Meet Baby Jaxon: brought into the world with a little help from the Assisted Reproductive Therapy Benefit
Randi and Adele went through the emotionally and financially draining experience of four failed attempts at a pregnancy. They'd given up the hope that they would have a child of their own. Then they heard about the Assisted Reproductive Therapy Benefit from Discovery Health Medical Scheme.
"We'd used up all our savings. I was left feeling my body wasn't good enough to have a baby."
Randi Kunz-Steyn (33) and Adele Steyn (40) met in 2015, were married in 2017 and, in 2018, felt it was time to start a family. "We started off with three rounds of intrauterine insemination, or IUI, using sperm from a sperm bank," says Randi.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a type of artificial insemination where sperm are placed directly into the uterus around the time the ovary releases one or more eggs to be fertilised.
"Unfortunately, these procedures - which were carried out for three months in a row - were unsuccessful. Going through any form of assisted reproductive therapy is both financially and emotionally taxing," Randi recalls, "especially when you're undergoing the same treatment month after month, hoping and praying for a baby each time."
"We'd used up all our savings in the process, and I was left feeling my body wasn't good enough to have a baby. I questioned everything - my levels of stress at work, whether I needed to make life changes if we were to carry on ... and should we even carry on trying?"
The couple decided to wait a year. In 2019, they went for in vitro fertilisation (IVF). "Owing to our financial situation, we went for a lower-cost option where fewer medicines are used to stimulate egg production. This means fewer eggs are extracted in the process," explains Randi.
- With in vitro fertilisation (IVF), eggs are collected from the ovaries. They are then combined with sperm, in a lab, to be fertilised ("in vitro" means "in glass"). One or more fertilised eggs (called embryos) are then transferred to the uterus. Here, they may implant in the uterine lining and develop into a successful pregnancy.
"We started to look at adoption. We began the screening process and were put on a waiting list."
"We could afford only one round of IVF, which came in at around R26,000," says Randi. "We didn't fall pregnant. So, we called it a day. It had all cost us so much, on so many levels. We started to look at adoption. We began the screening process and were put on a waiting list."
"And then, to our great surprise, Discovery Health Medical Scheme announced the launch of their Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART) Benefit, available from January 2021."
- This Discovery Health Medical Scheme Benefit - which is available on the Comprehensive and Executive plans - brings much needed support to women struggling to conceive. Download our benefit guide for all the details.
Randi and Adele belonged to several IVF-related groups on social media. They learnt about this new benefit as soon as it was announced, late in 2020. At the end of the year, when they could upgrade their plan type, they moved to a Comprehensive Plan so they could access this benefit.
"We were overjoyed to find that the doctor who had helped us with the IUI was on the medical scheme's network of doctors for the benefit, so we could work with a doctor we knew very well," says Randi.
"On day six after the IVF transfer, I was up at 03:30 and did a home pregnancy test."
"Through this IVF process, ten of my eggs were extracted," Randi explains. "We fertilised them all and that resulted in five embryos, two of which were transferred to me."
"Then came the wait to see if any would implant in my uterine lining. We were scheduled to do a blood test eight days after the transfer, to see if I was pregnant. Honestly, I was so excited that six days after the transfer I was up at 03:30 and did a home pregnancy test. Can you blame me? I couldn't wait to see what was happening, especially after so many failed attempts at falling pregnant!" she recalls.
"When that test showed up positive, I didn't know what to think. I woke Adele, despite it being the middle of the night, and we were both in tears and praying it was accurate. I then repeated the test on day seven - and it was positive. And the blood tests we did on day eight confirmed it all," Randi says.
"We did one round of IVF, and it was successful. We couldn't believe it!"
It's a girl! No, it's a boy!
"As soon as we found out we were pregnant, we began shopping for all we needed. Three separate 4D scans had indicated that we were having a girl, and we were thrilled!" Randi laughs. "We had a gender-reveal party, we decided on a name and, of course, we bought everything in pink."
"And then, later at our 22-week or 24-week scan, the doctor said we were in fact having a boy. Fortunately, we were able to exchange almost everything, and by the time our baby shower came around, we knew we were having a boy."
COVID-19 brings moments of uncertainty to the pregnancy
Randi reflects on what it was like being pregnant and giving birth during the pandemic. "I had a very healthy pregnancy," she says. "Little Jaxon was born at 37 weeks by C-section, and all went well. The restricted visiting hours were tough to deal with, though."
"We'd fallen pregnant in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was very stressful. I wasn't keen to be vaccinated while I was pregnant. I felt I lacked information. At the time, data was still emerging on this front, and I had both myself and our baby boy to think about," says Randi. "But by the time our son was born, I was more confident, and I got vaccinated."
"Adele had COVID-19 when I was 20 weeks pregnant," she adds. "Fortunately, I didn't get it from her, despite our close interaction. Of course, we were very worried when this happened. We knew that if I developed a serious illness and needed to be admitted to hospital, the outcomes for me and baby could have been bad."
"The Assisted Reproductive Therapy Benefit changed our lives."
"Discovery Health Medical Scheme's ART Benefit changed our lives," says Randi. "We struggled for three years to have a baby and, honestly, we'd given up. We also couldn't afford to go on. Accessing IVF with Discovery Health Medical Scheme's help meant we paid 25% of the costs and the medical scheme funded the rest."
"He is so lovely; a very easy-going baby"
"Jaxon was born healthy and well," Randi states. "I breastfed him until he was six weeks old, then expressed milk so Adele could also feed him. In fact, I was blessed with so much milk that I've actually donated the extra milk we have to the South African Breastmilk Reserve ."
Jaxon's now four months old. "He is so lovely; a very easy-going baby," says Randi. "He really only cries when hungry or tired or when he needs a nappy change. And he's smiling and laughing, which is so sweet."
Discovery Health Medical Scheme has launched an exciting new benefit to support members affected by infertility. The all new Assisted Reproductive Therapy Benefit brings much needed support to couples struggling to conceive.
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