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I was once a rebellious teenager who chose to be different in expressing my ideas. However, I must say that there was also a hormonal, sappy part of me that secretly enjoyed hopelessly romantic love songs. A chunk of my playlist was dominated by Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza’s songs.

In retrospect, I practically went through my teens with Siti Nurhaliza’s songs, which naturally made her one of my favourite Malaysian singers of all time. Even as a mom, every now and then you’ll catch me karaoke-ing to her songs while doing house chores, much to my kid’s annoyance.

So yes, it must be clear that I have Malaysia’s beloved songbird close to my heart. But it isn’t only me. Siti Nurhaliza has touched many lives through her beautiful songs and melodious voice. She has become a national treasure, one to be cherished for her contributions to Malaysia’s music industry. Malaysia’s sweetheart is an inspiring icon who came from humble beginnings and rose to fame with her pure talent.

Journey through infertility and TTC

In 2006, Siti Nurhaliza tied the knot with renowned businessman Datuk Seri Khalid Mohammad Jiwa, better known as Datuk K. Her decision to marry an older and divorced man caused some uproar among fans and followers, and there was much scrutiny into her personal life.

Nevertheless, the marriage stood strong. The couple found themselves on a TTC (trying-to-conceive) journey for a grueling 11 years. Year after year, Siti Nurhaliza’s struggles with infertility became even more apparent as time went by. Being under the spotlight must have been challenging during this time, especially with so many curious, prying eyes on her.

Even during such a challenging period of her life, the soft-spoken star never lost her grip and faith. She spoke of her infertility issues openly, admitting that she had been going for fertility treatments. She talked about facing the challenges she had to go through with a strong heart and mind.

The singer became the face and voice of the struggles with infertility, a topic that was still largely taboo in Malaysian society.

In 2015, there was a spark of hope when fans heard about her being pregnant. Sadly however, Siti Nurhaliza then shared devastating news that she suffered a miscarriage two months into her pregnancy. She then carried on with her TTC journey and moved on to a 3rd attempt at In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Good news and the nation rejoices

In October 2017, the good news everyone was hoping for finally arrived. Siti Nurhaliza called for an exclusive press conference to break the news – she calmly announced that she was 4 months pregnant. There had been plenty of speculation as her professional gigs had dwindled months prior to the announcement.

In the press conference, she admitted that her baby was conceived through IVF. The 38-year-old stated that it was the most viable option for her as age was catching up on her and she could not risk waiting any longer. Finally, Malaysia’s Number One singer received the ultimate award she had been waiting for – the chance to become a mother.

The months that came after the announcement went by like a breeze. After 9 months and a very cautious and healthy pregnancy, Siti gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on 19 March 2018 via Caesarian section.

Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and Datuk K watching over Siti Aafiyah . Photo source: @ctdk (Instagram)

After years of struggle, Siti Nurhaliza has now become a mother, and the nation rejoices. Malaysia’s sweetheart has her own little sweetheart, and she is aptly named Siti Aafiyah, which translates to “health and strength”. They were words that her mother never ceased to mention in prayers throughout her pregnancy.

A symbol of hope

Looking beyond the celebration of Siti Aafiyah, Siti Nurhaliza’s journey in TTC and infertility has become a symbol of hope for many couples who are struggling and trying for a child of their own. Her openness about her journey and willingness to share her struggles has given a new voice to the TTC community. She has helped raise awareness about the realities of infertility.

“There’s no shame in admitting it. Many have been through what I have experienced. Some waited even longer. I want to share my experience with them,” she once said during a session with the media.

Her experience has also inspired her to open a fertility center under Yayasan Nur Jiwa, which will provide affordable fertility treatments to hopeful couples. The center is now being built and due to be launched early next year.

 

A heartfelt congratulations to Datuk Siti Nurhaliza and Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa on the arrival of Siti Aafiyah, from us at makchic! May there be an abundance of happiness and love around her always. 

 

Photos: Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza

In a half-hour Skype call, Sha Lynn Chan sat down with Kim and found out everything she needed to know (and more!) about the perfectly legal – but relatively unheard of – practice of egg donation.

How did you come to hear about being an egg donor and what made you decide to do it?

It all started with my sister. She has friends who told her about it, so she tried it out. Then she told me about it, and I thought, “Okay la, why not? It’s an experience if I do get chosen.” So I got the application form from my sister, filled it all in and pretty much waited for about eight months before they called me back as I live overseas. As for what made me decide to do it, it all just boils down to an interesting experience. I mean, how many women do you know who can say that they have been an egg donor before!

So what was the feedback from your friends & family when you told them about your decision?

I think family, especially if they’re religious, are always going to worry a little more. My parents are cool with it, but my more religious aunt and uncle (whom I’m very close to) are a bit more worried about the side effects. They asked questions like if I can still give birth in the future if I keep doing this, is it ethically sound, questions old people ask! As for my friends, everybody is fine with it – if there are no negative side effects, then go ahead.

Tell me a bit more about the company you signed up with. How did you come across it?

So my sister passed me the contacts of this company called Heart2ART Sdn Bhd. The lady that runs it, Christine, is a British woman who has been in this business for over a decade now. She’s helped hundreds of couples with IVF treatments and been super supportive of everybody. From when you submit your application, she will help take you through the process and give you all that you need to know. She’s there for you when you’re going into your scans, if you need to know anything else, she’s always there. Christine is kind of like a mum! She will completely take care of you.

That’s really lovely to hear! Can you walk us through the process of being a donor?

