Follow my infertility story below.


Infertility: Don’t wait until it’s too late!

June is World Infertility Awareness Month and there’s no better time to be proactive about your fertility health

Parenthood is undeniably one of the most universally desired goals in adulthood, and most people have life plans that include children. However, not all couples who want a pregnancy will achieve one spontaneously and a proportion will need to seek medical treatment to help resolve underlying fertility problems. It’s therefore understandable that infertility has been recognised as a public health issue worldwide by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Infertility is when you cannot get or stay pregnant after trying for at least a year and you are under the age of 35,” says Dr Sulaiman Heylen, President of the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG).

One in every four couples in developing countries is affected by infertility, while one in six couples worldwide experience some form of infertility problem at least once during their reproductive lifetime.The current prevalence of infertility lasting for at least 12 months is estimated to affect between 8 to 12% worldwide for women aged 20 to 44.

In recent years, the number of couples seeking treatment for infertility has dramatically increased due to factors such as postponement of childbearing in women, development of newer and more successful techniques for infertility treatment, and increasing awareness of available services. This increasing participation in fertility treatment has also raised awareness and inspired investigation into the psychological ramifications of infertility. It can cause stress, depression and anxiety, which is why it is important to know that there are options available for treatment.

Age is a key factor

“Up to 50% of all patients who visit a fertility centre are 35 or older. We cannot stress enough how important it is for people not to wait too long when they consider having children. Young women need to be aware that there is a slow decline in fertility from their 20s until the age of 35, after which it starts to decrease rapidly until the age of 45,” says Dr Heylen.

“It’s extremely important for couples to investigate fertility options and fertility preservation earlier in life, rather than leaving it too late. A woman who is not ready to have a child can choose to freeze her eggs to try to preserve her ability to have a child later,” says Dr Heylen.

It’s estimated that 20 to 30% of infertility cases are explained by physiological causes in men, 20 to 35% by physiological causes in women, and 25 to 40% of cases are because of a problem in both partners. In 10 to 20% no cause is found. Infertility is also associated with lifestyle factors such as smoking, body weight and stress. A woman’s age is one of the most important factors affecting whether she is able to conceive and give birth to a healthy child. This is due to several changes that are a natural part of ageing:

  • The number and quality of eggs (ovarian reserve) decreases naturally and progressively from the time a woman is born until the time she reaches menopause.
  • It is not only more difficult to get pregnant (conceive), but miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities in the child (such as Down syndrome) are more common in older mothers.
  • Fibroids, endometriosis, and tubal disease are more common and can affect fertility.
  • Women who become pregnant at an older age have a higher risk of complications during the pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

The decrease in a man’s fertility appears to occur later in life than in a woman’s fertility. In their mid-to-late 40s, men experience changes in their sperm that can cause issues with fertility, and chromosomal or developmental problems with their children.

Lifestyle and family history

If you have any of the following risk factors, you may also consider seeking advice earlier:

  • Family history (i.e., mother or sister) of early menopause (before age 51)
  • History of cigarette smoking in either partner
  • Previous ovarian surgery
  • Exposure to chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer in either partner
  • Shortening in the time between periods
  • Skipped or missed periods
  • History of injury to the testicles
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals (certain pesticides or solvents)

Pregnancy is a complex process

Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps. To get pregnant:

  • A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
  • A man’s sperm must join with the egg along the way (fertilise).
  • The fertilised egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus.
  • The fertilised egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).

Infertility may result from a problem with any or several of these steps. For the pregnancy to continue to full term, the embryo must be healthy and the woman’s hormonal environment adequate for its development. When just one of these factors is impaired, infertility can result.

Couples, dependent on the ages of the partners, are generally advised to seek medical help if they are unable to achieve pregnancy after a year of unprotected intercourse. The doctor will conduct a physical examination of both partners to determine their general state of health and to evaluate physical disorders that may be causing infertility. Usually both partners are interviewed about their sexual habits in order to determine whether intercourse is taking place properly for conception.

If no cause can be determined at this point, more specific tests may be recommended. For women, these include an analysis of ovulation, x-ray of the fallopian tubes and uterus, and laparoscopy. For men, initial tests focus on semen analysis.

“Based on the results of the specific tests, a treatment plan will be made which can include medication, surgery or assisted reproduction,” says Dr Heylen.

Treatment options

Not all couples who desire a pregnancy will achieve one spontaneously and some will need medical help to resolve underlying fertility problems. It is now estimated that more than 9 million babies have been born worldwide since the first IVF baby was born in 1978.

