Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

IVF. Used to be such a taboo topic to talk about. Although a lot out there are rather open about it these days, some are still not willing to share that part of their struggle.

Giuliana & Bill Rancic openly shared their journey & heartbreaks with us, especially with regards to them trying for a baby. Something so genuine & so honest, make it so pure that everyone of us at home watching them, secretly did a silent prayer to God to bless them somehow with a bundle of joy. They deserve it.

For them, they are  public figure and they chose to share with us their struggles, their lives, their heartbreaks with us. To many others, how they get their baby is completely none of anyone's business.

There are some celebrities too who wouldn't want to share this little secret with the world. Why so? Maybe because women are in general judgemental to others & especially to themselves. Accepting the fact that one is not able to conceive a baby naturally seems to be such a big failure in a woman's dictionary.

I can say this because since I was 15, I was told that I would not be able to conceive a baby. I have been growing up VERY medically dependent to a point that the doctor has suggested that my womb & uterus was inhospitable towards any growth of a foetus.

Thank god I wasn't promiscuous or using that as an advantage & go on a "slut" rampage! :) Maybe it wouldn't have happened with just any men but I'd be damn if I had gotten pregnant as a teenager!

I started being active rather late in my life. I was a little, I am still accentric. I always try to live by my nickname for some strange reason. My nick is THE ONE & ONLY.

Growing up in a boarding school in NEW YORK, while kids were starting really young with drugs, sex & cigarettes, I was busy trying to be different.

On average, my schoolmates lose their virginity at the age of 14. And they were proud of it. While they were into makeup, I was into grunge. I was a virgin & I was proud of it.

This is funny about the school in NEW YORK. If there are bullies out there and they said some stuff and you somehow let them see that their words affect you, they'll continue to be in your case throughout your whole school years there.

When I first joined that school (I shall not name the school), I had an Australian accent. You couldn't have imagine the jokes that they tried on me. "Hey missy, you wanna go down UNDER?"

Me on the other hand, is a big feminist. One guy said that on my first day of school, I went straight to him, so close that our nose touched, staring dead serious into his eyes.... "I want to hear you say that one more time & I'll show you what's NOT UNDER here!"

I nudged towards his zipper. Something about the way I said it scared him. I saw him perspire while the rest of his gang were watching us. I turned to each and every one of the gang, giving them the coldest laser stare, showing them who is the boss from now on & these boys (They were the most popular in school) had never attempted to ever try to say anything about me.

That was how I started in school. And since then, nobody dared to even spread a rumour about me.

While the whole school was busy losing their virginity, I wasn't keeping my virginity a secret. I wasn't announcing it either but I wasn't shy to admit that I was if it was in the conversation. I know it was tempting for them to start a lesbian rumour but no one ever dared, because then they would have to deal with me.

I have to say I was lucky. So, me being anal about being different, somehow worked for the better of me. Just to be DIFFERENT, I ended up being a virgin with the best grades, never touched a cigarettes or drugs EVER! Now I have to say - that's rare even for today!

Also, not having parents growing up, I know I have no one to clean up my own mess (if I messed up my life that is). So I was adamant to do my best academically so that I will be successful in life & not be so hopeless in this world.

Would my kids be that strong? I doubt it. I have to say that it takes a lot of guts.

I was also not very interested in men. Maybe because I was afraid that if I do have a relationship, I would have stand down my guard & my feminist side got the better of me.

Once I graduated with degree & double honours, I was thrown into the working world. I got together with my childhood best friend with whom I've "tested the water" ;)

Throughout the whole time, I have never liked taking pills as contraception. We were just using condoms. Not that I was worried about being pregnant but more for sexually transmitted disease. We were both faithful but we were also super cautious. To date I have to say I have never seen any other men so cautious about everything in his life. Needless to say, I've never gotten pregnant.

