Tag Archives: PCOS

Pregnancy facts about me – #1

On facebook in December 2013, there were many pregnancy stories going around. “5 pregnancy facts about me” or “20 pregnancy facts about me”, etc. Most of them started with morning sickness, or the happy lack thereof, and ended with 12 hours of labor, or a C-Section, or some other happy ending. Mine is much, much different. I compiled 20 at the time…but more will be added to that list, since my pregnancy facts – or infertility facts, as the case may be – are still accruing. I’ll be doing one “fact” per post, in a recurring fashion. The roundup of this entire series is here: Roundup

1) I have had PCOS since right out of college, or maybe forever, but since I wasn’t trying to get pregnant and I didn’t want to get on the pill, no doctor would help me. At least 5 refused to try any other option besides the pill, so I was not able to do anything about it until right before we got married.

I have PCOS which has myriad side effects. Mine include weight gain which contributes to hormonal imbalances, hormonal imbalances which contribute to weight gain, infertility, excessive male-pattern hair growth, sometimes pain while ovulating, sometimes no signs of ovulation, along with other symptoms.

In high school, I was very athletic, a 3 sport athlete, and I think I had an over-abundance of adrenaline. I was intense. Like, INTENSE. Playing defense in basketball, I would simply overwhelm opponents with a flurry of hands and arms to steal the ball and I could just go go go. I was also very strong, which working on my parent’s farm and shingling houses in the summer with my family made me “cut”. People on other teams accused me of being on speed and steroids, and were serious. One girl who moved in to our town when I was a Junior asked, in all honesty, if I was an American Gladiator. Of course, she wasn’t that bright, but still… I honestly think that the hormonal problems started then, with extra adrenaline and extra testosterone. I also had very bad acne in high school, another side effect, and I took antibiotics every day for about 4 years straight, used Retin-A the entire time, and fought and fought and fought it.

But I didn’t get the weight gain most women get, probably because I was so active. This continued through college, where I was a two sport athlete, basketball and track. 3 hour practices in basketball and being a middle distance runner where you have to train both long distances and sprints don’t allow for much weight gain, and I really didn’t have to look after my eating all that much to stay in shape.

After college, I went to grad school to study theoretical algebra. That was intense, and involved me sitting on my butt staring at incomprehensible signs and numbers with my forehead on my hands until they could be logically comprehended, and beer drinking on the weekend. Lots of beer drinking. 2 years of that, and I graduated with my M.S. and a healthy appreciation of dark craft beers. Thus I was on the road to bad habits and health.

After I got my first job, I remember distinctly having intense pain when ovulating, but I didn’t know what it was. It was a sharp, intense pain in my lower abdomen that seemed to go away when I pressed on it with my hand. My right ovary seemed to have it worse than my left. I specifically remember (this was 13 years ago, so some of this is in long term memory storage, which can be fuzzy) two instances. Once, the pain was so bad, I went to the emergency room. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me after a colonoscopy, but never even thought to look at my ovary. I didn’t either, but then again, I wasn’t a doctor. The pain eventually went away, and I was released, and thought nothing of it after that. Another time, I was at home visiting my family and it started to hurt. I stood up from the couch with a grimace, and pressed hard on my ovary area, and I looked up and saw my Dad’s face. He had caught my grimace of pain, saw where I was pushing, and unconsciously pushed in the same spot on himself. I think he was trying to figure out if it was appendicitis or something, but he actually never said anything to me. I am guessing that each time, this was a cyst popping.

Another sign things were wrong were long, unpredictable periods. I never knew when they would start again. They were long, 35-45 days apart, but never consistently. I didn’t know how to track when they were coming so they were always a surprise.

During the time I was working at my first job, before I met my husband, I went in for my yearly well woman exam annually. The doctor would see the excessive hair growth, I would show confusion on when the first day of my last period was, they would see weight gain, and they would try to prescribe me the pill. I didn’t want to take the pill. I had moral and religious objections to it, I wouldn’t remember to take it every day, and it seemed like a bandaid to something that was wrong. Taking the pill when you have PCOS may stop some symptoms, but it does not cure anything. It is hiding a disease but isn’t curing a disease.

Because I wasn’t actively trying to get pregnant, and because I didn’t want to take the pill, the medical establishment just ignored me. When I said “no” to the pill, they stopped trying to help, shook their head and wrote me off.

I went through at least 5 doctors in the 5 years I was at my first job. Not one tried anything other than shove the pill at me.

