When I was 18 and invincible (as you are), I used to hurl my guts up in agony and be unable to stand from the pain ripping through my uterus. I figured I just pulled the short straw of period roulette and would ride out the worst days of the cycle hiding in a duvet den and praying for swift death.
Fast forward 7 years and I have just married the love of my life. Having been together for 4 years already, we’re eager to crack on and start a family and figure worst case we’ll be sharing news of an impending arrival within a year. My periods are still atrocious and affecting my career (and management’s thoughts about my reliability but more on that in another post). I have a collection of pregnancy tests ranging from the cheap shop brand ones to the fancy clear blue, I methodically track my ovulation and I have an app that makes my sex life a series of documented events. I’ve seen the doctor 3 or 4 times over the year and they all but laugh at me, because I’m young and have so much time. I know something isn’t right, my body is screaming at me that something isn’t right.
‘My body can’t do the most natural thing in the world’ is added to the already anxious self depreciating record in my head. I blame myself and I apologise to my husband. I google the shit out of everything. My period is late and I’m hopeful and then, like the vicious curse that it is, it comes at me with a vengeance and I cry with misery. My doctor prescribes me blood thinners for the clotting and prescription painkillers – neither help.
And then, I faint. I faint at work from blood loss (they surmise), they call 999 and the paramedic’s paperwork triggers a series of events that makes the doctors stop laughing at my youth and working on a treatment plan. Within a month I am referred for an ultrasound and the technician tells me that my ovaries are riddled with cysts. I have Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome. I’m referred to a fertility specialist who looks at my scan results with a furrowed brow and turns to us saying words like ‘slim chance’ and ‘infertile’ and ‘further testing’. My world implodes. I cling to my husband as he steers us out of her office and he supports us both as we grapple with a reality we never thought would happen to us.
What follows is 18 months of monthly blood tests for me to establish hormone levels and chance of natural ovulation and a sperm test for hubby (which was just like the movies – hilarious). Google keeps diagnosing me with tumours and then giving me hope with miracle babies. Everyone is pregnant in my office (50% of them unplanned which somehow drives the dagger deeper).
In October, we arrive at the hospital to see the specialist with our piles of referral letters, test results, scans and broken spirits. I am prescribed Clomid, which is a drug that induces ovulation, and told to try 3 cycles with close monitoring and if we have no success then I will need to have laparoscopy surgery. If the surgery doesn’t ‘flush my uterus out’ (her words) then the next step would be IVF. You know vision boards? they are so colourful and full of dreams? This experience was like someone took my vision board and spat on it before crushing it and then setting it on fire.
Clomid is a bitch. I’m sure there are worse things out there but Clomid escalated my hormones so quickly I felt like I had no control. My emotions were all over the place. We were on our way to a family event mid cycle 0 in December (which was a test cycle) and we clipped a pheasant which would normally make me gasp and shout at hubby to be more careful…no no, on this night I sobbed my eyes out for a full 5 minutes. Hormones yo.
Cycle 1 was in January and I felt a little more prepared for this round. I still had to be isolated as much as possible because the bitch on the inside was released by the hormone high. We went in for a scan to check that all was in order and there sat two growing follicles (who we named ‘the follies’), this was the first time in our journey we knew there was a real chance of conceiving. It was so positive but I had been so let down throughout that I detached as much as possible without being negative.
Over a month later I got up to have a wee and saw my little wicker basket of period paraphernalia and tried to remember the last time I had used any of those glorious products (it is quite common with PCOS to not have a period every month – myself included).
I had always watched those videos online where women are telling their partners they are pregnant and had planned various ways in my head to share the news should it ever happen, this went out the window as soon as the clear blue test said ‘PREGNANT’ ‘3+ WEEKS’ and I screamed at hubby to wake up and shoved the urine soaked test in his face (with the lid on – I’m not an animal).
We were seen at the hospital a week later for a viability scan and they put me at 6 weeks pregnant. On the first cycle of Clomid our miracle baby was conceived.