SINGAPORE - She was desperate to get pregnant.
So desperate that she went through multiple surgeries, received rounds of hormonal medication to make sure she ovulated and put herself through acupuncture, despite being terrified of needles.
Mrs Joyce Padfield's biological clock was ticking frantically as her 40th birthday approached. The Singaporean is married to 55-year-old Bill Padfield, who is a permanent resident here.
She yearned badly for a second child, despite already having a seven-year-old son.
"My mother asked me at some point, 'Why don't you just give up? You already have one healthy child.' But I felt like I didn't want to look back and regret because I didn't try my best.
"I always planned to have two children," she explains.
Their firstborn came easily, having been conceived just five months into the marriage.
"I knew eventually I wanted another one, but after that I was just busy carving out a career, and time went by," says the housewife, who used to be a banker specialising in wealth management.
"I just wanted to have another child... be it naturally or artificially, I would have done whatever it took."
She first underwent surgery after being diagnosed with adenomysis, which occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, exists within and grows into the muscular wall of the uterus.
Then came months of hormonal treatment to help the womb heal faster, so she could get pregnant quickly.
"It made me irritable. My husband and friends hated me because I was being such a nasty person," Mrs Padfield says.
She says it in a self-deprecating manner, laughing as she recalls those days. But it is clear that the anguish run deep.
She recalls her joy in April 2010, when she discovered she was pregnant. But just two months later, she was plunged into despair when she lost the baby.
Last March, she got pregnant again, but lost the child again six weeks later.
It was devastating, especially since the pregnancies were so hard won and anticipated.
Mrs Padfield says: "The worst part was that they found nothing wrong with the foetus, which was a girl. She just couldn't attach to the womb.
"I couldn't get out of bed for about four days. I just cried and cried. My husband tried to comfort me, but I guess there wasn't much he could do. It was all inside. Subconsciously, I blamed myself," she adds.
Both miscarriages required dilation and curettage, a surgical procedure often performed after a first trimester miscarriage.
"I remember looking at people on the street with babies and having this sense of longing. Thank goodness I didn't look crazy. I'd just say, 'You're so lucky to have such a beautiful child,'" she says.
There were times she felt like giving up, confesses Mrs Padfield. "There were times I felt like I still wanted to keep trying, but at other points I thought I just can't do this any more," she says.
Although she had discussions with her husband about when enough was enough, he never tried to dissuade her from her quest.
"He knows me better. If I believed in something, I would really want to do it and get positive results out of it," she says with a chuckle.
In April last year, she consulted gynaecologist Dr Ann Tan, who recommended another surgery to correct the unevenness of her womb.
She also went through months of acupuncture, despite her phobia of needles. "I hate needles. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it's needles," she says.
In the end, she says it is her stubbornness and tenacity which pulled her through. That, and the $40,000 she spent on the range of fertility treatments.
She became pregnant for the third time in July last year, and gave birth to son William on April 2 this year.
Still, the nine months were fraught with anxiety.
"My first thought when I found out was 'yay', then 'oh no'. I kept wondering if there would be a third miscarriage.
"I thought frequently about whether the child would have Down syndrome, since I was over 40 when I conceived," she says.
A scare happened when she started bleeding just before she hit the three-month mark.
"I just sat on the toilet and cried and cried," she says. Thankfully, a subsequent scan showed the baby's strong and steady heartbeat. She was flooded in relief as she felt her son's first kick.
"It's like he was saying to me, 'It's alright mum, I'm still here," she says.
Looking back, Mrs Padfield says it is all worth it.
"If I gave up, this little fella wouldn't exist. Sometimes I still can't believe he is here," she says looking adoringly into her son's grey eyes. Her advice to women who are still trying to be mums? Persevere, and don't give up.
"Don't drive yourself to the ground, and set yourself a time limit. But don't give up instantly, and most importantly, don't blame yourself."
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