Category

Infertility

Category

I woke up in a dam of blood from excruciating pain – and I’m not exaggerating. I was sleeping on yoga mats because I didn’t want to get blood on my bed. My clothes were drenched and as I took it off the smell of blood made me gag. I was shaking from head to toe. As I stood and watched the blood run into the drain under the shower, I knew I had to stay awake or set the alarm for every 30 to 40 minutes – else this would happen again.

At 3 in the morning I sat down at my desk with a glass of water and 2 Tramacettes. My hands still shaking. An incapacitating searing pain in my left ovary, back and abdomen immobilised me. It was enough. I have had enough. I knew that this organ (with its issues and endometriosis) that has ruined my life in the worst possible ways would have to be removed as soon as possible. I didn’t want or need it.

I got the go-ahead and approvals to finally have a partial hysterectomy. I’m was more petrified of picking up drug resistant superbugs than the actual operation, but this is the one operation I had to have. I wanted that normal life thing that most people have.

Waking up after a procedure with pain is kind of what I’m used to – except this time I didn’t have to ask if there was actually an egg, just to be disappointed. I just had to be sure that I’m alive, the doctor didn’t cut into my abdomen and that I got painkillers before being wheeled anywhere else.

As I lay in that room with 3 other women while the nurses took my blood pressure (for the millionth time) I could see the confusion flash across their faces about the extremely low blood pressure. The lab lady was called in to draw blood.

I don’t think the doctor took it serious when I said I bleed out in 2 to 3 weeks…

My “blood level” was on 5 and it is supposed to be on 14. Blood was ordered for a transfusion, because “people can’t survive like that”. As the blood entered my body, I developed a fever and got weaker. I joked that my body wasn’t used to having that much blood and simply didn’t know what to do with it all.

Who would’ve thought that my body would reject blood from my own blood group when it needed it most?

I don’t feel a 100% yet, but I know that in a couple of weeks I will be stronger than ever without having to suffer another endometriosis fuelled period. I can look forward to having a clearer mind, not having to use 2 Tramacettes 3 times a day, not be tired all the time…

Let me just be honest about it, I don’t like to follow. I’m an Aries and I bend the world to my will. I don’t take prisoners and I don’t conform. I’m never going to be your traditional mom or even a boring person. I am a daughter, sister, wife, mom and friend – however, before all of that I am me.

I’m not like the others. I’m not a cookie cutter person that follows…

I will never grow up

No, I will never grow up or give up my toys. I will put them in my designer handbag with lipsticks and play with them whenever I want to. Maybe I’ll share them with my kids.

I hate that word, mature, but I guess I am growing up.

Sheryl Crow

I think it is overrated to be responsible or a grown-up all the time – it makes you old. If you can’t squeeze the best out of every day, why are you even still here? There is more to life than forgetting a part of you so you can be just like everyone else.

I miss who I was before infertility, but I love who I am now

Would you believe that I was once responsible for a R64 million a year e-commerce platform with only R3 million advertising and development budget? This was while I was going through fertility treatments. During this time I also managed a retail marketing team. Before that I was almost always the only girl in the office, because I was in tech. I always was (and still am) in tech. You can call me a mould breaker, trailblazer or just plain me.

I miss that part of me that got lost in the 6 years of treatments. That part of me that smiled more, that didn’t cry rivers, that only worried about saving for a next trip and planning it. I miss the part of me that had empathy for other women.

I’m an Aries and sort of a challenge to myself.

Debbie Reynolds

I joke about being an Aries, but I’m serious about it

I don’t think I would’ve made it through the 6 years of fertility treatments if I wasn’t an Aries – and had a supporting husband. Us Aries just don’t like to be told what we cannot have and we just won’t stop until we have what we want. We are just born stubborn, without an off switch and with a will that can move continents.

Now let me know…

Are you an Aries that bends the world to your will or do you love having an Aries sister/brother/mother/father/cousin/friend?

