Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Secondary infertility and PCOS

These are topics that have been on my mind a lot lately for various reasons. But I realized that some well-meaning folks may not know a lot about one or both of these topics, so I figured I would do a quick post as a sort of PSA for anyone who might stumble across my blog.

Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive once you have had a child before. This difficulty can come for many reasons. But just because someone has been able to get pregnant before does not mean that person will have an easy time getting pregnant again.

I learned during my own struggles that my mother had difficulty conceiving her first child, just like I did. She got pregnant after using Clomid, just like I did. And then, as far as I know, she didn't have any difficulty conceiving the rest of the clan.

I, on the other hand, have a 3-year-old daughter and occasional conversations with well-meaning folks who ask when we're going to have another child. Please, please, please reconsider before asking people this question. It really isn't anyone's business but the family's whether or not they will be adding to it. Sure, you're curious and you want to know the information, but it can hurt. After all, I've had one child, so I therefore should be able to have more, right? Forget the fact that it took several years to get pregnant and get past the first few weeks of pregnancy. Forget the fact that I had to be put on Progesterone after finally getting pregnant to keep from miscarrying again. Forget the fact that I ended up in the hospital at 9 weeks pregnant, closer to death than I realized, due to a blood clot that had broken off from my legs and traveled to my lungs, filling both with clots and making it impossible for my body to get enough oxygen. Forget the hospital stay and surgery and tests. Forget the fact that my entire pregnancy was full of injecting myself in the stomach two-- and eventually three-- times a day with blood thinner so I wouldn't die, as well as a ridiculous number of blood draws to test the blood thinner level in my blood and run tests. Forget my high number of doctor's visits due to my high risk pregnancy. Forget the 9 months of nausea and vomiting in addition to all that other fun stuff. Forget my terrible delivery experience after my terrible pregnancy experience to top things all off. Forget the late-onset postpartum depression I suffered and everything that came with that long-lasting nightmare. Forget whether or not I WANT to possibly go through any or all of that again. 

Forget all of that. Just know that the reason I'm not pregnant right now has nothing to do with not wanting another child. 

I am currently suffering from secondary infertility. 

Phew. Just saying that-- just putting that out there-- is scary and freeing and heartbreaking. It is the first time I have worded like that, even to myself, despite the fact I knew that was what was going on.

Just like before I was able to conceive Joy, I celebrate pregnancies and births with happiness for my friends. But just like before, they are each reminders of my body's current failures. Just like before, I answer well-meaning friends and acquaintances politely when they ask when/if we're going to have another child. But just like before, those questions stab me in the gut. 

My secondary infertility is a side effect of my PCOS. My PCOS was also a contributing factor to my infertility before. So, yes, in theory, if I can get it under control somehow, I may no longer be infertile. One of the best ways to treat PCOS is through weight loss. When you have PCOS, losing weight is extremely difficult. Gaining weight can happen very easily, though. When you have PCOS, your hormones are out of whack. When your hormones are out of whack, your body does not work as a well-functioning machine. 

Don't get me wrong. I am truly grateful for my family the way it is now. My daughter is what I call my miracle child. Being born after a loss, she is also my rainbow baby. I'm not sure if my family is complete now or not, but time will tell.

Be kind to people around you. We are all fighting our own battles. Some are more visible than others, but those that can't be seen aren't any less battles than those that can.