Several years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which finally gave me the answers to so many questions I had about myself, including why it was so difficult for me to have children. So, the following article is something I can relate to in many ways. It is from my friend, Carie Shinn, a homeschooling mother of 4 beautiful children. She wanted to share her story of secondary infertility related to having PCOS, and to be a support for anyone out there who has questions realated to these issues. Please feel free to contact her directly through the e-mail address at the end of the article. Thankyou for sharing, Carie!
BE FRUITFUL & MULTIPLY - THE FLIPSIDE
By: Carie Shinn
In October 2006 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - or PCOS for short. This diagnosis was the culmination of over 5 years of hoping, praying and wondering what was wrong with me.
PCOS is one of those things that nobody knows you have. I have no outward deficiencies or problems. I can do anything that you can do.....except get pregnant.
Many people wonder about the age gap in our children. I have no doubt that many believe we are some kind of blended family. All 4 are "ours" and the gap was definately not planned....but I digress....
When my husband and I married in January 1996 I couldn't wait to start a family. I stayed on birth control until September of 1996 when we decided we were ready to start our family. I fully expected to get pregnant immediately. I had always been told if you weren't using birth control you would get pregnant!!!! I did, in November of 1996 and delivered Leland David in August of 1997 without a hitch. A good little patient I am, I went back on birth control immediately and life continued on for us. We moved, I went to college, Lee grew. I greatly desired another child, but Norman wasn't ready.....however in March 1999 I found out I was pregnant. My heart broke 3 days later when an ultrasound tech confirmed that I was miscarrying. Our lives seemed to be in a major upheaval for the next few months as we both did a lot of growing. God is good and our marriage was sustained. During those few months we bought a computer and connected to the internet. A search late one night led me to the homeschooling movement and I was hooked. I learned about the quiverfull movement and began to wonder if my miscarriage wasn't related to the birth control I had been using at the time. In July 1999, I also discovered I was pregnant again.....while still on birth control. This pregnancy was burdened by worries of problems (compounded when an ultrasound tech told me that he thought the baby had Down's Syndrome)......but in March of 2000 I delivered another strong baby boy, Gregory Robert, healthy as a horse and not the girl the ultrasound tech expected :)
I quit working when my maternity leave was up and officially embarked on a homeschooling lifestyle for our family. In the summer of 2001 I went off hormonal birth control completely and we agreed that we would love to "try" for another baby. Although I knew that my hormones were a mess, I fully expected to become pregnant again immediately. That, however, was not to be.
Weeks turned into months, months turned into years. I learned how to chart my cycles. I tried different "herbal" fertility aids. I prayed daily as my desire for another child became so strong that it hurt. I finally had to accept that just because we were willing to accept more blessings into our family, that didn't mean that they were going to come. God and I had a lot of arguements over the clothes line. Well meaning friends and family couldn't understand why we felt the need to add to our family when we already had the perfect 2. "Stop trying and it will happen". "Lose 20 lbs and it will happen". Those well-meaning quips dug deep as I tried to lose weight and I tried not to fuss.
In September 2006, after a tearful discussion with our family doctor (who didn't realize the hurt I had been suffering from), I got a referal to a fertility specialist. My doctor was and is wonderful. He did the blood work. He knew what he was looking for and diagnosed me right away. What a relief I felt when he told me that I had probably been manifesting the symptoms of PCOS in high school when I started gaining weight and that the birth control regulating my cycles was probably the only thing that helped me conceive my 1st 2 sons (and God of course - we believe it was a God thing). Regardless of diet or exercise I was not going to lose weight. Left to themselves my hormones swing in such a messy circle that I am at risk for all sorts of nasty conditions, ranging from heart disease, depression, diabetes and others. God provided medication. A specific diet/exercise plan that works well WITH the medication. A plan. We finally had a plan. Our doctor was fairly certain that the medication for the symptoms of PCOS would result in pregnancy eventually, but time isn't always on a woman's side, and I wasn't getting any younger. So we agreed to a few rounds of fertility treatments and Norman Matthew (Bear) was conceived on the 3rd round.
I remember the flood of emotions I felt when I discovered I was pregnant....ironically during a cycle the doctor didn't think would take. Thanks were given to God almost hourly at our household as we prepared for our new arrival. We felt blessed beyond belief. When you have waited for something so long, there is a period of disbelief......you almost wait for the "other shoe to drop". God is generous and gracious and kind......Bear was born (in Oct. 2007) after only 6 hours of labor and the doctor almost didn't make it to catch him :)
Our story wasn't done though. I like to say that God has a sense of humor :) After Bear's birth I again refused birth control, we were willing to accept another blessing if God chose that path for us. In September of 2009 however, my husband felt that God was telling him we were done. With my blessing (I also felt that God was done expanding our family), my husband had a vasectomy. The side effects were horrific. My husband endured all forms of horrible things and in the end refused to go back for his "checkup". He declared that we would accept more children if that was God's will, but he would never go through that procedure again. I found out 2 weeks later that I was 7 weeks pregnant :)
Little Abigail Caroline was born in May 2010 after an emergency c-section (she presented arm first and had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck restricting oxygen). God was merciful in sparing her life and mine (I had some blood pressure issues during the surgery).
We won't ever be the Duggar family. There are moments when I wonder about God's plan, specifically when dealing with the attitudes of a teenager and toddler on the same day. I can't begin to explain what God taught me about trust, faith and contentment during our time of waiting. With the "unplanned" arrival of Abigail, I learned that God has a sense of humor and always knows what is best for a family.
Sometimes I sit and wonder what God has in store for us. So far the experience has been interesting :)
If you are experiencing secondary infertility or have been diagnosed with PCOS, I would love to pray with you! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch me at my blog http://www.misscarie.blogspot.com/
Carrie, wow, I just learned a lot about the tech Gabby Mama! Thank you for sharing your story. I'm going to share the link on Twitter.ReplyDelete