I was active during those 5 years at my first job. I played volleyball most of the year 3 times a week, biked during spring, summer, and fall, once doing a 100k (63 miles) in one day, and ran…sometimes. Not often. I wasn’t eating well, most of the time bar food and dark beer, but I was active. I shudder to think how much time and money I wasted, and how much damage I did to my fertility in this 5 year stretch. I also had a bad breakup during this time, and instantly gained weight. That really started the bad feedback loop of weight gain and hormonal problems.

After I met my husband and moved to my second job, I started thinking heavily about having children. We wanted to have a family, and when I told him about all my problems, he was supportive in trying to find a doctor that would help. I found a doctor in Wichita that didn’t scoff when I said I didn’t want to take the pill. She put me on Metformin for the first time, and did an ultrasound to confirm PCOS. The first time ever! I was 29 at the time. Already past prime fertility for “normal” people, let alone someone with PCOS.

At this point, after about a year, I decided to go snow skiing. My then-boyfriend-now-husband didn’t want to go with me, so I took my brother. It was a company sponsored bus, and 3 days of skiing in Colorado. On the second day, I tried to avoid some snowboarders, got into some ice, and cartwheeled down the mountain. The back of my ski hit the mountain and just destroyed my knee. Ok, it wasn’t destroyed, but it did tear my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Oh, that was awful. Pain, pain pain. I have a high pain tolerance, and I wasn’t screaming, but I was holding it in. The ski patrol had to take me down the mountain (head first on my back. That was awful) and to the medical shack. They didn’t believe that I was severely hurt, but my brother could tell. They finally took my blood pressure and it was ski high. They finally believed that maybe there was a problem. We had to wait for the bus to go back to the hotel, and then wait for an ambulance to come get me to take me to the ER. They kind of patched me up, gave me a prescription for pain medicine, and let me go. No pharmacies were open, so I had to wait overnight to get anything other than OTC. I then promptly took 2 on an empty stomach, and started throwing up. All the way back to Kansas. My poor bus mates.

I had to wait a month for the swelling to go down before I could have the surgery. I then had the surgery, and did the 6 weeks of rehab, but it never was strong again. It always hurt. Always. Two years later, it still always hurt. I went to a chiropractor for something else, and he adjusted something…and the pain went away. The first time in 2 years, it didn’t hurt when walking out of that office. Of course, that wasn’t permanent, but at the time it was hopeful. I still have problems with it hurting, and it has affected me and my activity level ever since.

So, bad eating habits, now restricted movement, and a weight-gain/hormonal-imbalance feedback loop. I gained a lot of weight, and my cycle was more and more erratic. I gained weight before the wedding, I didn’t lose it. Stress has an influence on your hormones, and wacky hormones like mine react to it badly.

When talking to the priest before we were married, he interviewed each of us individually to get a feel for if there was any undue influence, or any reason that we shouldn’t get married. I remember that the priest asked if there was any reason I could not or didn’t want to have kids. I said yes, I had PCOS, it was possible I was infertile but we didn’t know, and that my fiance knew all about it. Father was concerned, I could tell, because infertility is very hard on a marriage. Very hard. He was happy with my explanation and that I was open with it with my fiance, though. I think some women would try to hide that from their fiance’s, and that is a terrible thing to go into a marriage with…a secret that intense.

We did get married, and I kept my job in Wichita. My husband farms, so he couldn’t move with me. So my commute was 3 hours one way. I worked it out with my boss to work 10 hour days M-Th, getting in a 9:00 on Monday so I didn’t have to leave so early. I had an apartment for awhile and then moved in to a co-worker’s extra bedroom for a while. I did that for our first year of marriage. It sucked. No other way to say it. Suck suck suck. Finally, the blessed day came when I was layed off. Yes, a day for rejoicing. After a year of living away from my husband most of the week, I could finally just be with him. I was layed off in February and got pregnant in April. I was 31.

Pregnancy facts about me – Roundup

On facebook in December 2013, there were many pregnancy stories going around. “5 pregnancy facts about me” or “20 pregnancy facts about me”, etc. Most of them started with morning sickness, or the happy lack thereof, and ended with 12 hours of labor, or a C-Section, or some other happy ending. Mine is much, much different. I compiled 20 at the time…but more will be added to that list, since my pregnancy facts – or infertility facts, as the case may be – are still accruing. I’ll be doing one “fact” per post, in a recurring fashion. The roundup of this entire series is here: Roundup

20 Pregnancy facts about me. Probably TMI. You were warned.

Pregnancy facts about me – #1
1) I have had PCOS since right out of college, or maybe forever, but since I wasn’t trying to get pregnant and I didn’t want to get on the pill, no doctor would help me. At least 5 refused to try any other option besides the pill, so I was not able to do anything about it until right before we got married.

