Couple’s 10-year journey to parenthood

Varsha Prinsloo and her husband, Roark, have walked a long road to fall pregnant and are expecting their first child in September
Varsha Prinsloo and her husband, Roark, have walked a long road to fall pregnant and are expecting their first child in September

Ten years.

That is how long it took this Port Elizabeth couple to fall pregnant.

Hundreds of thousands of rand.

That is how much it cost this couple to fall pregnant.

Three rounds of artificial insemination and six rounds of IVF (in vitro fertilisation) later, the Prinsloos are over the moon to hear they are finally expecting their first child in September.

Varsha, 38, who is almost five months’ pregnant, was overwhelmed to hear the news from her doctor.

“I cried. I still cry thinking about that day.

“I cry at every scan. I cry every time I hear his heartbeat.

“Words cannot describe that phone call I got from Dr Wendy Sieg from Fembryo Fertility Clinic.

I just heard the words ‘you are pregnant’ — I have no idea what she said during rest of the conversation,” she said.  

As for her husband, Roark, 36, he was speechless and had to pinch himself to believe it was real.

“He was shocked — it didn’t sink in until we went for our first scan,” Varsha said.

Varsha, who works at the SA Weather Service as an administration officer for the Eastern Cape region, and Roark, a senior electrical planning engineer at the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, described their infertility journey as a rollercoaster.

“The past 10 years have been a rollercoaster ride of highs, lows, laughs, tears, screams, sleepless nights and financial instability ... we had no idea how to pay for the next IVF session, which can cost between R40,000 — R70,000.”

Their journey began soon after they were married.

“About six months into our marriage, Roark and I embraced the idea of starting our own little family.

“Month after month went by without success, and after a while of trying to conceive we opted to seek professional assistance from Dr Owen — who then recommended we see Dr Danie Botha at Fembryo,” Varsha said.

“After a six-month waiting period we finally got an appointment with the Fembryo team.

From what seemed like a normal routine check up led to finding several complications.

“We knew straight away this was going to be a long and emotional rollercoaster ride.

“I will never forget our first meeting with Dr Botha. We knew the level of expertise at the Fembryo speaks for itself.

“From the beginning we were made to feel as if we were their most important patients.

“You certainly feel and become part of the Fembryo family.

“They accompany you every step of the way.

“We started off with three AI [artificial insemination] procedures.

“The programme involved early-morning, nerve-racking visits to the clinic to ensure that the medication was going according to schedule.

“None of them worked.

“A growth on one of my Fallopian tubes got bigger, which Dr Botha removed.

“Four weeks later I fell pregnant naturally but that good news only lasted for four days before I landed up in hospital with a miscarriage/ectopic pregnancy.

“We then decided to take a break. We needed time for ourselves; I needed time to recoup.

“After a few months we got the courage to do our first IVF ... six IVFs later and we are finally pregnant.”

Sieg was of the doctors at Fembryo who walked this journey with the Prinsloos.

She said: “Helping couples such as Roark and Varsha is an incredible privilege.

“In the field of fertility, couples grant us access to the most private aspects of their life and it is wonderful to be able to accompany them on this adventure to parenthood.

“Unfortunately not everyone has a happy ending to their journey.

“We also know that this process may be financially draining, but we quickly forget about the massive investment of time and emotion which is often required.

“This can be taxing on the couple.”

Excited as Varsha is, being pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic has, however, created some stress  for the couple.

“I’m excited about everything, but we are living in such a scary, difficult time.

“I have been working from home since March 15, and I have been out of the house only twice.

“I am a nervous wreck. I am comfortable at home.

“Nothing comes into the house unless it has been sanitised, including my husband,” she laughed.

On Thursday Varsha had her 20-week scan. It was an unusual experience as Roark was not allowed to see the scan being done due to the pandemic.

“I video-called my husband while he sat in the car.”

And for the birth, Roark will be allowed to go in for only two hours during the delivery and then fetch Varsha when she is ready to go home.

“We are just praying for a healthy pregnancy, taking it day by day and praying for a healthy, full-term baby boy.

“I have no idea what to expect in the upcoming months.

“We can only take it one day at a time.”