September Is PCOS Awareness Month – Here’s How It Can Affect Your Body And Mind

September is PCOS awareness month. PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It affects around 10 million people worldwide. Since it involves the hormones related to reproduction, it can cause many different frustrating and uncomfortable symptoms.

Fatigue, increased facial and body hair, thinning of the hair on your head, acne, painful periods and ovulation, mood changes, headaches, sleep problems and, of course, infertility are all possible symptoms of PCOS. It also changes the way your body uses insulin.

A lot of people experience weight gain and extreme difficulty losing weight, but you don’t have to experience unexplained weight gain to have PCOS. Many people experience multiple ovarian cysts, but some actually don’t. PCOS is complicated (and probably needs a new name.)

In honor of PCOS Awareness Month, five women with PCOS agreed to share a snippet of their stories with Scary Mommy. Here’s what they had to say.

Shani G. from Nashville, TN struggles to make peace with the way PCOS makes her body look.

“I have super painful periods and ovulation, including the crippling pain of cysts rupturing. I’ve noticed a total inability to lose weight with normal diet and exercise. I’ve experienced skin tags, cystic acne and ingrown hairs on my inner thighs, and dark skin under my arms. It’s a nuisance. Because of the effects of PCOS, I don’t love my body, and I feel a lot of shame over it. It adds to my depression and anxiety. I am very self-conscious. Working in the beauty industry makes me extra self-conscious because of how much bigger I am compared to others in my industry. I hate going to the doctor because all they want to do is talk about my weight. It sucks. I wish people knew how varied the symptoms of PCOS can be. It affects everyone very differently.”

Amanda E. from Napa, CA tried for fifteen years to have a baby without any success.

“PCOS can be such an emotionally devastating problem. I tried to have a baby for fifteen years with my ex-husband, and I never once got pregnant. I took so many pregnancy tests, and they were all negative. My struggle with infertility happened at the same time that I was attending a church that taught me that my infertility was my own fault. The idea was that God was “closing my womb” due to some kind of sin or moral shortcoming in my life. I wish I had known more about how PCOS affected my body so I would never have bought into that lie. As far as being plus size and PCOS, I have been blessed with some amazing doctors.  They understand how much harder it is to lose weight with PCOS, and they don’t push me about it as much as I think some doctors might who don’t understand PCOS.

PCOS is one of the reasons people need to stop asking why someone doesn’t have kids yet! It may seem harmless to say, ‘You’d make a great mom,’ but it’s not. For years, I’d smile and say quietly, ‘Well, we’re working on it.’ Inside, I was screaming. I spent so many hours crying because I know I’d be a great mom, but my body won’t cooperate.”

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I don’t think you’d tell someone in a smaller body to only eat at a certain time of day or only eat certain macros in order to be able to make an appointment for reproductive medicine, pain relief, or joint replacement. No of course not. Because that would be prescribing eating disorder behavior. News flash: it still is problematic telling someone in a higher weight body to torture themselves with diet and exercise. Yet that’s all the PCOS World has relied on—weight discrimination and disordered eating. Diet culture and fatphobia have been making people with PCOS sick, depressed, and ashamed. It’s time to make it right. There IS another way. Looking for non-diet community while living with PCOS? Check out ours at PCOSBodyLiberation.com or link in bio. #pcos #pcossupport #radicalbodylove #spoonie #pcosbodyliberation #pcosfood #pcosfoodpeace #pcosawareness #pcoscommunity #pcoschallenge #pcosfatpositive #pcosfighter #pcoswarrior #pcoslife #pcosjourney #pcoshaes #pcosawarenessmonth

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Staci S. from Esotero, FL suffers immense pain due to her cystic ovaries.

“After almost 10 years on birth control, I came off the pill. I ended up getting pregnant, but miscarried at 11 weeks. I got my PCOS diagnosis in the aftermath of that loss.

My symptoms aren’t the classic weight gain and hair loss. My first symptom was terrible pain with ovulation. When I have cysts, the pain gets to the point where I’m doubled over in pain, vomiting. I’ve even been admitted to the hospital.

I try to control my symptoms mostly with my diet, and I am successful now. While I was trying to figure out what would work for me, I became so afraid of the pain that I just didn’t eat anything. At my lowest point, I was medically underweight and people assumed I had an eating disorder.  It really hurt because they had no clue on what I was going through. I didn’t like how I looked either, but I was scared to eat. To me, it wasn’t worth the pain.

My symptoms now include thinning hair and acne. I was able to have two sons, but both times, I was terrified I’d miscarry again. I had trouble breastfeeding (another PCOS-related issue) so I used formula, too. PCOS looks different for everyone. We might not all have the same experience, but in the end, we are all in the same shitty boat.”

Kate K. of Knoxville, TN shares her experience of controlling PCOS while in eating disorder recovery.

“I was diagnosed with PCOS when I’d been trying for a year to get pregnant without success. I think it was just bloodwork and an assessment of my symptoms. With a combination of Metformin and diet changes, I’ve been able to have regular periods with PCOS. I wish my doctors had explained early on how Metformin works, because my body also responds pretty well to a lower sugar diet with fewer carbs, and I’ve been able to decrease my dose.

The most troubling thing for me was the hirsutism. I bleached my facial hair for years. Some people saw past it, some people clearly could see nothing but it. I did laser treatments after I had my last child, and it has been pretty under control since then.

I am in eating disorder recovery, and it’s been my experience that every doctor looks at the PCOS diagnosis, sees I am not overweight, and tells me I don’t fit the bill. It’s frustrating, and it does always kind of drive the ‘stay smaller’ mentality in me when they make such a big deal out of it.

