My journey to having a family
Every little girl grows up with dreams of finding her soulmate and then starting a family… This was my dream. After leaving school, I started my degree and soon met the man of my dreams. He was kind, caring, principled and the person that I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. My life was full with happiness and it seemed perfect, I was in control of my future. Then everything fell apart. Late in December 1988, when I was only 19 years old, my father of 58, dropped dead of a heart attack. My family was broken and devastated. With my soul mate at my side, I began to construct a new reality. Life now seemed so fragile and out of control. My sisters and I each wanted a keepsake to remember our father by. I chose his watch, the watch he used to remind me when to wake up, when to get to school…all of which I was never on time for. I also made a promise to myself, that whenever I would have a son I would name him after my Dad…a way to keep his memory alive always.
After completing my degree, I landed an amazing job and began to work my way up the corporate ladder. During this time, I married my husband and we took some time off work to go and learn in Israel. It was an awesome time, filled with investing in our marriage and nurturing our souls. When we returned to South Africa, it was time to start a family. Obviously, I would be pregnant in the near future… but we waited and waited and waited. One month turned into two, into half a year and then a year …and we were still waiting.
It was then that I consulted with a top Gynaecologist. After running various tests, he told us, “Go home, relax, there is nothing wrong…soon you will be pregnant”. We waited, we relaxed, but still nothing. After a few months we decided to seek the help of experts in this field. A consultation at a fertility practice revealed that all was not as it seemed and that the previous Gynaecologist had ‘missed’ the issue. I remember waiting for results, sure everything was ok…but I was wrong. And so began my daily visits to the clinic, endless blood tests, timed cycles and a number of failed minimally invasive treatments. This was the practical side of our fertility journey.
On the emotional side there were lots of tears, feelings of hope only to end in disappointment. “Would we ever be parents?” In addition to medical treatments, I also sought alternative therapies and any spiritual assistance that was available. We visited many Rabbis to get brochas, tried segulahs, davened harder, and took on new mitzvahs in an attempt to finish this seemingly endless journey. All I wanted to hear was “Yes, you will have children”.
Finally the doctors suggested that we try a ‘more aggressive’ treatment called IVF. I couldn’t believe that this is where we had landed up…but hopeful that this would bring us our desired pregnancy, we started the treatment. The IVF consisted of injections that I gave myself and daily scans to see if I was responding to the medication. I responded to the hormones…success at last. I had the embryos transferred and waited, 12 excruciating days…would our dreams finally come true? I was scheduled to go for a blood test to see if the IVF had worked the day after Tisha B’Av. I was so nervous, what would I do if it was negative? I went to shul the morning of Tisha B’Av to hear Eichah so that I could join the mourning of the Jewish nation. While I was sitting there I felt a sharp pain in my stomach, what was happening? I immediately called the doctor. He said that I should come in and he would examine me to see if he could see what the issue was. I had a blood test and a scan…an early pregnancy, couldn’t believe it, this journey was going to end, our dreams were going to come true! The blood test showed a low positive pregnancy hormone level but I was hopeful, surely this would be! Another round of blood tests, the pregnancy hormone levels were going up, only 1 more blood test to go. Waiting for the third blood test result in a week, I was beyond anxious. I davened so hard “Please Hashem let this be ok for us”. The tone of the voice on the other side of the phone said it all, I was not even listening… “the levels are dropping, it is over we are sorry”. So close…
What to do now? Another IVF treatment or adoption? I began to explore both. Adoption sounded like the easy option, no more treatments and just paper work to fill out. My husband believed that we should try one more round of IVF, as based on the last result, at least we knew I could be pregnant. And so, filled with trepidation, we began again. During this time, my father’s watch, that had been my constant companion for the last 8 years, was lost. I searched everywhere, “surely I will find it”, but I never did… Perhaps there is a message that Hashem is trying to send us from above.
This treatment is fraught with issues, but finally we make it to embryo transfer… Again we begin the excruciating wait for the result…will it be? A week after our transfer, my friend in Israel gives birth to a baby boy, who dies. I am devastated, life is really so hard. It makes me crazy, I need to know that this treatment didn’t work so that I can deal with the pain…the unhappy ending. I ask the clinic to test early, 8 days after transfer. It is too early, but they agree. Now I await the call to say it is all over. I wait all morning but the call doesn’t come. I need to go into a meeting, how will they let me know? But my inner voice says, “Why do you care?”
On the way out of my office, the phone rings, I pick it up. From the tone of the voice, I hope…could it be “mazeltov you are pregnant!”? Nine months later we give birth to three healthy boys, our dreams have come true, we have a family. Shortly afterwards we are again blessed with two more precious souls.
The missing watch, I believe was a sign from above. Hashem had arranged for my father’s heirs to be born, his name would continue. I no longer needed his watch on my hand as a constant reminder, as now I had children close to me to remind me of him, and one that bears his name. Hodu La Hashem Ki Tov.