Then I met my husband. I have warned him that I would not be able to conceive. I went as far as to talk to his mom, telling her not to be hopeful about any grandchildren from us. Both my husband and my mother in law didn't think that would be such an issue. So we got married.

Just over three months of being married, I suddenly had rashes. It started with my hand, then it was on my chest. I thought it was heat rash and didn't think much of it. But it became all bubbly and disgusting that I started to get very worried.

I have to meet clients very often and having long sleeves with turtle neck do make everyone wonder especially when it's 35 degrees out here! When the itch became really bad, I finally decided to see a doctor!

When the doctor checked, she asked if I had changed anything lately. Different moisturiser? Different food intake? Different milk? Anything at all. I haven't changed anything.

She wrote me a paper and told me to go to THOMSON MEDICAL CENTRE. It was a Saturday & clinics closes at 12:30 pm. It was 12:30 at that time but she said Caroline is a friend of hers and she would be waiting for me there. It was a favour which I truly appreciate.

We went there & having being told you could not conceive since you are 15, it's normal that one would protect herself by not being too exposed to anything baby related. I have no clue that THOMSON MEDICAL CENTRE is a place for pregnancy, delivery,  fertility, etc. Completely clueless. We did wonder if it was a baby boom since there were pregnant ladies everywhere. Still at that point, we didn't have it figured out that it's not a general hospital, it's a WOMAN's hospital.

Caroline told me to lie down. She asked a few questions. Honestly we were afraid she was going to tell us it was cancer or something. So ya, babies honestly were not in our minds.

She put some gel on my tummy, scanning through my tummy then a smile spread on her face. She looked at my husband, and then me & then she pointed out a little jellybean shaped thing.

"Is it tumour?!" I asked, somehow not noticing she was smiling.

"No," she laughed. "Congratulations. That's your little baby."

Complete silence for a while. I think I was waiting for her to say "Just kidding!"

But she didn't. I looked at my husband who looked completely confused too. Then I became angry all of a sudden. Imagine this - someone who loves kids and wished she could have her own was told all her life that she couldn't have any. And now a doctor she met for the very first time, smiled and said there you are! You are pregnant.

For some weird reason, I got pretty upset and questioned her if she thought that was a funny joke because it wasn't funny at all. And then I kept repeating "No, this is not true."

Seeing this, the doctor became confused (poor doctor…I’ve apologised) and thought I didn't want the baby. She apologised graciously. And then my husband quickly jumped in and explained my medical history. Then she looked at me like she wanted to give me a hug but decided to be professional. "This is a miracle baby."

My husband then smiled and said "My wife was born triplets. You found only one in here?" And with that, the quiet clinic was filled with laughter and happiness!

Immediately after that ‘diagnosis’ , my world seemed to be bigger. I started noticing a lot of things. I am allowing myself to indulge in cute babies. I love them but I was afraid I would yearn for them, so usually I kept a distance. Not anymore. That barrier has been broken. I wanted to tell the whole world but at the same time I know I should be in touch with my own doctor - the one who told me I would not be able to conceive.

I have to explain that this doctor of mine is a realist. Sometimes too much of a realist that emotion doesn’t come into play. When I told him I was pregnant, his reaction was somewhat disappointing. I thought he would be like “Wow!! It’s a miracle!!”

But no, he just read through the report from Caroline and he looked up, casually said congratulations and warned me that I should be realistic about my situation. He said that there has been no pregnancy for people with similar medical history as mine. So he would not want to get excited as yet since I could lose the baby any time. He said that I should not prepare anything as yet, not even a name because I could lose this baby tomorrow, in a few weeks, in a few months or as a stillborn.

Yes, it did sound like he’s a prick but mind you, he was just being realistic and didn’t want me to float so high that I might crash harder when I hit the ground. He was sort of “taking care” that I don’t go overboard with this new “situation”. Unfortunately, when he left, I became so down & was so sure that this baby will not survive.

