The Reality of Infertility
When I was 19 years old I became pregnant purely by accident. Despite always using some form of birth control, whatever I was using at the time failed. I didn’t actually realize I was pregnant until right around 5 weeks, when I woke up bleeding, in the midst of a miscarriage. I hadn’t realized I’d missed my period, because my period had always been horribly irregular. When I was in High School I went to the OBGYN to have my irregular, weird, and sometimes painful periods addressed and was diagnosed with PCOS-Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Aside from an irregular period, a little too much facial hair, and some other small annoyances I’d never really fully realized what having PCOS could mean until after this failed pregnancy, years later.
That miscarriage is something I’ll never forget. It felt like a horror movie, and the bundle of flesh and matter that came out of me in the end was unmistakable, and when I saw it floating in the toilet that morning, I cried out audibly and knelt on the floor, unable to breathe. Almost a week later I hadn’t stopped bleeding, and was starting to feel the effects of that, so I made an appointment with my OBGYN and went in to get checked and hopefully get some answers regarding what had happened. My Dr. confirmed my fears; I’d become pregnant and miscarried early in pregnancy, most likely because the egg that had been fertilized simply wasn’t viable and my body recognized that early on.
I found out that my PCOS was pretty severe; my ovaries were full of “cysts”-which, in the context of PCOS means that my ovaries were full of half-formed eggs or egg follicles. They weren’t fully formed and weren’t mature or healthy enough to even properly be dispensed to become fertilized, and if they were dispensed into my uterus when they should be the chances of fertilization were slim to none, and if fertilization occurred the chances of the pregnancy being viable were even slimmer. Basically, I was deemed infertile at 19 years old. I was told that it wasn’t totally set in stone, there was the possibility of medical intervention through various medications, I was also told that those treatments were hit and miss-there was no guarantee that any of it would ever work.
I’d never really seriously considered having children. In fact, I sort of felt as though I wasn’t the type of person who would be good at being a parent. Despite that, finding out I probably would never be able to have kids, even if I decided I wanted to, was devastating on multiple levels. It was devastating, because it took that choice away from me and added unpleasant stipulations to the possibility of even attempting to become pregnant. And, it was devastating, because I felt this shame and sadness over my body not being able to do the one thing my body was supposedly made to do. I couldn’t reproduce, I couldn’t contribute to furthering my species, I was a dud.
As I grew older, I decided that I did really want children someday. Unfortunately, I also found that my short-lived, accidental pregnancy was a fluke. Even an unviable pregnancy didn’t seem to be possible, and my Dr. determined that if I ever wanted to attempt becoming pregnant, major medical intervention would be needed. This medical intervention would come in the form of estrogen supplements, serious insulin-leveling pills, and potentially hormone replacement therapies. It would be a long, uncomfortable, unpleasant ordeal and there was no guarantee it would work. After that, I fully accepted the fact that I would likely never have kids of my own and began getting myself used to the idea of adoption or another alternative route to parenthood.
This post is part one in a series of upcoming blog posts telling my pregnancy story and introducing you to my journey from infertility to conceiving a healthy baby boy and what I did to make that leap. Check back later this week for part two!