Most assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments take place in women aged between 30 and 39. The most common fertilisation technique is ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Overall, ICSI accounts for around three-quarters of all treatments worldwide, and conventional IVF around one-quarter. Success rates from frozen embryo transfer are increasing, as are the number of frozen cycles. Vitrification, as an efficient cryopreservation technique, has improved the outcome of both embryo and oocyte (immature egg cell) freezing.

Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises that a couple has ever experienced together. The long-term inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples.

“If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, out of control, or isolated, you are not alone,” says Dr Heylen. “Infertility is more common than you may think, but there is no reason to lose hope. Visit a fertility clinic near you to speak to a doctor about the options available to you and your partner.”

For more information, visit

#WorldInfertilityMonth #DontDelay #Merck

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…

How can I talk about just how excited I am about my baby that I’ve never met, someone else had to carry for me and who I never thought I’d have?
I can’t be part of conversations about trimesters, feeling baby move or kick for the first time. I have no frame of reference for what most women accept as a given.
I am excited. Maybe even more excited than A kid that’s about to enter the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. I have her names picked out, her clothes are freshly washed, she has tiny little diapers, fresh new bottles with formula and soft toys waiting for her.
What I probably wish for more than anything is that she would look at me the way my cat does, with adoring eyes. I hope her eyes are blue like mine when I’m happy, or blue-grey like mine when I’m sad. I hope she dons my signature dark curls and high cheekbones. I wouldn’t even mind if she inherits my volatile temper. Most importantly, I hope she is healthy.

My journey may have ended (almost) but I will never forget the almost 6 years of treatments to get to this very moment. I will never forget the river of tears burning my cheeks or that my husband stayed.

Just because I didn’t carry her…

Just the other day one of our neighbours in the complex started chatting to me. She finally put 2-and-2 together that when we say our baby is due in November we really meant due through surrogacy – because it is quite obvious my stomach is flat. The association then jumped to Lexa must’ve been a very unhappy baby because she no longer heard the heartbeat of the woman that carried her – and that we should consider recording the surrogate’s heartbeat for the new baby.
I know she meant well, but… I don’t want to hear it. My baby will get used to my heartbeat. She will, because it was my heart that willed her to life. Mine.

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.

I dropped the mic and you missed it. I made a major announcement last week – sneakily at the end of a LIVE video – and it was so huge that it’s worth repeating.

I’m done. We’re done. We will be adding another little girl to our family – and she is perfect. We did a 4D scan with Dr Bhorat in Umhlanga to make 100% sure and it was an amazing experience for me. I got to see our little girl.

The question I always get asked… IS IT YOURS? It is mine. Our own genetic material. Our own child. Mine. I’m just using a surrogate to do the part I can’t.

I’m emphasizing that she is mine to remind everyone just how big a deal it is. She is an accomplishment, a victory, the impossible made possible. She is the end of my heartbreakingly difficult road at a fertility clinic. Whatever she grows up to be, it will be amazing.

So that is it, a simple announcement to say that I didn’t give up because I knew nothing is impossible.

I think the scars of this journey will probably stay with me forever. It broke me in so many places and there were times when I could barely hold the pieces together. All I know is that my story is far from over and not told in full, but one day I’ll get there.

If you would like to read more about my infertility and surrogacy journey, read these:

I wish there was a manual for doctors on how to treat the mother of the baby being carried by a surrogate.

Dear Doctor,

You’ve never met me, but yet you have looked after my baby since the beginning. I have paid your invoices as I got them, but yet you don’t even acknowledge me or send pictures of my baby (even though you know I exist). To you, I don’t matter – but that baby, my baby, matters more than anything in the world to me.

I know you don’t know how to handle a surrogacy “situation”, because apparently it is quite rare. However, I am still the mother of my child even if he/she is carried by another. You see, I didn’t get the care from doctors that should’ve known there was something wrong with me and now I can never fall pregnant. To be honest, multiple specialists advised me to rather just adopt or get a donated egg… but I didn’t. Instead I gave everything including my health and 5 years of my life to become a mother of my own biological child(ren).

I know my husband asked you to include me as I am feeling left out. I was standing next to him when he asked you. He has to deal with me and my tears because you don’t understand or don’t care that it is my baby. I have now put it in email to you as well, because what you are (not) doing is not right.

