WHILE the country marvels at the historic birth last week of sextuplets to a local couple, scores of men and women are fighting quietly for the chance to have children.
For many people, even one baby would be enough.
Some are even willing to pour their life savings into having a child.
At yesterday's fertility seminar hosted by the Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC) at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain, about 900 people filled the ballroom to listen to Dr Juliet Skinner speak about the various causes of infertility and their treatments.
On hand to share their joy were a handful of couples who had successfully conceived through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF)—a controlled method not to be confused with drugs that encourage multiple conceptions.
Holding her cherubic eight-month-old baby, Aimee, Laura Lalla and her husband, Dwayne Balla, spoke about why they joined a growing community of locals who have turned to medicine for help in having children.
And while they know they would like to try again with the assistance of BFC, the couple said they would be happy if they ended up with their one "blessing".
Aimee was conceived after months of trial and pain for the couple, who said they were horrified at the treatment they received locally after they found out they would need help getting pregnant.
"It was so traumatic," Lalla recalled. "And the service at BFC was so totally different."
Finding out they needed fertility treatment was a curveball, Lalla said, when "everything in our lives had gone the way it should up until that point".
The news came the day before they were due to purchase a house, and right away, they knew they were willing to give that up for a few more years so they could have a child.
Lalla, now 35, embarked on a series of treatments locally and said she was often hurt and disappointed with the offhand—and sometimes hostile —manner in which her needs were being treated.
"It got to a point one day where Dwayne had to step in and make it clear that were spending a lot of money and should not be treated that way," Lalla said.
"It was awful. One day, we decided then and there to make the switch and called the BFC."
After flying to Barbados to meet with doctors there, Lalla allowed herself one month to recover from the previous treatments, which had taken a mental and physical toll, she said.
"From then on, it was just smooth sailing," she recalled.
"It was so different. We have come to expect and accept poor service in this country, and I was amazed at the difference."
For other hopefuls at the seminar, Lalla's story and the tales of two other happy couples were inspiring.
One woman, who is now 39, said she didn't begin trying to have children until last year, and when it didn't happen, she became despondent.
"That's all I think about and it is very distracting," she said, adding she is now less interested in the career she worked hard to build.
"I feel that if I had started trying sooner, I would have known earlier that I needed medical help. It was inspiring to hear these stories today."
There were several couples who already had at least one child and have been unable to conceive again.
Delivering the main address, BFC head Dr Juliet Skinner listed a variety of causes of poor fertility or the inability to carry to full term.
Fibroids, benign polyps in the uterus and, in a small percentage, an immune system that attacked the foetus were some problems that she said were usually treatable.
Skinner also spoke again about the recent birth of sextuplets to local couple Kieron Cummings and Petra Lee Foon.
While the successful birth and the sustained life so far of the six babies is a "credit" to the local medical fraternity, Skinner said pregnancies of that type should not be encouraged.
Describing it as "highly risky", Skinner said the birth was on one hand a miracle but behind the scenes, "there are an awful lot of people working around the clock to keep these babies alive".
Fertility drugs like Clomid (which Lee Foon is said to have taken) can be administered without proper monitoring while IVF allows the doctor to implant a certain number of embryos in the uterus.
This number is dependent on age and any existing conditions of the hopeful mother.
Up to two or more embryos are, for instance, usually implanted in women over 40 as it is likely that only one will become a successful baby.
The rate of twins in that age group is around ten per cent, Skinner said.
"When we do IVF, the goal is to achieve one baby, maybe two, no more," Skinner said, adding that Clomid should not be available over the counter.