I’d like people to that there are treatments to help, and that lots of other women struggle with it. Do NOT be ashamed because you are not alone.”

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Both get to be true. Life with PCOS can really suck and at the same time be full and beautiful. This is the reminder I have needed this week. In transparency I had a cycle go bonkers this month after several months of it being really "normal" and it really fucked up some of my plans and hopes. PCOS sucks. It's ok for it to suck. I got into the headspace tho of feeling guilty for being down about my cycle because I felt like I should just be happy because the rest of life is really good. You know what doesn't help your sadness? Feeling guilty over it! So let me encourage you (and myself) to make space for both. Things can be hard and beautiful simultaneously. Recognizing the goodness in life doesn't negate that the hard stuff is hard. Honoring your pain does not make you ungrateful for what is good. I would love to hear in comments or stories what seemingly opposite things you need to make space for. What can you hold simultaneously? When we make space for both it opens us up to so much peace in the midst of the bad and the good. . . . . You do not have to do this alone. I would love to talk with you about how 1:1 therapy can support your experience with PCOS and living the life you want. Head to link in bio to contact me and we will set up a free 15 minute discovery call!

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Andrea G. of St. Louis, MO had to advocate for herself hard to get the diagnosis she knew she needed.

“I started to suspect that I had PCOS based on my own symptoms. Because I am young and thin, it took me almost three years to get a diagnosis. During all that time, I had ovarian cysts, acne, body hair…all the usual suspects.  I finally ended up in the ER with a ruptured cyst, and my doctors started taking me seriously. It didn’t feel like a fertility ‘death sentence’ when I got the diagnosis. It was a sigh of relief. With a diagnosis, I could help my body in a way I couldn’t before. I’ve had some trouble conceiving, but I am grateful to have the diagnosis so we know where to start. I am optimistic that I will have a baby in my arms soon.

I want people to know that PCOS has many symptoms, and affects many body types. I’m just thankful I fought for myself and knew what I was experiencing wasn’t normal.”

Raising awareness about PCOS is important to me because I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome when I was a teenager.

From the moment I got my period, I had problems related to it. I’ve been dealing with it for a couple decades now, and I still struggle with how it affects my body, and how it makes me feel.

I have hair on my chin and very little left on my head. I live in a plus-size body, and changing my size is a colossal struggle. I’ve dealt with difficult periods and irregular cycles my entire life.

The hardest part of PCOS for me has been decreased fertility. I never had 12 chances a year to get pregnant. I ovulated 5 or 6 times during a good year. Sometimes, just once or twice. I didn’t always respond to medications, and I lost 2 out of our five pregnancies. I had to have two different surgeries on my reproductive organs. It took my husband and me almost 14 years to have our three kids. It’s been such a wild ride, and even though I’m done having kids, my struggle with PCOS is far from over. It affects so much more than my fertility.

It’s important for people to know PCOS exists. There are millions of us out here fighting the same fight, even if every single one of our bodies is just a little different.

If you think you might have PCOS, contact your doctor for help. It might take some trial and error, but there is hope for a well-managed body and a comfortable life.

The post September Is PCOS Awareness Month – Here’s How It Can Affect Your Body And Mind appeared first on Scary Mommy.

To Doctors, My Fertility Was More Important Than My Pain

“Are you sure you’re done?” my doctor said to me. “You’re still young.”

I had been fidgeting with my hands, rubbing the space between my fingers one by one, when I felt my hands ball up into tight fists and release. Here I was in front of a gynecological specialist I’d traveled more than two hours to see, and he had spent the first five minutes of our conversation asking me about my dating and sex life. Informing him that I’m currently going through a divorce was enough to move the conversation about my chronic back and pelvic pain, frequent periods, and family history of reproductive cancers to concerns about whether I’d ever have babies again.

Yes, I was absolutely sure. My road to fertility was long and bumpy, and my pregnancy was no walk in the park. I was 31 when my then-husband and I decided to try to get pregnant. It had been more than 10 years since my first pregnancy, which happened much too easily. This time, after more than a year of trying to conceive, I decided to seek help from my gynecologist. After tests, ultrasounds, several appointments, and a laparoscopic procedure, I was diagnosed with endometriosis — a disorder that causes the lining of the uterus to grow outside of the uterine cavity. Turns out, endometriosis is not only a common cause of secondary infertility, it had been the cause of the debilitating painful pelvic pain my previous doctors had brushed off for years.

The pain felt like a shark bite to my insides and wasn’t limited to my period. It was accompanied by fatigue, bloating, and often sent me straight to bed for days. I knew it wasn’t normal, but — with the help of many doctors — had been convinced that it was. It was the culmination of a complicated relationship with pain. Strong Black women don’t complain about the pain. We just do our best through it.

When I was 25, I walked out of a top teaching hospital in Chicago with head and back pain so severe I couldn’t hold my head upright. I didn’t, in fact, receive any treatment or medicine. I was sent home with instructions to take a few ibuprofen and later ended up in a different hospital, where it was determined my spinal fluid was slowly leaking and needed to be patched. I could have died, but years of being sent away by doctors taught me that protesting too much was a waste of energy.

Now, after two surgeries to remove the endometriosis, I was finally in front of a specialist. I had severe left-sided pain that was undoubtedly caused by the left ovary adhered to my pelvic sidewall. I had come out of anesthesia years ago after my first surgery to remove the endometriosis to find that problematic ovary still there, still adhered. My OB-GYN wanted to save it to give me a better chance at pregnancy, even though I know now many women get pregnant just fine with only one ovary. This time, though, I didn’t want anything saved except my sanity. I wanted the pain gone, and I wanted every remaining piece of my jinxed reproductive system out. I wanted to be able to sleep through the night, play with my four-year-old without doubling over, and not dread every single change associated with each cycle phase.

