Ada has always been drop-dead gorgeous. Men smile and wink whenever she passes by. Even the women nod approvingly in appreciation of her irresistible good looks. Ada is a sensational blend of beauty and brains. A successful lawyer, she was 34 when she and her heartthrob, Ike, a business magnate, tied the nuptial knot.
When they signed on the dotted lines, Ada was 34 going on 35. Ike who was two years younger, didn’t mind the age difference. Love was all that mattered, and since he and Ada were deeply in love, nothing else mattered. Like most married couples, they had hopes of starting a family right after their glamorous wedding, but after trying on their own for almost two years without success, they contacted their family doctor to find out what the problem was.
The doctor carried out all the standard tests. He conducted blood tests to make sure Ada’s hormones were all in line and that her eggs were fine. Ike also had several tests done. There were at least three sperm counts and sperm analysis tests done. The couple was poked and prodded more times than they could remember.
But everything turned out normal. The doctor referred the couple to a gynaecologist who redid all the tests and also performed a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), which is a special test done to find out if a woman’s fallopian tubes are clear of any obstruction. Again, everything was normal. Ada’s tubes were in pristine condition.
The gynaecologist then gave Ada a prescription for Clomid, a powerful ovulation drug and sent her and her husband home with specific instructions about when to use the drug and the right time to engage in sexual intercourse. Ada took the drug faithfully and exactly as recommended. Over the next three months, the couple engaged in sexual intercourse with clockwork regularity at the exact time of her ovulation, but Ada was compelled to voluntarily discontinue the drug because she developed a very bad case of hot flashes.
Ada tried at least a dozen other drugs prescribed by other doctors, but nothing different happened. Rather ill health took over her life. She transited from one illness to another and was so ill at times she was bed-ridden and unable to leave home for days. An overwhelming sadness had enveloped Ada’s world.
She became teary-eyed, miserable and moody. She stopped taking care of her looks, put on too much weight and lost the edge to her sensational looks. Her highly successful career nosedived sharply. Even her marriage was pushed to the brink. It got so bad she almost developed an aversion for sex and many-a-night, she dreaded to lie on the matrimonial bed. But for Ike’s love, patience and perseverance the marriage would have come to a dreary end.
The couple took a vacation hoping it would help their situation. The holiday did not do the trick. Around Christmas period of that year, came the announcement that Ike’s junior brother and his wife were expecting their first child after barely two months of marriage. On the one hand, the older couple were thrilled for the new-weds as this would be the first grandchild to be born into the family. But on the other hand, the news only reminded them of their plight.
Their beautiful niece, Uzoma, was born four months later. Incidentally, it was Uzoma’s birth that really gave the couple the courage to continue seeking help. They went back to one of the gynaecologists they had seen earlier, but he really couldn’t do anything for them except refer them to the local fertility clinic.
Their first appointment was two months later. Prior to that appointment a friend of Ada’s saw a newspaper advertisement for an infertility support group. The first meeting with the group gave the couple opportunity to hear the head of the local fertility clinic speak, but more importantly, they got to meet other people like themselves. By the next 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. So often had they been among friends and family members who wouldn’t know what to say, or were unable to offer useful advice. They had no way of understanding the anguish felt by the couple not being able to conceive. For the couple itself, it helped make the frustration of not knowing why they couldn’t conceive more bearable.
The doctor at the clinic looked at their chart and suggested In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Unfortunately, IVF was unavailable in the city they resided; therefore they had to travel to Lagos for the procedure. A couple of months afterwards, Ada and Ike went through their first IVF cycle. They were terrified. If it failed, they believed they would have reached the end of the road for having their own biological child. Although adoption always remained an option, the couple wanted to try everything possible to have their own child.
Going through IVF was really stressful however, the couple was lucky it had made some good friends through the support group, and was able to stay in touch with them via e-mail, and sometimes on the phone.
At the end of it all, Ada produced 28 follicles, of which 18 were retrieved, and to their surprise, and joy, all 18 fertilised. In the end 13 embryos were usable so the fertility experts at the clinic transferred the best two embryos into her uterus and froze the remaining 11.
As long as she lives, 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.
Unfortunately, she hyperstimulated from the IVF cycle. Hyperstimulation doesn’t happen very often but when it does, the woman gets quite sick. For three weeks afterwards, Ada was unwell. The following month, she did a home pregnancy test and to her complete amazement the test came out positive. After using so many of those 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. Both are doing excellently well. They are normal, happy, healthy infants, and Ada and Ike are getting immense pleasure being parents.
There are times they are exhausted by demands of parenthood, but the couple remains grateful every day for the miracle of their twins. Today, Ada who just turned 42, hopes to try again for another child as soon as the twins are weaned. She waited almost eight years for them to arrive and is very thankful she had the patience and good fortune to be so well rewarded. Although infertility is still a part of their lives, the couple does not think about it every day, even though they are reminded quite often.
One thing is certain. Ada and Ike believe they wouldn’t ever have to wait so long again. They still attend the support group meetings and are hopeful that in some small way, they’ll be able to help others break the jinx of infertility by encouraging them to keep hope alive, irrespective of the odds.