It’s the night before Christmas and as lay on my bed with only my cat (Sandton) I had time to reflect on our last few years without a Christmas tree.

I’m lucky. 

I have an amazing husband that stuck by me through 6 years of fertility treatments, tears and more than just a few outbursts.

I got to travel with my oldest daughter, husband and my parents on Reunion Island before my mom got really sick. Plus my parents got to meet my little victory this week.

This year I have 2 daughters. They weren’t supposed to be possible, but they are here and they are mine. Because of them I finally felt like a Christmas tree 🙂

…but there was also heartbreak

I lost my best friend on 12 December 2016. He was there for me for 16 years and I know towards the end he fought to stay. His name was Genie and I had him from when he was just a 15 minute old kitten. I know most people won’t understand, but to me he was my person.

None of my grandparents got to meet my kids. It feels like forever since I had to say goodbye to my last Ouma. She will forever be remembered by my youngest’s second name.

…and I’m almost done

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. 
Harriet Tubman

I also had a good business year – or 2 – since leaving the corporate world. I could never have dreamt to have landed the clients that I did or to have more time to spend with the people I love or do the things I never seemed to have time for.

Highlights in my blogging life included working with some amazing brands and getting to know some amazing women.

My biggest shoutouts go to the Optiphi team and the products that are making it big everywhere including Europe – plus their PR team 121 Jamming; Then also to 2 brands from my home province, Limpopo, BaoCare and Tsonga Textiles… Thank you Freebees PR for introducing me to them; I also have only love to send out to Matsimela for all the good work and gifts that landed on my doorstep. My mom always asks if I can’t get her more bath salts!; Twiga PR for giving me an amazing opportunity to interview the national women’s cricket team and making sure my desk is filled with Prima Toys that I’m supposed to share with Lexa; The good people from Nespresso that fuel my rediscovered coffee habits; and Bos for the energy boosts now that I don’t sleep (my office fridge is stocked)… plus Entertainer app for making sure we can still do date lunches and afford Starbucks!

In all seriousness tho, thank you for reading because without you this is just another blog that may never have inspired anyone.

So here is my promise… in 2019 I am going to do and write more about what makes me happy. I am not just a mom or that girl that used a surrogate, I am so much more and my blog will become an extension of that…

You won’t know that anything is wrong when you see me, but it is…

I don’t like to talk about “lady issues”. It’s unsexy, unglamorous, unfabulous and just a grim subject. I’m old school like that.

For the past 2 weeks I have had the most excruciating pain on my left ovary. It reverberates straight down my left leg and up my spine. The pain drives me crazy insane, it makes me aggressive, it keeps me awake at night, craving anything and everything salty. I’m a raging fire that can consume living and edible with the same ease.

I don’t like to take painkillers, but if I do, it’s the top shelf stuff. As in S6 top shelf and not 1 at a time. I guess “normal” girls would probably never know the pain levels that someone like me can tolerate (and I’m looking at women suffering from endometriosis and similar).

Yes, I do have plans to some day soon have a pain-free existence, but until I know that she is here, she is OK… I can’t allow myself to take that risk.

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. Ernest Hemingway

Have you ever just needed to hear good news, but the good news never comes? Well, that is how I feel. Earlier this month we flew the surrogate in and had one embryo implanted. I didn’t sleep for days before that. It is big. It is huge. It is 4 years of my life.

2 weeks later the surrogate went for a pregnancy test at a lab. The next day the lab phoned her with the results, they didn’t even send it to my specialist. (I will be dealing with this little “slip-up” quite harshly.) The surrogate phoned with bad news – and I never want bad news from her.

The day was made even worse by the fact that it was also the anniversary of the day I lost my Genie. I have been in mourning for a year for my beloved kitten of 16 years. I still haven’t been able to “get over” the loss. And now another loss was added to this day.

We lost an embryo.

I was floored. We had lost the best embryo. Now there is only one left. Next year I will be starting year 5 of treatments. One is not enough, I know the percentages.