Pregnancy facts about me – #2
2) I was lucky that during my first pregnancy we got to see an ultrasound early, at 8 weeks, since I was an older mom. I miscarried 2 weeks later. But I have an ultrasound picture and I was able to hear the heart beating.

3) The night before I miscarried I felt a slight cramping but didn’t know that anything was wrong. My husband and I went to bed with his hand on my belly with my hand on top of his. My baby died with our hands over the top of him, at 10 weeks. It was a boy.

4) I am starting to cry right now.

5) Another year passed with no idea what was wrong and no idea why I couldn’t get pregnant. My cousin Crystal was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and went to a specialist in Omaha, and Aunt Karen found a book in the hospital describing the Creighton Fertility Method and Na-Pro Technology, which is a form of Natural Family Planning with Dr. backup. The first time I went to my Doctor I had a 45 minute appointment and she was the first doctor to really listen to what was wrong with me and give me hope. She also loaded me up with information and pills and shots and charting and other things that were all consuming and takes time and dedication every day. But it was something, and it gave me hope.

6) We tried for another year after finding my doctor. Melt downs, crying, and throwing hissy fits were pretty normal. I was very jealous and very fragile. It didn’t matter if I didn’t want to feel jealous, it was a feeling that I had. I didn’t want to feel sad and empty either. I especially didn’t want to feel guilty. But that is how I felt. People try to tell you that these are bad feelings to have, but you can’t help it.

7) I was trying to schedule a surgery to do an ovarian wedge section with the same hospital in Omaha that Crystal went to, and when I got my paperwork in, they called me. But I was 3 days late, so I took a blood test at the hospital (couldn’t take a POAS test because of the HCG shots I take 4 days a month interfere with the test and could show false positives) before I called them back and I was positive! I called my husband first thing, and we had to go to Salina immediately so my Doctor’s assistant could show him how to give me progesterone shots. She was worried he wouldn’t be able to handle giving me shots until we told her he was a farmer. She didn’t worry any more after that. I was supposed to get 2cc of progesterone in oil in my upper hip twice a week and blood tests every 2 weeks to monitor the progesterone levels. She said many people were able to stop these painful shots after 13 weeks.

8 ) We didn’t tell anybody until after 10 weeks was over. At 13 weeks, I told everyone I knew.

9) At 13 1/2 weeks, I was working at home and sneezed. Blood went everywhere. I thought I was miscarrying again. My husband rushed in from the farm and we drove to Salina. The pickup’s governor tops out at 99mph, by the way. I was panicking but halfway there I resigned myself to losing this baby too. My most freverent prayer I have ever prayed was “Please, God, no.”

10) We got to the hospital and into the ultrasound room. I didn’t want to sit down because every time I did I could feel more blood coming out. If I stood still, nothing came out. The ultrasound tech was very calm, and very deliberate, and found a heartbeat. We both bawled. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. Except for my first one’s. Let’s call it a tie.

11) I had a subchorionic hemorrhage. There are two chorions, the inside one holds the amniotic fluid and the outside one protects the inside one from my body (of course this is my lay interpretation). The two somehow developed a blister between them and it popped. The inside one held, but my doctor told me to go on bed rest for 10 days. We drove home, I stood up to go inside and a great big clot of blood started coming out. I got to the toilet and a clot as big as my hand came out. I thought I had lost him. I pawed through it looking for … something. I don’t know what. I was crying and panicking again after this horrible day and all I could find was a great big blood clot. My husband finally grabbed me by both arms and made me look at him and told me it looked like a blood clot after you shot a deer, and it didn’t look like last time. (I hadn’t thought of it until that moment, but he had come back home when I was going in to surgery the first time to make sure that there wasn’t any placenta or anything left over in me. He cleaned up our baby. He made sure I didn’t have to deal with that when I got home. Of course he then came back up to get me after that. He never told me what he did or how he got through that. The only time he has ever hinted about it was this night when I was panicking.) We went back to the hospital the next day, and our baby was still there, little heart beating away.

12) I stayed on strict bed rest for 10 days and finally went back to the doctor. The 1″ blister had shrunk to 1/4″ and I was cleared to go back to work. After that first night, I hadn’t had any more bleeding. We needed some groceries, so we went to Walmart and I needed to go to the bathroom. Another big clot of blood about the size of a golf ball came out. We had to go back home and then back in again the next morning. Things were still good.

