I want to include the same preface for this post by acknowledging that our journey through infertility was much shorter with much less intervention than many couples go through; however, that does not discount the real, and oftentimes painful emotions that we faced. Everyone’s story is different, and this is ours. I have also included some hyperlink’s in this post that will take you to additional resources and information.
So what is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? One of my favorite resources, 1-in-10.org, defines it as the most common endocrine disorder in women. The reproductive aspects are actually secondary to the disorder, despite it being the leading cause of infertility in women. There is no cure for PCOS, but the wide array of symptoms can be effectively managed. I love this list of side effects and conditions from 1-in-10.org:
- Type II Diabetes
- Infertility (seen in approximately 80%)
- High blood pressure
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
- Periodontal Disease
- 10-fold risk of Heart Attack
- Elevated male hormone levels
- 10-fold risk of Stroke
- Excessive body hair growth & male-pattern baldness
- Elevated cholesterol & triglycerides
- Insulin Resistance
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Thickening of the uterine lining leading to precancerous lesions (Hyperplasia)
- Increased risk of Endometriosis
- Enlarged ovaries with multiple “cysts”
- Thyroid Disease
- Unexplained weight gain/obesity
- Darkening of the skin in certain areas of the body (acanthosis nigricans)
- Increased risk of Autoimmune Diseases
Just looking at this list shows how serious and even deadly PCOS can be. A 10-fold risk of stroke and heart attack should be enough to catch everyone’s attention! As I researched PCOS, so many of my struggles in life made sense! It is very difficult for women with PCOS to lose weight. One carb for me is like three for a normal person. My body simply cannot process insulin. That does not mean it is easy for me to say “no” to a piece of bread, but it does cause a second thought! If I had gone through 29 years of my life not knowing that I had this disease, how many other women are in the dark as well? If you are struggling with infertility, or weight gain, or any of the other side effects listed above, what can it hurt to go get checked out? Knowledge is power!
After I learned more about PCOS and had been on the Metformin for a couple of months, I decided to look at options for the next step to achieve pregnancy. I had read a lot about gluten free diets to improve fertility so I decided to give the nurse at the fertility clinic a call. I just started asking what changes I could make in my everyday life to improve my odds of getting pregnant. I was so excited when she told me that they were actually taking part in a research study for women with PCOS which focused on diet. The nurse said she would pass my information along to see if I would be a good candidate for the study. I really felt like this was my answer. I prayed fervently that this was God’s desire for me and that I could take part in this study. I was so relieved when the dietician called to inform me that I could participate! The diet was going to be tough, but I was so determined to do whatever I could to get pregnant! I was going to have to give up all dairy, grains, sugar, and starches. Fortunately, Chad was on board to do the diet with me! I was going to have to have some baseline testing done before I started the diet, so we had a few weeks to mentally prepare for the challenge ahead.
In early June, we were finally ready to tackle the diet! The dietician told us that we would not feel well for the first three days without sugar and carbs but that our energy would go back up after 3 days. Let me tell you, it was rough! I was so light headed and had horrible headaches. Finding food and meals that followed the diet was not too difficult, but I just could not get over that hump even though it had been almost a week! Cue that nagging feeling….
Exactly one week after I had started the diet I had the strange feeling that I should take a pregnancy test. It immediately turned positive. Because of what had happened in December, I decided not to tell Chad until I knew for sure! I headed to the fertility clinic to get the blood test. Naturally, the lab’s machines were down that day so I could not get the results until the next day. I still did not tell Chad. It was hard, but I felt like I was protecting my heart by not telling him. They finally called with the results, and I was ecstatic! I picked up a Father’s Day card for Chad on my way home because it was only a few days away. I also took another pregnancy test just so he could see it with his own eyes. He was in such a state of disbelief! We both thought it would take a lot more intervention to be able to conceive. We told our parents that weekend with Grandpa Father’s Day cards. It was such a blessing to be seeing a fertility doctor at that time because they were able to do blood tests for me twice a week to make sure the levels were rising and called with the results almost immediately. They also did an ultrasound at 6 weeks, and we were able to hear the most precious sound of all… our baby had a heartbeat! I think you all know how this story turned out about 7 months later!
I mentioned in my previous post how much I hated being told to “just relax, quit trying, don’t think about it and it will happen”! I still hate that advice, but I think there may be some truth in it. From the first time we saw the fertility specialist to finding out I was pregnant 3 months later, we had gone on 3 wonderful trips! We had been to New Orleans, Costa Rica, and Kansas City. Our thoughts were elsewhere. We were busy. Then I was so focused on the research study as a means to get pregnant, that I wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of getting pregnant right then! I would never tell anyone to “quit thinking about it” or “just relax”, but I will say to redirect your focus. I prayed for an answer, and honestly I got a distraction! The trips, the research study, they did take my mind off of it. I could not have quit thinking about trying to get pregnant on my own, that was a God thing.
I think being surprised with a pregnancy that we did not know if it would even be possible, and then realizing it was on God’s perfect time… was truly the sweetest gift.
Photo credit to the amazingly talented Alisa Joy Photography.
And remember how I said that I was worried that my child would not be close enough in age to my friends’ kids? Well, God took care of that too! Ryder and his friend, Tanner, are just three months apart in age 😉
If you are struggling with trying to conceive, I would be happy to be your listening ear.