At just 22, Prahnee discovered she had a rare genetic condition that meant she was already menopausal. She told that's life! how she defied to odds to become mum to five girls.
Sitting in the waiting room, I had no idea what to expect. Along with my mum, Jenifer, then 49, I was waiting for test results.
At 24, I’d noticed some changes with my periods. My cycle had become irregular and I’d bleed in between, too. After ruling other things out, I’d been sent to a geneticist.
I’m sure it’s fine, I thought. But the results shocked me.
‘You have an extra sex chromosome,’ the doctor explained. Most people have two chromosomes which determine their sex. Men have an X and a Y chromosome, while women have two X chromosomes.
I, on the other hand, had three X chromosomes. ‘It’s called Triple X syndrome,’ he continued, adding one in a thousand women had the condition and it could affect my fertility. ‘In your case, you have already begun menopause,’ he added, recommending I start HRT. ‘You will never fall pregnant.’
I was stunned. I hadn’t planned to start a family, but the news that I no longer had the choice shook me to the core.
As his words sank in, a wave of anger washed over me. Who is he to tell me? I thought. I’ll find a way.
I’d only been with my boyfriend Matt, then 22, for seven months. ‘What should I do?’ I asked Mum.
‘You never know what the future holds,’ she said. Supportive, Matt also agreed we should carry on as we were.
Researching Triple X, things from my past fell into place. I’d been tall for my age, developed pubic hair and breasts late, and been diagnosed with dyslexia.
Combined, they were telltale signs but none of them had held me back.
Then, the following year, I started feeling sick in the mornings and was constantly tired. I’d noticed some changes as my body got used to HRT, so I didn’t worry.
‘Could you be pregnant?’ friends asked. No way! I thought, the doctor’s words echoing in my ears. Plus, I hadn’t gained any weight.
To rule it out, I took a test. As the stick turned positive, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was a bolt from the blue.
When Matt got home from work, I broke the news. He was shocked too, but excited to meet our bub.
Incredibly, I was 15 weeks pregnant.
The doctors and midwives I met along the way were stunned too. After all, I was meant to be menopausal! Somehow, life found a way.
When our daughter, Ruby, was born we fell in love. We loved being parents, and when Ruby was 18 months old we decided to try again.
After months went by, we were referred to an IVF clinic. They said that my body was once again menopausal, so I’d need donor eggs.
‘I don’t think that’s for us,’ I explained. Instead, we tried follicle stimulation. That failed so we tried a fertility drug.
We’d just started to consider adoption when our second miracle happened. When little Ivy was born in 2007, we were over the moon.
Unlike with Ruby, I could breastfeed with the help of a hormone supplement.
By the time Ivy was two, I was officially menopausal again. I returned to HRT and started acupuncture, designed to help with symptoms.
Amazingly, I fell pregnant naturally again but suffered a miscarriage at 15 weeks.
‘Your chances of conceiving another baby and carrying it are now next to nil,’ the specialist told me.
Undeterred, I took fertility drugs again, and in 2010 our third daughter, Amahni, arrived five weeks early. Our little one thrived.
We’ve beaten the odds again, I thought. After marrying Matt in May 2011, my thoughts turned back to babies.
‘I’d like us to have an even number,’ I told him that December. Three months later we agreed to give it a go.
Wanting to try naturally, I stopped HRT. A month later, I fell pregnant. Did we really have another miracle?
Then, at around 11 weeks, I had awful morning sickness. Suddenly, I started to lose blood. I’ve lost the baby, I thought, devastated.
The next day at a scan, the sonographer confirmed it. But then he stopped. ‘There’s another heartbeat here,’ he said. ‘And a second.’
Incredibly, I’d been carrying triplets and two babies had survived. It was surreal but I couldn’t wait to tell Matt the news.
In 2012 we welcomed Zuri and Sari, now five. While none of the girls have inherited Triple X, Zuri has another genetic condition, Turner syndrome, which means she is missing part of her X chromosome.
Because of this she’ll always be small and her fertility will be affected, but I’m so glad I’ll be able to guide her through that.
Zuri adores playing with dolls and babies. ‘If I can be a mum, she can!’ I say.
Life with five girls is pretty hectic but I’m so proud of all of them. Ruby, 15, is an independent young woman who wants to be a paramedic. Ivy is big-hearted and very girly, energetic Amahni loves life, while Sari adores horses.
Looking at them together, I can’t believe how far we have come. I’m proof that sometimes, life is full of surprises.