By Hani Zul Fossum
To begin with, I’ve never dreamt to be someone else’s wife let alone a mother. But everything changed when I met my husband who encouraged me to start a family with him.
We were blessed with our first daughter when I was 37. The pregnancy and delivery went on without much drama.
This created an overly optimistic expectation for our next pregnancy.
And so, when I got pregnant again before my 40th birthday, I felt grateful for the blessing.
It was nice to finally be able to conceive my second baby after a planned two-year gap but alas it was not meant to be.
My daughter Aleya was abnormal which meant that my baby would have severe disabilities.
That was what the doctor told us at about 16-17 weeks into the pregnancy.
In not so many words he told us that he couldn’t guarantee that our baby would have a normal and healthy life unlike my firstborn.
By then, I had already bonded with the baby and felt a severe sense of depression.
In the end, we had to make a difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy.
As we were already a mature couple around 40-years old, we did not want to bring a disabled child into the world.
What if something were to happen to us? Who will take care of her then?
After much deliberation with the doctor, and going back and forth with my husband, we made the very difficult decision to let her go.
I still carry the pain and guilt until today.
But I had to move on for the sake of my family and our firstborn.
We wanted another child but realised that time was not on our side and did not have the luxury of time to ‘do it the old fashioned way’.
So we started the process of conceiving this time with the help of science.
I started with IUI (Intrauterine insemination) in August, the same year we lost Aleya.
This procedure involves a tube containing sperms shot straight onto my uterus. It is a non-invasive procedure very similar in nature and feeling to a pap smear. I did that once and then went to the United States to visit my husband’s family.
Unfortunately, following our return the next month, I received the bad news that the process was unsuccessful.
Women aged 40 and above have a less likely chance (less than 30 per cent) to get pregnant via IUI.
So, we decided not to try IUI again and move on with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) because we didn’t want to wait any longer.
I spoke to someone who was going through the same process and although hers wasn’t successful, it didn’t discourage me.
Fortunately, I was lucky but that was not without a few nerve-wracking weeks of anticipation.
First, I had to prepare my body for the procedure that took about a month.
That itself was quite a process, I had to inject my stomach with some sustenance to ensure that I was ready for the procedure.
It wasn’t painful but I remember being very moody.
With IVF, everything is done outside of the womb, from insemination to the culturing of the eggs.
Our doctor managed to collect about eight eggs, of which five were of good quality.
Of those five, only three became embryos.
Due to our previous experience and also the fact that this was considered a high-risk pregnancy, we decided to invest in pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS).
While it is not cheap, this proved to be a very good investment for us as two out of the three embryones were shown to have genetic issues similar to our previous pregnancy.
After a few stressful weeks, we were only left with one embryo and thus one candidate for implantation which was done on Feb 19, 2020.
Technically, I was considered pregnant then, but I was still cautious and didn’t tell many people as I did not want to jinx the process.
This was also the same time we started the first lockdown so it was easy to keep things a secret.
I was very careful during the first 10 to 12 weeks of the trimester because this is the time that anything can happen.
In the end, we received good news.
Though we got a scare when we did our panorama test and the results turned out to be inconclusive.
We needed to do further testing at 16 weeks, but thankfully it turned out to be all good after all.
The baby was healthy and I was going to be a mum to another girl in a matter of months.
I was very grateful for the blessing.
It took a lot of money and effort to conceive our second child but it was worth it.
And in October 2020, we were blessed with the arrival of a healthy and happy baby girl!
At least the delivery was as smooth and drama-free as the first one! Alhamdulillah.
We were also extremely blessed that our insurance covered almost all of the cost.
I realise that most people are not so fortunate.
To all the mother’s out there who are considering an IVF procedure, my message to you is not to give up and make sure you surround yourself with a good support system.
Always pray, stay positive and do not stress yourself out.
I wish you all the best!
About the Author: Hani is a mother to two beautiful children and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org