Why this (very self-indulgent) blog is here
I always thought I’d get pregnant around 26 years old.
My mom got pregnant with my older sister at 26 and a half. I know she was because I've asked her about it obsessively through out my life. Getting pregnant around 26 seemed like a reasonable enough goal. After all, I had a very happy childhood, my mother was a very happy mommy, and my siblings are both well-adjusted, kind, and wonderful people.
So it was decided. I would follow my mom's motherhood timeline in hopes of getting similar results.
My reproductive plan was as follows:
- Get married to a nice man around 24 or 25
- Have my first kid around 26
- Pop out two or three more little humans
- Wash my hands of the baby-birthing business by my early thirties
I knocked out the first bullet on June 13, 2015 (God kindly presented my soulmate to me during my senior year of college after I had bitterly sworn off all men) so I was feeling pretty good about my progress.
I didn't think I would struggle much with getting pregnant. I'm at an average BMI, stay somewhat active by teaching dance and taking dance classes, and have been vegan for the past few years. All I needed to do was wait until my husband was ready to start trying, I thought, then I would be holding our sweet baby in no time.
He eventually said "Yes!" (to baby making)
Getting Thomas to agree to start trying for a baby was a larger hurdle than I had anticipated. He's a year and a half younger than me, and though he's mature for his age, he was also anxious about starting a family while getting settled in his career.
This was a stormy period in our marriage. Neither of us would budge. Then, after what seemed like an endless and frustrating series of months, Thomas finally said yes to trying for a baby. It was around December of 2016, and I was walking on air.
I had wanted to start trying much sooner, so I eagerly threw myself into making my body the perfect little habitat for our baby. I ordered pre-natal vitamins (specifically Rainbow Light Prenatal One™ Multivitamin if anyone is wondering) and started taking them daily. I immediately stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol. I paid attention to my food, sleep, and exercise habits. I idly thought about praying that God would give us a baby soon, but I instead prayed about everything else in my life because I was afraid to ask for what I wanted most. (I'm kinda an idiot like that.)
So we started trying, and failed. And tried and failed, and tried and failed.
Then I realized my period had disappeared for months.
Oh where, oh where has my period gone?
I don't know much about the human body, but I knew that if Aunt Flow wasn't visiting me regularly, there was no way I was going to get pregnant. Something was wrong.
I scheduled some time with my OBGYN, hoping to get this fixed quickly so I could get back on track with my (very important and totally reasonable) reproductive timeline.
After several blood tests and a fairly uncomfortable transvaginal ultrasound ("Just like a tampon," yeah, right. Maybe a tampon for giants,) she diagnosed me.
The ultrasound showed that I had over twelve small cysts in each of my ovaries.
I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS AKA the horrible, uncomfortable, and unsexy baby blocker
It was April of 2017 when I got my diagnosis. The news broke my little baby-wanting heart. At the very least, it meant getting and staying pregnant would be significantly harder. And that's not even talking about the increased risk of cancer and host of other unfortunate symptoms.
I had been wanting a baby for years by this point, and those five months that I thought we were finally trying and getting closer, it turns out I wasn't even ovulating because of my PCOS. In other words, all of that time, we never had a chance.
So back to comparing my situation to my mom's, because I apparently love stealing all possible joy from myself. My mother initially struggled with fertility as well, but conceived my older sister on her second Clomid cycle.
After my diagnosis, we tried Provera to induce my periods, and Clomid to encourage ovulation. Provera worked (Hooray!), but Clomid didn't. We tried Clomid again, but it didn't work, again.
Lost in the infertility dark place
I'm writing somewhat light-heartedly right now, but women who have struggled with infertility know the ugliness of this situation, and how it rears its head into every aspect of your life.
The loving husband who can’t understand the depth of your grief.
The well-meaning friends who say “It hasn’t been that long,” unwittingly glossing over your months of hell.
The sight of pregnant women, babies, and children simultaneously making your heart melt and tighten in pain.
The never ending stream of pregnancy announcements in your social feeds.