Now that it has happened I want to be treated like the baby is mine. You can share the joys and scans in your doctor’s rooms with the surrogate – but for f.sakes, I exist! I am not just a purse that pays your invoices, I am the mother of that baby and entitled to hear from my baby’s doctor what is happening. I can’t catch return flights for R4000+ (because only 1 airline flies there) to attend a scan because you need to be paid, the surrogate needs to be paid and I have to work to make the money so you can have it. I literally cannot be there to remind you whose baby it is… you should already know.

All I’m asking is to just be included on updates of my baby’s development from you, the doctor, even if it is just an email. I’m just literally missing out on everything all the time… just saying.

When someone writes a callous irresponsible blog post (I left out the link on purpose) about something they clearly do not really understand the magnitude of, I kind of have to reply. I have 2 cents and I want to share it – because I’ve only spent all my savings and 5 years of my life to have a child through surrogacy and still going through treatments because I am that strong and determined.

In this post I am covering some myths, medication and stories of surrogates and couples.

Look at me, I am the girl that went to school with you, I may have been your best friend, was your teammate, worked with you somewhere or you might have just seen me buying groceries. Like you, I had dreams of having my own kids – but that choice was taken from me. I needed a surrogate to carry a baby, but the road to getting a viable embryo makes me the strongest person you will ever know.

People in my community don’t know about surrogacy

Surrogacy is an unheard of topic in almost every culture and community – because people don’t talk about it. The simple reason is that it is a heart-breaking process and having every aunty and bob ask you how it’s going isn’t really what you want when you are dealing with stress, money for treatments and legal and, and, and…

By the way, I didn’t know a single person that has ever gone through the surrogacy process – until that was my only option.

It’s not a rich people thing!

Surrogacy is not a TV thing or a rich people thing. When a couple gets to the point where they need a surrogate it means one thing only – medically the woman cannot carry a child (or it’s a same sex couple). It can be that the woman had a hysterectomy because of an issue with a birth or even endometrioses – or something else.

And by the way, you can’t just decide you want to use a surrogate to carry a baby for you – your doctor actually has to write a report that will be attached to a high court application (serious stuff). Plus you have to submit so much information from being declared sane, solvent and a decent human being with recommendation letters from friends and family. It is a huge invasion of privacy (on top of everything else).

Make some money – yeah!

… and no, surrogates won’t get rich from it either. Once treatment starts the surrogate will get a SMALL allowance. When the surrogate is pregnant with the child of the commissioning parents she will get a little bit more. She will also get a payment for maternity leave. She will have costs related to the pregnancy covered – like medical aid and life insurance. All of the money matters have to be approved by the high court.

Surrogates cannot be offered lots of money to buy cars and stuff. It is illegal.

If you get approached…

I speak to my surrogate on a weekly basis. She is an amazing woman who is actually doing it for the right reason. She wanted to help a couple like us to have a family. The little bit of extra money is great, but for her it didn’t even factor into her decision.

So when someone asks you to be a surrogate – rather say no than to uhm and ah. If it’s something that puts the fear of Hades into you, then probably you aren’t meant to do this. And if the promise of money is the driving force – you definitely shouldn’t do it.

The only time you should say to a person like me that you will think about it, is if you already in your heart know that you want to do it. Don’t string us along – we have enough heartbreak to deal with.

The medication

Surrogates have to use medication to help the uterus lining along before a scan to determine if it is viable to do an implantation and then also to help the embryo attach and grow the first couple of weeks. The medication is a combination of tablets and injections.

Whereas a commissioning mother would have to take only injections and the combinations may differ from treatment cycle to treatment cycle. The below is one of the most hectic treatment programmes I have been on.

Surrogate medication Commissioning mother medication

None of the medications are over the counter and mostly they are only available at fertility clinics. Not all specialists use the same treatments and each treatment cycle may have a different combination of drugs – but a surrogate will basically always use the same medication for each implant (for about 3 – 6 weeks in total).

I have linked to pages explaining the side effects of each of the medications. Medications used during fertility treatments are tested and regulated. This is not a medical industry where they have to use poison to kill a tumour. I’m going to say this, headache powder or pills you pop that you bought over the counter is probably more of an issue.

Stories about surrogates & new parents

To be a surrogate you have to be an amazing person. Your heart has to be bigger than an elephant’s and your mind stronger than a rock…

After Lexa was born our surrogate said the first few days she was thinking about the baby, but more being worried if she was taken care of. The second we sent her a photo her mind was put at ease. She has met Lexa about a year later and she said she had no motherly feelings towards her, but just thought she was a cute kid.

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.