Shelly-Ann and Gaurav with baby Divya.

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A Christmas story of hope

A Christmas Story... O Holy Night, The Stars Are Brightly Shining

It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.... Toys and Santas abound — in the malls, in parties — and always, always there are children. Christmas is for children, they say. It's a time for family, for remembering what is real and true in this life. But for many years, for Shelly-Ann and Gaurav, Christmas was not all it could be.

Their quest to become parents was always high on their agenda after getting married so that, six years and counting, their family still felt incomplete.

Like millions of women worldwide, Shelly-Ann battled with infertility and the impending Christmas season only heightened the fact that she was not yet a mother.

"For years, having a family of my own was something I always wanted and desired. I have a lot of nieces and nephews and I will buy gifts for them but would always wonder when will the day arrive when I can buy for my own child or children, I always wondered when it would happen to me."

Unable to conceive on their own, Shelly-Ann visited several doctors but all indicated that she was "ok". Determined to find the source of her problem, Shelly-Ann and Gaurav sought IVF treatment at a local fertility centre. It was there that she was diagnosed with Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis and a low reserve of eggs. She was told that IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) was her only chance of pregnancy and that she did not have much time left. This news only served to increase her determination, to prevail against all odds. Three unsuccessful attempts, with one resulting in a miscarriage, and Shelly-Ann's dream of motherhood was beginning to take a serious toll on her emotionally, financially and physically but not to the point of giving up.

Shelly-Ann decided to give IVF one more try, this time with Barbados Fertility Centre. (BFC) Then, after just one treatment with BFC, Shelly-Ann found out she was pregnant.

"When I found out that I was pregnant it was Christmas Eve. I was very excited and happy yet I was apprehensive because of my miscarriage the last time I tried IVF. I was a bit skeptical and very nervous, just hoping that this one didn't end up like the last."

Smiling reflectively, she added: "But then the days went and the months passed by and everything worked out just fine."

Shelly-Ann gave birth to her "miracle" on August 11, whom she named Divya. For Shelly-Ann and Gaurav there couldn't be a better Christmas present, as their dream of becoming parents was now a reality. The first-time dad was so excited; he voluntarily decorated the Christmas tree.

"I usually have to beg him to do that but this year I came home one afternoon and the house and tree were decorated," she laughed, remembering the delightful surprise.

"Every year for Christmas and Old Years' I would make a wish to have a family of my own. It's a really great feeling to know that this year I get to celebrate the joy that is Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, with my little one. I can't wait to purchase presents for Divya, put them under the tree…words can't really describe it, no words can really do justice to the emotions I'm feeling at present."

Her wish for the New Year? For health, strength and love for her new family I also pray for all couples out there that live with infertility. Not many understand the pain this causes. It's hard to keep the faith, but I urge you not to give up.

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