It was a 11-year wait for Siti Nurhaliza to become a mother.
(PICTURES FROM SITI NURHALIZA’S INSTAGRAM)
Singing sensation and new mother Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin opens up to Nadia Badarudin about her struggle to become a mother.
PERHAPS no other celebrity baby was as much awaited as 4-monthold Siti Aafiyah Khalid. The daughter of the country’s most prolific singer Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin and businessman Datuk Seri Khalid Mohamad Jiwa, Siti Aafiyah took 11 years to make an appearance.
It was an open secret that after their lavish nuptials in 2006, Siti Nurhaliza, then 27, had wanted to start a family. But what she thought would be a straightforward, natural process took the couple years of trial and tribulation.
The pop star admits that the adorable baby, weighing 3.55kg and born via C-section on March 19 at 8.17am in a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur, was conceived through in vitro fertilisation (IVF), something that she thought about after three years of marriage.
“Family planning was not on my list after I got married. I wanted to have children quickly but things did not go as planned during the first three years of our marriage,” says Siti Nurhaliza, beaming with pride.
“At that time, people started asking us: ‘When are you two going to have a baby?’ Some remarks, she says, were downright mean. “Some even said things like ‘with the money you have, you should have done something’,” says the country’s No.1 singer who rose to stardom after winning Bintang HMI organised by RTM in 1995.
Siti Nurhaliza was an easy target for public opinion since Khalid, who is the executive chairman of cosmetics company Simply Siti and founder of Yayasan Nurjiwa, has four sons from his previous marriage.
But with 23 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Siti Nurhaliza has learnt to dismiss such remarks and puts it down to part and parcel of living in the entertainment industry.
“I just kept quiet because to tell the truth, my husband and I never stopped trying.”
“We’ve tried everything to conceive recommended by friends and family. We just felt this matter was very personal and not for the world to know,” she adds.
The couple finally decided to go for IVF at Alpha Fertility Centre in Kuala Lumpur in 2009.
A snapshot of the celebrity couple taken on the day their daughter was born on March 19.
“After doing thorough research and consulting experts on the various Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments, we opted for IVF because the chances are better. I was even hoping for twins although
I was informed that multiple births are prone to risks,” she says.
In 2017, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council stated that Malaysia is recognised as the preferred destination for healthcare particularly for ART since the country records a 65 percent success rate for its IVF treatments compared to the global average rate of 50 per cent.
According to the Mayo Clinic, IVF is the most effective form of ART and involves a complex series of procedures to help couples having trouble conceiving due to problems like blocked fallopian tubes or low sperm count.
The time-consuming and expensive treatment can result in a pregnancy with more than one foetus and the chance of having a baby depends on multiple factors, including age and the cause of infertility.
In IVF, mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a lab before the resulting embryo is implanted in the uterus.
One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks and Siti Nurhaliza underwent three cycles in her years of IVF treatment.
But after several failed attempts, I realised that my body was fragile and I should be more focused and extra careful during the whole process. On top of that, I couldn’t wait much longer because I wasn’t young anymore.
“When I went for the treatment for the first time, I wasn’t that strict with myself. After the transfer of the embryo to the uterus, I resumed my daily activities and didn’t restrict my movements. “But after several failed attempts, I realised that my body was fragile and I should be more focused and extra careful during the whole process. On top of that, I couldn’t wait much longer because I wasn’t young anymore,” she says.
Although most women on IVF treatment describe the process as painful or gruelling, Siti Nurhaliza says it was manageable.
“My hopes stayed alive because I always believe that rezeki (gift) will be granted by Allah as long as we don’t stop trying.
“Throughout the whole journey, I hung on to my belief that rezeki comes in many forms and Allah will eventually grant what I wish for as he knows what is right for me.
That was my strength. That kept me going. “I never gave up and it was worth the wait,” she says.
IVF finally worked for Siti Nurhaliza in 2017. However, she only announced the good news to the press in October, her fourth month of pregnancy.
Her statement confirmed speculation of her pregnancy which had been rife given that she had scaled down her activities and was staying under the radar for months. “I was nervous when I found out I was pregnant. I had had a miscarriage in 2015, but I wasn’t on IVF during that period. It was a natural conception and the miscarriage affected me emotionally,” admits Siti Nurhaliza, adding that at that time she did not go for IVF because she was focusing on her concerts.
“I took extra precautions to be on the safe side especially during the first trimester. I didn’t want to take things for granted, especially with this being my third IVF cycle,” she says.
During the first trimester, the singer was confined to her bedroom. She was prescribed bed rest by her doctor. And her career was put on hold.
“I didn’t do any shows or go for photo shoots. I took plenty of rest and ate a healthy diet. I spent the whole three months in bed, reading and surfing the Internet. At times, my husband helped move me in a wheelchair or lifted me up.”
Siti Nurhaliza documented her heartwarming journey to motherhood in a beautiful song and music video.
The lullaby tune Comel Pipi Merah was uploaded on YouTube via her official DatoSNurhaliza Vevo channel on March 28 and has garnered over 3.3 million views, 66,000 likes and over 2,000 comments to date.
The single was composed by the singer herself with lyrics penned by her manager and sister-in-law Rozi Abdul Razak. The music video of the catchy song featured Siti Nurhaliza, who was heavily pregnant at the time, singing the tune, with an interspersing sequence of scenes from ultrasound images of Siti Aafiyah and snapshots of the baby when she was born.
Motherhood has been a blissful experience for the singer and her husband. Siti Aafiyah is exclusively breastfed by her mother.
“Aafiyah is a darling. She’s easy to take care of. I wish I can take her with me wherever I go. The one thing that I now can’t leave home without is my breast pump,” she says, smiling.
She and Khalid are in the process of setting up a fertility centre under Yayasan Nurjiwa to help couples in a similar predicament.
“Everything is in progress but we have yet to ascertain the eligibility criteria for couples seeking treatment at the centre.”
Her advice to couples who are keen on going for IVF? “Be patient and understand the concept of rezeki — what is meant for you will come to you. The couple must stay focused and be physically and mentally prepared to go through the process especially to overcome the two big challenges in infertility treatments: The process itself and people’s perception.
“On top of it all, the couple must understand and appreciate each other. The husband must understand that the wife is not only facing physical changes but emotional changes as well. Try to stay positive and support each other. And don’t be shy to seek help.”
Is she going to have another child?
“Yes, I would like to have another child but not so soon. Perhaps my husband and I will try again after two years, Insha Allah (God willling).”
IN VITRO FERTILISATION is among the treatment options available under assisted reproductive techonology (ART) but is never the first step in the treatment of infertility (except in cases of complete tubal blockage).
Who can try IVF?