“I’m sure,” I said. “Take the fallopian tube, uterus, ovary, and whatever other damage you find.” The images from my ultrasound were on full display behind us. There was my fallopian tube, clear as day and filled with an unknown mass. “Technically, a normal fallopian tube isn’t large enough to be seen on ultrasound,” the doctor had said just minutes before my fertility became the topic of discussion. Technically, I shouldn’t be able to (or have to) feel my fallopian tube either, but I do. He spent a few more minutes clicking through photos and talking very quickly about conservative options that included taking medications for an indefinite amount of time with a high risk of having nightly sweats and hot flashes.

I drove home confused about how once again I’d let a doctor throw a Band-Aid at my suffering. This time I wasn’t going to be gaslit. I wanted a do-over. I called and I left a message demanding we take a closer look at what was going on because none of it feels normal. I put my pain in words the best way I could through the tears that had come to my eyes. The nurse called me back to schedule a CT scan. The results showed a suspicious “thickening” in the lining of my uterine wall and some fluid in the pelvic cavity to add to the list of masses and painful situations the ultrasound uncovered. Now we could proceed with the surgery to remove my uterus, tubes, and ovary.

To doctors, women’s fertility is often more important than our reproductive pain. I had to take whatever comfort I could from the fact that at least my life took precedence over whether I could change my mind about having more babies or not.

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After 5 Years Of Fertility Struggles, I Finally Feel ‘Lucky’

Things tended to go my way in life. Not because of luck, which my husband sometimes claimed. “You are a lucky person,” he would tell me.

Luck to me implied a certain amount of passivity. I never had much of that. I went after what I wanted fervently. The job. The apartment. The promotion. It didn’t necessarily come easily, but it did eventually come.

And then, almost instantly, it stopped coming. If I try to pinpoint a time and place things changed it was in my Prospect Park West apartment about two months before David and I were planning a Peru vacation. It was to be our first big trip a year after our marriage, and we had made the decision that I would go off the pill that night.

I had been on the pill since I was 18 years old. I thought it’d be a matter of months before I got pregnant.

“If you get me pregnant before Peru, I’ll be so mad at you,” I said.

It turns out I had no reason to be mad. I didn’t get pregnant. We had a memorable trip to Peru exploring wonders of the world and topping those off with sour Pisco drinks.

In fact, I didn’t get pregnant that year, or the following, or the year after that. In 2015, I did get pregnant via IVF, but that resulted in a miscarriage. We had tried one other IVF round and two IUI rounds by that time and…nothing. That was above and beyond the temperature readings, ovulation kits, timed sex sessions, period tracking apps and more.

About a year after Peru, we went to see the fertility doctors and embarked on a series of checkups to determine what was “wrong.” I was 35 years old. Those months are mostly a blur.

There was a test that showed a healthy ovarian reserve, despite my age.

There was the hysteroscopy that determined some tissue had invaded my uterine muscle. A follow up procedure scraped that tissue away.

There was a bacterial infection in my uterus that cleared up after two rounds of antibiotics.

There was a reading that showed David had low sperm motility. He underwent varicose seal outpatient surgery in order to “unblock” the veins.

There was the HSG, which involved a balloon and some dye being inserted into my vagina in order to test the flow within my fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. I left the room crying and shaking that day – it was about as unpleasant as you’d expect, especially considering the balloon deflated while inside me and they had to start over again – and called David.

“If this is what it’s going to take, we may need to think of another solution,” he responded.

That test showed that there was some scarring in one of my tubes that could be an issue. I could undergo surgery to correct that but it would require a week of recovery and wouldn’t guarantee anything. Why do that when IVF, which bypassed the tubes, was an option?

So, to answer our question about what was “wrong” – not much. This didn’t sit well with someone who liked to fix problems. There didn’t seem to be a real problem to fix.

One of our doctors said, “Medicine is the science of uncertainty,” as they wrote “unexplained infertility” all over our charts. We were deemed excellent candidates for IVF. Based on my age, our chances of a live birth, according to the CDC, hovered around 30 percent.

It didn’t work the first time, but it did get me used to the process – the multiple daily shots, the resulting bruises, the arsenal of supplement pills taking over a kitchen shelf, the incessant 7 a.m. appointments, the unforeseen charges, the insurance headaches.

If the shots didn’t bring you down, those insurance calls did. Deciphering the caps, the pharmacy procedures and what was actually covered could cause hours of frustration. David eventually took this piece over; it was one thing he could control. All else, as Michelle Obama recently wrote, was “the acute burden of being female.”

We waited a few months and tried again. That time it worked, but we soon realized we had to redefine what “worked” meant because I miscarried at eight weeks. We heard the heartbeat drop steadily over a few morning appointments until there was silence.

It was a Thursday and I went to work. David and my boss begged me to stay home, but work allowed me respite – somewhere else to focus my mind and energy. I scheduled the D&C for the following day.

Every time I thought I had the tears contained, someone else would ask me nonchalantly, “What are you here for today?” It must have been hospital procedure. At one point, a woman called me in for a private intake and she asked me the question, which unleashed the flood. When David saw me he wanted to know what they said to make me so upset.

“It’s not what they said. It’s how I feel. Broken.”

About a month later, we joined David’s family for his father’s 50th reunion from West Point. We were touring the elegant-yet-rowdy dining hall, when my phone rang. I saw that it was one of our favorite fertility doctors and could barely hear him when I answered.

“Mariela, I have great news. You miscarried because of a chromosomal abnormality.” He was ebullient. I was annoyed. How was this good news and why was it being delivered at this moment – with people everywhere and so out of the blue?

