My Story: Juanita De Roubaix

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The life growing inside of me nothing more than a dot on the sonar screen, but sitting in my gynaecologist’s office at six weeks’ pregnant and seeing my unborn child, a miracle I never thought possible, was so overwhelming I burst into tears.

When I was 18 years old I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an auto-immune disease in which my immune system attacks my own body. I was told it was unlikely that I could have children. The news hit me hard. After years as a sickly child, going from doctor to doctor, doing test after test, I could finally put a name to my disease, but at the same time it felt like a death sentence.

Initially I rebelled, partying and trying to be like a normal student, but when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009 I realised that with my disease I couldn’t afford to live such an unhealthy lifestyle. My thyroid was removed, and as a distraction I threw myself into my psychology studies at the University of the Free State. I married my husband, Jan, that same year.

Then the unexpected happened. In July last year, I felt nauseous in the morning and my beasts felt tender. I took a home-pregnancy test, trying not to get my hopes up, and when it came out positive I screamed so loud I think I almost gave Jan a heart attack. It was such a relief, but I also felt afraid, as if it were too good to be true.

My son, Adrian, was born on 28 March. When I held him in my arms I thought, how could it be that my body, which for most of my life has been wrecked by disease, could give me this gift? He’s such a sweet child. Some days it still feels surreal, like he’s someone else’s child. But he’s my miracle baby.

-Petro-Anne Vlok

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