My husband and I married when I was 25. Shortly after I turned 26, we decided to start our family. I considered myself to be healthy. I ate a balanced diet, exercised regularly and felt emotionally stable. Like many, I assumed that getting pregnant would be as easy as popping open a bottle of wine and lighting some candles. After a few months went by with no pregnancy, I decided to track my cycle more closely and began to notice a disturbing pattern: I wasn’t ovulating. A doctor quickly confirmed that I had clear signs of PCOS.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine disorder brought on by a significant hormonal imbalance. The treatment included a list of medications to help control blood sugar, induce ovulation, regulate my cycle and manage anxiety. At first, I was upset at the news. But that quickly turned into determination to get things “on track.”
Each month would begin hopeful. But by the end, with the arrival of my period, I’d crumble into pieces. Devastation does not begin to define the amount of emotional turmoil I experienced.
At first, my husband and I shared our pain. We cried together, vented our frustrations and were still strong enough to support each other. But as months of “trying” turned into years, our pain and sorrow turned into anger. The stress put such a strain on my marriage it almost fell apart. While everyone around us began to have babies of their own, we tried to conceal our pain.
As months of drug treatments passed without success, I began to research alternative methods. I started seeing a nutritionist. I visited herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopathic doctors and chiropractors. Additionally, I took yoga classes, began to meditate, saw an energy healer, upped my exercise regime. I even journaled, drank red raspberry leaf tea, cut out caffeine and alcohol, cut out dairy and grains, etc. If you can believe it, I spent obscene amounts of money on supplements, removed all plastics from my house, switched my beauty products and food over to organic, filtered our water — and did everything short of human sacrifice to will myself pregnant. Nothing worked. How could I be doing everything “right” and still not get, or stay, pregnant? It was then that the extreme self-loathing took over.
It wasn’t until miscarriage number-two that I finally hit rock bottom. I withdrew, and couldn’t find much to live for anymore. I hid my hopelessness from everyone, even my husband. However, it was this dark time that allowed me to recognize what my perpetual pain was doing to my husband, my marriage, and me.
It was time for a radical change. If my husband and I were going to make it as a couple, we needed to turn our focus back onto us. Then and there, we started the slow process of letting go. We sought counseling, tried to grieve our loss, worked on our spiritual growth, started traveling again, and began to tell everyone our story so we would no longer have to bear the burden alone.
Telling people of our struggles with infertility was one of the most terrifying and empowering experiences of my life. We felt the collective weight lift from our shoulders as people conveyed to us of their own troubles (or that of a close friend or family members) to have a child. In those moments, we began to see how sadly common infertility really is. There are thousands of couples just like us who struggle with infertility and have to learn to live with it. It is a quiet, solitary burden to bear.
But we try. Every day we try. Try to be thankful. We try to spoil the children in our lives every chance we get. We attempt to accept our scars. Try to move forward. Try to find joy. We try to understand that deep within us is a wound we will always carry. But we try. We get up each day and we try. And for that, we are thankful.