2020 brough many unexpected surprises, some welcome and some not so welcome. By the time August rolled around I had retreated into my hole while I tried to process the facts that we were separating children from their parents at the border, people still weren’t understanding that Black Lives Matter, we were in the middle of a global pandemic that our President was still calling “The Chinese Virus,” and that my state was literally on fire and burning out of control.
Needless to say, the thought that I could be pregnant was not even remotely on my radar.
The journey to pregnancy for Daniel and I has been tumultuous. We both knew we wanted to have kids, but we kept hitting roadblocks along the way. First, neither of us was in a place professionally that we wanted to throw kids into the mix. Additionally, we were not in a space financially to add another human comfortably.
By the time we had gotten married in 2018 and baby fever set in, there were new challenges on the horizon. I was recently diagnosed with BiPolar-II Disorder and had chosen to take medication along with therapy as a form of treatment. Although my moods were holding steady, the prospect of being pregnant either with or without my medication seemed daunting (read more about that here).
When we moved to Colorado in 2019, things had settled down and I was able to stop taking my medication and manage my BiPolar symptoms with therapy alone. We were both living life at a more comfortable pace, and we decided to officially “start trying.” But there was yet another roadblock.
I knew from even before we started trying that there was likely something wrong. My cycles had never been regular, but my doctors always chalked it up to my low BMI and stress. I would only ovulate once every three months if I was lucky, and my periods were often so painful I was completely crippled and had to stay in bed for the first couple of days.
In an attempt to be proactive, I went to see a new OBGYN to voice my concerns both about my cycles and my BiPolar Disorder. Labs were off enough that she decided to send me to a reproductive endocrinologist for further testing and evaluation. After several more labs and some ultrasounds, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS for short.
PCOS affects women in many different ways. I for one never thought that I would have it because I had been led to believe that weight gain, insulin resistance, and excessive hair growth were necessary markers, and I never experienced any of them. However, I was surprised and interested to find that PCOS is still relatively new and presents in a plethora of various symptoms, the most common one being infertility.
As a woman, hearing the word, “infertility” can feel like the kiss of death. It’s hard to not feel like you’re a failure because your body has trouble doing what a woman’s body is naturally supposed to do. Even though I went into the process knowing that it was a likely possibility, seeing that word on the doctor’s report was still a crushing blow to my self-esteem.
The doctor prescribed me Metformin and the journey of trial and error began. As hard as I tried to not put pressure on myself or to get my hopes up each month, every negative made me less motivated to want to keep trying. The Metformin had horrible side effects that left me feeling so sick that the last thing I wanted to do was be intimate. Additionally, the medication and its side effects caused me to lose weight when my BMI was already naturally below average. This caused a whole host of other complications.
After multiple months I finally said “enough” with the Metformin. My OB informed us that the next step would be to do Clomid coupled with Progesterone and a trigger shot. If that failed, then we would move to Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and then if necessary, IVF. The process of going through these options and looking at the physical and financial costs was daunting and disheartening.
Feeling in a funk from all the medical jargon and also feeling the weight of the pandemic, we gave ourselves a couple months “off” from desperately trying. We sort of threw our hands up and agreed that when I was ready, I could start taking the Clomid and we would get back on the horse, so to speak. At the same time, we agreed that if I decided it was too much, we would start exploring adoption again.
Low and behold, the week that I was supposed to start the Clomid, we got our positive pregnancy test.
Call it fate or call it mother’s intuition, but something prompted me to get out of bed and pee on a stick at 3am one morning in late August. I hadn’t been tracking any symptoms, and I hadn’t even been tracking my ovulation for the month, but something inside said, “you have an entire box of those sticks, just pee on one.”
The line was SO faint that I thought it was a fluke. I immediately took a picture of it on my phone, threw the stick in the trash, went back to bed, and did what any normal 31 year old woman would do–I went on Facebook.
I had been part of a group called TTC with PCOS (Trying to conceive with PCOS). It was a great support system, and I knew that I could post a picture of the stick and get some feedback without feeling like too much of an idiot if I was all riled up for nothing. So I posted. And I waited.
It took all of 40 seconds before someone commented, “Congrats, Mama!” Despite it being 3am my time, there were women from all over the world in the group. After the initial comment, dozens more started pouring in, all with the word, “Congratulations!”
Ever the skeptic, I still didn’t think it was possible. I tried to go back to sleep, and when my alarm went off, I got up and got ready and left for work –all without mentioning a single word about it to my husband.
My plan was to wait and buy a First Response Early Pregnancy test and some kind of ambiguous greeting card from Walgreens on my way home because I was convinced that my cheapo little tests from Amazon were defective. In the case that it was positive, to go along with the card, I also decided to stop at the liquor store and buy a nice bottle of Bourbon for Daniel. I figured that if the test was negative I could play off that I had gotten the Bourbon for us to drink during the Kentucky Derby that weekend, and he’d be none the wiser.
When I got home, I made sure that he was on a work call in his office, and I went to once again, pee on a stick. This time there was no questioning whether or not it was positive; the line was there clear as day.
I immediately scrawled a message on the card that said, “Our greatest adventure awaits! Here is some Bourbon for the derby this weekend. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to drink it all by yourself because…we’re expecting!”
When Daniel opened it he had to be instructed to re-read the card three times because somehow he kept missing the “we’re expecting!” part, but he was thrilled.
Our Clomid prescription is still sitting, filled, in our medicine cabinet and we have been anxiously riding out the past 20 weeks with 20 more to go. I will be sharing more about my pregnancy thus far, along with tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way in the coming weeks, but for now I am so happy to share the news with you!