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…
I know you’re probably…uh, where have you been? Well, I ‘been’ around. Sometimes you’ve got to get your priorities in order and refocus. I’ve been trucking away at finishing up cosmetology school. I’m over 2/3 of the way there and I can’t wait to finish. The last part of the previous sentence is THE understatement of the year.
I’ve also been writing quite a bit. I’m really enjoying the process of unpacking pieces of my life into songs.
I have an artistic temperament. In light of this, I’ve decided that I’m going to work in quarterly blog hiatuses in order to keep my thoughts and inspirations fresh. Over the last couple of years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve realized that one of the most important aspects of blogging is actually what happens when blogging isn’t going on. It’s the living. I have found that blogging is life giving for me when I’m living well, intentionally.
Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last few months:
I’ve been at cosmetology school doing’ thangs. The program is 1500 hours total and I’m almost finished. [Insert sky punch]
I dyed a piece of my hair purple.
I started taking voice lessons to work on my craft.
I’ve been making lots of music that I’m so excited to share.
I’ve been doing photoshoots for my portfolio.
We’ve been raising funds for our upcoming IVF procedure.
I got my wisdom teeth removed.
I hope that you all have had great closure to 2014 and that 2015 will be your absolute best year yet!
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.
I attended the free PCOS Symposium in Atlanta, GA this past Saturday. This particular event was put on by PCOS Challenge. The specialists that were presenting were very knowledgable about PCOS and how it affects our physiology, mental and emotional state, and our relationships with both people and food. The event kicked off with Sasha Ottey presenting a portion of her story with PCOS and how she (as many of us have been told) needs to take some birth control pills and lose weight and she’ll be fixed. This, unfortunately, is not the answer to this syndrome.
Through Google Hangout, Gretchen Kubocky, Psy.D. gave some insight into the mind of what many PCOSers and those dealing with infertility are struggling with. She informed us that women with PCOS have a propensity toward depression, anxiety, and suicide. She did, however, balance this information with steps that can be taken to help alleviate many of these issues. Self- care. Self- care is extremely important because you have to be able to do what is necessary to lead yourself toward more positivity. Some of the things she suggested were doing things that made you feel better about yourself; whether that mean diet and exercise, wearing things that make you feel attractive, or seeking professional counseling if necessary.
Rachel Brandeis, R.D. gave a lot of information regarding diet and nutrition specific to the PCOS population. She gave a well rounded presentation of the plan of attack for managing PCOS. She calls it the ‘3 Stool Approach.’ Like a 3 legged stool, if one method is missing, it will break down. The methods (nutrition, medical management, and exercise) all work in conjunction with one another. She also gave many helpful tips as to what out daily consumption of food should be to manage our condition.
Last but certainly not least was Dr. Mark Perloe from Georgia Reproductive Specialists in Atlanta, GA. He explained the importance of lifestyle with regards to the development of PCOS. So, in order to have the best chances at conception, it’s a good idea to begin to diet, exercise, and take any prescribed medications consistently in order to set the foundation for a healthy pregnancy.
Overall, the symposium put on by PCOS Challenge was very well rounded. They gave information pertaining to diet and nutrition, exercise, fertility, mental health, and self-care. It ended with an extensive question and answer session. There were tons of questions asked by some newly diagnosed PCOSers. I thought this was pretty awesome because it gave them some powerful tools to attack their diagnosis with from the very beginning.