We’re Pregnant is a phrase I used to despise seeing. Not because I hated kids, but because discontentedness engulfed my heart. After a year of heartbreaks and trials, Josh and I struggled to conceive. Closest family and friends didn’t even know of our struggles, because we kept it to ourselves.
Social media can often skew our view of reality. When looking at my pregnancy journey, you probably didn’t even realize we struggled with infertility. And that is a wall I want to break down- to express my vulnerability and show the REAL struggles behind the Instagram photos. But I struggled with the idea of sharing our story with the world. Don’t make a victim of yourself, Amanda. They don’t care. You’re struggles only lasted a year, it doesn’t count. Your friends and family are going to be angry at you for not telling them. But God was tugging on my heart, telling me that it needs to be shared. Maybe there is one girl out there experiencing what I went through. And if just one person benefits from my vulnerability, then it is all worth it.
On December 27, 2017, Josh and I decided it was time to start growing our family. We had been married 2 years at that point, but together 8 years. We were both established in our careers, almost finished building our new home, and had traveled often together, and we felt it was the right time. So, we decided I would stop taking my birth control and would let God make it happen in His timing. Little did I know He was going to make me wait. 😉
But to say it was easy is a total lie. I was pretty regular with my cycles, but after getting off the pill, my cycle was random, and often late- if it even appeared at all. Throughout this entire process, I kept in contact with my primary care provider. She ensured me this was normal right after terminating birth control and it would often take several month to a year for your body to get acclimated. But something still didn’t seem right with my body, and I felt off.
I couldn’t tell you how many pregnancy tests I purchased throughout this time. I would take a couple before my scheduled period, the day I was scheduled to start, and many after if I skipped- in hopes that those 2 pink lines would appear. I would calculate a due date each time, daydreaming of birthday party themes, announcement ideas to fit that time of year, and all the other great things that come with having a baby. There were times when I KNEW I wasn’t pregnant, but the hope within my heart overwhelmed me and I took the test anyway. I would watch that test through the 3-minute wait time, hoping 2 pink lines would appear. My eyes would play tricks on me and I would think I saw a faint pink line often. But that, of course, was not the case. (Side note: I got all my tests at Dollar Tree. Not only are they a buck, but they work great. A girlfriend of mine who has 4 kiddos said that is where she always went to get hers, and I am so glad I took her advise.)
After 6 months of failed attempts, I kept skipping my period, but was still receiving negative at-home pregnancy tests. I am sure from the perspective of my healthcare provider my constant worry seemed annoying, but after she sensed my concern, she ordered a blood pregnancy test. The blood test came back negative, but because I hadn’t received my period at that point, she sent me to get a pelvic ultrasound. I kept having hope, and I often convinced myself of the best-case scenario (which is not how my realist personality usually works). I thought to myself, they’re going to find a baby in there and I am going to prove every test wrong. But that was not the case. After a few moments of silence, the ultrasound tech asked me if I had ever heard of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Commonly known as PCOS, this diagnosis was not what I expected to hear. I got in the car and just cried. I received a phone call from my PCP confirming this diagnosis and informed me they were putting me on Metformin, a pre-diabetic medication that is often prescribed for this condition, but came with a long list of side effects. I didn’t like what I was hearing, so I made an appointment with my gynecologist for a second opinion. She confirmed my condition and informed me that taking the medication will assist my body in normalizing its hormonal levels and help get my cycles back to normal. So I chose that route, and began taking the medication. And they weren’t kidding about the side effects. Not only did I have to ingest a large pill twice a day, but with that came the awful GI side effects I was warned of. This definitely altered my lifestyle, not only by what I could eat, but by what I could go do and when I could go out and do things. But I was willing to do whatever it took to get my body healthy.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder with an unknown cause. It can cause infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods with excess male hormone (androgen) levels. This causes the ovaries to develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) or cysts, which hinders the ovary from regularly releasing eggs. And believe it or not, PCOS is extremely common. In fact, 6.1 million women suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Affecting 10% of women, this is the most common cause of female infertility, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Ironically, at this time of diagnosis, we were working hard to move into our new home. And in the middle of the most stressful move ever, I was hit with this life-altering diagnosis. At that point, nothing mattered to me, but I had to build some sort of strength and push forward, as if nothing had happened.
