Fertility in the time of COVID

“Well, what do you think?” I ask Becs after recounting a friend from work’s experience of Groote Schuur’s Andrology department.
“Ja, I mean, it’s significantly cheaper right? And a hospital’s a hospital’s a hospital…”

That was it, we’d decided, we would begin our journey towards Baby Joy 2.0 at Groote Schuur – a government facility (but, like in Cape Town, so it’s different).

Early in the new year we had our first appointment with, wait for it, Dr. Patel. Not Razina this time, Malika Patel. She was wonderful. It felt synergistic – like kismet – going to another wonderful Dr. Patel to help us on our journey. We gave her our history, shared some context on our beautiful son and told her that the donor we’d used for him was, unfortunately, no longer available. “Well, did you tell them it was for a sibling?” We shook our heads – no, we hadn’t. “Oh, you must. The laws have changed and there can be more than six live births, as long as it’s siblings of existing kids.”

Hashtag “thinking emoji”! I immediately jumped onto my email and got in contact with the lab we’d used in Jo’burg, explained the situation and specified it was for a sibling. We have 10 straws left for siblings only. What?! Excellent! So Fletcher and 2.0 could be half-siblings after all. What a boon! We’ll take them. I replied. Invoices were sent, monies were transferred, frozen swimmers were couriered and we were all set.

Enter COVID. (Hashtag “facepalm emoji”!)

“I’m sorry Rebecca, as Groote Schuur is a COVID hospital, the andrology lab will be closed until further notice. We are only seeing already pregnant ladies, no “new” patients.” After the five weeks of L5 lockdown, Becs had called the hospital. It was as we had feared, they remained in lockdown. Medical staff were being diverted to other areas where they were needed and administrative staff were on furlough. We were stuck. Our 10 straws of sperm were sitting in a freezer we didn’t have the keys to open.

Becs got in touch with the Cape Fertility Clinic and began correspondence with Dr. Sulaiman Heylen. He assured us that he’d “have his people call their people” and he’d make a plan to get our magic ingredients out of that freezer and back on the road. Invoices were sent, monies were transferred, frozen swimmers were couriered and we were all set. Again.


Fertility journeys are never easy and they are never simple. Along the way there are so many ups and downs. Moments that break you, that shake you to your core. Times when you think, is it even worth it? And then you look into the face of your miracle and you know, beyond doubt, it is. It absolutely is! Fletcher will be four this December and, with any luck, before he’s five he’ll no longer be an only child (which is a blessing in other ways too, because we had a meeting with his teacher yesterday and she’s a little worried about his (in)ability to share).

Through our journey so far, we’ve had the usual ups and downs (and a couple of unusual ones). We’ve had friends share their exciting news of siblings on the way. News like that is always bitter-sweet when you’re on a journey like this (whether natural or medically-assisted). Obviously, you’re over the moon for your special people, but a tiny part of you will always sigh and say that should’ve been us. And, in those moments, you have to remember, that little star will come to you when he or she is ready and not a moment sooner. Children operate on their own timetable, even before birth. Everything in time.

2 thoughts on “Fertility in the time of COVID

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s