After several fruitless attempts, various medical treatments, and weighing the costs and frustration of going through a fertility programme, Kenneth and Eileen almost gave up the thought of having a baby. Then, in the most unexpected of times, it happened…
Eileen and I were classmates in university. We only started dating after our graduation, and five years later, we got married.
Like most people we knew, we never expected any problems in starting a family. So two years into our marriage, we decided to put our “honeymoon” years behind us and try for a baby. The process proved to be more difficult and trying than we had originally thought.
After several fruitless attempts spanning six months, we decided it was time to visit the gynaecologist. The gynae did a sperm analysis for me and a blood test for Eileen. That was when the bad news came.
The test results showed that Kenneth’s productive sperms count was at an extremely low level. Not only that, the gynae said that my irregular menstrual cycles could have contributed to the difficulty of having a successful conception.
I was shocked and broke into tears uncontrollably. I could not understand what was going on. At the same time, I thought to myself, “What? Two big, strong and healthy adults are having problems conceiving?”
We did not smoke, drink, nor party late into the night; neither were we stressed up at work like most people. We even exercised regularly… so why had it to be us?
The news shattered my life-long dream of becoming a father! I was stunned, numbed and felt as if my whole world had fallen apart. In disbelief and denial, I felt as though I had lost my manhood. If you asked me then, I certainly regretted that decision of deferring parenthood early in our marriage.
We realised the severity of our problem when the gynae suggested that we considered in-vitro fertilisation (“IVF”). My first thought was why was he so direct with us? Could he not suggest other alternatives before plunging us into IVF? But looking back, I am grateful that he was frank and honest…
Yet going through an IVF programme was the last thing on our minds. One of Kenneth’s sisters went through IVF, but instead conceived naturally. That told me that there was still hope for us!
The gynae advised me to visit a fertility specialist. I will never forget that experience!
After the examination, the doctor concluded to my relief, that I could in fact salvage my manhood! I was prescribed hormone pills to enhance sperms production, and vitamin tablets to help improve my blood circulation, while Eileen was given hormone pills to monitor her daily temperature to estimate when ovulation occurred.
After three months of treatment, a sperm test showed that my productive sperm level had risen! It was really remarkable and, to us, a miracle!
Despite the good news, there was still no baby. We gobbled up numerous hormone pills and vitamin tablets, and tried and tried for a baby for nearly half a year. Each attempt brought hope, but ended in disappointment and frustration when the pregnancy test kits showed negative.
We started watching what we should or should not eat what based on family and friends’ recommendations.
I also shared with a neighbour, who brought me to a Hong Kong chef who could purportedly diagnose my problem by listening to my pulse and looking at my face!
This chef told me what I already knew and he recommended me to see a Chinese physician who prescribed me some medicinal herbs for both of us. And despite the herbs being over-boiled and burnt sometimes, we refused to give up and continued drinking the awful and bitter medicine diligently!
This lasted for another half a year… and there was still no baby!
In the end, we decided to be realistic and discussed our options: continue with our carefree lifestyle and live for ourselves; go for IVF treatment; relax and trust God for a baby; consider adoption.
When we started enquiring about IVF and were told about the high cost, frustration and pain of going through the programme with a low success rate, I was really discouraged. I told Kenneth to give up the thought of having a baby.
Eileen was really discouraged. I was too, but I knew I could not give up. During those days of feeling very lost as to what we should do, I kept praying that I could give Eileen what I believe is the greatest gift that a husband could ever give to his wife – the gift of motherhood.
To prepare us for IVF, I was told that I needed to undergo laparoscopy to check that my fallopian tubes were not blocked. I was really terrified, although it was considered a minor surgery, it was nonetheless the first surgery in my entire life! After the surgery, Kenneth and I decided that, having come thus far, we would invest our hard-earned saving in the IVF programme.
However, my gynae advised us to try again for a baby for another three months before proceeding with the programme, as she knew of some women who managed to conceive naturally after such surgeries.
One night, I was studying for a professional examination that was to be held the next day. Eileen came up to me that night and told me very firmly, “This is the night!” She knew from the rise in her temperature that she had ovulated, and we had to “do it quickly”!
It was both hilarious and nerve wrecking. Just think about the odds that were against us: my examination and the countless failed attempts. That was also probably the last time we would try to conceive naturally. So it was an understatement to say that was one time that I would least expect Eileen to conceive!
I remember the night it happened. Kenneth was preparing for his exams and I was watching a Japanese soap opera. Suddenly, I knew that I had ovulated as my temperature rose. By then, it was already past midnight, but I knew that I could not let the opportunity slip by. I called Kenneth into the room – we were very tired, very mechanical and totally uninterested… but we did it anyway. That proved to be the right decision after all!
I was in the kitchen when I heard Eileen shouting from the master bedroom toilet that she was pregnant. I immediately ran into the room, saw the test results and started jumping and shouting joyfully!
To be very sure, Eileen went to a clinic and re-tested, and also did a blood test. All tests yielded positive results! When she called me from the gynae’s office to confirm her pregnancy, I just grinned and day dreamt for the rest of the day in the office!
Everything that we had gone through was worth it: the pill popping, the bitter Chinese medicine, even the awful surgery I had to undergo…We will probably never understand why we needed to go through this journey when others have it so easy; but we believe that sharing our story with other people to encourage them may just be one of the reasons!
Following the miracle of Kendrick in January 2001, Kenneth and Eileen had their second little miracle, Karis in August 2003.
Extracted from “Little Miracles - The Journey to Parenthood” by Peter Lim