13) I got a personal heartbeat monitor and made my husband use it on me a lot. I couldn’t find the heartbeat, and would try for like 10 minutes and couldn’t find anything. he could find it in less than a minute.

14) Things were going well, but my progesterone levels were all very low. I had to continue taking the progesterone shots all the way through the 38th week, even at the end taking pills as well as the shots. Did I say these shots were painful? Well, they are in oil, and if you don’t warm them up enough and don’t massage them after and don’t put a hot pad on them afterwards, the oil stays in one spot and you get great big welts. We could only put them in the upper hip (right above my ass cheek) on either side, so I had big bruises and welts the entire time. It started messing with the nerves, too, so it felt really weird to run your hand across them. This also explains why I had the miscarriage the first time. I didn’t have a doctor know anything about PCOS and she didn’t prescribe me any progesterone at all, and my body didn’t produce enough to sustain a pregnancy (progesterone = pro-gestation)

15) At around 30 weeks, we learned that he was breech. Upside down and not interested in flipping around. I tried the crawling around on my hands and knees thing, the flashlight down under my bellybutton thing, the rubbing clockwise to try to encourage him to turn thing. Didn’t work. We scheduled for the Doctor to do an external version procedure, where she would try to turn him by pushing on my belly. I wanted to do it because nothing else in my pregnancy had gone to plan, and by God, my body could at least do one thing correctly in this whole mess. The night before I was very agitated and couldn’t make up my mind. I talked to my older sister and Mom and finally my husband (he had been talking to me this whole time but I wasn’t really hearing him) and we decided to call it off. I called the hospital and canceled, and immediately a great big weight came off my shoulders. I think someone, God, my guarding Angel, someone, was telling me not to do it, and when I finally listened, I felt immediately calm and knew I had made the right decision.

16) We scheduled the C-section 2 weeks early. We were supposed to stay at Mel and Russ’s house the night before, but a big storm came through and knocked their power out, with more on the way. I didn’t know what to do. I was nervous and panicking and could not make a decision. My husband kept asking me if we were staying or going, or what. I finally told him “I can’t make this decision. You have to decide.” And sat down and waited for him to decide. We went and stayed on their couch, even though it was still raining and they didn’t have electricity. We didn’t want to get caught on K-18 because around Lincoln it was flooding that spring, so that is why we went the night before.

17) When we were getting ready to go in to the operating room, I asked my husband if he was going to watch. He said no, why would he do that? He was up by my head, holding my hand, and then we smelled the cauterizing tool doing its thing. It smelled like a branding iron. He glanced over the screen, and immediately was immersed in what they were doing. He got to see it all. He was great. He took some great pictures when the baby was just coming out. And the cord was up over Boobock’s shoulder like a purse, so if we had tried to turn him, we could have hurt him badly. Thank you, God, for shaking me out of my pride and doing what was right! The nurse took him and cleaned him up and I made my husband stay with the baby the whole time while I was still getting stiched up. I got to hold him a bit but I was still lying flat on the operating table, but he got to hold him until I got out into the other room.

18) The operating room nurse was the best and showed me how to get Boobock to nurse. She was completely awesome and I wish I could have told her how much I appreciated her help.

19) I think I am such a strong advocate of nursing on an intellectual level because I know all the good it does for the baby, but on a deeper level, because that is the only damned thing my body could do correctly. The only womanly thing that I could do by myself and that I didn’t need help with.

20) We’ve been trying again for 9 months now. If I was normal and could have gotten pregnant like everyone else, I would have a baby right now in my arms. We are doing the same steps, I’ve lost 35-40 pounds (depends on the day), work out 6 times a week, and doing blood tests etc. Oh, you want to hear the etc? Every day, I take 3 tablets of Metformin, a prenatal vitamin, DCI (a B vitamin supplement that normal people make on their own but people with PCOS don’t) and Fish Oil. 7 Femara tablets on the 3rd day of my period. Charting every day, testing mucous levels and trying to determine if they are fertile signs or not. Sex every other day for 5 days when the almost non-existant mucous tells you to, no matter if you want to or not. HCG shots 3, 5, 7, and 9 days after signs of ovulation. Progesterone pills days 3-12, but this month I am starting progesterone shots on days 3, 5, 7, and 9. Blood test on day 7. Cry on day 14. Start all over again.