Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At this moment, many families are remembering their little loved ones that they only shared moments with, but those moments changed their lives forever. My husband and I are one of those families. We walked through a very painful journey of infertility due to my diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and having blocked and damaged fallopian tubes. In the almost 5 years of us trying to start a family, we have grieved the loss of 3 pregnancies. This, however, was not the end of our story…
Last year, today, was one of the happiest days of my life. Jason and I were on a mini-vacation in the mountains of Tennessee, and we found out that we were pregnant. It was a complete shock to us both. We’d already been trying for a few years, to no avail. After being diagnosed with PCOS and working hard to do all of the practical things that I could to take better care of my body, it finally happened. Every early pregnancy discomfort was the greatest joy I had ever experienced. The nausea, sore boobs, my food aversions (particularly chocolate and eggs), the tiredness, all of it. Beautiful.
Today, I am sad. I am mourning. I’m empty handed and heavy hearted. This is where I am, today. I have been pregnant twice after this loss. The second’s due date was my birthday this year. There really is no way to full describe how much this hurts, especially after such a long journey. I’m having such a difficult time emotionally because I’m trying to find healthy ways of protecting my heart, but still be in a society filled with big bellies and babies, to not allow bitterness to interfere with the parts of my heart that is so incredibly happy for the blessings of others. This balance is very difficult to maintain, without completely ignoring my own feelings and needs. Some people may never understand the plight of a woman or family that is dealing with fertility issues, and that is perfectly okay. If you’re a person that doesn’t understand and you really care to, ask. Ask how you can help. Ask if you can pray.
No matter how far in time i’m removed from these memories, it will still have a prick in my heart. They were lives that I prayed so hard for, that I would have moved mountains to have. Yet today, I sit here, empty handed and heavy hearted, holding the onesie we purchased in Gatlinburg to remind us of the day we found out that we would finally be parents.
The good thing is, there is a tomorrow. Tomorrow doesn’t make it hurt any less, but it provides me with hope for the future. Jason and I have been incredibly blessed with people that love and support us, from all walks of life. We know that we will hold our children one day. We are in grateful anticipation for the first ultrasound, hearing the heartbeat, and watching that first breath. I look forward to the day that I can tell them about all of the people that prayed, contributed, and anticipated their arrival with us.
But, for today, I will sit here, empty handed and heavy hearted for the 3 precious beings that I am so tenderly missing.
The journey of starting a family started for us back in mid 2010. It has always been a deep desire for us to have children for many different reasons. My childhood was very difficult, marred by extreme physical and emotional abuse to myself, my brothers, and my mother. I watched people that I was suppose to respect and look up to, take advantage of others and hurt people without remorse. So to me, having children means continuing a new legacy of people (that started with my brothers and I) that I hope will affect positive change in this world. To Jason, having children means being able to be a present father to his kids, which is something he didn’t experience as his father passed when he was 8 years old. And to us, it means laughter, joy, and little footsteps filling an empty house.
After trying to start a family for almost 2 years, we went to the doctor to see what the issue was. It was then that I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). At that moment, a lot of things began to make sense due to the physiological issues I’d been experiencing. PCOS is an endocrine (hormonal) disorder that currently has no cure. Some of the symptoms include:
- Insulin resistance
- Lack of ovulation
- Male patterned baldness or thinning hair
- Abnormal hair growth in places like the chin, chest, back
- Weight gain or obesity; typically around the waist
- Patches of darkened skin on different places of the body
After finding out about this syndrome, I worked as hard as I could to lose the stubborn weight to hopefully get my body back into gear. I also began taking the daily medication prescribed by my doctor to try and balance my hormones.
In making the necessary dietary changes for my body’s needs due to the syndrome, I finally began losing weight. Then on my 27th birthday, August 14, 2013, I found out that I was pregnant. Jason and I were so excited and nervous all at the same time. All of the hard work and dedication seemed to be paying off. Shortly after, I was in severe pain on the right side. We then found out that our pregnancy was tubal. We were devastated. The doctors were fearful that my tube would rupture because of the amount of bleeding and the pain I was in, so on September 5th, they dissolved my pregnancy with double shots of methatrexate.
