September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month. Visit the PCOS Foundation for more information on PCOS and RESOLVE for more support for infertility.
I have PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It's not something I keep to myself. In fact, I've shared quite a bit of my story on the internet. The more I write about my struggles, the more people that come forward sharing their stories with me as well. I hope that by pouring my heart out onto this screen, someone else can heal. If not, it is incredibly therapeutic for me to blurt out my thoughts.
I was diagnosed with PCOS in my early twenties. I was young, single, still in college and had no clue where my life was going. I had big plans and dreams for myself. I desperately wanted to be married and to start a family. I had friends and I kept myself busy with college and work. Life was good for the most part, but I was constantly day dreaming (and worrying) about my future. I'm a bit of a control freak. I like to know what's going to happen. I always said that if God would just give me a glimpse into my future I would wait patiently. The not knowing was killing me.
At 21, my very regular periods stopped. I had come off of birth control and my body revolted. After a year of nothing and a gynecologist that didn't seem concerned, I sought out a second opinion. No matter what my first doctor said, it didn't seem normal to me that a healthy 21 year old girl would stop having periods. My new doctor ran lots of tests. There were ultrasounds and blood draws. He concluded that I had PCOS. I was prescribed many medications to get my hormone levels under control. I was put back onto birth control with the hope that it would regulate my body. While my hormone levels became more stable, my periods never returned.
A couple years later, I was fresh out of college and landed my first teaching job in a new city. Three weeks into the school year I met a man and fell quickly in love. Within 5 months we were engaged. At my routine physical, my doctor urged me not to wait to have children. At 24, my body was already so uncooperative that time wasn't on my side. Who would have thought that at 24 I'd have to rush to have babies?
But honestly, that was okay with me. I wanted babies. I wanted lots of them! Three or four was my number. Not one and not two. Those were unacceptable numbers. And five? Well that was just too many. My plan was to have them all by the time I turned 30. Four kids by 30. Totally possible when you're newly married and just 25 years old. But with a new marriage and a new city, I had to find a new doctor. My new OBGYN looked at me like I was crazy when I showed concern. After all, I was only 25. I had plenty of time. So she thought.
After a year and a half of nothing working on our own my doctor prescribed Clomid. Let me just stop right here and tell you how much I hate Clomid. When I hear that name I shudder. Clomid was not good for me. I was already such an emotional mess and Clomid just made things worse. My emotions were out of control. Sobbing for hours, anger and rage at the drop of a hat, short tempered with everyone. My husband couldn't do anything right. Poor guy. Honestly after 3 cycles of Clomid, it's a miracle I'm still married and have friends.
The first two cycles of Clomid weren't promising. My body wasn't responding. I wasn't ovulating. A third cycle was prescribed with a plan to be referred to a specialist if that cycle failed. Lo and behold I got my miracle. I ovulated on that last round. Not only did I ovulate, but I got pregnant. I was a few weeks away from my 27th birthday with the best news of my life!
I began to realize that 4 kids by 30 probably wasn't going to happen, but that's okay. I could squeeze in a second child by 30 and have babies 3 and 4 by the time I hit 35 and became even more high risk. I weaned my son at 1 to remove any obstacles that could prevent my body from functioning properly. I knew of people that struggled with PCOS before kids, but their first baby seemed to work out all the kinks in their body. I was really hopeful. I even had a random period after I weaned my son. But his second birthday rolled around with no good news.
A year spent doing infertility treatments again and nothing. This time we moved beyond Clomid into injectibles. Thousands of dollars and a sea full of tears with no good news. I'll be 31 this year and I'm the mother to an only child. He's three years old and honestly I can't imagine anything greater than the life I have. My husband still adores me after 6 years. My son is far greater than anything I could have dreamed up. I'm blessed beyond measure. I no longer dream of a family with 3 or 4 children. I'm content with my one. Maybe a 2nd is in our future and maybe not. Only God knows the answer to that.
We have closed the door on more fertility treatments. I have ridden the infertility roller coaster and I'm not strong enough to turn back. Adoption is still an option, but at this time, not something we feel called to do. I don't know where the rest of my life is going. I don't know what 35 or even 32 is going to look like and for the first time in my life, that's okay. I have learned to let go. And more importantly, I've learned that God knows me better than I know myself. He has created this life and it is a million times better than the life I would have picked.