Why? Have you read my history? Everything bad has already happened to me? What is one more thing right??!!!  It seems that I have been tested time and again and I felt that this would be the ultimate test of all.  I cried into my husband’s arm but as usual he has it all figured it out. He held me tight & went “This is our year. Let’s not dwell on this until something REALLY happens. For now, we do not do anything or even think about it unless necessary. Focus on yourself.”

And that was exactly what we did. I wasn’t sure if me being determined to not think too much about it (or if it was a coincidence) led to this pregnancy going by without any pregnancy symptoms at all. We didn’t tell anyone about our exciting news so that no one can ask about it when we were not supposed to even talk about it. It was like a little (but BIG) secret between my husband and I.

When I went partying, I ordered virgin Pina Colada. No one knew there weren’t any alcohol in my drink.  I continued working hard. And at one point of time I was even working till 4 am for a month trying to rush for a dateline. And I was 9 months pregnant at that time. I wasn’t showing till at least the end of my 6th months.

Everyone thought I was gaining weight. We managed to keep it a secret till it was the 7th month. Some people knew but we didn’t announce it. I was also traveling a whole lot for our jobs!

Suddenly it was time to give birth. Caroline has nothing negative to say about the pregnancy at all. The whole 38 weeks, the baby has grown at a beautiful rate.  25th September 2009 – we went into the delivery room without having many things ready to welcome a new born.

During the delivery, it was an experience we had never bargained for. When our baby’s heart stopped during labour, I somehow had it in my head that that was “IT”. That was “THE MOMENT” my private doctor had warned me about. And that was when I would lose her. I closed my eyes & noted that situation. And somehow I must have ACCEPTED the fact that I could lose her. I opened my eyes and looked my husband who looked a little lost too.

Everything seemed to go in slow motion. The doctor was doing her best to resuscitate that tiny little heart inside my tummy. The nurses were scanning my tummy. There were about 5 people dealing and rushing with our situation. And then ….. “Beep…..Beep….beep” The monitor went again. Almost as sudden as when it stopped.

Everyone cheered. I was happy. Confused but happy. Very happy. Inside me I was a little angry since I was sad for no reason. We continued pushing. Caroline mentioned that we cannot let it happen one more time or we would really lose her. I have to push harder and get her out because the baby was tired. And her heartbeat was very weak. She said if her heartbeat stops again, they would have to cut me open and take the body out as it could be harmful for me if the blood from the umbilical cord runs back into my veins.

I went all out to get her out. But it didn’t happen. And then suddenly … her heartbeat stopped a second time. My eyes welled up. I knew what that means. Immediately, the nurses and the doctor scrubbed in and started to put on their surgery attires. I looked at my husband “Don’t let them cut me open.”

I was suddenly scared!  I know cutting me open means we were gonna see the “body” and it would all be confirmed. I didn’t want a confirmation.Let me stay at that status quo. I wanted time to stop. I was shaking so bad. In sadness. In anger. In loss. In Confusion. In defeat.

As they were preparing the surgery utensils, my husband (bless his soul) went to my tummy and started talking to your daughter. He said that he knew it wasn’t the end and that she could pull through this. He said that she should fight it through since her ‘special mummy’ has been there for her, fighting all odds to get her to this point. She should reciprocate that strength. I kid you not - Suddenly the monitor started beeping again!  I was like “What the hell??!!! This is a joke!!!” And the doctor went straight to my bottom again and told me to push immediately. I was like “huh? What?” Ok, I’m confused but let’s just do what she told me to do….

One, two and….. her head came out. Her eyes were wide open, looking around between my legs. I didn’t see all these. My husband told me about it. My husband came to me and said, “Her head is out … she’s beautiful.”

I did a few more push and just as sudden, she was placed on my chest. All covered in wax and all. All puffed up. Quite disgusting really. But she was my disgusting thing. :) My husband was videotaping the birth from the top. Not allowed down below. He was still taping my reaction and I had to turn to him and told him to switch it off.

