When I was told at the age of 23 that I was in pre-menopause, I felt like my world crashed down around me. My husband and I had only been married a year plus a few months when I first started to experience symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and infertility. We were told that the longer we’d wait to try to conceive, the less likely it would happen because my labs were very abnormal for a 23-year-old. Pre-menopausal. At 23 years old.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with my daughter Zoey about infertility and loss. These conversations span years, but the last seven months have been the most difficult. Many conversations are filled with tears. Whether at bedtime before prayers, or on the couch because something on TV triggered her, or even at church… we’ve talked a lot. Today on Still Standing, I’m sharing five things that I tell her as I walk her through grief.
Today, I’m honored to share an interview I had with Lisa over at Amateur Nester. Lisa has collected some beautiful and heart-wrenching stories from the infertility community and has started to share them on her blog. Reading these interviews breaks my heart, but it is also a beautiful reminder that none of us are alone in our journeys. There are other couples who get it and women who are walking in our same shoes.
Please check out my interview with Lisa here: My Infertility Story on Amateur Nester
Be sure to follow along and read the other interviews she has collected. If you have ever felt alone in your infertility journey, these stories will help you.
In case you didn’t see my announcement on Facebook and Instagram, I’m now writing monthly over on Still Standing Magazine about infertility and miscarriage. Stepping out to write for Still Standing was an act of bravery for me. I’ve been a long-time reader of Still Standing, and when they put out a need for some additional writers, I swallowed my fear and applied.
Today, my first post is live. I would love if you would head on over there, read it, and maybe leave a comment if you feel led to do so.
Image used with permission by Samantha C. Photography
Disclaimer: Nothing about this post is intended to help you cure or prevent a disease. Please use essential oils after doing a lot of research, and please understand that just like pharmaceuticals affect us all differently, so can oils. Read my Disclosure Policy.
Outside of the basics I’ve used for years (peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus), I’m relatively new to the world of essential oils. I never really used them for PCOS prior to the miscarriage, and I have nearly a decade of infertility under my belt. I’ve tried so many different things but this area has been new to me. Other than the last oil that I’ll talk about below, my world of infertility and essential oils just now collided and I’m very excited about the results.
As we passed the toy aisle at Walmart, I asked my daughter if she could have one thing for Christmas, what that one thing would be. I fully expected her to say that she wanted a doll or a new game. Or one of those Hatchimal things that are old news now. You know, the thing everyone wanted last year and no one’s kid actually plays with anymore? The thing everyone freaked out over that wasn’t available at any store, but luckily my kid didn’t even notice their existence until the craze was over…
You know, something tangible and materialistic like every other seven-year-old.
Instead, this is how our conversation went:
- Zoey: “Well… (insert long pause)… I think you know what I really want.”
- Me: “No, not really…” (I had a feeling I knew the direction this was about to go in, but honestly hoped I was wrong)
- Zoey: “If I could have just one thing, all I want is a baby brother or sister. Nothing else.”
- Me: “Nothing else?”
- Zoey: “Nothing else.”
Insert spear into heart.
I wish she would have asked for that silly Hatchimal.
It feels like this is all I write about anymore, but the fact is it’s only been 6 weeks since this miscarriage, and 9 weeks since we found out we were miscarrying. This loss is something I’m going to have to carry around for the rest of my life. It’s something I’m going to have to learn to navigate through, so just bear with me as I figure this out.
The medical bills just now started to pour in. There is no “moving on” when you owe a lot of money for a baby you never got to bring home. And then Amazon made a huge mistake last week and emailed a ton of people saying something was purchased off of their baby registry… of course it came into my inbox the same exact day (9/19) that I was fighting with a medical billing company for strangely billing my ultrasounds.
With all of this crap going on, I’m learning how to cope, and with that comes mistakes.
Sometimes I find myself pouring into my Bible, studying those who have experienced great trials.
Sometimes I sit in the bathroom floor and weep and cry out “WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?”
Sometimes I meditate in prayer, craving closeness with my God.
Sometimes I tell God I’m so mad at him and doubt his goodness.
Oh boy. Where do I even begin?
My journey with infertility and PCOS began 10 years ago. My daughter Zoey came to us after our 7th round of Clomid, and today she is 7 years old. When she was 2, we started trying to grow our family through a variety of methods you can read the synopsis of here. Five years later, here we are…
I guess I’ll start with the fact that I gave up. My hope of giving Zoey a sibling was fading and I was in peace. In fact, after all these years of waiting, many of which were met with heartache, I have been in peace for quite some time. After our last Follistim cycle failed (read about that journey here), I was so broken. So much money spent… so much time put in… so many miles driven to appointments… countless ultrasounds, blood draws, and tears shed. Disappointment after disappointment occurred until I simply couldn’t take it anymore. Everything came to a screeching halt after our cycle failed in February 2016 and I haven’t pursued treatment since. I’ve been okay though. I have had my moments, but overall, God gave me immense peace that I know could have only come from him.
After my last Follistim + IUI cycle was a bust, I decided to take a break from medicinal infertility care. When I made that decision, I had no idea just how long the break would be. Here we are 14 months later, and I’m still on a medical break, but doing some things to help optimize my health to hopefully improve my chances of conceiving while I’m in my 30s. I’m not sure if we’ll do medical treatment again, but in the meantime, I’m hopeful for a miracle and trying to be a good steward of the body I have.
Before I share the five ways that I optimize my health, here are some stats on infertility in our 30s. Please note that while these are statistics, they are just that – they are not the cold hard truth for all women, and quite frankly, God is bigger than these numbers. Science isn’t everything.
- A healthy woman in her 30s has a 15-20% chance of conceiving each month.
- Fertility gradually declines throughout in the 30s, especially after age 35. However, 1 in 5 women has her first baby after the age of 35.
- As a woman reaches her mid- to late 30s, she’s less likely to conceive and more like to have miscarriages because the quality and quantity of her eggs are dwindling.
- About 95% of 30-year-old women have only 12% of their original number of ovarian follicular cells, which can develop into eggs.
- The mid-30s is when a woman’s fertility takes the biggest turn.
While these numbers may seem grim, research suggests that women with PCOS may actually see an increase in fertility as they age. Studies have shown that women with PCOS in their 30s have androgen decreases, which results in more regular periods, which further results in making it a little easier to identify our fertile windows! I don’t know about you ladies, but that is encouraging to me.
So now that we have numbers out of the way, here are five ways that I optimize my health to hopefully conceive in my 30s.
I’ve had a difficult time writing this post because I really don’t know what to say. I know how I feel and what I think, but putting this subject into words has been increasingly difficult. I’ve tried many times to craft the right phrases but always hit delete. Sometimes being so vulnerable is easy, and at other times, it’s sucking the breath right out of my lungs.
I realized recently just how lonely this phase of life is. I don’t think I know a single person in my every day life who is a mother to an elementary-aged child and still struggles with the effects of infertility.
There, I said it.
Nine years ago, when I was first diagnosed with PCOS and introduced to the world of infertility, I had it in my mind that once I became a mom, infertility wouldn’t be a burden anymore. I thought that surely this was only a phase… that trying to cross the threshold into motherhood was the worst of it, and that it was all uphill from there. But then I had Zoey, a vocal little girl who always speaks her mind, and from the very age of two started asking me “mommy, why do all my friends have brothers and sisters and I don’t?” Two years old. I started to feel a sense of urgency and we started trying to grow our family. Five years later, as Zoey is on the cusp of turning seven, and while I’m finally in the best phase of peace that I have ever been in, I find that I often times feel lonely.