I hung up quickly. We were in our “taking time off from all things pregnancy” mode and this was not part of the deal. The doctor had unknowingly overstepped his bounds.

With time, I did come to understand how it was good news. There was an explanation for the miscarriage and it was only a matter of time before the pregnancy would’ve ended. The doctor’s message was: better sooner than later. Also: there is still no reason why you can’t get pregnant.

If it had been a perfect embryo, we would have had to chalk the miscarriage up to more of the unexplained, the uncertain.

We eventually decided to try adoption. My mind and body were tired of all things IVF and the disappointments that came with it. Adoption seemed like more of a guaranteed outcome, plus we could help a mother in need.

We started researching agencies and landed on one that specialized in domestic adoption, welcomed all loving, hopeful parents regardless of religion or sexual orientation and pioneered the open adoption model. This meant that the birth parents and adoptive parents would meet and match before the birth, and the child would grow up knowing their story. Studies showed that it was better for the child, who would inevitably have questions about where they came from.

I agreed with the model – transparency is always better than secrets and lies – but found it terrifying. Would I be secure enough in myself and my parenting to have a healthy relationship with a birth parent? And what would that birth parent want from us?

It helped me to frame it as an opportunity for growth. I anticipated personal challenges unlike others I’d faced, and I welcomed those challenges.

We were initiated into all things adoption. The background checks, fingerprinting and birth parent letter. The website, recommendations and health reports. The hours and hours of time, effort and documents. The payments – so many payments.

Six months after we signed the agency contract, our home study was approved and we were officially being promoted to expectant moms. They called it going “live.” We shared the news with our friends and family.

I recall one conversation with David’s brother where we answered a lot of questions. The last one was: “After all is said and done, will you have a child?” We said yes, as that’s what we’d been told. It could take an unbearably long time, but a child would eventually come.

We went live in September and on January 31 the following year, we abruptly received an email from the agency declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy and informing us that they would be “closing permanently effective immediately.”

Adoption, which we believed to have a certain outcome, simply did not. It was devastating – to us and to 500 plus other waiting families. We had put our trust, time and money in an institution that floundered it all away. I felt like a fool.

We visited the offices first thing the next morning and they were completely empty. It was an appropriate visual metaphor – empty offices, empty wallets, empty hearts.

Facebook groups launched to piece together information and share grief and anger. Lawyers held conference calls for hundreds of victims. I lightly participated for a couple of months, and then David and I decided that we needed to step away. The emotions were all consuming and kept us looking backward.

By April 2017, I told David that I was ready to try IVF one last time. I recently found an email conversation sharing this update with a friend (who understood all too well the difficult path to motherhood) and this is how I explained it to her at the time: “Now, believe it or not, I feel more trustful of IVF.”

To be clear, that level of trust was capped at 12%, as that was now our expected live birth success rate, according to the CDC.

We went back to the same Brooklyn doctors that we felt comfortable with. Starting over with a new practice felt like time traveling back to 2013. We liked our team and felt that all our work up to that point must have given them deeper clues as to what might work for us.

Those clues led them to recommend preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). Since our infertility was unexplained, what we really needed was the best chances of pregnancy and birth with the healthiest embryos. PGS was a new-ish procedure that tested young embryos for chromosomal abnormalities – at an added cost.

We felt the more science we could apply, the better. It helped tip the scale closer to certainty.

PGS showed we had two perfect embryos – a boy and a girl. They asked us which we wanted to implant and it felt wrong to choose. After all we’d been through, gender was insignificant; health was our priority.

On the evening of April 5, 2018 at 6:38 p.m., our daughter was born at Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. She was six pounds, 11 ounces and in perfect health. She’s grown into a curious girl, who loves to eat and dance, is a mercifully good sleeper, and looks forward to socializing at daycare.

She’s also looking forward to being a big sister. On November 15, 2018, I confirmed that I was 11.5 weeks pregnant.

It was my first spontaneous pregnancy, after more than five years of trying fervently. I missed almost my entire first trimester, mostly because of utter disbelief and denial. I didn’t want to call the doctor about not having yet gotten my period after birth and have their first question be: “Have you taken a pregnancy test?”

I didn’t feel ready. I felt overwhelmed.

But, after a couple of weeks, I certainly felt lucky.

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When You’re Told You’re ‘Too Fat’ For IVF

Fertility Network UK and IVFbabble (find out more and sign the petition here) recently launched #Scream4IVF, an incredible initiative designed to bring awareness, and most importantly change, to access funded IVF treatment.

In the UK, we are blessed to have the NHS (National Health Service) – free healthcare for all. I love our NHS and am very passionate about what it stands for, but there are restrictions on budgets which leads to funding decisions – and more often than not – cuts.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – the agency that provides national guidance and advice about healthcare) states that every woman in the U.K. under 40 should have access to 3 rounds of IVF if they have not been able to have a baby after 2 years of unprotected sex.

In the guidelines, they state that:

“Women should be informed that female BMI should ideally be in the range 19–30 before commencing assisted reproduction, and that a female BMI outside this range is likely to reduce the success of assisted reproduction procedures.”

It’s up to individual areas to decide how to spend their budget. In most areas, the available funding is one cycle at best – some don’t offer any at all. This is a diabolical situation with couples being forced to sell their car, remortgage their houses, and wrack up huge credit card bills just to have a baby.

But what about fat women?

Another criteria placed on access to fertility treatment in the majority of areas is a BMI limit of 30. This is not a limit placed by the NICE guidelines and the evidence that a BMI of 30 as a suitable restriction is insufficient.

