South African of Indian-origin Nivashni Nair Sukdhev beat Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Her battle with the infertility condition was no easy journey but resulted in a happy ending.
Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs. Speaking about her infertility journey, Nair Sukhdev shares the trials and tribulations that she and her husband Rohan went through, which resulted in a successful pregnancy.
Have a read as Nivashni Nair-Sukdhev shares moments of her experiences as she pushed on in her desire to beat PCOS below,
When did you have the idea to start writing and was the end goal always a book?
Following my doctor’s eating plan and exercising to beat PCOS, I lost 28kg in 2014 and was ready to try assisted reproductive therapies such as IVF. When I finally conceived after numerous surgeries, five failed IUIs and one failed IVF, I ended up being hospitalised for three months to save my unborn child, who was growing far too slowly. He was born at 32 weeks weighing 1.3kg. Today he is a healthy happy three-year-old.
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. 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.”
And I realised that I should write this book as so many others are suffering in silence and looking for stories of hope and determination. The title of the book is actually based on my journey being documented on Facebook. When I declared a war on PCOS and infertility on Facebook, I gained an online following. The title comes from the question that the social network poses: What’s your mind? For me, it was making babies.
I wrote the book because I want to inspire others. I want them to know that both conditions, PCOS and infertility, 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.
Also because most are too ashamed to speak openly about it, I want to be their voice because the dialogue on PCOS and infertility must start properly in SA. Currently, PCOS Awareness Month is being observed worldwide yet in SA it hasn’t even been properly acknowledged. My book has kickstarted the conversation that needed to happen.
How did you feel when you wrote the book?
Putting pen to paper was an emotional journey. Reliving the heartache and sense of feeling like a failure was perhaps the most difficult but when I got to the part when we were victorious even I was inspired to take on PCOS again since my symptoms have remerged after having a baby. It is true that it is an indescribable pain preparing your heart for a child that never arrives. In our hearts, we had conceived this child, but he just wasn’t arriving. But then when I remembered hearing his heartbeat for the first time, his smiles, the support of all the friends and family, writing became easier. There were heartache and disappointment but our journey was paved with hope, love, laughter and courage and that comes through in the book. My book is real. There is not one ounce of embellishment. It is a raw account of everything that happened. Therefore it was easy to write as well because I had remembered it all so clearly.
What are some of the emotions and thoughts you’re having now that the book is written, published and launched?
I am in awe of the response. When I wrote the book, I knew that it would resonate with some but I did not expect it to reach so many people. I have been received messages every day since the first book was delivered earlier this month. Some of spoken about their own journey. Some have applauded us for speaking out while others have said that they feel like a part of our family now. The response has been overwhelming and I am elated that the book is able to start a dialogue that many were afraid to participate in.
How has the reception been from friends and family?
My parents and siblings walked the journey with me since I was nine-year-old when I first got my period. Yet they still cried when they read the book. My friends, who had followed my story, were surprised that they didn’t know all of it until they read the book. Of course, they are proud of me however I say it’s our accomplishment. I am a PCOS and infertility warrior, who won because I had an army of friends and family beside me.
You did not go on this journey alone, how has your husband been throughout the arduous journey of trying to get pregnant and now writing the book?
My husband has been the silent warrior in our journey yet he fought fiercely too to win our battle against infertility. He was my biggest supporter as I tackled PCOS and perhaps in our infertility struggle he fought harder than me. Men do not speak about these issues yet my husband does. Whenever I posted on social media about our journey, his colleague and friends, who were going through the same battle, would ask him for advice. It was due to this that he had been encouraging me to write a book from as far back as three years ago but I was only ready to do so now.
What do you feel when you look at your son?
I could write a whole other book on just how I feel about Riav. We prayed for a baby but what we got is smiles, sunshine, rainbows and everything amazing wrapped up in a curious, smart and at times mischievous little boy. He is a walking symbol of hope and determination.
How do you feel knowing that he will read the book?
I also wrote the book for him to know that while he was created in a petri dish in a fertility lab, he was made with love, hope, prayers and the medical expertise of a brilliant doctor. He was conceived in our hearts long before he was conceived . I get goose bumps thinking about him reading it.
What’s next? Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here? I would like the book to lead to more engagements on the two conditions. For me, I would like to conquer PCOS again. My symptoms remerged after pregnancy and my book has inspired me to take on PCOS again. Our family is now complete however I will continue to help others fighting PCOS and infertility.
What is the name of the publisher and how did you meet? I met Anivesh Singh from MicroMega Publications a few years ago via a mutual friend. When I decided to write a book this year, I knew he would be the best publisher to approach as he is committed to the advancement of literacy in SA as well as dedicated to helping tell important life changing stories.
Where can I get a copy of the book? The book can be purchased by tapping here
Check out the photos from the meet and greet at the Chatsworth Centre where eager fans had the opportunity to interact with the award-winning journalist who documented her PCOS journey, tap here