Long nights at the office were the norm for 35-year-old architect Pamela Krisna, while her husband, Wahyu Hidayat Ng, 38, travelled frequently for work. Despite their demanding careers, they were keen to start a family immediately when they got married in 2005.
Pamela didn't foresee any difficulties - her menstrual cycle was normal, although she often experienced pain during her periods. But after trying to conceive for a year without success, she consulted a doctor and found out that she had endometriosis.
Two operations in two years
A condition where tissues that normally line the uterus attach to other organs, endometriosis may cause the formation of cysts, lesions and scar tissue.
"My doctor advised me to undergo an operation to remove the abnormal tissue and two cysts on my ovaries, to improve my chances of conceiving," says Pamela. However, more than a year after the surgery, she still couldn't get pregnant naturally.
An ultrasound then revealed that the cysts had come back. In 2008, she underwent another round of surgery helmed by a different doctor, to remove the cysts. Following her recovery from the second operation, Pamela and her husband tried intrauterine insemination (IUI) in 2009. The procedure involves using a catheter to place sperm inside the uterus, to increase the chances of fertilisation.
After one cycle of IUI, Pamela thought she was pregnant when she missed her period, but a blood test showed that the IUI had not been successful.
Pamela and Wahyu were dismayed at the result. "It was difficult when well-meaning friends and family asked us when we were going to have a baby," recalls Pamela.
"And it happened all the time at family gatherings or when we visited friends in the hospital after they had a baby. We would always downplay our predicament and reply that we were trying or just too busy. It got especially hard during Chinese New Year gatherings.
"Once, an uncle even shoved a baby into my face and said: 'See how cute she is? Are you sure you don't want one?'"