Nigeria News

Making babies today, later or never?

IN 1998, when Ada, a brilliant lawyer, tied the nuptial knot with Ike, a top executive in a successful insurance establishment, she was 34, and he 36. Both were high achievers in their chosen professions, and like most married couples, had hopes of starting a family right after marriage.
But after trying on their own without success for almost two years, they contacted all the doctors they knew to see if there was a problem. The doctors carried out all the standard tests, from blood tests to make sure Ada’s hormones were all in line to analysis of Ike’s sperms. Everything turned out normal.
The couple was referred to renowned gynaecologists who re-did all the tests and also performed more complicated tests such as a hystosalpingogram (HSG), which is a special test done to find out if a woman’s fallopian tubes are clear. Again everything was normal.
They were urged to take a break from work and just let “things” happen naturally, so in June 2002 the couple took time off work and travelled to Europe.
Over the next month, Ada tried to forget the sadness deep inside of her heart. She very much wanted to have children, and was hoping the vacation in Europe would be the solution. But her expectation that relaxation while on a nice holiday is a good way to help a woman achieve pregnancy was dashed. The holiday did not do the trick.
Back home, the couple didn’t go back to the gynaecologist they had seen initially since there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with either one of them, but perhaps the real reason was that Ada and Ike just didn’t want to face the reality that we were infertile. Month after month she would cry when her period arrived and she wondered if she and Ike would ever be parents.
On Christmas Day, 2004, Ada got to know her brother-in-law’s wife was expecting their first child after barely six months of marriage. On one hand, she and Ike were thrilled for the new parents and the family, as this would be the first grandchild for her husband’s family. On the other hand, they were devastated.
Christmas is always the most difficult time of the year for infertile couples, and the Christmas of 2004 was the hardest for Ada and Ike. Their beautiful niece, Uzoma, was born April 2005. Incidentally, it was Uzoma’s birth that really gave the couple the courage to continue seeking help.
In June 2005, a friend of Ada’s saw a newspaper advertisement for an infertility support group in Lagos and told her about it. Ada and Ike were resident in Enugu, but they wrote to the group and were invited to a meeting. They travelled to Lagos for the first meeting and had opportunity to hear the head of the local fertility clinic speak, but more importantly, they got to meet other people like themselves.
Every fortnight, they travelled down to Lagos and by the third meeting, it was time to share their own story and hear others’ journeys through infertility. As Ada confessed later, it felt so good to finally be among people who understood their feelings. It helped make the frustration of not knowing why they couldn’t conceive more bearable.
After consultations, doctors at the clinic suggested intrauterine insemination (IUI). Very simply put, the idea was to take Ike’s sperm and place it directly into Ada’s cervix at the most opportune time of the month (which was determined through ovulation predictor kits). The couple was so excited. But after two unsuccessful IUIs, Ada changed to using injectable fertility drugs. She still did not get pregnant. Then the doctor suggested they moved onto In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
In August 2005 they went through their first and last IVF cycle. Ada confessed she was terrified and believed Ike was too, although he did not show it.. If this didn’t work, they believed they would have reached the end of the road for having their own biological child. Although adoption always remained an option, they wanted to try everything possible to have their own child.
Going through IVF is really a stressful experience. Ada honestly made it clear she had never been so stressed out in her entire life. Ike probably held the same view. However, the couple was lucky in that they had made some good friends through the support group, and that were able to stay in touch with them via e-mail, and telephone.
At the end of it all, Ada produced 13 embryos that were usable. The fertility experts at the clinic transferred the best two into her uterus. Ada would always remember lying on her back after the embryo transfer, with her husband by her side. She would never forget saying to him how she hoped the next time she’d be in that “position” it would be during labour.
On September 7, 2005, she did a home pregnancy test and to her complete amazement the test came out positive. After using so many home pregnancy tests she couldn’t believe she finally got a positive result. The following day a blood test confirmed the results. Several weeks later the couple learned that both embryos implanted. She was expecting twins!
To this day there is still no clue as to why Ada and Ike couldn’t get pregnant on their own or with the IUIs. Their twins, Chike and Chidi, were born 10 weeks early on March 2, 2006. Both were in excellent health. They grew up as normal, happy, healthy infants, and Ada and Ike got immense pleasure being parents.
The couple remains grateful every day for the miracle of their twins. Ada, who waited almost eight years for arrival of her sons, never stopped saying how thankful she is to have had the patience and good fortune to be so well rewarded. Through sharing her story, she hopes, in her own small way, she would be helping other couples break the jinx of infertility by encouraging them to keep hope alive, irrespective of the odds.

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