In fact, BMI alone as a measure is pretty meaningless. BMI was created to look at populations of health, not individuals, and gives no meaningful indication to the health of the individual and her individual likelihood of IVF being successful.

Research in 2010 (here is the link if you want to look at the study) showed that there was very limited evidence to support any of the arguments used to restrict IVF based on size.

They found insufficient evidence that shows any relationship between high BMI and reduced birth rates. They also saw no significant difference in miscarriage rates or other pregnancy complications with a high BMI.

Furthermore, none of this evidence begins to unravel the lifestyles of these women.

Take me for example.

I would describe my experience as a fat woman as being typical. I started being aware of food and dieting before puberty. I have been on upwards of 20 different diets, losing weight, then gaining even more weight. Spending all my time, energy and money focused on trying to become a socially acceptable size. I stopped eating fat, cut out the carbs, joined the gym, did a juice detox, tried the shakes, severely restricted my calories and portions, punished my body with exercise.

Let me make this clear. This is normal for a fat woman to go through. Not healthy, not ideal, but normal.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that the majority of women in the western world experience this to some degree.

57% of women in the UK have been on a diet in the past year.

In my opinion, this is what’s fucked up our fertility — the unrealistic expectations placed on us to be a certain size, to look a certain way.

I am a very intelligent young(ish) woman. Yet I’ve spent my whole life obsessed with food.

How can you account for that in a study? In my opinion, it’s not that women are fat — it’s that society has created a culture where these women have had to put their body through extreme circumstances to try and fit in.

Yet they still blame themselves. For not being able to lose weight.

Fat is not the problem.

The problem, I believe, is that these women are forced to relive this cycle of restricting their calories and extreme exercising to lose weight to reach an arbitrary goal. In my experience, extreme calorie restriction and punishing exercise are yet two more stressors on the body – specifically designed to STOP FERTILITY. After all, if food was scarce or you had to run away from a lion everyday, it’s not an ideal time to have a baby.

And these women who are being denied IVF don’t feel like they can make a fuss.

They don’t feel like they deserve that help and support because society has brainwashed them into thinking that being fat is their fault.

That they are lazy, that they have no willpower, that they are stupid, if they can’t do something as simple as losing weight.

Let me repeat this. For many of us, it’s not about the fat.

It’s about the belief that you can’t get pregnant because you are fat.

It’s the years of yo-yo dieting that has fucked up your metabolism and hormones.

It’s the continued belief that you need to punish your body with food and exercise in order to get pregnant.

Instead of denying these women help, let’s support them in their health (not weight) goals so that they too can go on to have successful pregnancies.

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We Can’t Forget That Infertility Affects ‘Dad’ Too

One day recently, my husband came home from work and was cranky. Ordinary, run-of-the-mill questions were met with snippy answers. I followed my usual pattern of responses when this happens:

First, I heave lots of big sighs and demonstrate emphatic hand gestures, arms flying around like a drunk windmill.

I ask helpful questions like, “Why are you being so snappy? Do you think my day was perfect?”

Then I remember that part of premarital counseling where we learned, Don’t be an ass when your spouse is having a hard time. I then take a step back, suck in a deep breath, sit on my windmill arms, and ask with a modicum of compassion, “What’s wrong? You seem upset.”

He responded with, “Nothing’s wrong! It’s just….” and then lists 47 things that are annoying him, none of which meet my Criteria for Being Snappy While I’m Busy Burning Dinner.

As he continued, I half-listened and got to work on constructing my brilliant response. I had just about perfected my “mic drop” sentence when he trailed off into one heartbreaking line: “But really, I’m just so frustrated we can’t have a baby.”

Instead of a mic drop, my retort slipped listlessly out of my hands and tumbled like a limp noodle to the kitchen tile. I glanced over at him and saw the defeated glance of a man who wants so badly to build a family but can’t. I saw grief and confusion, and my heart broke with his. We had been battling infertility for over two and a half years. While this may not seem like an extensive amount of time, when you enter into the 35+ category, the Baby Making Clock seems to tic at double speed. We had done several rounds of fertility treatments and endured two miscarriages. We weren’t sure of our next step and felt paralyzed about which road to travel down next.

Infertility is hard. It’s hard physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally. You want to embark on the parenting journey together, but despite all your best efforts you just can’t make it happen. It’s like planning for your dream vacation, and the day comes when you finally get to go… and the car won’t start. So you try your best and use all the tools you have to fix the car, and you try and pray and cry and swear and sometimes swear while you are praying, but it doesn’t work and you can’t leave the driveway.

It’s like each of you is carrying 97 bucketloads of complicated emotions apiece. And sometimes, as you are stumbling through the maze of doctors’ appointments, tests, sticks to pee on, and awkwardly-timed intercourse, you accidentally dump one of your buckets all over the other person. So, in addition to carrying their own 97 buckets of emotion, they are now covered in yours as well.

It can get a bit messy at times.

It seems like this might be the point where I’m supposed to tell you the seven steps for strengthening your marriage when struggling with infertility. And while there certainly are things you can do that will both help and hurt your marriage, to lay things out in a simple formula feels cheap and like it misses the point. So, here is the summation of what that list would be:

Lean in.

Lean in to each other when you’re scared. Lean into each other when you feel flawed and broken. Lean in when the 47th person this week just announced their pregnancy at work. Lean in when you feel like your emotional capacity has been reduced to a toddler’s because all you can think about is No fair no fair no fair no fair no fair. Lean in when you’re mad because it feels like your spouse isn’t getting it or should be supporting you differently. Lean in when your spouse’s coping mechanisms are opposite your own. Lean in when the loneliness feels like it might choke you and there is no one on the planet who truly gets it.

