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Minh Tran

Note to self, babies are not a given, even with IVF

New years eve was a quiet one for the Sarkars. I had volunteered to work New years day, so that meant an early night and of course, a take away. What a blissful way to end 2019, I had thought to myself.

I guess with IVF on our minds and the hope that the new year would bring us new life, we thought that it would be a good idea to watch something about IVF.

We were in luck. We found a documentary called ‘One more shot’ on Netflix – for free!

That’s right, the Sarkars were in bed by 8:30pm, on New Years Eve, watching a documentary on IVF.

*Spoiler alert* If you plan to watch this film, do not read any further.

The documentary follows the IVF journey of a US couple, Maya & Noah, who share the good, the bad and the very ugly. In my small mind, I had always believed IVF to be a simple guaranteed process.

Minh’s Recipe for IVF baby

Things you need

Egg x 1

Sperm, lots of them

Dish

Things to mix things with

Probably a microscope

Womb

Method

1. Collect egg from woman

2. Ask man to give sperm in a cup

3. Mix egg and sperm together in dish

4. Return embryo to womb

5. Pregnant!

Yeah, about 10 minutes into the film I quickly realised that my recipe may be flawed. I watched as Maya painfully injected herself daily, in preparation for the egg collection. I grimaced as Noah put an enema in her butt the night before the egg extraction procedure. I felt their anxiety during the ten day wait after the embryo had been implanted. I deeply felt their heartache when, after all of that, it was unsuccessful. It seemed cruel. Devastatingly, they go on to fail again but this time they have exhausted their finances and cannot afford to have another round of IVF. It is heartbreaking. There is more to the story, but you will just have to watch to find out what happens.

Bloody hell, no wonder why people feel sorry for us, I remember saying to Joy.

So we ended 2019 with the realisation that babies are not a given, even with IVF.

The latest in our own journey, is Joy’s procedure, which our Consultant refers to as the ‘chop chop’. As Joy is missing the vas deferens, he needed to have a testicular biopsy to extract the sperm. He had this procedure on Wednesday. Although a day case, he was put under general anaesthetic. I think Joy was glad for this as I suspect he would not want to be awake for this one.

For Joy, it seemed like it was just another day. He thought the hospital gown was hilarious.

For me? I don’t know, all sorts of crazy was going on in my head. I had a ridiculous fear that he may not wake up, which of course I didn’t tell him I was thinking this. He then texts me that he is now suspected of being a Thalassaemia carrier. Great, another thing to freak out about. Not sure I would have married this man if I had known he was a carrier for all of these things.

But he woke up and he is safe. Although I now have a waddling husband, the procedure was successful. The sperm collected are strong and plentiful. Enough for 6 rounds of IVF! That tiny flicker of hope I feel grows slightly stronger.

The next step is more blood tests to rule out the Thalassemia carrier suspicion and then, it’s my turn.

“You need to do your wife duties and help me put my scrotal support on”. No joke, this is the text I have just received from the husband who is stuck upstairs. So on that note, I will end this blog post to go support the waddling husband.

Infertility

Today is a good day for us.

Not so long ago, we were met with the possibility that we could never have our own children. We had been lazily trying for awhile, not too bothered that it wasn’t happening for us. After all, we had been informed by multiple health professionals that falling pregnant doesn’t come quickly, contrary to what most believe. But two years later, here we are, still waiting.

After multiple tests, we soon found that Joy has a condition called Azoospermia. No swimmers coming to the party it would seem! For so long we had been so careful with contraception, so fearful that we would fall pregnant at the drop of a hat. All that effort seemed pointless now.

More tests were needed, said the Consultant, to find out if it is the obstructive or the non obstructive type. At this stage, he told us that there was a possibility that we may not be able to have our own children, even with IVF. So we mentally prepared ourselves for bad news, and bad news did come but not what we expected. A genetic test revealed that Joy is a Cystic Fibrosis carrier and that it could not exclude that he actually had Cystic Fibrosis (CF). A condition I knew nothing of, except that it was bad and associated with poor life expectancy.

Up until this point, I had felt strangely indifferent. I was not upset when the red lady came knocking each month or when we found that Joy was infertile. I felt nothing when faced with the prospect that we may not be able to have our own children. If anything, I felt impatient. Well? Can we have children or not? I’d like to know so that we can move on with life please. But when we found out that Joy was a CF carrier and possibly has CF, I felt a stabbing and overwhelming fear. I didn’t know what it meant to be a carrier and what I did know of CF at the time was not good. I am fine if we can’t have a baby, but I am not fine without Joy. Many friends asked me how Joy was dealing with all of this. Well, during this particular period of stress, he would frequently claim “I have Cystic Fibrosis!” whenever he wanted something. Usually, back scratches or massages would elicit this response. You tell me what you think but personally, I think he was OK.

After many talks with the GP, CF foundation and our Consultant, we were deeply reassured when told by all that if Joy was to have CF, we would have known by now. Panic over.

So it was back to the million dollar question, can we have a baby of our own?

Today, we met with Mr Baghdadi, our Consultant Gynaecologist, to find out the answer to this question. After blood tests, hormone tests and a awkward vag scan, Mr Baghdadi delivered positive news. There is a good chance Joy has swimmers and a good chance I have some eggs hanging about. But most importantly, I am not a CF carrier. Mr Baghdadi explained that it is highly likely that Joy is missing the vas deferens – the tube which transports his swimmers. The next step now, he continued as he turned toward Joy, is for chop chop and he says this while grinning and making slicing motions at Joy. Joy is horrified, I am laughing. Our Consultant is so weird.

There is still a bit to go in this journey, but at least we are going. For the first time, I feel I can chance a tiny slither of hope that we may one day have a baby of our own.

Bou Baran

Bou Baran is one of the many rituals featured in a Bengali wedding. It traditionally takes place after the groom and bride have become husband and wife. The bride is welcomed into the groom’s house by the groom’s mother and all other members of the family. She is then showered with gold. Lots of it apparently. The bride, before entering the house is required to dip her feet into alta (red dye) on a sari, before walking into the house. Her footprints are regarded as those of Lakshmi, the god of wealth, health and prosperity, entering the groom’s house. She is then shown the kitchen, store-room and all other things signifying prosperity, wealth and happiness of her new family.

I did not know any of this until I googled it just then. I don’t think Joy did either.

I did think it was strange when they asked me to dip my feet in strawberry milk in front of an audience of 50 peeps. It was even stranger when I, plus audience of 50, were all ushered into the tiny kitchen where I was asked to stir some milk on the hob. It was very awkward. Am I meant to stir this milk faster? Am I meant to smile while eagerly stirring this milk? Hang on, why am I stirring this milk?! I don’t know, I didn’t expect it. So I just smiled and stirred that milk. It seemed the right thing to do because I was met with approving nods, stares and lots of phone flash photography.

dipfeet

And where was Joy in all this? That’s right, the little punk was on the side line sniggering. He tried to tell me that it was Bengali tradition to now drink the strawberry milk that I had dipped my feet in. Thank you dear husband. No gold from him either I might add.

In hindsight, I have to say that I honestly did enjoy the whole experience. Better now because I understand the beliefs and good intentions that underpin this ritual.

If you would like to see more photos of our Bou Baran, make sure to visit the gallery by clicking here.