The frayed nerves whenever you hear about people easily getting pregnant or accidentally getting pregnant.
The nights spent crying, feeling hopeless and alone.
I was in that place for a long time, and I still am to some degree. Some days I can't think of anything else. Some days I cry and can't stop. Some days my life feels gray, dull, and meaningless. Some days I want to give up.
By the grace of God, today is not one of those days. Instead, today is roughly the midpoint in my two-month break from Clomid, and any kind of fertility medications.
Oddly, today is a day with some hope.
Wait, why forego fertility meds for two months if you want a baby so badly?
It seems counter-intuitive, maybe even stupid, to opt-out of taking more Clomid if I want to conceive despite my PCOS. But I felt that God wanted me to take a two or three month break from the drugs toward the end of my second failed cycle.
I know that may sound crazy, but I can explain.
I've been a Christian all of my life, but not a very good one if I'm being honest. Throughout my relationship with God, I've struggled to know what His will is for me.
Fast forward to this year, a couple of months ago, I started listening through Experiencing God. As I got further into it and continued struggling with my infertility, I felt a little voice in me saying I should take a break from the meds.
I resisted at first. It didn't make sense. Why halt all of the progress I had made? Had I lost my will to fight?
But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
I had put my desire to be a mother above everything else in my life. I was (maybe am still) willing to sacrifice anything and everything to have a baby. I didn’t know how to turn off that desire to have and love a child of my own. I didn't know how to stop wanting to be a mother when I’ve been doing it all of my life. I still don't know how to do either of those things currently.
But I don't think this agony is what God wants for me.
Instead, I think He wants me to stop trying to make things happen on my own. I think He wants me to start relying on His provision, and trusting in Him fully.
After reading some scripture and journaling about it, I decided to follow through with what the little voice was saying. Part of me secretly hoped that God would reward my show of faith with a baby, of course. But this month, our first month on break from meds, I failed to conceive yet again. I may not have even ovulated.
The truth of the matter
If I'm being 100% candid, there are days when I have completely lost faith that God will allow me to get pregnant because the past months have been so painful. It can feel like He doesn’t care about me, or doesn’t want me to be a mother because I'm too broken. I know that as a human, I’m never going to know His ways. I also know that I’m suffering, I don’t know why, and I don't see an end in sight.
But here's the ultimate truth of the matter, the beauty in this darkness, and what I know in my heart of hearts: the God who sacrificed His perfect son for me loves me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, and will provide for me what I need (Luke 12:31.) Whether that's a baby, a chance to be a mother through adoption, or a life of childlessness, He will give me what I need to become the most loving person I can ever hope to be.
He does this for all of His children no matter what trials we endure. In fact, often those very trials serve an important purpose in our development. After all, His power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9.)
Yes, it doesn’t feel like His grace is sufficient. It doesn't feel like He's there, or that He'll provide. In fact it feels like the opposite. But feelings cannot, do not, and will not change the truth of who God is, and who I am.
What this blog is for
If you read the first sentence of this blog and immediately thought, "Oh no, this is just going to be Gracelyn whinging about how she can't have a baby," DING DING DING. You were right. Also maybe a little rude.
My hope for this blog is three-fold:
- To encourage and walk alongside fellow women struggling with infertility (AKA word-vomiting my feelings out in a way that hopefully others can benefit from them)
- To share what I learn about my condition, and my experiences with all of the different remedies recommended for it
- To point to God as the source of all good things, including the good that comes out of this particular kind of trial
I'm going to be learning more about my condition, reading all kinds of books about polycystic ovarian syndrome, trying all sorts of things to improve my fertility (like chugging water and apple cider vinegar in the morning, for example), and reporting back what I find.
If anything works for me, I'll let you know in hopes that it can help others heal from their PCOS-related infertility struggles as well. Otherwise, thank you for being patient with me as I struggle through this difficult season in my life. Remember that you are loved beyond measure. These trials will not break you. Your life was made for more.
As said in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." All we need to do is wait it out together.