As I got older and soon after being married, the idea of having a family was all I wanted. I kept telling my husband George how life is short and if we started trying for kids now and had any setbacks, I’d have the time to seek the medical attention I would need. Little did I know the medical attention I needed would be a lot sooner than we thought.
Once we found out I needed to have chemotherapy to cure the cancerous lump in my leg, my doctors suggested doing IVF (Invitro fertilization) where they would essentially retrieve eggs from my body and freeze them until we were ready to start trying to have a family. I remember when they told me and I was like “why the heck do I need to do IVF?” I’d learnt about it in high school, so I knew what it was, but it still didn’t make sense to me that I needed to do it.
Then the doctors told me, “Chemo can affect your chances of being fertile and conceiving children, so if you did IVF you’d increase the likelihood of having a family post chemo…”
So that is where my IVF experience began.
You know how if you’re in a waiting room and someone walks in, and everyone stops what they’re doing just to look at you? Well yeah, when my husband and I walked into the waiting room on the first day of my IVF cycle that’s what happened. Not in a rude way, I think more in a curious way, like, “they look a little young to be doing IVF” (I mean most people thought I was way too young to get married so I’m sure many more thought trying to start a family young was a little crazy). We took our seats and I took a looks around. I saw couples, women who had come by themselves or with their older children and women who were accompanied by friends. Essentially it was a great mix of people coming for different reasons yet hoping for the same result.
It was a really humbling experience for me to get a glimpse of the unspoken pains behind conceiving a child. I wondered, how many times these women had done IVF? If they’d been successful or not? Or how much of a financial strain was it? One lady came in, got her injection and blood tests and left straight to work! These women were going about their daily duties and responsibilities all the while carrying this emotional plea of hoping that they would finally be able to have the privilege of being a mother. I’d see women leave with smiles on their faces, but also many who left in tears. Talk about heart breaking!
Emotionally, IVF is extremely hard. It was for me at least and I only did one round… some women do multiple! My emotions are all over the place in my ‘normal life’ so when I had to take daily injections of hormones and manipulate my body, it didn’t make it any easier.
It’s no secret that IVF process is invasive but the pain that can come with it is a new experience for sure. I’m no medical professional so I’m sure there’s a better way to describe this but for me it felt like I was nine months pregnant! My body had blown up so much that I couldn’t fit any of my clothes, when I could walk I literally waddled from the hospital bed to the shower and no position brought me comfort. Sitting hurt, lying down hurt, everything hurt. It was just crazy to see my body transform like that in such a short time.
Although my experience with IVF had a few unexpected setbacks, I was blessed to have retrieved six eggs after my cycle, three fully mature and three half mature but mature enough to freeze.
Every mothers journey to motherhood is comprised of unique twists, turns and miracles, most of which remains within the knowledge of their immediate family. Because George and I have experienced seeing the realities of what many other couples face, we have seen first-hand how difficult conceiving children can be. So before you decide to ask a couple why they ‘don’t have any kids yet’ it would be wise to think twice. Starting a family isn’t as easy as “the birds and the bees” story suggests.
Whether you’re a woman that goes through IVF unsuccessfully, endures the heart break of miscarriage, denied an application for adoption or facing another setback whilst trying to conceive, just remember you are not alone and you are most definitely not a failure as a woman! These setbacks and trials are more common than you think and although they are hard to relive and share with others, your silent battles need not be without the comfort of women and couples around the world.
I’m only half way through my chemo treatments so I won’t know what my verdict will be to becoming a mother and what avenues I may need to take. What I do know is that with God, all things are possible and eternal.