I’m exactly one month away from my due date so I thought I would share a piece I wrote four months into pregnant life. We struggled to conceive and went on an emotional journey that eventually brought us to the impending birth of our baby boy. Fingers crossed he is a happy and healthy baby. My Journey To Pregnancy
Here is our journey. Enjoy!
My Journey to Pregnancy
My journey to conception is not an unfamiliar one. Many women suffer with fertility issues, which have only recently gained significant airtime. But why now? Increased infertility due to chemicals in our food and environment? Stress in the workplace? Women’s decision to have children later in life? Who knows. Perhaps it is simply that the issue has finally found a voice?
What I know is this: I have seen friends and family struggle with infertility but it wasn’t until embarking on my own journey did I gain an intimate understanding of the physical, emotional and psychological pain of trying to conceive. Maybe you are just beginning your story, maybe at the end. Here is my story:
My husband and I decided to start a family. We had heard of couples struggling to get pregnant but as young, healthy adults in our early thirties, we anticipated a timeline 3 – 5 months to actually conceive. That was our worst-case scenario.
Then came the PCOS diagnosis. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a hormonal endocrine disorder that affects 10% of women and creates oversized ovaries with small cysts around the outer edges. Symptoms include infertility, acne, excess hair growth, irregular periods and obesity. It is recommended that you control the issue through maintenance of weight, healthy diet and exercise but the chances of having children are decreased dramatically.
With that diagnosis, an anvil hit my chest, my breath was stolen and my self-confidence plummeted. I began to spiral down mentally and emotionally. Everywhere I looked, it seemed rosy-cheeked pregnant women were on display, beautiful bumps mocking my failure as a biological female. My closest friends were announcing pregnancies and as much I wanted to celebrate with them, a dark, heavy cloud hung over my head and heart. When my sister announced that she was pregnant with her second child, the blow felt like one from which I would never recover. I started avoiding anyone with a child and soon this extended to anybody in general. Luckily, my job kept me traveling for about 6 months so I was able to justify by absence.
Between the cycles of darkness were bursts of motivational self-talks, inspiring quotes and determination to fix the unfixable problem. Over the next year, I posted positive notes to myself around the house; I began expensive treatments of acupuncture and rounds of naturopathic herbal remedies; I took up running and stopped eating sugar; I read about creating auras around the offending cysts, healing with positive energy and believing my way to a baby. While these may work for some people, it didn’t for me. With every period came a sense of loss, emptiness and mourning. I wasn’t sure I would ever recover from the sadness.
I finally started talking about it. It helped to speak candidly to friends and family who had also gone through fertility struggles or were currently struggling too. It was an acknowledgement that yes, this hurts, but no, you are not alone. I could cry and I could be sad and that was okay. To know that I was not sequestered in my emotions, fears and pain pushed me through my darkest days. Their words saved me.
My current OB GYN came into my life at the right time. A family member had spent 13 years trying for a baby and had recently given birth to a beautiful baby girl with the help of this specific doctor. He did blood tests, internal ultrasounds and said to me, ‘I don’t think you have PCOS. Stop taking all of those vitamins, herbs and powders. It is simpler than all of that. We will help you conceive.’ For the first time in a long time I felt like there was an answer. When I got back to my car, I cried with relief.
The OB put me on Femara (a fertility drug used for stimulating ovulation) and over the next 8 months he monitored my cycle through internal ultrasounds and blood work. Every other day (weekends included), I drove to his office an hour away to make sure my eggs were growing as they should and visited my local blood work clinic on the opposite days. My husband did his part when instructed and we hoped for the best. Every period remained heartbreaking but I felt as though there was an ever-so-slight glimmer of hope that wasn’t there before.
I was in Belize on a writing job when I felt pregnancy sickness for the first time. I thought the unexpected nausea was seasickness or bad food, anything but pregnancy. The thought was there, of course, but the numerous disappointments wouldn’t let my mind go there. It wasn’t until I was home again and with my husband that I let myself entertain the possibility of conception success.
As I’m sure you have guessed by now, I was pregnant….AM pregnant. I’m four months in and I couldn’t be happier/more terrified/ excited/unprepared/HAPPY – Did I say happy?!
I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done next. The depression would most likely continue to linger, I would continue to hope and dream, question myself and attempt to take control of an uncontrollable situation. The doctor was a great source of positivity in my life and his confidence in conception was a light in the dark. I am grateful for the constant support of my husband who although did not understand, did all he could to show me love.
I am thankful for the friends and family who answered my tearful texts, sat through my somber outpourings and assured me that yes, I too would make it through…whatever that meant.