How would she feel one day when she watches it & realise that I was numb when they put her on my chest. I didn’t react. I was feeling-less. I just looked at her, not even attempting to hold her. But will she understand then that a few minutes before our eyes met, her heartbeat stopped and I had lost her. That sense of acceptance was my way of dealing with it all. And I can’t even explain how it felt when you accepted and situation and suddenly the thing that you had just lost is blinking right in front of you!! I didn’t not react because I didn’t love her . I love her dearly, with all my heart.  I didn’t react because I love her too much & having lost her that last few minutes handicapped my emotions completely.

The nurses took her off me to weigh her, clean her and do a little test. My husband didn’t lose her in sight. He was with her making sure that she didn’t go anywhere.

Caroline came to me and said “it’s ok to open up to her again … she’s here now.”

And that made me realised that it’s all real now. She passed all the test and she is perfectly healthy. 

“What’s her name?” One nurse asked. I smiled & told them we haven’t got any. But I can tell them in one hour.

Once we were in our room, I was back on my lap top googling “MIRACLE” ….  There were a few names that came up. We chose one.

Her first name means MIRACLE. Her second name means THE BEST. She is simply the best miracle that has happened to me. Against all odds, even towards the end, she fought through and made it into this beautiful world. And I will do everything I can, and hopefully not smouldering her too  much, to make her life a very special one.

My husband did well in getting all the necessary things required for a new born. He has been wonderful in supporting this whole ordeal. I love him even more for what I saw he did for all of us.

He also know that to have our daughter is the greatest gift of all. So much so that he doesn’t want to be left out in being involved in bringing her up. He insisted to do the night shift. God bless him.

Have we ever considered IVF? Or adoption? Or surrogate mother? Yes we have. In fact, I had papers in my office which I was supposed to fill up that same week that I found out that I was pregnant. How ironic is that?

How lucky was I?  To get through the whole pregnancy without the slightest bit of symptoms… not even a craving! I’m still not sure if it was because I was avoiding thinking about it altogether. Or if it was all meant to be.

My private doctor came to congratulate me especially the fact that I was the first ever to have been pregnant & safely gave birth to a healthy beautiful baby. He also said that I should treasure my time with her since she would be the only baby I would ever conceive, since she is already a miracle!

Well, this is something to think about. I was predicted to have lived till I was 9 due to my illness. I am 36 years old today. I celebrate my birthday in a big way every year because for me it’s a big blessing to have another year. Then they said I would not be able to conceive…. My daughter is the best thing which has happened to me…and then guess what? Merely 6 months after my daughter was born, we found out that I was pregnant again.

Again, I didn’t have a clue. I was in Club Med Ixtapa, Mexico having a blast & a whole lot of champagne! I was celebrating life. We were so happy because we managed to travel 32 hours (door to door) to arrive to our destination with a 6 months old.

When I was late, we thought maybe it was due to the stress of arriving to our holiday destination. My sister who has been trying for 10 months for a second child was getting a little down that she still hadn’t conceived. When we told her that I was pregnant, we knew it would all be too confusing for her. “Wait a minute! You were not even be able to conceive & you conceive a second one??!! I don’t have health issues. Why haven’t I conceive?!”

Having said that, she was really happy for us. I gave birth to my second child on January 2011. My son is a healthy cuddly little thing. His name (was again goggled when he was born) means “the way to heaven”. He is indeed my way to heaven. He’s a happy boy who makes me laugh every day!

Yes I am really blessed. I still have a little fear at the back of my head wondering if this is too good to be true. My husband who is always the optimist, said that God is  just rewarding me for passing the insane tests he has passed down to me throughout my whole life (Read my history under the “ME GLORIOUS ME” tab). Maybe he is.

I’m going to embrace this new gifts. We had our life changing moments coming through one after another. It was overwhelming but I’m grateful.

I can completely relate to those who are not able to conceive. I know how it feels. Would I also consider IVF? If I have the money, yes I would.