Monday, March 8, 2010

Infertility: Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome

For our last installment on infertility we have an awesome guest blogger! Kim is a young mom to a beautiful little girl. She also has a degree in Early Childhood Education and loves learning.

I feel grateful to Barb for giving me the opportunity to share with all of you a piece of my heart. My husband and I went through a difficult journey to get our sweet baby girl here, and I hope and pray that the people who are struggling with something of this nature can feel uplifted and more hopeful by reading this.

I always thought I had some type of infertility issue, even before I was married. My periods have never been regular, and on top of that, I had a feeling, an instinct, if you will, that something was not quite right.

My wonderful husband and I were married in August of 2005—so in love, and looking forward to one day
starting our family. We waited a year before we tried to get pregnant, and probably would have waited a little longer, seeing as how my husband was still a student. But we both felt for some reason it would not be easy to conceive a child, and decided to get the process started.

Well, the next year came and went. My pregnancy tests were all negative. I was beginning to feel somewhat discouraged, but still hopeful that everything would work out somehow. I made an appointment with an OB/GYN and discovered that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, which is quite common, unfortunately, and means that your body has a hard time ovulating.

Instead of eggs dropping each month to be fertilized, they become cysts on your ovaries, due to hormonal imbalances, thus making conception nearly impossible without treatment.

At that time, I knew very little about PCOS and was extremely overwhelmed at the thought that we could possibly be spending countless amounts of time and money on trying to have a baby. Being a mother is the strongest desire of my heart. I felt so frustrated and discouraged.

My doctor was very positive, however, and gave me words of encouragement. He told me that there are many things we could try that he has seen work with other women who have PCOS, the first, and cheapest, being a medication called Clomid.

He also ran some blood work at this point to check my hormone levels to see if he could treat me that way, but they all came back normal.

Thus, the many rounds of Clomid began. Clomid is a widely used infertility drug designed to trigger ovulation. I would first take Provera, which is a medication that makes your period start if you have an irregular period like I do, then five days of taking Clomid.

Then I would use a thermometer to track my basal body temperature, or BBT, and hopefully be able to pinpoint whether or not I was ovulating on the Clomid, and if so, when, to make conception easier.

My doctor liked to see my chart that kept track of my temperature after each round to see if the Clomid dosage was working. If not, that meant a stronger dosage the next time.

Then we would start all over again, one negative pregnancy test after another. I went through this several times, I could not even tell you how many times, over the next two years. It definitely took its toll on me.

It was extremely exhausting. It was emotionally devastating. I felt like I was less of a woman, like I was inadequate. I felt heartbroken. I felt anxious about our future. I felt like I was all alone. I felt extreme sadness that seemed like it would never end.

I have never gone through something more difficult than this. We tried again and again, though. We kept trying. Each time I took that Clomid and wondered, “Could this be the time it actually works?” only to come out a month later with a negative pregnancy test, time after time after time.

I remember once, my sweet mother, who never had to go through infertility but was still so sympathetic towards my issue, was talking with me and I was explaining my pain and sadness to her. I remember saying to her, “How many times can I fall down and get back up again? What if I don’t have enough strength to get back up next time?”

It was all becoming more than I could bear. Everywhere I looked, everywhere I turned, happy couples were announcing pregnancies, women were easily having babies… what was wrong with me? Why could I not have that, too? That which I so intensely longed for, to be a mother? I am sure this was as close to being depressed as I could ever get.

I am by nature a very optimistic person, but I could no longer feel optimistic. I didn’t have it in me at that time. I was in a very dark hour of my life.

Mother’s Day and Christmas were particularly difficult for me. Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday, and I belong to a very family oriented Church. I could not even bring myself to attend Church on Mother’s Day. I know it sounds strange, but it was just more than I could bear.

Christmas was so difficult, as well. I was supposed to be so happy on Christmas and enjoy my time spent with loved ones, but instead I found myself watching others with small children, and feeling the empty place in my heart, that yearned for that same happiness and joy, just ache with sadness and frustration.

Well, I got to the end of my rope. It finally happened. I could not handle the pain any longer. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I was too sad to be myself. It was December of 2008, and going on two years of taking Clomid on and off.

I thought to myself, ‘This is it.’ No more Clomid after this. I needed a break from feeling like this because I didn’t know how to continue trying and not feel this way.

My doctor was becoming skeptical, as well. He wanted to try some additional testing, first a hysterosalpingogram, where they inject dye into you to determine whether or not your fallopian tubes are open and ideal for conception, then some testing of my husband, and then we would try intrauterine insemination.

