September is PCOS Awareness Month. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome affects as many as 5 million women in the United States alone and is often one of the most undiagnosed endocrine disorders in women. PCOS doesn’t just impact a woman’s fertility; it can affect her mood, weight and even lifelong health.
Last year, in honor of PCOS Awareness Month, I featured four PCOS bloggers for my Voices of PCOS series. It was such a hit I’ve decided to do it again. Tune in every Thursday this month for guest posts from four new Voices of PCOS bloggers.
To open up our 2012 Voices of PCOS series, please help me give a warm welcome to Amy Medling from PCOSDiva.com !
Discovering My Diva
by Amy Medling
“We’ll have to jump through hoops one day to get you pregnant.”
I still remember these words as clear as it was yesterday. I was just 18, sitting on the exam table in the clinic at Fairfield University. I had missed 5 periods in a row. Instead of suggesting that I may have PCOS, the doctor told me I was infertile.
I thought it was funny that the doctor, after spending just 5 minutes with me in a college clinic, could make such a strong statement. I honestly never really believed it. Kids were the furthest things from my mind in 1989, but I always felt like I would have them one day.
During my early twenties, practically every time I would visit a OB/GYN for an annual, I was told something about how difficult it will be for me to get pregnant. I never received a PCOS diagnosis. I was married and settled down in my mid-twenties and lo and behold, after a round of Clomid I did get pregnant at age 28 and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.
After my son was born, my husband and I practiced natural family planning using the Creighton Model and NaPro Technology . We thought that when we were ready to have another, it would just happen maybe with another round of Clomid. But charting my cycles revealed that I wasn’t ovulating. As my friends and neighbors around me were all having babies, I was struggling to just ovulate. The prediction of the doctor back at Fairfield began to haunt me.
Our NaPro instructor, a registered nurse at the local hospital, was actually the first person to suggest that I had PCOS. She knew from my charting that I wasn’t ovulating and the chart looked very typical of PCOS. I was 30 at the time and I had never even heard of PCOS.
I live in a neighborhood with lots of other young families and everyone was having their second child. It was so devastating to desperately want another child and not be able to conceive. I felt a clock ticking – I wanted my kids to be close in age but was beginning to wonder if my son would be an only child. Every month was filled with anxiety when I waited to see if a period would come, and when it didn’t get my hopes up only to be continually disappointed. It was one of the most emotionally difficult periods of my life.
I decided to go to a family practitioner who had helped “women like me” to get pregnant. I blindly took his advice as he prescribed Actos and guaifenesin to enhance mucus as well as a low dose of Clomid. After months with no luck, my husband and I decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist.
I had all the fertility tests including the HSG or hysterosalpingogram test. I was finally officially diagnosed with PCOS and put on Metformin (which made me sick as a dog), a higher dose of Clomid with monitored cycles and eventually injectables. It took many monitored cycles (actually the last before I would have to think of IVF) and I became pregnant. The day I discovered I was pregnant was one of the happiest days of my life.
But at 22 weeks the doctor called and said that an ultrasound showed a thick nuchal fold and I was told that my baby was at high risk for Down Syndrome. I declined the amniocentesis. I was to love and accept this child no matter what God had planned. We were blessed with a healthy baby boy. I was 31 years old.
During my 20’s and early 30’s my diet was loaded with processed foods: I ate tons of sugar-free low carb food, drank Diet Coke by the quart and my idea of a healthy dinner was an Orange Glazed Chicken Lean Cuisine. This lifestyle finally caught up with me. After the birth of my second son, I did not bounce back. The weight would not come off. I was tired all the time. I swore I would never take Metformin again because of the way it made me feel. I was done with birth control pills, too. The doctors told me I would never get pregnant again without fertility treatments. So I embarked on a journey to heal my body and life. I wanted to begin managing my PCOS naturally. It seemed like the perfect time to start.
Every evening I spent hours researching and I tried lots of different diets, supplements and lifestyle changes. The weight started to come off, my energy levels increased, my skin cleared and my moods brightened. So I began to share what I learned as a contributor to the Polycystic Ovarian Association’s PCOSA Newsletter – PCOS Today.
When my boys were ages seven and four – Life was Good! We were eating healthy. I was very active and started to put myself first and really taking care of and taking time for me. My husband noticed the difference and even starting calling me a Diva. He was absolutely right. Honestly that is what it took to manage my PCOS. I had to be a Diva!
One morning during that spring of 2008, I woke up feeling exhausted. I thought I was coming down with the flu. But I soon found out it wasn’t the flu. I was 11 weeks pregnant – at age 37! My family welcomed a little princess in January of 2009. Even after the doctors told me for years that they would have to jump through hoops to get me pregnant. Even after the doctors told me I would never get pregnant again without fertility treatments. I attribute this pregnancy to my healthy lifestyle and getting my body back in balance during my mid thirties.
Having a little girl truly launched PCOS Diva. My daughter may inherit my PCOS genes and if she does, I want her to know that having PCOS is not the negative thing I once thought it was. It is an opportunity to live life as a Diva!
Amy Medling is a Certified Health Coach and founder of PCOS Diva.com . PCOS Diva.com is a positive place for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome to learn how to reduce their symptoms through clean eating, meal planning, exercise, stress reduction and self-care. Amy offers seasonal meal plans, group coaching programs and private 1:1 health coaching.
Thanks Amy for sharing your awesome story! Readers, what have been your Diva moments along your infertility journeys? And don’t forget to tune in next Thursday when we hear from Tricia at Stream Of The Conscious !