How I Dealt With My Infertility, PCOS, and Ectopic Pregnancies
Infertility, PCOS, Ectopic Pregnancies, Oh My!
Bearing the Struggle Alone Can Build Tenacity
How do you get through it all? I'm going to say this simply and honestly. You will mostly go through it alone even if you talk to your partner/spouse, family, friends, and/or a support group. For me, this was such a lonely time. With that said, alone also means that you have to decide how determined you will be to get through it. And with that determination, get ready to become more knowledgeable about your body and its potential.
Now I'll begin my story of how I have learned that being alone in ones thoughts, struggles, and feelings can build tenacity.
When the Problems Began
I remember the day that I had my first period as if it was yesterday. My mother didn't talk to me about it before it happened. My grandmother probably didn't speak to her when it happened for her either. One word that can explain how I felt is devastation! I knew that day, at 11 years old, that this period business was not going to be a good thing for me! Don't ask me how I knew—I just did. I remember asking my mother if I needed to go to the hospital. Little did I know, I would spend decades seeing several doctors and specialists and undergoing several surgeries.
When I was about 15 years old, my mother took me to the emergency room because at this cycle, I was bleeding for at least two weeks. The first thing the doctor did was ask my mother to leave the room. I was horrified.
Then the doctor simply asked if I was sexually active. I strongly said, "NO!" which was the truth! But it was like being in a courtroom for a crime that you were not aware you even were a part of. After this inquisition, my mother was allowed to come back in the room. What was the solution? Putting me on birth control to regulate my period. The birth control made it better, but my issues continued and worsened as I got older.
Being Told You Won't Be Able to Have Children...
During college, I went for a doctor's visit for my regular menstrual issues. I was a junior attending University of Miami and looking forward to attending law school once I completed my Bachelors of Arts. Well this visit had the most impact on my goals for years to come. I explained my medical history with my periods and all. The doctor then gave me a big announcement: "You will have a very difficult time getting pregnant, if you can get pregnant at all."
Yes, this happened! At the age of 20, I didn't really want to deal with this, but it was always there in my head. "You will probably never have children." That was just not part of my master plan.
About a year later, I met my husband. We dated for about a year, and we were engaged for two years. I got married at 24 years old. I decided not to go to law school because I was planning a wedding and secretly, only to myself, I was becoming worried about having children.
...And Being Determined to Prove the Doctor Wrong
So as part of some crazy plan, I told my fiancé at the time that we didn't need to use birth control. I shared with him what the doctor said and told him I was concerned. So we went on with this master plan of me testing that doubtful doctor and recklessly wanting to prove him wrong!
As you can see, my determination to have a family started when I was pretty young. Once we got married, this was my one and only mission in life. I wanted a family, and I wanted one quickly. I didn't actively pursue any career; that was no longer important to me. I became a teacher, and I thought that would be a profession that would go well with having a family. I also enjoyed being around kids, so it fulfilled that need as well.
Going to See a Fertility Specialist
After about five years of marriage, I decided it was time to see an infertility specialist. We went to a fertility clinic in Miami after researching who was the best fertility doctor in the area. I was pleased to be in good hands.
This is when things started getting a little lonely. It was a lot of planning and doctor visits. When my husband traveled for work, I had to give myself shots to prepare for a new cycle of inseminations. On my days of solitude, I cried. While going to fertility clinics, you are poked for blood every minute, get frequent ultra sounds, and you get used taking all kinds of medications.
We (Almost) Got Pregnant
After our third insemination, I took a blood test and received a joyous call that I was pregnant. Yes! We did it! I knew that doctor in college was reckless with his diagnosis. I received another call after a follow-up blood work to check my hCG levels and was told that I had a chemical pregnancy. Basically, this means it didn't take. I was no longer pregnant.
Getting a Fresh Start and a New Diagnosis
This was just the beginning of years of more disappointments. We moved to another state, and I went to my first appointment with a new gynecologist who specialized in infertility. He was great! We immediately connected. He looked at all of my medical records from the fertility clinic in Miami and immediately noticed that they didn't check for a few other things. After a few tests, I was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome.
I was so excited because we now knew the reason for my years of irregular periods and why I didn't ovulate. The doctor prescribed metformin to help with my PCOS. I read every book in the library about PCOS, and I did everything that was suggested for me to do. I told myself to stay focused and diligent.
My Infertility Game Plan
Find an informed primary care physician for overall good health.
Ask your doctor for suggestions.
Do your research on common procedures so you are informed.
Find a gynecologist with knowledge on infertility.
Search the internet for related support or MeetUp groups in your area.
Seek a therapist or psychologist to deal with your feelings.
Consult with a fertility specialist; interview different doctors.
Confide in understanding family members and friends.
Talk to others in similar situations.
At this point, my husband and I joined an infertility group. I would recommend creating or joining a support group. Everyone in group talked about the loneliness, the judging family members wondering why you don't have children yet, the strain it can put on a marriage, going to other friends' baby showers, going into stores and looking at the baby clothing just because, and so much more! It was a good way to vent—especially for the women.
My Last Attempts
My wonderful new doctor referred me to one of the top fertility clinics in Atlanta where we lived at this time. With a definitive diagnosis, I felt I had a chance. And I was right; I had a chance. Just not success. I had two other pregnancies, but both of them were ectopic pregnancies and had to be medically terminated.
Our Marriage Stayed Strong, Although I Still Felt Alone
At this point, 10 years had passed in our marriage. It had been over a decade of trying to have a successful pregnancy. I am happy to say my marriage remained strong through the ups and downs of trying to conceive. We traveled and enjoyed each other, but I did feel alone. I honestly was alone, but during that time, I never gave up. Every child I saw made me want to be a mother even more. I let that fuel me. I wasn't alone just in sadness, but I was energized to keep trying.
I Didn't Let Any of This Dishearten Me
You get through infertility the best that you can, but know ahead of time that you will need to arm yourself like a soldier going to war—to protect you heart and persevere in any way you can.
I continued trying for a couple more years after the ectopic pregnancies with no success. I never was able to have a child. Sadly, for me, the doctor I had in college years ago was correct. At least he was correct that I would not conceive a child, but being a mother was in my cards.
This was not the end of my story. It continued on a different path with a new ambition to adopt. Stay tuned for my experience with adopting a child.
The Best Thing You Can Do Is Be Your Own Advocate!
It doesn't hurt to get a second opinion. You need a great medical team to work with as your medical support group. Go to your doctor with informed questions, ask for solutions and alternatives, and when needed, get a second opinion. Don't just settle!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.