We were devastated. I was so afraid that this was my only chance because of how difficult it was for us to get pregnant at all. Part of the difficulty in ‘resolving’ a pregnancy is the waiting. For weeks, I had to wait for the pregnancy hormones in my body to return to zero. My body would still think it was pregnant although there was no one there.
Shortly after, I found out that I was pregnant again on December 5th. I was ecstatic and shocked because I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was also very scared. Any little feeling felt like something was wrong. I started bleeding again but I wasn’t in any pain so the doctors just told me that bleeding can be normal and not to worry. Because I have PCOS, they have difficulty pinpointing when I ovulate so they weren’t sure exactly how far along I was, but based upon my numbers, I was at about the 7 week mark.I was so excited to get through to the second trimester so I could let myself enjoy being pregnant. But instead, the doctor told me that I am miscarrying because my hCG began to drop. Everything sank inside of me. I went on to do a D&C and methatrexate on January 17 of 2014.
I tried to resume life normally, but it proved to be very difficult. The reminder of my losses ached inside of me every time I saw a baby or a pregnant women. It became difficult to leave my house because I just couldn’t get away from the sad and painful reminder. Every day that went by, I would think “I would be X amount of weeks today.”
After this pregnancy loss, we ended up getting our dog, Milo. It was difficult to rectify my life not changing in any way, as one would expect when they are expecting. He was a great addition to our silent home and our empty hearts.
Shortly after having the second pregnancy loss, we began to see a new doctor that was 2 hours away from us because of insurance logistics and what was available to us. They did an exam to make sure my tubes were open. We then found out that my left tube is blocked and my right tube was seemingly open. We left the office that day with an answer and some hope because it only takes one tube.
On April 26, 2014, after taking oral fertility medication with our new doctor in Knoxville, we found out that we were pregnant again. We were shocked and excited. I called our nurse and she was shocked too because we had gotten such a strong positive. When we went in for our first ultrasound, the doctor informed us that the pregnancy was growing but it was in my right tube. I hear a small sniffle behind me. When I looked back, Jason began to sob. The doctor and nurse gave us some privacy and we sat in the room and cried together.
This last pregnancy resolved itself. The doctor explained that he may want to do exploratory surgery. Our other option is in vitro Fertilization (IVF) which is a costly procedure that bypasses the tubes by eggs being removed directly from the ovary, fertilized outside of the womb, and implanted in the uterus. Statistically speaking, after 2-3 ectopic pregnancies, doctors say that women have between a 50-90% chance of having another one.
At this point, the emotional and physical difficulties of trying for 3 1/2 years and experiencing recurring pregnancy loss and the resolution of them is very taxing on us in every way. We’ve incurred medical bills for babies that we haven’t been able to take home and broken hearts from our hopes being deferred.
We are so grateful to the Golden’s for their generosity in fundraising for us to be able to do the IVF procedure. To us, IVF means a home filled with the joy of new life; it means beautiful memories and new family traditions; it means the restoration and continuation of our legacy.
Friends, family, and even strangers have been so kind in asking how they can help and what they can do. Only because we’ve been asked, we would humbly ask that you consider donating to the fundraiser set up by our dear friends, Kara and Andy. For information, you can visit the You Caring page HERE.
February is known for being a month filled with love. This month, we want to show some love to those who are affected with and by PCOS. PCOS Awareness Association has been running a month long campaign for spread awareness encompassing the emotional, mental, and physical effects that PCOS can have on the one diagnosed, their family members, and friends.
How can you participate in this campaign?
Swing on over to Twitter and let us know how PCOS has affected you or a loved one. Remember to include #HeartforPCOSCampaign and #PCOSAA. You can follow the campaign by checking out @satoyafoster and @jerzgurlie on Twitter and @PCOSAA on Instagram.
Like PCOS Awareness Association on Facebook. Join the conversation!