Of course, this does not apply if your partner is in any way abusive, neglectful, or otherwise not a safe person to lean into. If this is the case, please seek help to guide you through that process. This also doesn’t mean you never take time for yourself or seek out other support. It’s important to have other people to go to, people who will feed you soul food and sit across the table from you, patiently listening without judgment while you vent with wild abandon.

But if you find, time after time, that your first impulse is to reach for support outside of your partner – maybe it’s time to stop that text and look across the room instead. Because your spouse is your Teammate. They are your Co-Captain. They are at the helm with you, co-navigating this journey and understanding the obstacles like no one else can. They won’t do it perfectly. They will guess wrong and say things that make you wonder Did you really let that one get adequately edited before it was ready for publication. 

And, still, lean in. It’s hard, but when we come towards each other with our scars exposed, we give our partner an intimate and holy opportunity to serve us, and we are able to serve them as well. Rubbing lotion on each other’s wounds knits our souls together in ways that other exchanges fall short. Infertility can feel like a battle, but it is one you can emerge from united, resilient, and ready to embrace parenthood, even if it looks different than you imagined.

The post We Can’t Forget That Infertility Affects ‘Dad’ Too appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Please Stop Saying This To Women Who Can’t Have Any More Babies

I remember a moment three days after my youngest was born. I was lying in bed, cuddling him, and I looked up at my husband. “Promise me he’s not the last,” I begged.

He promised.

Well. That didn’t go as planned.

I can’t have any more kids. Not in a “we’re done” sense, but in a “biologically, this is a really shitty idea and you absolutely cannot fucking get pregnant” sense.

So today, I have three beautiful, exasperating, amazing, adorable sons, stair-stepped two years apart. But like for so many women who already have kids, who can’t have more but who want them so badly, an emptiness looms. We look complete, but we are not. We fear we never will be. We see babies and pregnant bellies, and we turn away in grief.

Our hurt is heavy to bear, heavy too because it’s unacknowledged and often misunderstood. After all, we have kids. What more could we ask for, right? Many women can’t have any children, and admittedly, their grief is harder to bear. Deeper. More searing and brutal.

The kids we do have are a comfort, but the hurt also comes in pangs and at odd moments: the smell of our 4-year-old’s head, the cuddle of an 8-year-old. The things people say to us — both the stupid that pours out of their mouths and the dumbass shit they mean to comfort — only make us hurt more.

“You’ve got happy, healthy child/children. Be happy with what you’ve got.”

No one said that I wasn’t happy with what I had. I love my kids with something ferocious, something primal, something I didn’t believe in before I became a mother. I will beg, borrow, steal, kill, commit high treason, destroy endangered species, and listen to “Wannabe” on repeat (just because my 6-year-old wants to) for my babies. Yes, I thank God/Buddha/various celestial bodies for my kids’ health and happiness, and I’d still thank them for my kids if they were not happy or not healthy.

None of this fucking replaces the baby I will never have but desperately want.

“It’s all part of God’s plan.”

Look, maybe you’re religious and you can wrap your mind around this one. But I don’t care to hear about God’s plan, thanks. He might have had a plan. So did I. Generally, my body, my choice, amiright?

“Are you going to try for a boy/girl anytime soon?”

Look, assholes. You never know who’s struggling with secondary infertility, or struggling to accept that the baby days are done for whatever reason. When you ask if we’re gonna get knocked up, you bring up All The Feelings. Most of them are sad — I’ll never have a baby again! Many of them are angry — Hey shithead, you just reminded me I’ll never have a baby again! Also, you just confirmed the fact that our family is incomplete. Thanks for that, jerk.

“Did you hear so-and-so is pregnant?”

No, I didn’t. And frankly, I don’t want to. Because I hate to be reminded that all kinds of people are just waltzing all over planet Earth, knocking up and being knocked up, while I stand here in my pathetic corner of No-Baby-For-You-Again-Ever-dom. It’s worse when we know the pregnant person in question, because we’re expected to do the rounds of congratulations and baby showers and lookit-mah-belly pics clogging our Facebook feeds. Fuck it all. Yeah, we can be happy about it in the abstract. I want my friends and loved ones to have the babies they want, and I’m happy for them when they get their wish.  But, a lot of the time, the hurt overwhelms the happy.

“Oh my gosh, when are you due?”

Fuck. You. No really, fuck you and the car you drove here in. You have no right to comment on the state of another woman’s body, first of all — and this comment makes most non-pregnant women feel horrid. But this comment probably also makes us no-more-babies crowd feel even worse, because not only do we feel like our bodies are somehow wrong, but we’re reminded that our bodies never will be pregnant again, thanks. 

“So, are you all thinking about having another?”

You. Have. No. Right. To. Ask. About. My. Reproductive. Plans. End of discussion. But since you asked so rudely, no, we are not thinking about having another. Because we can’t. So kindly grab your nosey questions and take the first train to Mind Your Own Damn Business.  And now a nice day has been ruined by reminding me that I don’t get a baby.

“Maybe it’s for the best.”

No. No, it’s not for the best. The best would be having another baby to cuddle and love. The best would be a younger sibling for my youngest. Not having a baby? This is not for the best. This just fucking sucks, okay?

“There’s a reason for everything.”

This is like God having a plan except for agnostics, atheists, and people who are afraid to talk about Jesus in the public sphere. Guess what? No one will ever know what the reason is, and it’s not like some cosmic entity is going to drop down and inform me, so this is entirely not comforting and simply serves to minimize grief and say, in a few words: Suck it up, buttercup. That is rude, uncaring, and completely unnecessary.

“Time heals all wounds.”

