07 Apr May The Stork Visit You Soon
The unannounced arrival of the monthly period spells great disappointment to any woman desperately trying to conceive. I was one such woman who had experienced countless moments when the pent-up hopes of bearing fruit in my womb remained an elusive dream for more than 4 years.
Like most women in Singapore, I had only planned too well. Life after the wedding, according to many newly weds, should extend to a one-year honeymoon period. I was no exception. Babies, at this point in time, were viewed as an intrusion into this private sanctuary. Why should one be bothered with diaper changing, attention-seeking cries from the baby and not to mention interrupted sleep at night? As DINKS (Double Income with No Kids), my husband and I had subscribed to the idea that child-rearing would dilute our carefree lifestyle. It was not that we were against the idea of having a baby but it was then a remote possibility for two young people too caught up with work and the daily pressures of life. Soon, a year and a half passed by. The freedom that we were enjoying previously was turning into a meaningless existence. Life was somewhat empty when it simply revolved around two adults and a TV set. It was the time to procreate, we decided and never did we expect that something which we had taken for granted over the last two years could cause us so much untold suffering and heartache.
The first few failed attempts did little to dampen our spirits. It would happen, eventually, we assured ourselves. After all, most couples only achieve success between 6 and 9 months. However, a year soon passed and there was still no sign of a baby. What was wrong? Isn’t procreation a gift bequeathed to mankind? How could such a seemingly simple task become so impossibly challenging for two apparently healthy adults? After a year or so, I decided to undergo a laparoscopy to uncover the secrets of my ineffective womb. The gynaec whom I was consulting then revealed that I was suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS for short. Subsequently, I was prescribed Clomid, a drug which was supposed to help me regulate my period so that I could time the conception. I was thankful, nevertheless, that there were no other significant gynaecological problems to destroy my dreams of motherhood. Unfortunately, we were soon greeted with more discouraging news. A urologist soon confirmed that my husband had a rather low sperm count and the condition was serious enough to reduce our chances of conceiving naturally. A varicocele operation was recommended as a necessary procedure to remedy the situation. My husband was receptive to any measure that would earn him his fatherhood status.
The new medication and the successful operation renewed our lease of hope for the next 6 months or so. Unfortunately, the numerous test kits which I had used still did not register a positive pregnancy sign. Hope was fast waning and I decided to seek the opinion of another gynaec. After a series of examination, he suspected that I could be suffering from endometriosis and recommended that I undergo another laparoscopy to clear the blood clots and adhesions from my uterus. It was with much reluctance that I agreed to go through with this operation for the first one had yielded no results. Still, I had to invest my trust in my doctor. The operation proceeded smoothly and following that, I was administered some hormonal injection to help suppress the endometrium.
Things were looking more promising or so we thought until I discovered that there was a tumour growing insidiously in my jaw. Though it was benign in nature, it was locally aggressive and it had to be removed surgically. The last laparoscopy was carried out only one month before I discovered that I was stricken by this jaw tumour. It was news devastating enough to break the strongest heart. Suddenly, my baby-making dreams vanished completely into thin air. There were compelling reasons to attend to the jaw tumour before anything else. Two months later, in October 2004, I underwent a 12 hour operation to remove a chunk of my jaw together with eight good teeth. The fibular from my left leg was grafted onto the op site to make up for the loss of the jaw bone. Thank God for providing the medical expertise to ensure that the operation was a success. It was no doubt the most excruciating and harrowing experience of my life but the support of family and loved ones made the pain more bearable and the recovery speedier than expected.
The baby plans had to be put on hold for the end of the operation did not mean that the treatment was complete. I would be required to go through another operation, scheduled 6 to 12 months later, to have teeth implanted in my newly grafted jaw. The 15 cm fibular which was removed from my left leg left a glaringly red scar and a pronounced limp for a few weeks after the operation. My body was definitely not in the condition to produce a baby. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the brief respite from work. The two and a half months medical leave renewed my spirit and strengthened my body. By mid December, I had recovered sufficiently enough to go back to work.
By some logical calculation, I assumed that we could only resume trying to conceive after my implant surgery which would be at least 14 months later from this point in writing. Strangely enough, life has a way of presenting you with the most wonderful surprise when you least expect it. In January 2005, my period was two weeks late. Attributing it to the usual stress at work, I casually dismissed it as one of those overdue periods. Still, I thought I might as well use the available pregnancy test kit since I presumed it would never survive the expiry date by the time I was ready to try for a baby again. Lo and behold, there was the faintest line that registered a positive reading. I could hardly believe my eyes. Surely, this must be some mistake. The excitement was too much to withhold but I did not want to reveal the news prematurely without confirming it with my gynaec. Seven hours on that same day, I found myself staring at this strange blob on the screen of the ultrasound machine and marvelling at this beautiful gift of life that was nursing in my womb. No greater success in this world could ever outweigh this wondrous feeling of knowing that my husband and I have brought forth a new life into this world.
I am now 14 weeks into my pregnancy and enjoying every moment of this newfound journey to motherhood albeit the morning sickness and erratic mood swings. I have learnt from this experience that time awaits no woman and it would be too presumptuous for any woman to think that she has the prerogative to decide WHEN she should want to have a baby. There is a biological clock ticking and you may never know when the clock will stop working altogether when you are hit by unexpected circumstances such as the jaw tumour which caught me completely by surprise. The gift of life is limited by a definite life span. Motherhood is for more women to enjoy if only they learn to set their priorities right. All women are born with a finite and irreplaceable number of eggs. For the gift of a child that you can call your very own, start planning for your family early and reap the rewards that follow. All the best! May the stork visit you soon.
Sharing by Elaine Yee, age 32+
Editor’s Notes: This article was submitted by a Gifted Education Officer from the Ministry of Education. aLife wishes to thank the author for sharing her experience. We wish her and her family all the best in life.