Puberty with PCOS I was around 14 or 15 when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and told that not only would I suffer the symptoms of it most of my life, but that there was a chance I would end up unable to conceive. I was put on birth control to manage the symptoms; weird weight fluctuation, difficulty losing excess weight, increased testosterone, insulin resistance, a little too much hair on my face and arms, and periods that came whenever they felt like and caused pain, clotting, and nausea whenever they did show up. Being on birth control helped, but it was far from a proper solution. The problem was, there wasn’t much they could do for me. There were a handful of medications that worked for some women and helped with some symptoms, but for the most part, managing symptoms with birth control was the best they could offer. PCOS is incurable, and it’s one of those syndromes that they don’t fully understand yet. It isn’t totally clear what causes PCOS or why it occurs in some women with certain qualifiers, but not others.
Loss and Infertility Eventually, I took myself off my birth control. It was more trouble than it was worth half the time, and since I was a smoker at the time, it came with a pretty big risk for blood clots. When I was 18 I became pregnant accidentally. I was always extremely careful with making sure some type of birth control was used, but in this instance, whatever we had used failed and I ended up pregnant. The absence of my period wasn’t a good indicator for me, because my period could vanish for months at a time due to my PCOS, so I didn’t even miss it. I had morning sickness and seemed to become a bit puffy, but I figured my stomach was just acting up and maybe I was gaining a little weight. After all, I had just recently started college after going through a hard, painful senior year. It wasn’t until I woke up in the middle of a miscarriage that I found out what was going on. I’ll never forget that experience. It was horrifying and it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Afterwards, I was drained and my body just wouldn’t stop bleeding. About a week later I made an appointment to see my OBGYN, and that’s when I found out for sure what had happened. She told me that I had miscarried, and after running a few tests and performing an ultrasound she had determined that my ovaries were so ravaged by PCOS that I would probably never be able to have a baby. I would likely be infertile, and if an egg somehow did manage to become fertilized, I could expect another nightmare miscarriage not long after. At the time, I thought I didn’t really ever want kids anyway, but despite that there was a sadness-a feeling of being inept. I felt betrayed by my body; I couldn’t do the one thing my body was supposed to naturally be able to do. Over the next few years I tried a few different treatments to help manage my PCOS; from going back on birth control for a time to taking some of the other medications approved to manage its symptoms. None of them helped much, and none of them made my ovaries work right. I never even had a chance egg fertilization again, not even after I married my first husband and we tried for over a year to conceive. Eventually I had to accept that I really was infertile. I’d never have children of my own, and my ovaries would never work right.
Healing my Body; Healing my Ovaries Fast forward to three years ago: My life had changed, I had changed, and I’d been on a long journey from the 18 year old who miscarried in her college dorm room. I’d been to rehab twice and was fully in recovery, working on putting my life back together after addiction ravaged it. I was truly overweight for the first time in my life after having a terrible reaction to a Fibromyalgia medication a few years before. I was in continuous pain from the Fibromyalgia that I couldn’t seem to find a good medication for. Meeting Matt, my current spouse, helped to bring about a change in my diet, lifestyle, and overall health that recently led to the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. After two years of following a mixture of a vegan and Eastern diet, losing over 150lbs, rededicating myself to yoga, and continuing to maintain my recovery I started to get my period normally. It came every month like clockwork. Not only did it show up each month, but it didn’t hurt or clot, it didn’t cause terrible stomach aches or nausea. It was normal and absolutely unremarkable. Honestly, I didn’t really consider that my suddenly regular period had anything to do with a change with my PCOS or fertility. I just figured it had something to do with becoming healthier and enjoyed being able to have it each month without the assistance of medication and without the discomfort that used to come with it. Until last October when my period didn’t show up on 15th-20th of the month like it had been for nearly a year straight. What was going on? Was it just being its abnormal self again or was there something more?
