So I have had a few family friends (and friends of friends) ask me about my experience with PCOS. I am by no means an expert on the subject, however, I am always willing to share what D and I went through when we first decided we wanted to start a family.
First of all, I had no idea that I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or even what it was. So lets start there… PCOS is when either your eggs do not develop properly or are not released when they should be because of an imbalance of reproductive hormones (androgen and estrogen).
Due to my PCOS, I also had insulin resistance, which is very common in women with this condition. My body didn’t know what to do with insulin, so my levels were crazy high. Because I had always been on the pill, and my hormones were regulated by it, I never experienced any of the symptoms associated with PCOS until we began trying to conceive.
Let’s rewind right quick – – I began taking the pill when I was fifteen because of how bad my cycles were. I had crazy bad cramping and well, I don’t want to gross any one out, but let’s just say everything was bad. Just really, really rough. At fifteen, I was still trying to grow into my curly hair and get my braces off, so this was not the kind of extra-curricular activity I needed to be dealing with. My saint of a mother took me to a FEMALE (bless up) gyno and she started me on the pill to get me regulated and put my hormones in check. And she succeeded.
Flash forward to the second year of my marriage when my husband finally agreed that we should start trying for Baby #1. I was so excited that I cried. My mom is the kind of woman who would literally get pregnant when my dad walked into the room, so I never even considered that fertility issues would plague me.
Six months in to trying, I started to worry. I made an appointment with my doctor and started the first of five rounds of clomid (a fertility drug that helps you ovulate), with my dosage increasing from 50mg to 250mg and alas, no change.
She suggested that I go see a specialist out of town to see what he thought. She referred me to a colleague that she trusted and I made my appointment for January of 2016.
That first visit was masked by so much heartbreak for me. And when I look back on it, I only see snippets. I remember VIALS of my blood being drawn and carted off, two different ultrasound techs coming in and taking pictures of my inside lady parts, and then a desk. I specifically remember this doctor’s, whose name I probably, legally should not mention, large wooden desk. It took up half the room. The legs were carved in a way that made you think it might be an antique, but not pretty enough to actually be one. D and I were seated in this room and left alone for over an hour.
When the doctor finally came in the room, he did something that immediately annoyed me. He didn’t shake either of our hands. I don’t know why this stood out to me, but it did ( I remember elbowing D because that always annoys him as well). Instantly, I disliked him. He introduced himself, as this was the first time we were meeting, and began to rattle off some numbers and terms that we did not understand. After the first few minutes, I interrupted him and asked him to break it down for us in laymen’s terms. And the next few words out of his mouth haunted me for months. “Basically, I don’t think you will be able to conceive a child on your own. In my opinion, you and your husband will need to begin the in vitro process as soon as possible.”
I do not remember anything else he said. I remember scheduling a semen analysis for D (he passed with flying colors ha). But that was it.
The insurance lady at the office gave us a handout breaking down the initial steps of in vitro and the prices that came with each.
The drive home was silent. We knew that it would be years before we could even hope to afford just one round of in vitro. And there’s no guarantee that that will even take. Mainly, I just remember D squeezing my hand.
In April, I was chatting with my longtime hairdresser and friend, Amanda. She told me that she and her husband tried for a very long time and saw many doctors before she finally found a sweet man who was able to help her in a town about 40 minutes away.
Because I did not have the money to begin in vitro, I decided to pay this man a visit and see if he could tell me anything different. And that, my friends, was the single best decision I have made in my life thus far.
My first doctor’s appointment with Dr. W, my new doctor, was on Monday, April 11th of 2016. He was the first to diagnose me with PCOS (after one ultrasound). And his first order of business, he said, was to get me healthy and maybe, just maybe, get me pregnant in the process. He prescribed Metformin and Femara “to start”.
He never tried to get my hopes up or make me any promises. Though, I did begin to cry, like full on ugly cry, in his office because I was so happy to finally be getting some positive answers. I remember he patted my shoulder and said, “You will have a baby, sweetheart. It may take longer than you would like, but let’s worry about getting you healthy right now.”
My first positive pregnancy test was on Wednesday, May 4th of 2016, less than a month after my first appointment and my sweet, sweet Lee was born 10 days early and complication free on January 4, 2017.
What did I learn from this experience? Get a second OR THIRD opinion. Keep going to different doctors until one of them actually tries to help you. And stick with that person. It’s hard to find someone with your best interest at heart, who is willing to fight for you, but it is definitely worth it.