I have toyed with the idea of writing this post for a while now, but to be totally honest, it scares the hell out of me to put all this out there. It took several rewrites and editing sessions, and out of privacy for my family I am choosing not to include every single detail of our process. This topic leaves me raw and feeling way more vulnerable than I feel comfortable. But it is also a topic that for too many women gets swept under the rug and makes us feel isolated, with only those closest to us being privy to the hard truth of our situation.
When I was 18, I had really irregular cycles... like every two weeks irregular. Clearly I was a raging bitch, because my dad suggested I go see a gynecologist. So I made my appointment and as soon as I told the doctor my symptoms, he told me, "I'm pretty certain you have polycystic ovary syndrome. But don't worry - it's totally treatable and 7 out of 10 women have it. It might be a little harder for you to have a baby when the time comes, but it won't be impossible." After an ultrasound confirmed this was the case, I was put on birth control and sent on my way.
To be totally honest, I didn't think about my PCOS very much after that. Birth control pills helped me maintain my weight, controlled the weird hair growth, and controlled the awful cystic acne that was caused by the hormonal imbalances of my PCOS.
But when Eddie and I were married, it was definitely something we discussed. We were not ready to have a baby right away and we decided we would wait. As soon as we came back from the honeymoon, though, the questions began: "When is that beautiful baby coming?" I usually laughed off the question because it seemed innocent enough. But a couple months before the four year anniversary mark, I started to get the itch in a bad way. We talked it over and decided December would be a good time to stop taking my birth control and let it work itself out of my system. That would give us a few months of wiggle room before our "deadline" (HA!). I made sure to eat really well, I worked out (something I hadn't done regularly since my teens).
Fast forward to July, on vacation in Greece. I was late - later than I had been in my whole life. I kept attributing it to the travel and the change in our eating and schedule. But deep down, there was a little seed that kept saying, maybe you're pregnant. So when my period started six days late, I broke down. I was miserable. I looked better than I had in a long time because of my fitness routine, and I hated my body. I hated my body for what it wouldn't, and couldn't seem to, do.
After the trip, I went back to my doctor and had her check me out. She ran a few tests and suggested I wait a few more months. In November, at my wit's end and unable to handle the disappointment that came every month, we made an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. After a few months of tests, he suggested we begin with the most non-invasive methods available. First would come medication, then if that didn't work after a few cycles, we would move on to IUI (intrauterine insemination), and the last resort would be IVF. Hearing all that was the scariest thing I had ever heard. I wanted a child more than anything in the world, but spending upwards of $10,000 on treatments left a huge lump in my throat.
All the while, people were still asking, "When is that beautiful baby coming?" I can not tell you the pain I felt each time those words were uttered. It was as if everyone was reminding me that my body couldn't do it's job. I know that wasn't the intention, but it certainly felt like it. My response went from a fun "We're working on it!" to kind of just shrugging my shoulders and casting my eyes downwards. It's so much damn harder than anyone ever imagines. In the meantime - friends are getting pregnant and announcing their pregnancies. We were, of course, elated for them, but each time someone announced their pregnancy it broke my heart a little more.
Finally, in April, after debating for a few months, we decided to give medication a chance. We had a million things going on - we had just begun major construction on our home, I had just been hired at a new school, and my photography business was thriving. But we had wanted this for so long. I honestly went in hoping and praying for the best, but expecting it not to work. We were pretty open with the people closest to us and we talked about what was going on. We knew that the more people knew, the more they would understand, and the more prayers would be on our side. I know that God had his hand in just about everything - it was as if everything had been perfectly aligned for us. Fast forward two weeks later (which was really like slow motion because it felt like the longest two weeks ever) and we found out that it had worked! I know so many prayers were said for us over those two weeks - candles were lit at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, prayer cards exchanged hands, prayers were said over us.
I had an incredible pregnancy and a pretty relaxed birth. I think that was God's way of saying - I made you wait long enough, and you've paid your dues. We got lucky that things worked as they did and that we did not have to go through with more invasive treatments.
But shortly after Caleb was born, those questions started again.
"When is number two coming?"
"You don't want an only child for too long!"
"How about that little girl now?"
"You know, those grandparents would love to have another baby to love on."
My response now is not quite as laughable - I tend to be curt and change the topic. Because honestly, I don't know when it will happen again. I don't know if it will take us that long to have another baby. And the older I get, the more the question seems downright rude. I don't ask you when you have sex with your husband or wife - don't ask me a question that is more personal than any other. I honestly don't care about what anyone else except my husband and I want in regards to children because I know it's none of their business. (And don't even get me started on the girl question... that one makes me blow steam out of the ears) Sometimes I think people must really be so tactless to ask some of the questions that they do - especially when they know what we went through to get our son.
Sometimes I get sad because I don't know if my dream of having three children will ever be realized. I look at my son in wonder and awe because I know the miracles that occurred to get him here. I look at my husband with different eyes because of the patience and understanding he had in those most difficult of days, and because of the comfort his arms brought me in the biggest of my breakdowns. I pray every day for couples everywhere who are going through this.
So the next time you feel compelled to ask a young woman when she plans on bringing a new life into the world, think again. Weigh your words. Ask gently. Because you may be causing more harm than you could ever imagine. Because when you want to be a mother, and can't, words hurt. They sting. They can feel like the weight of the world, pushing you down.
And if you are the one being asked that question, I am with you. You are not alone. There are so many like you. It doesn't make it hurt less, but it makes it more bearable. You will never be alone.