How did I deal with the struggle? If I’m being honest- not well. I hid it well from everyone around me, but my husband definitely saw me at my lowest. I cried- OFTEN. I would speak to God and ask Him why, ask him to fix it, and tell him MY plan. My body was betraying me, and I couldn’t understand why. I even felt a sense of guilt- that I had been blessed with such a wonderful life already that the lack of being content seemed shameful at times. My depression heightened. The littlest moments made me emotional. Like during our closing set of worship at my church, when many go check out their children from the nursery and bring them to worship together as a family in the main sanctuary. I wanted to be able to have that more than anything. I want to be able to hold my growing belly as I raised my hands in praise, but that was not a possibility at that time. And I worried it would never be. In some instances, I was bitter. Not intentionally, but I now realize I sometimes turned my sorrow into bitterness towards friends and family and excluded myself from them, which is something I definitely regret. In some instances, I would binge drink when hanging out with friends. And that only turned into a night ending in extreme crying and sadness. In midst of all the amazing friends and family around me, I felt so alone. And even though my husband was such a rock for me at this time, I felt so empty. But I HAD to be strong, as my personality wouldn’t let me do anything otherwise. I told myself that vulnerability was NOT an option and I had to showcase strength and as if nothing was going on, something I now realize was not the right thing to do.
Happily Ever After
After a few months on my new medication, life moved on. Things were starting to look up now that I had a diagnosis. There were some moments sadness and weakness, and many late nights searching the internet for more information. But Josh and I decided we would rely HEAVILY on God’s timing at this point. We enjoyed time with family and friends, focused on settling into our home and finished and decorated it to what we had dreamed and planned, started planning vacations with friends, went on a few trips, and hosted lots of fun parties at our new home. My periods then started to come back normally, which meant I was ovulating. But at that point, we decided not to actively try. But they are right when they say that it happens when you’re not trying.
On December 9th, 2018, I was headed to my best friend’s little boy’s first birthday. This little guy is such a huge part of our lives and I was so excited to celebrate. My husband was working, but I was meeting him there at the party. I had some time to spare, so I stopped by the store to pick up some tests. I was supposed to start my period that day, so I thought why not give it a try. I went home, wrapped Axel’s gift, curled my hair for the party, and reapplied my lipstick. Not thinking anything of it, I grabbed the test and took it. I came back to see the results and couldn’t believe what I was seeing: is that really a 2nd line?! So I took another. Same thing: two faint pink lines. I was pregnant!!
I am coming to you from a different place now: 24 weeks into a very healthy pregnancy, so my story does have a happily ever after. However, many do not get to have that fairytale ending. And I pray often for those who struggle with infertility. Pregnancy is a journey that many women encounter at some point in their lives, and each go through their own experience. But unfortunately, some never get to experience that at all. In fact, according to the CDC, 12% of all women endure some sort of infertility. Many of us, as women, feel it is our duty to bear children, as it is how God designed our bodies. And when this natural event doesn’t happen for us, we question: Question God, question our relationships, question our sanity, and mostly question our identity.
My advise- PRAY. Trust in God. His timing is more perfect than what you could imagine. And his PLAN is even better than your own. He is wrapping you in His love and mercy and will protect you through your lowest points. Also, LOVE. Love everything around you. Your family and friends. Your body, even though it has failed you. Love the situation you’re in- which is VERY hard to do, but live life to the fullest. Show love in places you normally wouldn’t, like your workplace, grocery store, etc. The peace this will bring to you is so satisfying. It is amazing how love can be used as a therapy mechanism.
I want to point out that I am not writing this for attention, sympathy, or anything of that manner, but to raise awareness of the frequency of infertility and the AMAZING faithfulness of God’s unending love. And while my struggle only lasted one year, there are many couples out there still struggling, and in a MUCH bigger way than I ever did. My empathy resides with those suffering for YEARS, those having to deal with the emotional, physical, and financial burden of IVF, those who are still searching for some sort of diagnosis, and those who have experienced miscarriages. My hope is that my small story will give you hope and the courage to rely on God. You are not alone.
We each have a story. Each piece of our story creates a feather within our heavenly wings. While all our wings are different- He knows them all and their uniqueness. After reading our journey, you now know one of my “feathers” is the journey through infertility. He has designed my wings in a way that will honor Him and be used to show His endless love and glory. How is He crafting your wings?
If you are currently in this season of life, I hope that today’s post helps you find some peace. Know that you are being prayed for and His hand is over you. I’m praying that your prayers are answered and that you too will be able to hold a sweet little one some day.