I have wanted to post about this for a long time. Finding the courage and strength and will power to sit down and do it...well that's been my hangup. It's painful...frustrating...happy...amazing...awe-inspiring...and immeasurably emotional for me. What I plan to tell you is the story of my journey to motherhood (both times). What you will get is my version, what happened and what could have, in at least three installments.
I married the man of my dreams in 2007, May to be exact. Six months later we were living in Oklahoma, dealing with the tragic death of my sister's boyfriend, and contemplating our future. As my husband and I sat in our one-bedroom apartment talking we made the life-changing decision to start trying to have a baby. Actually, the exact thing we decided was to "not try to not have" a baby...and that's what we did. I quit taking birth control and we waited. By April of 2008 I was frustrated and quite a bit poorer from the number of pregnancy tests I had purchased. After reading an article my grandma sent in the mail about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) I decided to talk to my doctor about it. So in July I went, I talked, she tested and determined that I did, indeed, have PCOS. I was put on a low dose of Metformin (a drug that counteracts the insulin resistance that can be characteristic of PCOS) and told to come back in 6 months to see if we should up the dosage. She also warned me that we "might never be able to have kids". So we waited some more and I mourned the loss of possible future children. I tried to be happy with my life, but felt very empty when I thought that we might not have children.
We were busy, we had just bought a house and a dog, and I sort of lost track of things (or worked very hard to forget them). I started to think that this was just God's plan for us...maybe we were meant to adopt or foster...maybe we should focus more on doing things while we were childless like traveling. The fall of 2008 I started researching more on PCOS and it's relation to diet. I read Managing PCOS For Dummies and learned about a connection with eating a low Glycemic Index diet. We started making some changes in our diet, but I didn't really see much of a change.
In December of 2008 my grandpa Claude passed away from a very long struggle with heart disease and my life went to pieces. Two deaths in two years sent me reeling. I was able to see my grandpa before he passed away, while he was still able to open his eyes and acknowledge that he knew I was there, and I spent the next week with my grandma trying to be as supportive as I could.
Shockingly, I started my period for the first time since April on the morning my grandpa passed. It was bittersweet. The thought that this could mean a possible pregnancy might be in the cards was exciting, but that knowledge mixed with the loss of my grandfather was very difficult to process. The funeral came and went. I went back to Oklahoma, returned to work, and tried to focus on preparing for going back to Missouri for Christmas a week later.
Somehow we muddled through packing, trip preparations, and traveling with our 80 lb dog. We made it through Christmas, thanks in large part to my niece are her amazement over her gifts and having us in town. My heart ached at the thought that being an aunt might be it. But I was determined to enjoy myself. We met up with some old friends on this trip and I discovered, much to my amazement, that a close friend also was struggling with fertility issues due to the same illness! Suddenly I felt much more hopeful. Knowing that I wasn't alone was very comforting and I walked away from dinner with an encouraged spirit and rekindled friendships.
When we got home I resigned myself to the fact that we weren't getting pregnant anytime soon. So I figured we should plan on something else... a trip to Europe! It would be a year or more in the future but we started talking about saving money, possibly going back on birth control (just in case) and saving vacation time at work. We were recovering from some major financial issues and it all seemed to be coming together to be a great year. Despite my enthusiasm about the trip I was still frustrated that I hadn't had a period again after the one around my grandpa's funeral. I chalked it up to stress leading to that one and figured the meds just weren't working. So I started making a list of things to discuss with my doctor at my upcoming appointment.
Then I got sick. I couldn't eat anything but peanut butter and crackers for 3 days lest I wanted to feel nauseous all day. I thought I had the flu and just muddled through. After many jokes from my dear husband about being pregnant, and many shed tears over how I couldn't be. I gave in. One night while he was at work I decided to take another pregnancy test to prove to him it wasn't possible and to put an end, finally, to the jokes that were so hurtful to me (though I never let him know). Imagine my surprise when that stick showed two pink lines! Was this for real?!?!? Were we actually...finally...pregnant? I rushed to Target and bought two more tests. As I sat in our bathroom looking at three VERY clear, positive tests I called him at work. He thought I was joking and then realized this was no joke...we were going to be parents!
***Stay tuned for part 2...the birth of our first son!***
PCOS is sort of a catch all. It describes a set of symptoms experienced by women, but the source of the problem is still unknown. There are many theories on what causes this disease: poor diet, celiac disease, diabetes, etc. No one person has it figured out and if you talk to anyone they will probably have advice on how to treat it, someone they know who cured themselves, or tell you it's made up...I've experienced all of these things when talking to others.
According to WebMD, PCOS effects approx 1 in 15 women. If you think you may have a problem with this disease, you can check out more information here and please talk to your health care provider. My story is neither typical of a woman with PCOS, nor is it the only way to get pregnant. One thing I do believe strongly in is starting out slow (with natural changes before starting medication, low dosages to begin with). While women are usually frustrated after their diagnosis (probably b/c they were diagnosed after a long time trying already) they usually jump on a high dosage medical treatment plan. This may or may not be the best way for you to regulate your hormones. I didn't know much about natural ways to help my body combat this disease (check out this site for more info on nutritional changes) and started with medication. I was, however, fortunate to have a doctor who wanted to go slow. The dosage I was put on was EXTREMELY low...many women take upwards of 2,000-3,000 mg twice a day with no results. I very much believe that you should try natural methods to begin with and then, if you decide on medication, to start out on a low dosage and allow it to work in your body before moving up...but of course discuss that with your doctor.