This is a less costly approach than in vitro fertilization, which costs thousands of dollars we simply could not come up with. Most OB/GYN’s will do intrauterine insemination in their office. This is where they take sperm and clean it, and inject the healthy sperm when a woman is ovulating.

Well, that last round of Clomid in December of 2008 did not work. I did not let myself feel sad this time, though. I simply would not allow it. I felt hopeful that the intrauterine insemination would work, after we took a six month break from it all. I was so glad that for six months I could spend my days becoming refreshed and rejuvenated before continuing on.

I felt hopeful that I could remain happy once I continued trying, as well. It just had to be possible. I could be happy for others who became pregnant, too. I knew I could at that point. I had gone too long feeling otherwise and hated it, so I was determined to be happy—no matter what. But best of all, I had faith and just knew, in my head and in my heart, that it would all work out. Everything would be okay.

I remember that day I found out the Clomid did not work, yet again, and went home and exercised. I exercised a lot. It helped me get out so much anger and frustration and helped me feel more like myself again. It was on that day, or in the short days after, that we conceived a baby naturally.

Tears of joy instantly rushed down my cheeks when I looked at my positive pregnancy test for the first time, in somewhat of shock and disbelief. I felt indescribable happiness.

Even though deep down I knew we would be able to have children, part of me thought the day would never come that I would be able to see that plus sign appear, telling me that I was pregnant. I had seen too many negative tests to actually envision a positive one. But there it was, right in front of me. I was actually pregnant. What an amazing miracle!

I think every woman who goes through this experience feels sympathy and understanding towards others in the same situation. During the most difficult time for me, I met someone through work who had gone through ten years of trying to have her second child because of her struggle with endometriosis, and never was able to conceive that second child.

She was more than a support in my life. I met her when I needed her most. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done without her. She knew exactly how I felt, and she knew exactly what I needed to hear. She was an answer to my prayers.

Having her there to talk to and support me as I went through this difficult time in my life was an incredible blessing to me. To this day, we remain the best of friends and I love her dearly. Having this support from someone who went through the same thing meant the world to me.

Perhaps the most damaging thing I did to myself during this experience was putting time limits on me getting pregnant. This was not healthy, and only hurt me in the end.

I often thought to myself, “If I am not pregnant by Christmas, I will just lose it. I can’t go through another Christmas this way. It’s way too hard.” Our wedding anniversary was another date I would use as a time limit. Once that day came and went, however, I was left feeling even more sad, more depressed and more frustrated that I was still not pregnant.

I wish I would have noticed how damaging my thoughts were earlier on in my struggle, and not made it worse for myself.

After more than four years of marriage, and more than two years of struggling with the infertility process, we had our baby in October of 2009. Now we have our sweet baby girl, and we could not feel more blessed. She is our miracle. We love her more than words can say.

She joined our family exactly at the right time, exactly when she was supposed to. Although it was not easy to get her here, I learned so much along the way—so much about myself and so much about life.

I learned that although we may not choose our trials in this life, we can choose how we react to them. We can choose to be happy. And there is always hope for us, no matter what our situation may be. There is always hope.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kim! I really appreciate your realness and also the hope you've passed on.

I think the most important thing to remember from this mini-series: you are not alone! Many women struggle with infertility. If you are right now, find someone to talk to and please go see a doctor. They can only help!

Other posts in this series:


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I went through a very similar experience while trying to concieve my first daughter. We lost a baby, and then went through the same 2 agonizing years afterward. I found that I also had PCOS and was devastated every month that Clomid didn't work. It was almost like hearing that I had lost my baby again every month. It was a very sad time in my life and I pushed alot of good friends out of my life because of bitterness and anger. And I regret that. I now have 2 children now, my second one actually came as quite a surprise since I expected it to be hard to get pregnant again, this one came without trying at all. But they are both the greatest joys in my life, and going through infertility was the hardest thing that I ever had to go through and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. And for those of you who may be going through it, just know that when it does happen, and it will, it will be right, and you will know that it was meant to be that way. I can't imagine what my life would have been like if I would have had my daughter any earlier, she was meant to be here at this time, and I know that now, and as hard as it was to get her here, I NEVER want to forget the feelings and experiences I had to get here because it makes me appreciate my kids so much more than I ever would have if I didn't go through it. It was the worst experience of my life, but it made me better and who I am today.

  2. What an amazing story!! Thanks for sharing Kim!


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