Well, time is in the future. We live in the now. And now, we no-more-baby-mamas who still yearn for another baby are in utter grief and sadness that we cannot have one. So say you’re sorry. Say you wish it wasn’t so. Say you know another baby would be awesome and it must hurt so much. Validate our feelings. Give us hugs. Give us a real space to get sad, to get mad, to get whatever we need to get to process this. Because it will pass. The wound will scab over.

But it will never fully heal. You know it. And so do I.

The post Please Stop Saying This To Women Who Can’t Have Any More Babies appeared first on Scary Mommy.

New Study Sheds Light On Acupuncture’s Impact On IVF

It’s really awesome that fertility treatments like IVF exist. There are so many thousands of parents who have benefited from it, and so many babies born into those loving families. But that doesn’t mean that the process is easy. Besides the exorbitant costs of the procedure, the emotional and physical experience of going through a cycle of IVF is not to be underestimated – and any couple who has gone through IVF will concur.

It’s no wonder, then, that couples want to do everything in their power to make each cycle of IVF as successful as possible. That’s why many turn to complimentary treatments to maximize their success. Diet, yoga, making sure you get enough sleep, dietary and vitamin supplements all top the list.

But probably the most popular complimentary treatment to IVF is acupuncture. For many years, it’s been touted as a fantastic way to increase your chances of conceiving during IVF. A study from 2016 even claims that acupuncture doubles your chances of conceiving during IVF, though the study researchers warned that this might have had to do with the placebo effect more than anything else.

However, a new study published in JAMA might be turning that theory on its head. The study, carried out by researchers in Australia, found that acupuncture during IVF had no significant impact. Yep – as in acupuncture really didn’t do a thing to increase chances of IVF success. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks.

The comprehensive study looked at 848 patients at 16 different IVF clinics in Australia during 2011-2015. Some of the patients received traditional acupuncture during their IVF cycle, whereas others received something called sham acupuncture control, which Science Daily describes as “a non-insertive needle placed away from the true acupuncture points.”

The study found a 18.3% rate of live births among patients who got the traditional acupuncture treatments, and a rate of 17.8% among those who got the sham control treatment. Though there was a slight difference, the study researchers consider this “non-significant” (i.e., not enough to make a statistical difference).

This is all pretty disappointing for people who are looking for something to help boost their chances of IVF success, huh? Well, don’t fret too much yet. There actually might be some benefit to acupuncture during IVF, even if it doesn’t directly impact your chances of success – and there are other methods out there to increase your success.

Scary Mommy recently caught up with Zev Williams, MD and PhD at Columbia University Medical Center, to shed some light on the study.

Dr. Williams says, first of all, there is absolutely nothing dangerous in doing acupuncture during an IVF cycle. “There is no evidence that there is any harm in combining acupuncture with IVF,” says Dr. Williams.

Furthermore, he says that anything you can do that will relax you is definitely beneficial for IVF. “Stress and anxiety can reduce success with IVF, so doing things that help reduce stress and anxiety can be helpful,” says Dr. Williams. “Understandably, patients want to make sure that every detail is done right so that they have the best possible chance for success.”

Dr. Williams contends that what relaxes you will vary from woman to woman. He recommends trying things like mindfulness, meditation, or going for a relaxing walk or massage.

And although the researchers of the latest IVF/acupuncture study dismiss the idea that acupuncture could directly affect IVF success, they believe that there is some truth to the idea that acupuncture might relax patients, and thereby increase their success.

“Although our findings do not support acupuncture as an efficacious treatment compared to sham, some studies suggest reproductive outcomes maybe improved when acupuncture is compared with no treatment,” Professor Caroline Smith, chief investigator and professor of clinical research at NICM Health Research Institute (NICM), tells Science Daily.

Michael Chapman, professor at UNSW Sydney and co-author of the study, adds that while the study could not support the link between acupuncture and IVF success, it did make the researchers want to do more work to understand how stress relief and IVF success are related.

“Feeling relaxed and reporting relief from stress and women feeling good about themselves is to be welcomed for women as they undergo an IVF cycle,” Chapman said.

So what to do if you are undergoing IVF and unsure about whether to try acupuncture? If it’s something you’d like to try, there is no harm, and anything that relaxes you and gives you confidence is a great idea.

But if your already stretched budget can’t handle it, or if you are a little, ummm, freaked out about the idea of needles, there is probably no problem with skipping it.

Why I Finally Decided To Talk About My Struggles With Infertility

Four years ago, my uterus felt like it was ripped out of me, stomped on and thrown back into my guts. It was a week much like this week — beautiful and almost summer like. The air was crisp and clean and people were excited for football and all the fun fall things ahead.

Me, I was laying in bed – crying and worrying mostly. Worrying that if this procedure did not work, I was never going to have kids. I was never going to experience motherhood. Kevin was never going to experience fatherhood. And worse, I felt like if it didn’t work, it was me. My fault. Did I not do enough? Was I not healthy enough? Did I inject the medication wrong? Was I too stressed out? Were my eggs no good?

Oh, man I can’t even describe the amount of worry I felt. Yes, I was a Christian and we are not supposed to worry because “tomorrow will worry for itself.” But I was worried. I had a plan and this plan needed to work and if it didn’t I was surely going to lose my shit. God only gives you what you can handle— or this, God only gives you what HE can help you handle.

Either way, he knew I couldn’t handle a negative test. I know this date very well. Not only because it was Labor Day weekend, but also my cousin would be delivering her new baby girl this next week and I knew if I had a negative test I would never be able to step foot in that hospital room and see the new little one. I would not be able to take it. She gave birth that week—and at the hospital I was able to announce that I was pregnant. Very newly pregnant, but I was. I had never been pregnant in my life — this was a true miracle.

