Struggling to Conceive with PCOS
About 13 years ago I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly-cystic ovary syndrome), which is an endocrine disorder, that, among other things, can make it difficult to get pregnant. After trying unsuccessfully for over a year, I wasn’t able to get pregnant and I felt defeated and alone. I had never had a regular cycle because of my weight. Most doctors I saw, including my gynecologist at the time, said in short, "You’re fat; you can't get pregnant."
I was devastated. All I had ever wanted was children. I wanted six, but I am happy with two now—thank you very much! I had studied for five years to get a degree in education and psychology and I felt it was time to start building the family I’d always wanted. At the same time, several of my friends were having kids. It seemed like my best friend could just look at her husband and get pregnant. I was truly happy for my friends, but every time I saw a baby bump, or went to a shower, or held an infant my heart would break a little more.
I finally went to a fertility doctor who prescribed Glucophage, which is a diabetes drug used to initially treat women with PCOS since they usually have some insulin resistance. The Glucophage was supposed to help regulate my hormones, and in turn, normalize my menstrual cycle. It worked for a while, but still, no baby—and the side effects were severe cramping and stomach pain if I ate anything even remotely fatty. I did lose some weight, but it was because I could barely eat.
Finally, after three years I found out I was pregnant. I had been off the Glucophage for months and was shocked. Bobby, my handsome, bouncing baby boy weighed in at a whopping 9lbs, 6oz.
After I had Bobby, my cycle was fine for a while and I wanted to have another baby. I went back on Glucophage, but when I didn’t get pregnant we took the next step and did two rounds of Clomid, a drug that stimulates the release of hormones needed to cause ovulation. I got pregnant after the second round. I was so happy! Then, after just a few weeks, the doctors said that the levels had gone down and I'd had a miscarriage. I was so upset that I cried in bed for two days straight. I could not understand how God could give me such a precious gift and then take it away. I was so depressed. I gave up on everything. Before I got pregnant I had started eating right and working out at the gym. But, after the miscarriage, I could not do it anymore. I had no motivation at all. I just felt numb. I lost the baby in March; I went through the spring and summer in a fog.
By fall, I had decided that come January I would try one more round of Clomid. If that did not work I was not trying again. I had so much support from my family and friends. Plus, when I say I got so lucky when I found my husband, I am so not kidding. He stood by me through everything and supported whatever decisions I made.
In November, without any medication or treatments, I got pregnant. I truly could not believe it. Then, I ended up with borderline gestational diabetes and my water broke at 24 weeks. I was confined to the hospital from that time until my second son was born at 34 weeks. I spent that time missing my older son Bobby and praying for our new little guy in my womb. I delivered my Gabriel by C-section. He was in the NICU for four weeks. Today you would never know by looking at him that he started his life struggling for each breath.
Living with PCOS can bring a host of health problems. I have been lucky in that it hasn’t been as difficult for me as I know it is for some women. Since losing a lot of weight in the past year I am getting my cycle regularly, and I am hoping to reverse some of the effects of the disorder by eating healthy and getting more exercise. PCOS impacts the lives of so many women. I hope writing about my experience has been helpful. If you’re going through similar struggles with fertility and other PCOS related health concerns, please realize that you’re not alone. I would be honored if you’d share your story with me!