Thursday, May 6, 2010
Long Path To Motherhood
Mother's Day is almost upon us for another year. This is a happy time of year for some and for others a sad day and a time to remember. To me, Mother's Day is a reminder of my long journey to actually becoming a mother and yet another day (as with all others) to be grateful for my beautiful little girl. This post was originally posted here at Conceivery.com, as one of the site owners, Anj, reminded me that it's important to share our stories and make these issues known. For the sake of others struggling.
I met my now-husband when I was eighteen, and had started on the Pill at about the same time. I didn’t experience any bad side effects from the Pill, but for some reason, in my early twenties, I decided to trial life without it. I had never had regular periods before I started taking it and I guess I was wondering how it would all be after a few years.
Once I stopped taking the Pill, I went almost a year without getting a period. It didn’t bother me (who wouldn’t be happy with that?!) but I knew it wasn’t normal, so I decided to ask my doctor. The doctor was pretty sure what it was, but sent me for an ultrasound to make sure. And he was right – I had PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I had no idea what that was or what it meant, but my doctor explained to me that it would make it difficult to have children.
I still remember his advice to me: don’t leave having children until you’re thirty-five. It could take a while and you don’t want to leave it too late. He advised me to go back on the Pill, unless my husband and I were ready to start trying to have a baby straight away. We discussed it and chose the Pill, deciding to try for a baby in a few years.
I was devastated. I cried all the way home and then cried even harder when I started reading about PCOS on the internet. Being the most common cause of infertility in Australia, there were so many ‘horror’ stories of women who were unable to have children because of it. I had always known I would want to have children one day. And it felt like that dream that I had always taken for granted was being taken away from me.
In hindsight, it was a wonderful thing that I had found this out at such an early age. We hadn’t planned on thinking about children for a while – probably not until I was nearing my thirties – so having this information meant that we brought forward our plans. We felt that having a baby earlier than originally planned was better than the alternative: leaving it longer and giving ourselves the added worry that we could run out of time.
So, when I was twenty-five, I went off the Pill. Once again, I went a year without having a period. It took me that long to realise it was no longer worth doing a pregnancy test every few months; the PCOS was back (it can sometimes go away over time). So my doctor referred me to a gynaecologist. Our options were outlined to us: medication, followed by surgery, then IVF. The fact that there were only a few options scared me and I immediately started to worry.
So I started medication at the beginning of 2007. Despite my concerns at the sound of it, I was put on a drug called Metformin – a diabetes medication. I had to go back to the gynaecologist regularly for my dose to gradually be increased. At every visit, I would tell him how worried I was that it wouldn’t work and each time he would assure me that I would be pregnant that year. I would then voice my doubt at that and he just looked at me knowingly.
During that time, everyone seemed to be asking us when we were going to have children. All the time. I went through patches of wanting a child so desperately, to not wanting one at all due to the importance that seemed to be suddenly placed on it. It had turned into the biggest focus of our lives. And I was sick to death of thinking about it.
When I had been on the Metformin for a year, and on the maximum dose for a couple of months, I was due to go back to the gynaecologist again. This was in early January 2008 and he had said I would be pregnant by the end of the previous year. I was so upset and knew that he would be sending me in for day surgery, and that one of our three options had failed. Although I had begun having periods whilst on the medication, they were nowhere near regular.
At the last minute, a couple of days before our next visit, I decided to buy a pregnancy test. Not because I thought I might be pregnant, but because I knew that would be his first question: are you sure you’re not? I didn’t tell my husband; I didn’t want to tell him every time I took a test. I felt stupid for even doing it. So, on the 6th January 2008, I got the shock of my life when the lines appeared on the white stick. I did a second test, thinking it must be a mistake. More lines. And then I left them in the bathroom and called my husband, asking him to come home. He was surprised and asked why. Just come home, I repeated. NOW.
When he walked in the door, I asked him to go into the bathroom and tell me what he saw. And I waited in the lounge room. When he came out, he had the biggest grin on his face, he picked me up and twirled me around and we laughed nervously. Oh god, we thought, this is real now.
Eight months later, in September 2008, I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl.
Looking back, it all sounds so simple. Especially when I have a little toddler running around me as I write this. But at the time, it was all so uncertain and scary. Discovering, confirming and checking the state of my PCOS involved many obtrusive tests. The Metformin medication made me nauseous and was as though I suffered from constant motion sickness. Hiding it from my family, friends and work colleagues was tough emotionally.
But I have my happy ending. Next step: baby number two. Wish me luck.
Posted at 7:18 PM