Today’s post is a healthy dose of honesty. I know my blog is focused on natural health but, today we are just talking. You, me and 10,000 other strangers. No formalities just truth. In some cases embarrassing truths. I wanted to address this topic because sometimes we only get the chance to see the struggle after someone has already won the battle. We never know all that went into that battle. We never see the day in, day out struggle to reach the goal. We then tend to assume that for the individual who claims victory, the battle was easy. It was not as intense as ours. How could it be? Their struggle is over and mine is still going on. No one could possibly know what we are going through. Yesterday I was encouraged by a friend to be open and honest. I don’t think she knew I had a blog (however rare the posts may be), but this morning I thought it was time. I hope you understand I do not intend this to be discouraging. I do not intend this to be a pity party. I don’t even want you to think I am complaining. I simply want to tell you my story.
Infertility is extremely common in today’s society. One could ask the question if infertility is so common, why isn’t it talked about more? Fear. Shame. Pain. guilt. The uncomfortable look someone gets when you bring it up. Their eyes give them away. In that moment they have no idea what to say. They may feel guilty because of how easy pregnancy was for them. They may feel uneasy because they know their words can’t fix the problem. Whatever emotions or thoughts that go through their minds when infertility is brought up, their eyes give them away. They would rather be having any conversation other than this one. They may even question why you brought it up. Why do you feel the need to air your dirty laundry? Can’t you just be happy with what you have? Yes these are real thoughts or comments women who are infertile encounter and many women don’t talk about their struggles with infertility because they feel embarrassed. They feel broken. The female body was biologically designed to do one thing that a man could never do. Have children. We were designed by our creator to, create. To carry life inside our bodies for nine months and then, to care for that life for the rest of ours. Do you know what that does to a woman who can’t? I DO and, I am not the only one. There are millions of us all across America but today I will talk about my battle.
Sometime around the age of 8 or 9 my body rapidly began to change. I had been a skinny, outgoing child who loved to play outside. I began to suffer debilitating constipation. I missed a ton of school and the school police even came to my house to check up on why I had missed so much school. I found myself 60lbs heavier and I loathed the sun( I literally told a friend I was allergic to the sun to avoid playing outside). By the age of 10 I weighed 100lbs and I just kept packing on the weight. By the age of 12 it was clear I had a problem. I was active in soccer and swimming yet, the weight gain was not slowing down. My parents took me to the doctor who ran a bunch of tests (I can’t even remember what they were). The diagnosis? Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS. For those of you who don’t know what PCOS is, let me explain. PCOS is a hormonal condition marked by excess testosterone levels, cysts on the ovaries and in general hormonal imbalance. This is PCOS in simple form. It leads to excess hair growth, possible diabetes, possible infertility and a host of other complications. Women who have PCOS are more likely to have ovarian, uterine and breast cancer along with a myriad of other problems. PCOS truthfully is not well understood and years of research still leaves me (and health experts) in the dark.
So at 12 years old this was the diagnosis I was faced with. (Most doctors in later years questioned if I could accurately be diagnosed that young but, as it turns out it always came back to PCOS.)
The doctor told me two things. I was going to get incredibly fat and, If I didn’t take birth control I would never have children. That is it. That was the sum total of my doctors instruction. Thanks, I think? I was later sent to a nutritionist who instructed my mother that a truly healthy breakfast would be 1/2 a cup of unsweetened cereal…… No. I was not about to survive on that. I was going to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. First let me say, her recommendation was preposterous. No child can thrive on 1/2 a cup of unsweetened cereal for breakfast. Second can you tell I was a stubborn child? My poor parents. The next few years were tough. I could never remember to take my birth control and I had no interest in controlling my diet. This left me very sick. As a teenager I was in and out of the ER for un-explained severe illness. I left school and started working graveyard seven days a week. If my mom had not been my boss I probably would have been out on my ear. I just could not get better. Finally one ER did an ultrasound. The scan reveled a cyst that looked to be sizable sitting on my Fallopian tube. I met with a surgeon who insisted this could NOT be causing my pain and there was no way it could ever make me sick. If I insisted though, they would do surgery but this really was probably no big deal. I insisted.
The first thing the surgeon told me when I came out of surgery was, how glad she was we had done this surgery. The cyst was the size of an orange and in her twenty years of experience this was the largest one she had ever seen. Take it from me, sometimes you as the patient need to fight for your treatment. The surgeon did congratulate me though, despite this large cyst and a host of symptoms, my ovaries and uterus looked pristine. She was truly shocked. To this day I hold on to that. At least something is in my favor. After the surgery my health seemed to improve. I pretty much ignored the fact that I was sick. In truth I was 18 now and still had no menstrual cycle.
