A bit of a disclaimer: I know I haven’t posted in a million years. I haven’t been writing much lately. I’m going to try to remedy that. As for this post, I apologize ahead of time. This is a long one. It has taken me a little over three weeks to compose this because of the sheer number of times I had started writing and stopped. It’s kind of a jumble of emotions. I’ve tried to edit it, but it’s difficult to read over and over. Bear with me. I’ve been rather scared to share this, but then I came to terms with it. I’m writing this for me, for a therapy of sorts, for stress-relief, or something– not for anyone’s approval. And maybe my words can help someone else experiencing a similar situation…. you never know.
Babies, babies, babies. Babies everywhere! I love all of you with babies. Seriously, I do. I love checking into Facebook to see your happiness, your pride and joy, and the smiles of your precious little ones. Your stories are spectacular, hilarious, and warm my heart. The capacity for love my friends have for their families is amazing. I love seeing you new parents support one another and help each other out. I love reading your stances on issues like cloth diapers or disposable, breast milk or formula, store bought or homemade baby food…. Honestly, it’s fascinating. I learn a lot from you. And I like to try to figure out where I stand on the issues to prepare for when the time comes (or doesn’t come). I love the photos of the baby bumps, sonograms, the baby playing with the dog, the baby creating the most adorable mess while eating peas for the first time, the videos of baby’s first words, the professional photo shoots, and the age progression photos…. I love them all! I can tell how happy that little one has made you! I think it has to be the best feeling in the world! I am truly happy for your happiness. So much glee to go around– Cheer for everyone! It seems like every single day, nowadays, I am finding out someone else I know is expecting their little miracle. Bouncing babies are coming at me from every direction. I am happy for you. Your happiness makes me smile.
But then I log off of Facebook and the smiles fade. And I’m alone with my thoughts. One little fact eats at me. And slowly overcomes my every cell. My brain goes wild in a million different directions—a million different “what if” scenarios play out in my mind…. All stemming from that one miserable thought.
What if I can’t have children?
I remember a conversation I had with my mom when I was about 18 or 19 years old. We were talking about goals/dreams/accomplishments. Well, it was more of an argument (my poor mom—I was a mean ole teenager). She was probably encouraging or guiding me to make some critical life decision and I snapped at her saying, “Well, how would you know—you never went to college—you got married and had kids—like that’s some big accomplishment!!” My mom calmly stated that having kids and being a great mom was her goal, her dream. I probably rolled my eyes and continued with snarky comments. I didn’t understand then, but now I’d like to go back to that point in time and slap my own smart mouth off my face.
What an admirable dream! To be a mother, the best mother her children could possibly ask for…. Well, now that dream my mother had once shared with me has become my dream, and it isn’t working out so well.
You see, I have PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
PCOS is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones. This may lead to menstrual cycle changes, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other health changes—lots of other uncomfortable, embarrassing, and possibly even life-threatening health changes (ranging from abnormal and unwanted facial hair, insulin resistance, and excessive/rapid/unusual weight gain to high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes). No, it’s not made up. It’s not an excuse overweight women use to downplay their extra poundage. It’s real, it’s serious, and it’s dreadful.
Add hypothyroidism into the mix and “trouble” getting pregnant, at this point, seems like the understatement of the century. There’s another word for it, and it’s much more debilitating—infertility.
“Infertility” comes into play when a woman younger than 35 has been unsuccessful in getting pregnant within a year of actively trying. For women over 35, well, you’re infertile after half that time. You only get 6 months of trying unsuccessfully before that horrible I-word gets slapped on your medical history.
Jacob and I have been trying for over a year now. The time and money that has already been poured into this is astounding, considering no real fertility treatments have been attempted (yet) and there hasn’t been even an inkling of success. Temping and charting my basal body temperature every single morning at the same exact time, record keeping, ovulation kits after ovulation kits, pregnancy tests, timing everything, vitamins, medicines, several doctor appointments— and it’s all a near constant reminder that I’m struggling in the baby-making department. And to be honest, this is only the beginning.
I’m having an extremely difficult time getting my PCOS in check, even with medication. Even with super conscious healthy eating (gluten free and Paleo—whole, natural, organic) my weight is fluctuating (or increasing) like crazy. This is PCOS. I’m actively trying to lose weight, but I’m gaining. I don’t drink alcohol anymore (well, only on occasion), I NEVER consume processed food of any kind. I make everything myself from scratch every day….. And all I hear is that IF I lose 5% of my body weight, my fertility will increase. I’ve been trying to successfully explain to several doctors that I have ALREADY LOST 17% of my body weight (off my highest weight), but I still seem to be too overweight for a baby. Which in my mind makes no sense. I’ve seen larger women than me have babies w/out a hitch. It’s not that I couldn’t stand to lose more weight… I just don’t know how, at this point. Not to mention that when I first started Paleo and began losing a lot of weight, I gained normal cycles. Now, my cycles are all over the place. Charting/temping feels like a waste of time because I know I’m not ovulating… It’s all just a bunch of frustrating, exasperating bologna. I’m waiting for something to click, something to work, something to finally be the solution.
However, regardless of the bologna, there is a tiny glimmer of hope lately. I’ve started up with a new specialist. We’ve found out that Jacob’s swimmers are strong and in good supply. That’s a plus! In addition, I’ve had several ultrasounds which show my ovaries are of normal size and shape, with healthy looking follicles. A (painful) hysterosalpingogram has shown I have a healthy and clear uterus and my tubes are open, too. Whoo hoo! I’m ready, at literally any minute (whenever my cycle decides to start), to begin clomid with a timed hCG injection and progesterone follow up regimen. Most people probably don’t need to know what these things are, so just know it’s a series of medicines/hormones to stimulate ovulation, increase chances for pregnancy, and to sustain a possible pregnancy.
Fun, fun, fun—if it all works. Supposedly, there is a 60% chance of ovulation occurring, and about a 10-15% chance of a pregnancy. And let’s not even mention the stats of PCOSers losing pregnancies.
It’s curious—when, as a couple, you decide to have a baby, you think it’s going to be simple. Actually, there isn’t much thinking involved, just human nature. And then nature fails. I’m left wondering WHAT IF we had started trying earlier?!?!
I originally wanted to keep all of this private. I didn’t want to share these intimate details of my life, but I’m finding it very difficult to NOT vent. I’ve always been a sharer (maybe an over-sharer), but I didn’t feel the need for people to know this particular struggle. But now, in this time of my life, when babies are everywhere, when baby showers are a frequent occurrence, baby birthday parties fill many weekends, and too much adorableness clogs up my Facebook news feed, I’d just like my friends and family to know that I am not UN-happy for you. I am thrilled you’re happy. I’m thankful you are fertile and do not have to go through so many hoops. Sometimes it is just too hard to face all the babies. It’s hard to see the smiling faces, the cuddling and cooing, and the beaming, proud grandparents. It’s not that I don’t wish all of these things for you…. It’s more about the fact that being around all that happy forces me to physically experience the ginormous void in my life. Maybe at some point this all gets easier, but now it all feels like salt on an open wound. I feel horrible saying that, like it makes me an envious, selfish, inconsiderate person. I’m working on it. I promise.
Wish us luck, send us good vibes, pray for us. We would appreciate all forms of positivity, please.
A bit of a footnote: If you’re unsure of what to say or how to respond in a situation like this, I have compiled some resources for you!
Or try my friend’s blog… which includes a husband’s perspective… lots of good stuff here: http://kristiefinley07.blogspot.com/2014/02/jeffreys-post-from-fb-and-my-thoughts.html