A Rainbow After the Storm; My Little Miracle A week after I missed my period I started feeling crappy; run-down, nauseated, and overall exhausted. Matt finally suggested something I had only allowed myself to consider in passing previously: What if I was pregnant? I thought that was absolutely absurd. We both knew I was infertile, we’d even discussed eventually adopting one day since I was unable to conceive. Despite that fact, I agreed to take a pregnancy test just in case. I was expecting what I’d seen on every other pregnancy test I’d taken during my adult life: Not Pregnant; no second line, no plus sign. So, I nonchalantly grabbed a test from Walgreens on my lunch break one day and headed back to my office to take in the bathroom after I’d had my lunch. I went into the shared office bathroom, peed on the test, popped the cap back on, and set it on the sink while I washed my hands and touched up my makeup. A few minutes later I looked down at the test and saw the one thing I wasn’t expecting to see: A blue plus sign. That couldn’t be right! I snatched the instructions from the box the test came in and re-read them. I’d used the test properly, I’d allowed it to sit for the right amount of time, and a plus sign DID mean “pregnant” for this particular test. I wrapped up the test, stuck it inside the box, put the box inside my bag, and headed back out to my computer. A few minutes later my Skype messenger chimed. It was Matt asking, “How did it go?” I still didn’t really believe I was actually pregnant, and I knew if an egg had somehow become fertilized that my body would soon reject it. I answered him honestly anyway, telling him the test was positive, but to remember that it was probably either a false positive or an unviable pregnancy. Here’s the really amazing thing: It wasn’t a false positive, and it wasn’t an unviable pregnancy. It was real. Six positive home pregnancy tests and three weeks later I decided it was time to go to the Dr. What they found was the last thing I ever expected. I was almost two months pregnant with what appeared to be a perfectly normal, healthy pregnancy. Not only that, but they couldn’t find any sign of PCOS. My ovaries showed no cysts, my body didn’t seem to be insulin resistant anymore, and my hormones were completely normal for a healthy 27 year old pregnant woman. I wasn’t just pregnant, I was cured.
Healthy Conception, Healthy Pregnancy Since that first Dr’s appointment, my pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster. For the first four or five months I expected a miscarriage every single day. Each time I peed, I expected to see blood. Every pain I felt, I expected to be followed by the tell-tale cramping. But, that never happened. Because of the unusual circumstances of my pregnancy, I dedicated a lot of time to learning everything I could about PCOS and the experiences of other women who have conceived after being told they never could. I ended up finding a lot of things connected to diet and health that seems to explain how I managed to not only conceive, but to also heal my ovaries entirely. Since good health is what gave me my miracle baby, I’ve gone out of my way to practice good health during my pregnancy. I’ve read every book, website, and article I could find and combined that with my existing knowledge of health and fitness. So far, it has paid off immensely. My baby is perfect in every way he can be. His growth has been spot on, my symptoms have been 100% normal and healthy, and despite my fears I’ve made it to my third trimester without a single complication. I’m a favorite at my OBGYN’s office, because they say they love being able to have someone they can just give good news to.
What to Expect in This Section Becoming pregnant is what put me on the path to start this blog in the first place, and as I’ve talked about in other sections, it’s going to be a major theme throughout my blog. Every meal plan, exercise routine, and any other piece of advice will be geared towards not only leading a healthy life, but one where fertility is possible even if you’re plagued with something like PCOS. I want to help other women find fertility and good reproductive health, I want to help other new moms through pregnancy and give them the tools to maintain a healthy and happy pregnancy, and I want to share my amazing story with those who want or need to hear it. This section is going to be centered on fertility, being pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, and becoming a mother. You’ll find advice on trying to conceive, healthy pregnancy routines, stories about experiencing pregnancy for the first time, help coping with the loss of a pregnancy, my own experience going from thinking I could never conceive to getting close to having a baby, and so much more. My main goal in creating this blog was to share my story and help others along the way, and I hope that all of you will enjoy and find real help with your own journeys here. Whether you’re struggling with PCOS or a similar disease or you’ve recently become pregnant and just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your baby, you’ve come to the right place. Please join me through the ups and downs, weirdness and fear, amazement and totally gross stuff that comes with trying to conceive, pregnancy, and having a baby.