Today’s confession is written by Teah Otey. Reading her story makes me realize that everybody is so different and when it comes to PCOS, no two situations are alike. Thanks for sharing your story, Teah.
Seven pregnancies and two live births later, the doctor says it’s PCOS.
I was always the type of woman to say, “I’m not having any kids!” I wanted to have my new hubby all to myself after we married in October 2008. However, a month into “newlywed-dom”, I fell in the trance of wanting a mini-version of my hubby – a sweet, smiley, laid back, baby boy who loved his Mama and brought joy to our lives. I had no idea what I would endure before I had him.
Three months after this epiphany, I found out I was pregnant. It was the shock of my – then – life since my hubby and I weren’t TTC (trying to conceive). Five days after seeing those two pink lines, I went to the doctor for my first check-up. I’d been having cramps and not feeling pregnant for about 24 hours. There was bright pink blood when I went to give a urine sample. Somehow, I just knew things weren’t going to turn out well. I asked the nurse practitioner about it and she said,
“Oh, sometimes you have cramps and a little bleeding. It’s called implantation bleeding. You’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
I officially miscarried the next day. Imagine my devastation, since I had just been reassured by my nurse practitioner that things would be fine. When I saw my doctor for my follow-up, she said that I miscarried because I was overweight. That increased my devastation because I had never been a small person or able to lose weight. I had no other answers, either, because the doctors don’t even look into reasons for miscarriages until at least 3 consecutive losses.
Nine months after my first pregnancy and miscarriage, I found out I was pregnant again. I remember almost simultaneously feeling happiness and worry after seeing this BFP (big fat positive). I carried this baby for almost 8 weeks, which most women know is usually the first doctor’s appointment where you hear your baby’s heartbeat. I never got to hear that sound that day. I asked, again, if there was a reason for the miscarriage and again, no answers.
My new doctor found that, during my pregnancy, my progesterone level was 10 when it should have been well over 21. This concerned her, so she developed a plan. In February of 2010, she tested my progesterone levels in the luteal phase of my menstrual cycle and discovered that my progesterone was low. We were both so excited because, in her words, this issue was “an easy fix”. I used the progesterone suppositories she prescribed and, on the third month of TTC, I saw those beautiful, pink twins again. I was pregnant! Happiness and worry invaded my mind once again, but this time I felt divine reassurance for the health of my baby. Lo and behold, in January of 2011, we welcomed our daughter into our family.
The fact that I got pregnant and had a successful birth made me feel that I was healed, “fixed”. I mean, I had a baby so I couldn’t be infertile, right? Yes, that is very true. Infertility is the most common symptom of PCOS, and I didn’t have that problem, so this condition continued to be looked over. Another miscarriage in September of 2011 and a chemical pregnancy in November took my reassurance away and left me feeling like something really was wrong with me. This also baffled my doctor, who asked my husband and I,
“Do you want to have more children?”
I glanced at him and we both nodded, “Yes. We want more kids.”
“Well,” she said, “I’ll prescribe more progesterone until you all get pregnant or decide you want to take a break from trying. But you can’t try without being on progesterone. Spontaneous pregnancies haven’t turned out well in your past.”
I took those words to heart but I didn’t like the regimented menstrual cycles. Being on progesterone meant you had to be mindful of where you were in your cycle, test for ovulation times, etc. I just wanted to kind of relax for a few months and not have to think about it all. So we stopped trying in January AND at the end of February, my cycle – which has always been pretty much like clockwork – didn’t show up. Here I was, pregnant with no progesterone and no idea how things would turn out. My friends, happiness and worry, visited again. At eight weeks exactly, we had an ultrasound and there was my lil’ chubby gingerbread man. I was so relieved to see that pudge and birth him. This was my first spontaneous pregnancy that went full term.
A year after having my son in October 2012, I had “the itch” again. My husband and I decided that adding to our family would be a great idea. Then came uterine prolapse. Having two 8+ pounders, very long labors, and stretchy skin (insert sarcastic face here) meant that my uterus and cervix were descending. This condition brings with it a bit of mess – lower back ache, frequent infections, lower abdomen pain, etc. When my doctor diagnosed me he asked,
“Are you done having babies?”
I said, “No. I want to have one more.”
He came back with, “Well, go get pregnant, have the baby, and then we’ll do the surgery.”
Now, I bet you’re asking, “What surgery?”
A full hysterectomy at the ripe age of 31-ish. I was a bit shocked at this but I figured it would work out. We said we wanted more kids so let’s just go for it and be done. For me, it hasn’t been that easy.
I’ve been pregnant twice this year but didn’t carry either pregnancy beyond the first trimester. After the second loss in July, we met with the head of my OB’s practice to see if he could give a prognosis for next time. At that point, I was even wondering, “Should there be a next time?” We went in to the consultation appointment and let him know what happened in the past and what was happening now. Without one look in my file, he said,
“Have you ever heard of PCOS? Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? ‘Cause I think you have it.”
That threw me off because everything I had ever heard about PCOS was associated with not having regular menstrual cycles and not ovulating. I didn’t have a problem in either area and I told him that. This is when I found out that there is a lot more to this condition. The doctor asked if my family had a history of diabetes. He pointed out the dark rim I have on my neck and checked under my arms. I mentioned to him that I have had ovarian cysts since I was 15, sometimes they are extremely painful but that only happens when they burst. He nodded as if in agreement that what he was thinking was true. Then he asked if I had a problem losing weight and I found that funny because I’ve always said,
“I don’t gain much and I don’t lose. I guess that’s a blessing and a curse.”
He even mentioned that women who have PCOS are more prone to miscarry if they are able to ovulate and they have recurring boils under their skin. Well, after hearing all of that, I began to think that maybe I did fit in this category after all. He drew seven vials of blood that day to test for PCOS, Factor V Leiden, and antiphospholipid syndrome. My blood work came back positive for Factor V Leiden too, which is a gene that predisposes a woman to miscarry. My doctor said that, even after receiving these test results, he believes my next pregnancy will be completely fine. He put me on Metformin to treat PCOS symptoms and, the next time I get pregnant, he said to come in the day I find out so that I can get blood work. Then he will put me on baby aspirin to prevent clotting in utero and progesterone again.
Finding out that I have PCOS and Factor V Leiden actually came as a relief to me. Going through five unexplained miscarriages and a chemical pregnancy left me with a nagging sense of failure to carry babies. I felt that it was my fault that I couldn’t do it and the two times it went well were just isolated miracles. Now I choose to have hope for my future.
Whether your path has been losing baby after baby or going months and years of trying to conceive, having a doctor who takes the time to tie a name to your condition is a hint of light shining on a very dark path. I’m hoping and praying that my story changes next time around. I want to add to my family before my body is forced into early menopause. But most of all, I want to be healthy and physically available for my babies who are already here. I choose to believe that my faith, my doctors, and having a mother’s heart are the things that will make that happen for me. Here’s to hoping for the best in all of our journeys!
PCOS Confessions is a new series on Modern Day Moms that is wildly honest, full of a little too much info and a whole lot of personal experiences. Recently diagnosed with PCOS, I’m on a mission to learn more about it and share my experiences with others. Read all of the confessions here. Stay tuned for more. Make sure to follow us on facebook, twitter & instagram.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. PCOS has many signs — things you or your doctor can see or measure — and symptoms — things that you notice or feel. Every woman with PCOS may be affected a little differently. (s)
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