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The curse of infertility

  • a confectioner’s long struggle to conceive

 Limpho Sello

HAVE you ever experienced the pain and stigma attached to failing to have children? Confectioner Khauhelo ‘Makeleabetsoe Mofolo knows all about it having gone 12 years from the time of marriage until she finally gave birth to her only son.

This after she was operated for fibroids which had reduced her chances of ever carrying a pregnancy to full term. They were desperate to have a child to the extent that they even considered In Vitro fertilisation (IVF). They even visited a fertility clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa to help her conceive in 2016. There, Ms Mofolo had to go through rigorous screenings as part of processes to prepare for the IVF. Instead it was discovered that Ms Mofolo had uterine fibroids which reduce the chances of a woman falling pregnant and sometimes causes miscarriages in pregnant women.

“The doctor (in Johannesburg) found that I had uterine fibroids, the news was devastating,” Ms Mofolo said.

“We decided to get a second opinion from a gynaecologist in Bloemfontein and it was confirmed that I had uterine fibroids. They had to be operated in October 2016.”

After that operation, they were told to wait for six months before trying for a baby. In subsequent tests, they were informed of the good news that Ms Mofolo had completely healed and her fallopian tubes were free from any blockages that could affect her chances of conceiving.

Beaming with excitement, the Mofolos knelt down and asked God for a miracle baby. They had timelines and still wanted to do IVF.

“Sometime in July 2017, we decided to make an appointment again with the gynecologist in Bloemfontein and we asked her to refer us to a reputable fertility clinic so that we can do IVF,” she says.

On the day of the appointment, 30th August 2017, the Mofolos arrived early for their appointment with the gynecologist in Bloemfontein and all the necessary tests were carried out on Ms Mofolo. Little did she know the pleasant surprise that awaited them and took away the need for IVF.

“We were seated when the gynae entered the room and we saw a huge smile on her face. She asked when I had had my last period and afterwards, she said, ‘congratulations to both of you, you are five weeks pregnant’.

“My husband and I looked at each other and we were both surprised yet excited. She immediately did an ultrasound scan and we saw that little bean. This came as a surprise because we thought we needed IVF to fall pregnant. but God showed up at the right time and I fell pregnant naturally.

She eventually gave birth to her only son in April 2018.

You are about to walk a mile into the shoes of Lesotho’s very own cake boss, Khauhelo ‘Makeleabetsoe Mofolo. Ms Mofolo is not only a well-respected local cake boss in the country but a proud owner of a successful business — The Cake Studio.

Ms Mofolo and husband, Leabile Mofolo, tied the knot in January 2006. They both could not wait to have children but eight months later, Ms Mofolo miscarried in the first trimester. This set the tone for what were to be more traumatic miscarriages.

Ms Mofolo told the Sunday Express that they had tried for a baby in 2006 and 2008. To their dismay in 2013, doctors terminated her ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy where the feotus develops outside the womb and it is very risky to the health and life of both mother and child).

Given this background, anyone would be scared to fall pregnant again but not so with Ms Mofolo.  Unlike many women whose husbands desert them upon discovering they have problems conceiving, Ms Mofolo is thankful to have married a man who always came in her defense whenever people attacked or shamed her for being infertile.

“Fortunately, I have a very supportive husband who would tell people that he did not marry me to bear children,” she said.

In 2016, she and her husband decided that she should go to a fertility clinic in Johannesburg for IVF.

“Infertility problems can be devastating for couples,” Mofolo said.

“Some couples will conceive naturally but for those who do not, the pain and loss of an expected child can be immense. It is an emotional rollercoaster for couples who live in month-to-month cycles of hope and disappointment navigating a tight schedule of appointments with doctors, undergoing tests and treatments for infertility which puts other things on hold.

“Mine was equally a long, lonely and painful journey but with the support of my husband, I came out strong. I first had to undergo an operation to remove fibroids and afterwards the gynecologist told me to wait for at least six months before falling pregnant as the uterus needed to fully heal,” she said.

This took her to 2017 and in April 2018, she and her husband finally welcomed their baby into the world.

Respected and well-known for her delicious cakes, Ms Mofolo would be left teary whenever she received orders for cakes for baby showers and children’s birthdays. With her own pain of being childless, she did not feel like taking such orders.

She eventually resolved to separate work from her personal life and when she fell pregnant with her son, Ms Mofolo could not wait to bake him a cake.

“I baked him a cake for his first birthday” Ms Mofolo said.

She said it was high time the government invested in fertility specialists to help many couples conceive.

“Infertility is a sad reality because it is every couple’s wish to have children so such services (fertility clinics) need to be availed. For one to access such services they have to spend a lot of money and consult doctors outside the country.

“Many couples cannot afford it and this means that may never be able to have children.  Getting good and affordable fertility and sexual reproductive health services is not supposed to be luxury but a human right,” Ms Mofolo said.

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