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Commentary: From childless to being a mother of 3 — how I coped with infertility and miscarriages along the way

I have three children, all born within two years of each other. An elder daughter, Thiya Kaur, and fraternal boy-girl twins, Daya Singh and Liv Kaur. I adore them. I love being a mother. Being their mother.

Commentary: From childless to being a mother of 3 — how I coped with infertility and miscarriages along the way
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I have three children, all born within two years of each other. An elder daughter, Thiya Kaur, and fraternal boy-girl twins, Daya Singh and Liv Kaur. I adore them. I love being a mother. Being their mother.

For the most part, we look like the Instagram-perfect family.

Behind their cheeky smiles and my sleep-deprived but content Mum-face is a story that I have rarely told in full before; which is strange, considering how close it is to my heart and how life defining it was for me.

IVF, IVF, IVF

I had all my three children via IVF (in-vitro fertilisation), and my journey spanned six years — three rounds of IVF in three clinics, under different, highly recommended gynaecologists, countless injections, a battery of blood tests, counselling sessions and prayers.

This entailed three rounds of egg stimulations and retrievals, tens of thousands of dollars, cramps, discomfort, morning sickness, anxious awaiting of results with bated breath, and tears — owing to back-to- back disappointments.

The grand result of all of this: 27 eggs were retrieved, six embryos formed, three pregnancies, one miscarriage. And finally, finally, three healthy, beautiful children from two successful pregnancies.

Being a mother or a parent may not be for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine. For me, though, it was a part of my life I prioritised and envisioned even before marriage.

I have wonderful memories of my growing up years, where I received so much love from my parents and extended family. I have always wanted to be able to have children of my own to nurture, shape and develop, in a safe, comfortable and loving environment.

I imagined smothering my kids with hugs and kisses, having dance parties and pillow fights; and then, having meaningful conversations with them as they grew older.

‘A DEVASTATING REALITY’

I did not factor in the possibility of unexplained infertility; I doubt many women do, but it was a devastating reality for me.

There are so many aspects to (in)fertility that we don’t speak about enough — grief, miscarriage, IVF — the trauma on your mind, body and spirit. It is a rollercoaster journey with some unexpected twists and turns, and heartache.

When our first IVF cycle was unsuccessful, I felt like a failure — I did everything right so why didn’t it work?

I ate healthy, swallowed the huge prescribed pills daily (I strongly dislike taking medicines of any kind), injected myself daily with hormonal stimulants and stayed positive and relaxed.

Was there something I could have done better? Or did I do something wrong?

It didn’t help that well-meaning (and some, plain nosey) people would often ask: “When are you going to give us some good news?”

I felt like shouting back: “I’m alive, I’m healthy, I’m happy, I love my job, I have a roof over my head, food on the table and am surrounded by love...what other good news would you like?”

Instead, I smiled and replied something non-committal, implying that my husband and I wanted to enjoy our Dink (dual income no kids) lifestyle for a while longer.

Truthfully, these comments and questions hurt and beneath the smile plastered on my face, I would be holding back tears and battle that dull ache in my heart.

Our second round of IVF in another clinic resulted in just one healthy embryo. Oh the joy! One was all we needed right? That one child I wanted so badly to make me a mother. A few weeks in, we even got to hear the baby’s heartbeat.

When we went for a regular medical check-up at the eight-week stage, we were unexpectedly struck with some devastating news.

The gynae couldn’t detect a heartbeat anymore. We had lost the life that was growing inside me.

The following weeks were among the most difficult in my life, involving physical pain, procedures and an overall feeling of loss and helplessness. I wondered if I would find joy again.

Miscarriage isn’t just the emotional or physical trauma of the untimely end to a pregnancy. It is the devastation of no longer being able to hear a heartbeat. It is the loss of a future you hoped for and imagined.

Simar Kaur with her husband, Malminderjit Singh and their three children, Thiya Kaur, Daya Singh and Liv Kaur, at their home on Dec 2, 2022.

UNSPOKEN MISCARRIAGES

The surprising thing for me about miscarriage is how little we talk about it, despite the large number of women who have gone through it.

As I opened up about it, I found that so many women had had miscarriages previously: My hairdresser, colleague, ex-boss and a few mummy friends.

Yet none mentioned it until I shared my journey with them. I wonder if it would have been easier on us if we shared our journeys more openly.

I didn't think I had it in me to do another round of IVF. But as a last salvo, my husband and I decided to give it one final try, this time in another clinic with a different gynae. If this round did not work out, we would turn to adoption.

Our third round of IVF resulted in five healthy embryos. We inserted two of them and froze the rest, hoping that at least one would implant.

One did and when we found out we were pregnant, we cried tears of joy; along with my in-laws, parents and siblings. It wasn’t just us who wanted this child, it was all of them as well.

We had a few scares along the way but thankfully, 38 weeks later, we welcomed our firstborn — the most perfect little girl I have ever laid my eyes on.

She made me a mother; my husband a father; and my parents and in-laws grandparents. We were over the moon.

I always knew that I wanted more than one child, if possible. I grew up with a younger brother and sister and they remain among the most important people in my life today. I wanted my daughter to enjoy that bond too.

DOUBLE HAPPINESS

Our gynae suggested that we should wait a year but when our daughter was only six months old, I went back to him, ready to give her a sibling.

Again, we inserted two embryos and this time, both implanted. We weren’t just having another baby; we were having twins!

I cried immediately in the clinic — mostly out of joy and disbelief, but partly out of fear and nervousness too. My husband’s wide grin provided some reprieve.

The pregnancy was tough and culminated in an emergency delivery that gave us our fraternal twins, born just shy of full term. Two more perfect little babies to round off our family.

In a span of 17 months, we went from a childless-Dink twosome, to parents of one, then a family of five.

I may have always wanted to be a mother, but nothing quite prepares you for it. For this. It is everything I could have wished for, and so much more.

Our journey to parenthood was not easy. Is it worth it? Absolutely! We just take it one jab at a time.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Simar Kaur, 42, and her husband Malminderjit Singh, 44, are proud parents to their three children, Thiya, Daya and Liv. Ms Simar is a learning and development professional in  a multinational company. This piece first appeared in The Birthday Book: Restart, a collection of 57 essays on what it means to have a new start in Singapore.

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infertility miscarriage IVF

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