Writer and journalist Nivashni Nair-Sukdhev has written about her battle with infertility, and overcoming Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in her new book What’s On My Mind? Making Babies…
Nivashni documented her battle with PCOS on Facebook, and shared her story with a growing following of women who were in similar situations.
“Whenever people heard my story or saw my Facebook posts, they would comment ‘You should write a book’ but I never took it seriously until earlier this year when I met a nurse, who had tears in her eyes when she heard my story,” recalls Nivashni. “She was about to start her journey and was in awe of my determination, strength and the hope that I had given her. She said You should write a book. So I did.”
It all began with a whirlwind romance
In 2008, Nivashni received a call on her phone from a man she’d given her number to a few years earlier. “We met at a party. I am a journalist, so I told him to call me if he had any juicy stories,” says Nivashni. “He didn’t remember who I was when he called in February 2008 but when he did, he immediately asked me on a date.”
It took just 12 days to know he was ‘the one’
“At first I refused to meet him, but a few hours later I found myself having coffee and then supper with him. Over the next 11 days, we went on dates and on the 12th day, Rohan surprised me with an engagement ring on bended knee. I accepted. We married a year later, on 17 January 2009.”
“When you know, you know!”
PCOS – the battle begins
“A negative pregnancy test in June 2009 kick-started our battle with PCOS,” says Nivashni. “I had a tummy bug but the doctor had insisted that I go for a pregnancy test because I had irregular periods. Although we weren’t actively trying to conceive, we both wanted the test to be positive. When it wasn’t, we decided it was time to try. I was 29. He was 31. I also knew it would be an uphill battle due to PCOS so I was ready to start as soon as possible.”
Nivashni says that the seven year battle to conceive had a devastating effect on her self-esteem.
“It got to the point where I declined invitations to social events and hated my own reflection in the mirror.”
The stigma attached to infertility was just as damaging.
“While I was happily married and had a successful career, I still felt ashamed whenever anyone asked me when I was going to have a baby. It made me feel like a failure. My self-esteem would take a knock with every failed procedure. But it never affected my relationship. My husband was my rock. We sought strength in each other because it wasn’t my journey, it was our journey.”
Seven years after they first began trying, their son was conceived via IVF.
“When I finally conceived, I ended up being hospitalised for three months to save my unborn child, who was growing far too slowly. By then I had numerous surgeries, five failed IUIs (artificial insemination) and one failed IVF transfer. We transferred two frozen embryos in 2016.
“He was born on 30 December 2016 at 32 weeks weighing 1.3kg.”
“Today he is a healthy happy three-year-old.”
Reliving the painful journey wasn’t easy for Nivashni
“It is an unexplainable pain – preparing your heart for a child that never arrives. In our hearts we had conceived this child, but he just wasn’t arriving.”
Despite the pain of having to relive the battle with PCOS, Nivashni knew that she had an important message of hope to share.
“I wrote the book because I want to inspire others. I want them to know that both conditions can be beaten. It starts with a medical diagnosis, a proper treatment plan and hope. Over the years, my story has helped many women and men start their own battle against infertility therefore I want to help more,” says Nivashni.
“Also, because most are too ashamed to speak openly about it, I will be their voice because the dialogue on PCOS and infertility must start properly in SA.”
PCOS Awareness Month
“Currently PCOS Awareness Month is being observed worldwide yet in SA it hasn’t even been properly acknowledged. I believe that my book can kickstart a conversation that needs to happen. I have already been overwhelmed by the number of messages from women, who have bought my book and are now ready to tackle both conditions and start their own journeys.”
“This is my message to them: Whenever you think about giving up, remember me. I am the woman that doctors told would never be able to conceive her own child. I am the woman with one of the worst cases of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that a doctor actually asked if he could write about it in a medical journal. I am the woman who is one of the few who had IVF without having a period. I am the woman who had three surgeries, five failed IUIs and one failed IVF transfer. I am the woman who prayed for almost eight years to finally see two pink lines, to hear another heartbeat below my own. I am the woman who a beautiful little boy calls Mommy. Remember me. #faith #webeatinfertility #pcoswarrior”
The book can be purchased from: https://store11276251.ecwid.com/Whats-On-My-Mind-Making-Babies-by-Nivashni-Nair-Sukdhev-p194643522