When I was was in my early 20s, I used to worry extensively about whether or not I’d be able to have children one day. I had watched my older sister deal with issues stemming from fertility, and I assumed I would go through something similar. So imagine my surprise when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant! My first pregnancy was scary for reasons I could have never predicted (mostly that I was completely and utterly unprepared to become a mother), but we were thrilled when our little girl was born. I found I really enjoyed this whole mothering thing! My baby girl was a happy, joyful baby and she brought together our little family in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
For the first few years after my daughter’s birth, we were very content in our family of three. My husband and I were still in our early twenties, and we had lots of personal and professional goals that took precedence over expanding our family. But after a couple of years, we decided it was time to try for a second child. We were so excited! Our first pregnancy had been met with worry and lots of questions. As we were young and unmarried, many people responded to our pregnancy news negatively. I had felt robbed of that fun, early pregnancy experience, and I was so pumped to get to have a positive one the second time around.
For the first few months of “trying” I keep my positive energy high. Each month I was convinced I was pregnant, not only by my brain, but by my body! I had symptoms of pregnancy each month, and I would excitedly buy test after test, knowing one would have that coveted plus sign. But every month I was disappointed. After 12 months of symptoms with no pregnancy, I went to my doctor. They did some preliminary tests, but everything came back OK. I was young, healthy and had successfully become pregnant in the past. So we decided to keep trying.
Months went by with no positive results. At this point, my mental and emotional state began to crumble. I wasn’t sure what to do, or who to reach out to. Most infertility groups were geared toward women who had no children. My one healthy pregnancy locked me out. I felt guilt over my sadness, thinking I should just be quiet and be grateful for the child I DID have. I was deeply depressed and confused. I felt like it was a cruel joke, that I could get pregnant when I didn’t want to, but now that we were financially stable and trying for a child, I couldn’t make it happen. My husband was supportive, but he couldn’t understand exactly what I was going through, and in turn, I stopped confiding in him. I felt like a failure.
A couple months later I headed back to the doctor. I still had no positive pregnancy tests, however every month my body had symptoms of pregnancy. This was probably the worst part of our whole ordeal. Each month I was sure I was pregnant, and then let down when I wasn’t. My midwife (who I adore) had one idea left that might explain what was happening, but it was a long shot. She mentioned testing for polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS), even though I didn’t exemplify the classic symptoms. Most PCOS sufferers have issues such as weight gain, adult acne and hair growth. Since I didn’t have those outward symptoms, the doctors hadn’t originally tested me for PCOS, but my midwife told me I’d probably feel better crossing something else off my list.
Imagine my surprise when the tests came back positive! Though it was scary to have a diagnosis, it was also wonderful, because it meant I could finally do something proactive instead of sitting around waiting for things to change. In some cases PCOS can be treated with diet and exercise, but as my body was healthy and didn’t exhibit certain symptoms, the best course of action was medication. After three months of the prescribed regimen, I still wasn’t pregnant, and I was definitely losing hope. I had resolved myself to try one round of an additional fertility medication, and after that we’d stop and look in to other alternatives to adding to our family.
I went to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled, and the pharmacist told me I shouldn’t take the medication if there was any chance I was pregnant. I laughed out loud right at her (I’m sure she thought I was insane), but I bought yet another pregnancy test per her request. This time it wasn’t the fancy, expensive one with the plus and minus signs or digital screen…I’d long since exceeded my pregnancy test budget! I grabbed the cheapest, store brand test and bought it along with my prescription. I went back to work and decided to take the test in my work bathroom, so I could immediately start taking my new medication. I actually walked away from the test to wash my hands, and when I came back, I thought I had definitely lost my mind.
After years and months of failed tests, two pink lines were finally waiting for me.
(Photo via Megan Peters)