The journey of our infertility is a story with which some of you are familiar. I wrote a post about it back in 2015 on Two Hot Coffees, and was overwhelmed at the response I received. I am continually grateful to those who offered prayers, support, messages of hope, and stories of their own. I’ve wanted to dive further into our experience & break it down a bit, and I think here is a good place to start.
Disclaimer: I don’t intend for this to be an infertility-only blog, but it is a large part of my story. In an effort to be the most authentic version of myself I can’t ignore the cross that I am carrying, however weighty and uncomfortable it may be. I want to shed light on the often-avoided-because-they’re-difficult conversations about infertility, subfertility, secondary infertility, miscarriage, and the like. In the same way, I want to feel free to post all the parts of my self that make me who I am. Sometimes that will mean coffee & clothes, and sometimes that will mean deeper things, so thanks in advance for your understanding. I hope that no matter where you are in life we can connect through our inherent desire for joy & love.
Steve and I married in June of 2014, hoping for a honeymoon baby. I’m pretty sure 98% of our wedding video is a reinforcement of this idea. Knowing my history of irregular cycles I had doubts, but didn’t think pregnancy could be that difficult. My mother is one of six, my dad one of eleven, and I have three sisters of my own. I was all, “sounds like imma be a fertility machine”
IMMA BE – IMMA BE- IMMA IMMA IMMA BE
IMMA BE BE BE BE
You get it.
Prior to Diagnosis
The first time I ever truly worried was following a meeting with my former OB, right after Steve & I got engaged.
She described my cycle issues like this: a flat line. My hormones were not going through the required motions. Which is ironic because it felt more like this:
She knew my history of irregular cycles and symptoms & didn’t seem concerned. I said, “What if I’m unable to get pregnant when I’m married? Is there anything I can do now to prepare?” Her response was, “You won’t know that you can’t have kids until you start trying to have kids. I can put you on birth control until then. Don’t stress about this, what if your husband doesn’t even want kids?” to which I responded “I am certain he does.” to which she responded “You say that now, but you don’t know. Things change and kids are difficult.”
TO WHICH I MENTALLY RESPONDED,
“WOW MUCH BEDSIDE MANNER SO DOCTOR VERY MEDICINE” and burst into tears.
I left feeling embarrassed, overwhelmed & furious. I knew she had a point regarding my fertility, but I also thought there must be some test or way to be aware of what was going on with my body. Something was wrong, I wanted a solution other than more counterproductive hormones, and I wasn’t stopping until I found someone to help me.
Oh, that’s the exact definition of stubborn b with PCOS? Oops.
Diagnosis of PCOS
This led Steve & I to charting my fertility through the Creighton method of Natural Family Planning a few months prior to our wedding. Then I underwent emergency brain surgery because NEVER A DULL MOMENT, & charting went out the proverbial window. I honestly wasn’t mad about it, because charting takes work & I was more interested in things like the guest list and the wedding flowers & making it to the wedding in general. Such a selfish bridezilla, I know.
Once married and still without any sign of ovulation or a cycle, we decided to seek out a fertility specialist. In September of 2014, after multiple blood tests and ultrasounds, I was formally diagnosed with PCOS. The first months of marriage are supposed to be a time to “wait and see” what happens, but I wanted to be proactive & know what we might be up against. I would later regret certain attitudes & behaviors of mine during this time, but I don’t regret knowing about PCOS as soon as I did.
Receiving a formal diagnosis validated all of my concerns & experiences growing up. The irregular cycles, the constant acne, the difficulty losing weight, the emotions. It’s like, Puberty: Extended Edition. Bonus Features: All the Emotions. It put a name to the struggle, and I thought if the problem had a name then it must also have a solution.
For those who aren’t well-versed in PCOS, you are not alone. It is a difficult syndrome to pin down due to it’s varying shapes & sizes. Most agree that 1 or all of 3 things must be present: multiple follicles on the ovaries or enlarged ovaries, hormone imbalances, and cycle issues. If you want some informal infographics & v scientific memes you can check out my PCOS Board via Pinterest.
please note: I am not a doctor, this is just what I have been told/understand through my own diagnosis. I am not saying you do or don’t have PCOS, or that you should Web MD all of it and freak out. Also, please don’t be like, “hey doc, I read this blog and Katie said this is PCOS so probably I have it, let’s do this thing” End disclaimer pt. 2
Even given a diagnosis, I found out that there is no cure– only a managing of symptoms. Despite my acceptance of PCOS, I didn’t anticipate the lack of understanding surrounding the syndrome. I also never expected the toll it would take on my mental, emotional & marital health.
During this time I read article after medical case after message board, and devoured personal testimonies of people living with PCOS. I began a downward spiral of “maybe this will be my story” and what ifs. I would secretly think things like, “maybe I can reverse–psychology this biotch and if I talk about how infertile I am I will magically get pregnant.” [Yes, that kind of spiral.]
My desire to have a large family started to feel impossible. I felt broken & less womanly & inadequate. Thankfully I wasn’t bitter, yet. Sad, confused, in disbelief, but not bitter. While still in this hopeful, ignorance-is-bliss phase of PCOS we began our first round of treatment.
[to be continued]
Do you have your own stories of infertility, or struggles with your initial diagnosis? I would love to hear from you & pray for you. Feel free to comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me here: Katie Waldow, PO Box 1844, Ocean City, NJ 08226.