one day, I will write about our story. But for now, we await the new chapter come March 2014.