Vulnerability is terrifying. Truly. But I feel deeply convicted that I need to kick off this project with my own story. Every time I tell my story I am surprised to find that so many women - often, women that I consider myself close with - are either currently experiencing many of the struggles that I am experiencing, or they have walked through the same path in the past.
I have never regretted sharing my infertility story. Although this kind of raw authenticity is scary, the compassionate support from my community that results is greatly rewarding. So, although I am uneasy, I know that the return on my emotional investment will be a HUGE blessing!
In January of 2014, I had just graduated college. Things were going well in my husband's career, things in my career were coming together, and we thought it would be a great time to start trying for little Methenys. My husband, Will, and I have said for years that we wanted to have children young. Of course, we wanted to feel ready and prepared(ish), but we loved the idea of having kids while we still had the energy to chase after them!
So, we were officially 'trying'. Enter prenatal vitamins, tracking cycles, researching nutrition, day dreaming in the nursery aisle of Target, planning out preferences, and general excitement. It truly was a fun time!
Six months of 'trying' goes by, and we decide that it's probably time to check in with the doctor. I had always experienced irregular cycles, but I was hopeful that the irregular cycles wouldn't negatively impact my chances of conceiving. I'll spare you the details of some very frustrating visits with doctors, but I will share that eventually (several months later) those visits became so anger-inducing that I temporarily swore off doctors and landed in the office of a Certified Nurse Midwife.
Finally, I had a healthcare professional who would take the time to listen to my concerns and order the tests necessary to find out what was going on with my health. A couple months and several blood tests later, I had a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Now, you would be surprised how many women have PCOS. Many fertility researchers guesstimate that roughly 10% of the female population has PCOS. Crazy town!
Admittedly, I was 20lbs overweight, I was not eating as well as I could, and my exercise habits were spotty at best. My midwife suggested that I attempt to treat the symptoms of PCOS with some lifestyle changes. She gave me 6 weeks of a diet/exercise plan and retested my hormone levels to see if the positive changes had a fruitful impact. In those 6 weeks, I lost 10lbs and felt MUCH better than before, but my hormone levels didn't budge.
So, our next step was to try to "jump start" a consistent cycle with 4-6 months of birth control. Ugh. It felt incredibly counter-productive, but I agreed to attempt the treatment plan. 6 months later, I went back off of birth control and did have some success with a normal cycle for a couple of months afterward, but no pregnancy.
Eventually, my cycles started to grow further and further apart, and my hormone levels were not improving. My midwife shared that it was time to refer me to a trusted GYN. Mind you, it was now the beginning of 2016, and I was tired of waiting. I begrudgingly agreed to see the GYN that she referred me to.
More tests and appointments ultimately led to a treatment plan of 6 cycles of an admittedly high dose of clomid (a fertility medication). After 5 cycles of brutal mood swings, physical weakness, blood sugar issues, hot flashes, and increasingly irregular periods, I decided to take ovulation tests every day during the last cycle. Spoiler alert: I never got a positive ovulation test. A call to my doctor confirmed that my next step would be to chat through my options with a fertility specialist.
And that's where we are at. My husband is waiting on some test results so that we can meet with the fertility specialist and get an idea of our options. At this point in time, I don't know if PCOS is my only issue. I don't know what my options will be, and I don't know if I will ever know what it feels like to see a positive pregnancy test.
I can tell you what I do know: infertility is unapologetically painful. The emotional turmoil is paralyzing. The endless waiting can make you question anything. You see, over the past 2.5 years, I have questioned more than I am proud to admit.
But I have also learned lessons that I feel burdened to share. I have learned that although the pain of infertility can be unimaginable, I am never alone in my pain. God has given me an incredible community of women who are willing to walk through the hurt of this season with me, and I am thankful. I have learned that all women, no matter her current circumstance or role, are inherently valuable and loved. The state of my uterus is no reflection of my worth.
If my story has moved you on any level, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your story. I want to hear your thoughts. Please share them with me? Read more about the #IAmWhole project here.