After two years of marriage, Fatima and Imraan Desai were ready to expand their family, having just relocated to the Westrand in Gauteng. But although they tried every possible natural way, every remedy to conceive, nothing seemed to work.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said. But as difficult as it was, she decided she had to persevere. “I never gave up hope.”
Here's Fatima's story.
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Trying to conceive
“I visited my first doctor,” she started telling Parent24, "and was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)." PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age – it's characterised by irregular or prolonged menstrual periods or an excess in the male hormone (androgen), and can affect your fertility.
- Also read: Fertility and PCOS
“I was on medication for one year but nothing happened,” she said, "so I opted to get a second opinion from a gynaecologist who told me that without in vitro, I would not conceive. My heart sank as it was not financially possible at the time.
“I used to pray every single day to God who is our best giver.
“After a year or so I thought, let me give it a try again, so I went to a third doctor – who told me the same story again. By then I was bitterly disappointed.
“My husband, who has always been my pillar of strength, told me to just leave everything in the hands of God,” she said.
"And I did, but I couldn’t help but feel just a little bit despondent every time I saw everyone else around me starting their families. All my friends and family members who had gotten married at the same time, and even after me, conceived without any difficulty.”
And for them, it had been years of trying.
On a casual visit to her local GP, she mentioned her PCOS diagnosis. He told her she could still conceive, and prescribed medication (that she took religiously for two years). “Continue with this and you will fall pregnant – it helped many of my patients before you,” he had said. But Fatima laughed, “In my mind I thought, yes it helped many, but I won't be as lucky as them."
On 19 October 2014, Fatima had no choice but to stop any and all medication after she was in a car accident that resulted in a broken hip and pelvis. She was hospitalised for 6 weeks and on bed rest for a good 2 months after that, and once she did get back on her feet, she could still barely walk.
But Fatima, a madrasah teacher, went back to work about 6 months later, just after her 35th birthday. By now, she was filled with the urgency, mixed with her deep desire for a child, to bring the topic up with her husband once again. “Either we try in vitro or we go for adoption,” she told him, and they set a date for sometime closer to the end of the year.
One last doctor’s appointment
“I felt sick with the flu that week,” Fatima continued. She was in fact due for a check-up, because since the accident her PCOS flared up again, her periods became irregular once more, and she felt extremely bloated. “I stood in front of the mirror and said to my husband, ‘Look at this stomach of mine!’ It showed a bit more than usual as I had lost a lot of weight after the accident. I even laughed and said to him, ‘Please bring your grinder home tomorrow so you can grind this big tummy off.’
“The doctor examined my flu symptoms. She noticed that my tummy and said, ‘Your tummy seems quite hard.’ I replied, ‘I know, I think after the accident my period has gone all haywire because I had to leave the medication I was given.'
The doctor did a few tests, which Fatima didn’t really feel like doing because she felt so ill. But she assured her it wouldn’t take too long.
When the doctor returned, she picked up what appeared to be a “stick”, Fatima said. Then she turned to her with a two-word announcement she’d waited for for 11 years: “You’re pregnant.”
“I was shocked and couldn't say a word. My husband's first reaction was, this can’t be possible.”
Imraan told the doctor about their struggle with infertility, insisting his wife just could not be pregnant, so the doctor did a sonar scan.
“She said, ‘There is a heartbeat!’ and the next thing she said was, ‘Wow that is a fully grown baby in there. That baby is no less then 6 months.’
“I just said aloud ‘Allah Allah’,” Fatima continued, explaining how completely shocked she was. “I giggled so loudly. My husband just teared up with happiness.”
With what appears to be absolutely no medical intervention, Fatima was 7 months pregnant. And at 9:31 am on 5 October 2015, Fatima and Imraan welcomed their little miracle into the world.
And just a year and 5 months later, they welcomed baby number 2!
"Some things aren’t always in our control but we shouldn’t despair, nor should we give up hope," she shares. “Hang in there, support one another and let God do what is best for you.
“God will give you at the perfect time. Trust in his plan.”
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