I originally started this post March 2017. When I revisited it January 2019, I balled. I could feel the pain I had almost two years ago in the words I wrote then. Two years ago. It seems like an eternity when waiting for something as precious as a baby and it blows my mind how much my story has changed since then. More hurt, more struggle, but a lot more growth as well. So here it goes.
After dating seven years, my husband (Alex) and I got married in 2013. Shortly after, we began talking about growing our family. When I say I never thought I would be one that would struggle with fertility, I mean it in the most selfish way possible. Psssh I’ll have children when I want…no big deal. No thought or consideration to it. I laugh when I think of God’s reaction to this and boy, did he have big plans for Alex and I.
In 2015, our world came crumbling down when we were told that getting pregnant would be next to impossible to achieve on our own, if ever, due to PCOS. This process of coping was one I had never experienced before. My every thought throughout the day revolved around infertility. It consumed me. Asking the natural question, “why?”. I researched Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) until I was blue in the face and felt that I could literally teach a lecture on it to doctoral students. I let PCOS define who I was and was going to be for the rest of my life. That life included weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth, and hormone imbalance. It was inevitable and how could I compete with that?
I cried more in that year than I ever care to again in my life. Even with my husband there to tell me everything was going to be ok time and time again, I felt alone and Alex struggled with trying to understand exactly what I was going through. At the time, I never knew anyone with my condition, let alone anyone successful in treating it. It took us a while to determine what our next step would be in this journey. I knew I wanted to try to naturally “heal” myself. And that was going to require me to change my lifestyle. So, Alex, being the saint that he is, bought me my first Fitbit. Soon after, walks around the block became four miles a night within months. I HAD to get those steps in. #fitbitobsessed
My next step was to start new eating habits that excluded things that had a negative impact on PCOS like dairy, gluten, soy, processed foods, and refined sugar. I was hooked on the Paleo lifestyle from then on and continue to eat Paleo foods as much as possible. Walking nearly everyday and learning to eat properly, I lost 50+ pounds that I didn’t know I had to lose until it was gone. Weight loss is the number one treatment option for PCOS, but it’s very difficult to do. I thought okay, 50 pounds gone, I’m cured! Wrong. Although I had never felt better (physically) in my life, my ovaries didn’t agree.
Around a year after our original diagnosis, we decided to see a fertility specialist. During our treatment, I felt hope and relief some days and other days I would feel defeat and anguish. My stress and anxiety were through the roof and a few days felt like months. I had two to three visits to the specialist every week. Each one I thought would be the last only to find out I had many more to come. We invested emotion, time, and way too much money into our treatments. We crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s. Nothing worked. Our conversations as a couple changed from “WHEN” we have children to “IF” we have children. We took a break from treatment. We NEEDED a break.
You look at things differently — children, families, even commercials for goodness sake. Family members and friends ask when you plan to have children, not knowing the burden you bare. Being in my late twenties, my peers and friends were getting pregnant all around me. You want so badly to be happy for them and you genuinely are, but the feeling of jealousy overtakes you. You distance yourself from people that mean so much to you because of this jealousy and pain. My heart was hurting. And I missed out on connecting with people because of it.
Fast forward to 2017. I was in place where I knew I could no longer “deal” with things on my own. Becoming so obsessed with everything I put in my body and let’s be real…wasn’t putting in my body. I sought help. In the back of my head I KNEW that my habits took a wrong turn. Obsessive calorie counting, waking up at 4am to run like a crazy person on the treadmill and not eating to fuel my body. Yep, an eating disorder creeped into my life.
Slapping an eating disorder on top of struggling with infertility. What gives??? Here I thought I was healing my body (IKR) when in reality I was doing so much harm and I knew that THIS healing process was going to take time. I began my eating disorder recovery and worked hard everyday at it. Infertility affects 10% of women in the United States and .4% of women suffer from anorexia at any point in time. You just never think that you will be a statistic. I’ll share more on my eating disorder and recovery in a later post.
A few months into recovery (November 15th to be exact) I was making progress. Something was off though. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a stash of pregnancy tests at home. I had given up on them long ago. So on lunch one day, I ran down to the nearest CVS and bought some. I kept them in my car the rest of the work day and didn’t think too much about them. I stopped and got dinner for Alex and I, ate and again…wasn’t in a hurry to take the test because why would this time be any different than the many times before.
Scheduled to leave for St. Louis the next morning for work, I started to pack and thought, oh what the heck…let’s get this over with. Only this time the results were much much different. Eight tests later (because one wasn’t enough), it was confirmed. A baby on the way!
Tears of joy and excitement overcame us. The 3 hour drive to St. Louis was in silence as so many thoughts raced through my head. When we told our family we shared tears together. A day we thought was never going to come was here and it was hard to believe. It was a long pregnancy as we waited for the arrival of our sweet boy. There was so much fear of the what if’s and unknowns. On July 13th, 2018 (that’s right, Friday the 13th) we welcomed Henry Alex Walters into the world. Our lives changed forever.
An almost 5 year journey that seemed so unbearable at times was all the sudden completely worth it on that day and every day since. Motherhood has changed my life in so many ways that I knew it would and even more ways that I didn’t expect. The person that I woke up as on July 13th was not the same person that went to sleep staring at her baby that same night and thereafter.
During my pregnancy there were conversations that consisted of the phrases like “hey, maybe pregnancy will heal your body and your PCOS will go away!”. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. PCOS is still very much a part of me. During this phase of my life, I’m having to readjust my focus on this healing process. With PCOS comes infertility and a slew of other less than desirable symptoms that I will work toward a long term solution for but it’s not going to happen over night. And this time, I will find a solution with a grateful heart. I can’t wait to see what happens next and share all the things healing and motherhood with you.