Right, so you can go to their website and request a donor application form. But my sister passed the form to me. You fill in the form and it’s a really long form covering all bases from your family background to your physical attributes – they will ask for your eye colour, blood type, etc. You also have to submit a lot of photographs of yourself because they need to see how you look like. After that, it becomes a waiting game of “Does anybody want your genes?”

Are there any legal repercussions to being an egg donor?

None at all. Many people think that surrogacy is illegal here as well, but it is legal in Malaysia. The only exception, however, is if you’re Muslim. Here, it is unlawful for Muslims to use a surrogate or be an egg donor.

What are the more “desirable” traits to be chosen to be an egg donor?

There is no one real desirable trait that gets you picked more often over others. It honestly goes down to the parents’ preferences – for example, when a mat salleh couple comes along, they’re more likely to pick donors with Caucasian features. So companies like Heart2ART Sdn Bhd would keep a whole list of donors of varying ethnicities on hand – the more the better. This way, no matter the parent, they get to have as many options as possible to choose from.

So what happened after they called you in?

Once a couple is interested, I was asked to go take a blood test to make sure that I’m still in peak physical condition and with no infectious diseases. Once I’ve passed my blood test, you will be asked about your period dates – as I was on birth control at the time, it was pretty easy for me to stop taking birth control and start my period again. On the very first day of my period, I went to see the doctor and he gave me a scan to check my uterus and see if everything checks out. That’s when the injections start, where you have to give yourself hormone jabs to your tummy every morning.

Hormone jabs?

Yeah. The first set of injections, called Subcutaneous Gonal-F, helps to ‘grow’ my eggs and mature them as fast as possible. Especially for me, because some of my eggs are larger than others so this set will make sure that they’re roughly the same size. I inject this into my stomach at around the same time every morning every day for a week. Once the first week is over, I went to see my doctor again and he performed a second scan on me to make sure that the medication has been taking effect as it’s supposed to. If my eggs haven’t matured enough, he would increase the dosage. But my eggs were fine, so he left it as it was.

During the second week, you have to take two jabs this time. The first being Subcutaneous Gonal-F and now the second is Cetrotide Subcutaneous. The purpose of Cetrotide Subcutaneous is to prevent your mature eggs from releasing too early – it holds onto your eggs while the first injection continues to further mature your eggs. Now, once you’re done with the hormone treatments for two weeks, you take a break for a day and at exactly 36 hours before your procedure, you have to take another jab – the Ovidrel Subcutaneous, which stimulates the release of your mature eggs.

Were there any side effects to these jabs?

None that were harmful that I can think of. My tummy was bruised, but that’s because of the daily injections and that’s normal. I guess it really boils down to your body’s reactions to the injections and I consider myself lucky to not experience any adverse side effects at all. However, adverse reactions are mostly rare.

What happened during the procedure, and how did you feel after?

They will put you to sleep for 15 minutes and in those 15 minutes, the retrieval procedure will be performed. You can then go home after an hour! After the procedure, there was a sharp pain in my crotch that lasted for three hours – but I mostly slept it off, so it wasn’t too bad. However, I did end up being quite bloated for a couple of weeks until my next period. I looked like I was in my first trimester!

In some countries, they’ve implemented a ban on anonymous sperm and egg donors. So when a child conceived by egg or sperm donation comes of age, they’re allowed to find out who their biological parents are. I’m unsure what that’s like here, but would you want to meet your biological child when they come of age?

I think that would be fine, I’m not too picky about that. My sister has done this procedure a few times and sometimes the parents would want to meet you or they don’t. I think it’s better if they want to meet you because they’re using my genes – I could look good, but my personality could be the total opposite of ideal. The couple who picked me didn’t really want to meet me, but I’m very open to the idea of meeting up.

How did you find the entire experience? Would you do it again?

Overall, it was definitely an experience to be had. If I was allowed to take my hormone treatments here in Bangkok and then go back to Malaysia for the retrievals, then yeah, sure. As the hormone treatments have to be done at home, I have to take two weeks off of my life here in Bangkok, which can be pretty inconvenient.

Image Credit: Alan Levine.

SunMed-Feat

When a man and woman decide to have a baby, a life changing decision has been made. Parenthood is a profound transition that’s easily one of the most – if not most – important times of their lives.

Yet for some couples trying to start a family, they may experience issues with infertility. The emotional, physical and even financial stress can take a toll on the individual as well as the couple’s relationship.

Infertility affects both men and women and is not an inconvenience but a disease of the reproductive system, impairing the body’s ability to reproduce.

Overcoming infertility means couples need to seek expert advice and medical treatment. One such place is the Fertility Centre at Sunway Medical Centre.

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Private individual counseling bays.

The SunMed Fertility Centre opened its doors this April and offers a comprehensive range of fertility services including semen analysis, intrauterine insemination (IUI), surgical sperm retrieval, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) just to name a few.

Patients who successfully conceive will be brought under the care of Sunway Medical Centre’s seven resident obstetricians. With a fully equipped Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the team of three neonatologists and six specialist neonatal nurses are dedicated to ensure mother and baby experience a safe delivery journey.

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Fully equipped lab.
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IVF procedure room.
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Recovery bay.
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Comprehensive Neonatal Intensive Care Unit services from level I through level III.

The SunMed team believes that a successful pregnancy does not end at conception. To answer any questions or worries – even after conception – a 24-hour Fertility Careline is offered for patients to contact the team via calls, text messaging and even WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat or Facebook Messenger.

The SunMed Fertility Centre is located on the 2nd floor of Tower A at Sunway Medical Centre. Contact 03-7491 6555 or 019-338 1681 (24-hour Fertility Careline) for more information.