I haven’t written in my blog for a while. It took months for me to get my thoughts together and be as raw and honest about what I’m writing.
Yes, I’m already a stepmother, which in itself is a journey. But this is different. I am actually pregnant. Almost 8 months to be exact. Pregnancy didn’t seem like a possibility because I couldn’t get pregnant the natural way.
Let me explain….
Around 30 years old, my menses went AWOL. It would come infrequently like every 3 months and last 3 days at most. By the time I was 31, it was just gone. I didn’t go to the doctor right away. I felt free not being burdened by Aunt Flo. Just let me say clinicians are the worst at being patients. We know most of the outcomes of neglecting our health and we ignore it. I’m just as bad. My GYN doctor yelled at me when I decided to tell him I haven’t had a normal menses in over 6 months. I knew the consequence of not intervening was endometrial cancer. I was in denial. I would have rather not thought about it. I started hormonal therapy and was on it for years. Being on hormonal therapy was also scary because it put me at increased risk for breast cancer. I already had a cousin succumb to this horrible disease.
This was my life for years. I had met my future husband who had two kids and if I couldn’t have kids, I was satisfied with being with this wonderful man who was okay if more kids weren’t possible. I had seen an endocrinologist who informed me what I had already suspected. I had Premature Ovarian Failure.
Premature Ovarian Failure or POF is a condition where the ovaries no longer function usually occurring before reaching the age of 40. Only 5-10% of women can get pregnant with POF. Others need additional methods to become pregnant. This disease occurred in me when I was 31 but can occur in girls as young as 14. There are two types. One can be treated by giving a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone or FSH to help the ovaries make follicles where the eggs are kept. The other type is if your body is working overtime to help your ovaries work (high levels of FSH), then the ovaries have just failed. Hormonal therapy or hormone replacement therapy helps regulate menses and reduce symptoms of menopause such as osteoporosis, hot flashes and heart disease to name a few. The exact causes of POF range from genetics to environmental to previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy. But in 90% of cases, the cause is unknown.
I decided to wait and really ponder if I wanted to proceed with having children. It was suggested I freeze my eggs. I was already 38 years old and my eggs were probably not going to be great anyway. After getting married, I was still unsure if I wanted to have children. I just had gotten married and wanted to enjoy being a wife before becoming a mother. What didn’t help with the anxiety over making a decision and the if I could indeed become pregnant was the constant nagging from other people – mainly women.
Okay, here is where I vent for myself and others….
Women (family, friends or strangers) can be extremely insensitive when it comes to asking about children. Here are some of the insensitive things women say:
1.What are you waiting for?
First, how do you even know a woman wants to have kids. She may not. I’ve heard young women say, I’m too young and/or I just started my career. I’ve also heard young women say they are too selfish to have kids. These are honest statements in my opinion. If you know you don’t have the time/money/desire to take a care of a child, why should you be chastised for not wanting a child. Also, for a young woman who is not married or even in a serious relationship; why should she be forced to feel she is doing something wrong because she decided to wait or decided she doesn’t WANT any children?
2. You’re how old? Better get on that!
If you only knew my story. It should never be assumed that a woman hasn’t tried or isn’t actively trying to have a child. A woman going through the struggles of infertility shouldn’t have to share her story with EVERYONE just to get other women to back off and just stop asking inappropriate questions. If if the infertility issues lies with the man (e.g. low sperm count), it’s still no one’s business. Just because you know of 10 women who pop out kids like candy from a pez dispenser, does not mean every woman has success stories. Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen and Gabrielle Union are examples of women who tried to have a child multiple times and weren’t successful until as of recently. Even former FLOTUS Michelle Obama recently admitted her daughters were the result of IVF. This has to be the 2nd most frustrating thing I’ve heard since I was 25 years old.
3. Just relax. It will happen.
This is the MOST frustrating statement to me. I could have been the least worried person in the world and my estrogen was not going to come back. Can stress and anxiety prevent a women from getting pregnant? Absolutely! There is no doubting stress plays a huge role on our physical health. However, when there is a medical reason for why a woman can’t get pregnant, telling her to relax just doesn’t help. Especially if infertility treatments are required. Many of these treatments are expensive and some women just don’t have the finances for it. Even if there is no medical reason for the infertility, a woman has to find her center of calmness. Hearing this over and over (to me) just creates more anxiety and anger. I believe in and have heard of miracle children, but that’s not everyone’s story or happy ending.
Anyway, vent over. I decided to do IVF (Invitro Fertilization) with donor eggs. My first time was not successful. I didn’t even get pregnant. I was heart broken and cried for months. I kept my feelings shielded as much as possible because everyone doesn’t need to know your story. I tried a second time and it was successful. I’m currently expecting a baby girl. Its truly a blessing to be able to conceive as there are so many women who have tried multiple times and were unsuccessful until their 8th try or not at all.
As I anxiously await her arrival, I pray she is healthy and God blesses me to be a great mother.
I would love to hear from women who have gone through this or who can just relate. Please leave any comments below.
If you are not ready to have children and want to consider freezing your eggs, here are good articles for you.