"I RISKED MY LIFE TO HAVE MY BABY"
PAMELA KRISNA FEELS INCREDIBLY BLESSED TO HAVE A HEALTHY BABY GIRL AFTER ENDURING AN EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER OF OPERATIONS, DISAPPOINTMENTS AND DAILY INJECTIONS.
Long nights at the office were the norm for 35-year-old architect Pamela Krisna, while her husband, Wahyu Hidayat Ng, 38, travelled frequently for work. Despite their demanding careers, they were keen to start a family immediately when they got married in 2005.
Pamela didn’t foresee any difficulties – her menstrual cycle was normal, although she often experienced pain during her periods. But after trying to conceive for a year without success, she consulted a doctor and found out that she had endometriosis.
TWO OPERATIONS IN TWO YEARS
A condition where tissues that normally line the uterus attach to other organs, endometriosis may cause the formation of cysts, lesions and scar tissue.
“My doctor advised me to undergo an operation to remove the abnormal tissue and two cysts on my ovaries, to improve my chances of conceiving,” says Pamela.
However, more than a year after the surgery, she still couldn’t get pregnant naturally. An ultrasound then revealed that the cysts had come back.
In 2008, she underwent another round of surgery helmed by a different doctor, to remove the cysts.
Following her recovery from the second operation, Pamela and her husband tried intrauterine insemination (IUI) in 2009. The procedure involves using a catheter to place sperm inside the uterus, to increase the chances of fertilisation.
After one cycle of IUI, Pamela thought she was pregnant when she missed her period, but a blood test showed that the IUI had not been successful.
Pamela and Wahyu were dismayed at the result. “It was difficult when well-meaning friends and family asked us when we were going to have a baby,” recalls Pamela. “And it happened all the time at family gatherings or when we visited friends in the hospital after they had a baby. We would always downplay our predicament and reply that we were trying or just too busy. It got especially hard during Chinese New Year gatherings. Once, an uncle even shoved a baby into my face and said: ‘See how cute she is? Are you sure you don’t want one?’”
Pamela and Wahyu’s doctor advised them to use donor eggs to conceive, but they refused. Both their families were not keen on the idea of adoption either.
By 2010, Pamela and Wahyu decided that in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) was the only option left. But further complications arose.
“An ultrasound revealed that not only had the cysts returned, they were embedded in my bladder this time round,” says Pamela. “My doctor told us it would be more difficult to remove the growths because of where they were located, and referred us to his colleague. The last thing I wanted was to go through more surgery, but to try IVF, we had to first remove the cysts.”
Pamela’s third operation in four years was over eight hours long and she needed a longer recovery period. But her husband and family were completely supportive throughout the entire process.
Six months later, the couple tried IVF, only to have it fail at the fertilisation stage. They went for a second round the next year – Pamela took a long break from work and tried acupuncture therapy too, hoping for a miracle. But it was not meant to be; the IVF failed again.
“It was so disappointing and frustrating. If only we knew why it didn’t work, we could have looked into alternative therapies,” she says.
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM?
After the anguish of two failed IVF attempts, the couple took a yearlong break from the pressure they’d been facing. They decided to try IVF again in January 2013. But this time, before beginning the third cycle, Pamela was found to have an autoimmune disorder – she had high levels of antinuclear antibodies (ANA), which could affect her chances of getting pregnant.
She had to undergo a procedure called intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, which is given over four hours through an intravenous drip, and aims to combat the antibodies that might sabotage the IVF process.
Finally, their perseverance paid off
“It was difficult when well-meaning friends and family asked us when we were going to have a baby.”
when their third IVF attempt was a success. But instead of being able to heave a sigh of relief, the couple had to worry about the complications of Pamela’s high ANA levels, history of endometriosis and multiple operations. Her doctor suggested that she consult a gynaecologist specialising in high-risk pregnancies, to see her through the rest of her term.
“After eight years of surgeries and procedures to get to where we were, this baby was so very precious to us. We met with the doctor and were comforted by his extensive experience, so we decided to put our trust in him,” says Pamela.
A RISKY PREGNANCY
Following a thorough consultation, the doctor ran a blood test on Pamela. “When he got the test results two weeks later, he gave me a call and requested that I see him immediately, ahead of my next appointment. I knew right away something was wrong,” says Pamela.
She was diagnosed with thrombophilia, also known as sticky blood syndrome, a condition where there are insufficient levels of anticoagulant to prevent the blood from overclotting.
The doctor explained that this could put the baby’s life at risk, since thrombophilia has been linked to