After 3 months I could not imagine taking the medication again. And so we went back to the doctor- who retested us. I explained the problems with the medication and the side effects and she understood. She asked us to change our diet (to low GI although now I feel Paleo or Low carbing would be better alternatives), start exercising and she put us onto a host of various supplements.
We had to give it 6 months before coming back to her. Six. Months!! That feels like an eternity for someone trying to conceive. But I didn’t see any other way. We decided to take a holiday, and that year we visited Egypt. It was one of the most wonderful holidays due to the fact we were busy all the time. Constant tours, and the cruise meant there was little time to drown myself in my pain.
When we retuned I followed the doctors’ orders strictly. But not using any medication to help aid conception felt like I was wasting more time. So I delved into finding natural alternatives for those months. I tried a few tinctures and eventually found a combination of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine that was ordered online. I remind you that this was 2007 when online shopping wasn’t common practice. The package arrived and we started using it immediately. My husband and I were taking up to 8 pills a day. Sometimes more. But I was willing to try anything.
The 6 month mark approached and I dreaded it, knowing I had not conceived in the allocated time. The doctor and it was suggested we see a fertility specialist. I called the offices in Pretoria to set up an appointment in September 2007. From the information I gained through infertility forums, I learnt that an IUI (intrauterine insemination) would be our first step in treatment. And I made peace with it. At least we were getting somewhere.
My family took a trip to Turkey that year. And I asked them to say a special prayer for me at the sacred places they visited. They also had an opportunity to meet with a Shayk/ Holy man in Cyprus- who was known for his inexplicable gifts and healing. They asked (on my behalf) for a prayer I could perform in aiding conception, which he shared.
So we began the prayer ritual daily, kept taking the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines, kept doing all the things we were supposed to. And still nothing…
I took a short break to visit my grandmother in Ladysmith and when I got home I had a strange feeling. It was the feeling you get just before you get a period. A dull sort of ache in the lower tummy. So that week I expected my period.
To my surprise it didn’t come. “Great,” I thought to myself, “The cysts are back, so my period is delayed…back to square one.” The meds were now finished and I didn’t see the need to buy more as we were due to see the specialist anyway. The following weekend we spent in Polokwane. Just before leaving we passed a Clicks Pharmacy, and I made a decision to buy a test. It was not to see if I was pregnant. It was to confirm I wasn’t so I could stop tormenting myself. At the cashier, my husband looked at the purchase and immediately asked why I was doing this to myself again. And that he was afraid of the aftermath of tears and emotions. Nevertheless we paid and drove 2 hours home. I decided to test the next morning.
I can’t truly explain what the next morning felt like. I woke up and took the test with my heart pounding. I scolded myself for having hope once again. And prepared for the worst. This time something was different. I squinted for the longest time at this test. There was one solid line in the C panel (control panel) that I’d seen soooo many times before. But in that second section… there was a very, very, very faint line. Barely visible in fact.
I thought I was losing my mind and I had now begun to see things that weren’t there. I took the test to my husband, with shaking hands, woke him up and asked him to look at it. He did. And then looked at me without saying a word. I asked him if he could see a faint second line or if I had officially lost my marbles and started imagining things. He looked at it long and hard, and confirmed I was not insane. I sat on the bed shaking in absolute shock. He jumped up and out of the bed and proceeded to do a victory dance around our little 2 bedroom flat. Finally. It happened. I could not believe it.
My local GP performed blood tests, and found my levels of HCG and progesterone were a little low, she was cautiously optimistic but warned us of the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy and sent us off to a gynaecologist immediately – there were no gynae’s in Hoedspruit. So we drove 2 hours to Nelspruit, extremely anxious to find out whether it was an ectopic.
Much to our relief, we had a proper pregnancy, good heartbeat and I was around 7 weeks along. I visited my parents that weekend and while having tea I simply placed the ultrasound picture on the table announcing that we had a little bean. I think it was a surprise to just about everyone!
Nine happy and uneventful months later… Isa made his entrance to the world- with his large eyes that still stare back at us 9 years later.
The thing is, the type of pain a person endures on this journey changes you. I will never forget what it felt like to feel ‘without’ – and every time I meet a women who is trying to conceive , or is married for a number of years and still doesn’t have any children, I give them a squeeze, and say a silent prayer for them. I never ask why. I may tell them that I too have been down this path, and that the Almighty knows best. Perhaps it would do us some good to remember that we don’t know another’s pain and that some sensitivity should be used when it comes to asking personal questions – questions that aren’t any of our business anyway!
Remember that conception is not fully in our control – and questioning someone on when they are going to start a family may feel like their soul is being stabbed – that’s how deep this pain goes. I have most definitely changed through pain… and I guess that’s what pain is meant to do. It helps us grow. No one really makes any great changes to themselves or their lives when everything is rosy. It’s those deep dark moments of loneliness, those smiles that hide the turmoil inside, those tears shed in the quiet of the night, that allow you to open up and take stock of yourself or your life. There’s a Sufi saying that I found very apt I thought I’d share…
“It’s the breaking of the heart that allows the light in”
And I did find the above to be true.
So maybe they don’t need to watch The Lion King repeatedly, maybe I need to spend that time with them- for me. Maybe they don’t need my help and are more capable than I’d like to admit, I help them with homework anyway. Maybe it gives me a sense of fulfilment to cook and feed them. Every.Single.Day…maybe it’s not them needing me…but me that needs them…
And maybe it’s good to be reminded of the sacrifices made just to have them so I can appreciate all that I have been blessed with – my journey in trying to conceive did have a happy ending and for those currently on this journey – I hope yours does too!