It takes a lot out of you to get up after a loss like this. It is insane to do this for so long and to keep at it. I know why I am doing this and even though I break a little every time, I can get up again and again.

Here I’m sitting on a Friday afternoon, a year and 2 months after Lexa was born, fuming because… The Department of Labour says I refuse to give them an adoption certificate and therefore they will not pay my UIF maternity benefits. I kid you not…

These lame people that work at this useless government department for some odd reason cannot comprehend that the laws of the beautiful South Africa says that actually I don’t have to adopt Lexa, because well, she is registered on our name and I have a high court order and all these sections of the law that back me up.

I don’t know, is it wrong for the people of South Africa to expect all government departments should change when laws change?

So here is a recap of the hoops I have jumped thusfar:

  1. Applied for UIF maternity benefits end October 2016
  2. Had to fill in a document for parents that have adopted, attached a copy of the high court order and birth certificate – because they don’ have a form for me, but I am still entitled to the UIF benefits
  3. Heard nothing back and finally contacted them in February to ask what’s going on
  4. By April they said aikona, we need the adoption certificate, but fill in this appeals form and explain it all
  5. I completed the appeals form, attached a copy of the high court order and birth certificate – and explained and quoted all the sections from the law
  6. Ja, they didn’t do much and I kept on mailing them and asking what the status was
  7. In August I finally lost it and told them how useless they are
  8. I lodged a complaint through the presidential complaints line in August
  9. Phoned bi-weekly
  10. On 30 November the presidential complaints line operator read the feedback from the Department of (no) Labour – apparently I refuse to submit an adoption certificate, therefore they cannot assist
  11. 1 December 2017 I submitted a complaint to the Public Protector

So I am still fighting. I’m just one of those people that won’t and can’t give up when something like this happens. It is a matter of principle.

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. Ernest Hemingway

My heart starts beating wildly when I’m taken to my bed in what has become an all too familiar room. Green curtains with flowery frills at the top that separate the white beds. The white hospital gown nicely folded, just waiting to scratch my skin.

The obligatory blood pressure test and visit from the new anesthesiologist follows and then it is the long wait. I can hear my heart beating loudly and tears starting to well up. I just stare at the cheap art on the wall, the white ceiling and the long bright lights – and breathe deeply. I listen to the sound of my breath.

Finally I get wheeled out into the narrow corridor to the theater. Nurses lean over from above asking the same questions I’ve heard so many times before. One slips a cap over my hair and two others check the paperwork against my hospital bracelet. Then the nurse with the thick foreign accent arrives, wheeling me through the last door.

The tears flood down my face. There is nothing as scary as being in a room that feels like a cold empty cave…where miracles rarely happen for me.

The two nurses help me move over onto the procedure table. They clip a heart monitor onto my right index finger, adjust my arm with the anesthesia needle and add an oxygen breathing tube with a new anesthesia in my nose. I can hear my heart beeping, feel a nurse’s hand on my shoulder and one saying it will be OK.

The anesthesiologist adjusts the breathing tube and asks if I’m feeling sleepy yet. I shake my head and keep my eyes closed to keep the tears at bay. I hear Dr Clark come in and then nothing…

I wake up. The lights are so bright. The blankets so heavy under my chin. The needle in my arm uncomfortable and the breathing tube still pumping oxygen into my nose. Then a nurse arrives.

I know that she has to check my ‘lucidity’ but I stop her midway through her question to ask if he found one. She starts to smile and says that the doctor found one but he will be in to see me shortly. She proceeds to ask questions and I can vaguely hear, but my mind is on the good news – nothing else matters.

They wheel me out into the general room where hubby waits. He doesn’t know yet and for the first time I could break the news to him. (Usually the anesthesia takes almost 2 hours to wear off.) We hold hands. It’s good news, but it’s not yet final. It still has to survive 6 more days as an embryo before it gets frozen.