I continued to ignore everything until I was 20 and in full wedding planning mode. My health suddenly took a drastic nose dive. I was covered in hives. My entire thigh was one huge hive. My eyes would swell shut. My lips, fingers, belly no place was safe from these awful hives. I had apparently developed an allergy to milk. My health practitioner ran some tests and my liver was not doing so hot. We worked on the liver for a bit and attempted to eliminate dairy. All of this helped but I eventually got too comfortable and began to ignore it all again. It really just felt too overwhelming and I wanted to forget it all. Surly God would just heal me. Right?
That was four years ago. Since then I have found sensitivity to gluten, discovered my gallbladder hates me, my liver still doesn’t follow the rules, my pancreas has adopted the motto YOLO as its own and in general my body is one tough cookie. I am still in the middle of my struggle. I have been married for four years and still no little ones. Infertility is described as the inability to get pregnant after a year of trying. Did I mention its been four years? I have endured countless thoughtless comments. Some from well meaning strangers and some from people who knew better and should have kept their mouth shut. (just being honest.)
In the past two years alone I have watched 12-16 little ones come along. I am so happy for their parents. Children can bring so much joy. I don’t begrudge them. I don’t hate them. I love them all. That doesn’t mean somewhere in the back of my mind, my brain isn’t wondering when my time will come.
Earlier this year I connected with two Naturopathic physicians who have done more for me in one year the any other doctor had in the past 13. I now know that myo-inositol is the natural alternative to metformin and in clinical trials, it out preforms metforim. In clinical trials the majority of women on myo-inositol had a spontaneous menstrual cycle within, six months of starting myo-inositol supplementation. I know how important blood sugar regulation is to PCOS now. It is not just about preventing diabetes. Blood sugar and insulin resistance issues go hand and hand with PCOS. When this is out of whack so are your hormones. That is part of why all women with PCOS should avoid dairy. Dairy actually messes with your blood sugar levels and spikes your testosterone production. I also know now that my pituitary gland is a huge part of what causes PCOS. There is hope. There is hope for me and for you. I know how important your digestion and the health of your colon is in relation to PCOS. Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut.”
I have discovered over the past 4 years I have a passion for health, not just mine but everyone’s. It is part of the reason I now want to be a nurse. This journey is not all bad. I have good says and bad days. Days where I think I am dying and Days where I think I am on the edge of a break through. I had an experience about 2 years ago that I have never forgotten. I felt God speak to me that I WAS going to have a child. No time frame, just a reassurance it would happen. From then on it has been a struggle, but I do my very best to hold on to that promise. Some days that is all I can do. I try not to question why God has not chosen to move yet or why he asked me to walk this road. I also don’t blame my parents. We see in the Bible a story of a man who was born blind. Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus who had sinned? The man or his parents. (In other words, who was at fault for this man being born blind?) Jesus’ response? No one. No one has sinned. This man is sick so God can receive glory when he is healed. Jesus then proceeds to heal him.
I strongly believe my sickness is for God’s glory. I have fervently promised God that my children would be for his glory, not mine. I think opening up now and sharing my story with you is part of that.When I do finally get to experience the joy of motherhood you all can be my witnesses. The journey has been rough but there is hope. I think in the future I will write a few posts about some of the treatments I have been doing and some of the info I have learned along the way. I want to help all the other beautiful women who are struggling. For now though, take hope.
At the beginning of this year Wrote a journal to try and keep me accountable. This journal asked for a quote that I felt could encourage me along the way. I searched and searched. I couldn’t find anything that really resonated with me. Finally I just decided to write down a quote I hated but thought “oh well as long as I write something down.” I wrote down the following quote ” just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, she became a butterfly.” I have no idea why I hated this quote but I can tell you I love it now. 7 months ago I thought my world was ending. I felt sicker than ever. I was exhausted and my treatment seemed to be doing the opposite of what it should have been doing. I gave up and in anger I stopped what I had been doing… Two weeks later I had my first menstrual cycle. Yes you heard me right. At 24 I had my first cycle. Turns out I am becoming that butterfly. There is hope.
If you are struggling with infertility feel free to share your story. I would love to hear from you. If you have questions you would like me to research and address, let me know. I want this to be a safe place. The world needs more honesty and fewer awkward silences. The world needs our stories.