My sandwich and juice arrives, the last test to make sure I can go home. It’s always the same, grated cheese on brown with lettuce and a LiquiFruit. I wolf everything down, it has been more than 12 hours since I had anything. I don’t understand why people would check if I get nauseous from that… but if it gets me out of the hospital, who cares.

I get dressed before the doctor arrives – I still hate that hospital gown with its two blue ties and hard material. Then we wait just to talk to Dr Clark. He pops in before his next procedure, smiling. We know the drill, don’t get too happy until the embryo gets frozen… but at least there was one. It is still better news than we’ve had 90% of the time.

…and now we wait.

Everybody has that one person in their life they dislike and for me that person is my left ovary. All pain starts in this underdeveloped pain in my side. It just sits there taking up space and makes me miserable.

Sometimes my left ovary even invites over friends in the form of cysts. My right ovary on the other hand quietly sits there minding its own business, being all normal and nice.

Then to evacuate the unwanted cyst there is always the pill. Both the cyst and pills suppress hormones I need for my treatments. Apparently the cyst also dislikes the pill and instructs my left ovary to be more of a pain.

I will survive this latest onslaught with painkillers, a packet of crisps and Oreos because everything has to be balanced.

I have been in for close to 12 aspirations and abandoned cycles more than double that. It hasn’t gotten any easier.

On 2 Feb I went in again. I woke up to good news, a smiling husband and Dr Clark that found 1 more.

Then the wait started to hear about progress… the fertilized egg survived and became a 4 cell embryo and then the wheels came off. By day 6, which is extremely late, it only started splitting into a 6 cell… but then it started to fragment.

My embryo was too badly fragmented to be frozen. It was so close and then it just slipped away.
I know it is hard to understand that I would be sad about losing a barely there embryo, but for me to even have found one again is a miracle. To lose it, is devastating because there might never be another. I don’t have the luxury of time or oodles of eggs. I don’t even have a working womb.
After each of my embryos my period starts within 2 weeks again – and it is bad. Last time I was in so much pain I ended up in hospital with pain medication pumping into my veins.
This time I woke up feeling like my left ovary was swollen, my back ripped apart and my abdomen one big ball of pain. I have taken 2 Gen-Payne before breakfast, another 2 for lunch,  4 Tramacet and a Gen-Payne for dinner and the pain is still there 3 days later. I would describe it as a 9 out of 10 – and my pain tolerance is exceptionally high. Before being numbed by painkillers I was standing at a pain level of 20 out of 10.
Then just to top it all off, I will have massive blood loss thanks to the endometriosis thinking it should take revenge. I will literally be drained from all iron in my body.
Next time you tuck your kids into bed, think of the women like me that goes through hell just to have their own kids. 
In 2 months we will do this again. There will be more injections in my stomach and we will hope that something will happen, but the reality is that there is a 99% chance that there will be nothing. I don’t know why I just can’t give up, maybe it is the stubborn streak I have or maybe it is that I don’t understand the term.
I will have kids – plural. I will.

When breeders, you know who I’m referring to, complain about having to deal with their kids’ issues I literally want to smack them. Seriously, you complain about having a hyperactive kid that can’t pay attention or a kid that “ruined your figure”? F*** you.

via GIPHY

Walk 1 month in the shoes of someone like me and you will be thankful that you are a breeder that popped out kids that are not perfect. Your problems are minuscule in a world full of real problems.

Going to a fertility clinic and having a doctor fiddle down there isn’t fun. It isn’t comfortable. It is gross. Getting injections into your stomach isn’t glamorous – it is painful as hell by day 3. Not even mentioning the extra hormones that have you on edge and running warmer than usual… Having to fork out thousands just to try and have your kid instead of just having an oopsie isn’t how anyone imagined they would have kids. Walking a fine line between giving up and sitting in a corner and living in a world full of breeders just ain’t as much fun as you imagine.

Yes, I know we have a kid at home – but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want another one. I know that I’m going to have to go through more hell, more invasion of my privacy and more money out of my pocket. So you poor little breeder that have to cope with a moody child, nobody cares – it is normal. Deal with it.