Going through in vitro fertilization was not for the weak. I must say, if you have done it or plan to do it, you must be strong. I remember multiple ultrasounds laying in the room bawling my eyes out at why I had to go through this? Why?!

The routine ultrasound check to see if your eggs were growing like they should be. I remember a time being afraid of needles. After being stuck every other day for multiple weeks, I now can prep that vein even before the nurse steps foot into the room.

I was in secret with the process. Kevin and I told very few people. We weren’t ready to share. I was not ready. I was embarrassed and ashamed. My body was not doing what it was intended to do. Doing this in secret was literally the worst thing I think we could have done for us mentally — always hiding from people and making excuses on why we couldn’t be at events. It was exhausting.

I will tell you this, though, it did bring us closer together as a couple. All we had was each other a lot of the time. Just us home – alone—A LOT! Me laying in bed feeling “sick,” but really I was definitely depressed. I also didn’t want to tell anyone because if it didn’t work, I didn’t want the awkward conversations with people.

It did work though. We delivered twin boys in April of 2014. So blessed. So very blessed. I still was not really ready to speak out loud about our struggle. I was still embarrassed and didn’t want the questions. I wasn’t ready.

Sure, we got the questions and the looks and the “do twins run in your family?” questions. And we would say, Yep, they do. Kevin’s friend, at the time, even had the nerve to post on his page: “Hey, my wife wants to know—are your twins natural?” Really? My blood still boils talking about it a little. First, why would you ever post that question. And second, are they natural? Really? No, they are fake kids.

I can assure you after throwing up for 18 weeks and carrying these 6 pounders in my belly for 36 weeks and 5 days strong, these babies are real. I kind of feel sorry for that guy because I reamed his ass for asking this question. Now looking back, I suppose I could have handled the situation better.

Listen, I know that people who have not dealt with fertility issues don’t know what is wrong and right to say. I will give you advice: if you have to question it in your heart if it is appropriate or not, THEN JUST DON’T SAY IT. I don’t care if its your best friend, your daughter, or your daughter’s best friend….JUST DON’T. Don’t ask it unless they seem ready and open to discuss, okay?

Now, on another note: I am ready and open. My next round of IVF, I was ready. I mean, I was a soldier. I knew what to do and when to do it. I did all my own shots and drove my own butt to the doctors appointments, with company sometimes (they were 2 ½ hours away).

I had to be this way—I had two baby boys at home who needed to be cared for and a husband who worked ridiculous hours. I had to get tough and be tough. I told everyone who would listen what we were going through so I could ask for help—we needed it. It wasn’t about me anymore — it was about them.

I needed to get through this without it affecting them negatively in any way. I did too. I really rocked this round of IVF. I can honestly say that. I made it through—my body made it through.

Long story short: doctor asked how many eggs you want to put it. Kevin said one. We have twins at home. Okay, fine—you have a 25 % chance of this working. The doctor recommended doing two eggs because the chances go up to 60 percent. Kevin said no. Doctor said you will not get twins again—I can almost promise you this. Kevin said, “Doctor, one egg.”

I am flexible about it, but then the week before the procedure is going to go through, Kevin said, “Let’s just do two.” Okay, I say. That is literally all I said. I didn’t want him to change his mind because I knew with one egg, the odds were against us—so two it was.

Six weeks later, at our ultrasound appointment, I saw it – I saw two sacs. Kevin had no clue until the nurse said, “Oh, its twins!!”

Kevin and I looked at each other. The nurse said, “Are you okay?” I said, “Well, we have twins at home; they are 17 months old.

The nurse said, “Oh.”

Kevin left the room and the nurse asked, “Is he okay?”

I said,”Not sure.” Dead silence the entire ride home…the whole night almost.

Now, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, there it is the story of our family.

If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility and want to chat, please do reach out. I wish I had known someone to talk with and felt comfortable to talk about it going through. I think it would have been much easier the first round if I had that and if I had felt more comfortable.

There is nothing wrong with you. This is the hand you were given and you can get through this. I know all too well. I can’t make it all better, but I can sure as hell try.

5 Reasons I’m Giving Up Fertility Treatments

My husband and I started our infertility journey three years after we got married, but we had known since the beginning we would probably need help. My husband had cancer as an adolescent and while other kids were navigating the ups and downs of middle school, my dear husband was fighting for his life. Luckily, that battle was won, but the after effects of chemo on a young pubescent boy left us seeking help to grow our family.

We have spent the last four years and our last remaining pennies on fertility treatments. Luckily, after  about $100,000 in medical intervention, three IUIs, three rounds of IVF, one FET and a crushing miscarriage, we have the most amazing 2-year-old we could have ever imagined. He is feisty, athletic, intelligent and obsessed with “Mick Mouse.”

It is hard to explain the emotional rollercoaster the past few years has been. Anyone in our shoes knows what it is like and anyone not in our shoes will never truly understand. I see other families with their beautiful children and a piece of me automatically shuts down. I ache for more children. I ache to give my son a sibling. I ache to give my husband another part of me. But, we have decided that we have to be done. This pain has to end and we need to move forward with the lives we have with our beautiful son.

So, as I try not to dwell on the negatives, I have turned my attention to the positives of giving up on this journey. Here goes:

1. We can stop waiting for the unknown.

2017 was especially hard. We had 5 frozen embryos from our first IVF (which was successful) and we assumed we would have additional success with an FET. One embryo didn’t survive the thaw and three of the other four were deemed genetically abnormal. That left one female embryo which I miscarried. She had a name. She was loved. She had so much potential. She is not here today. I think about her all the time. I planned on putting her hair in pigtails and longed to see her run, arms outstretched, to her adoring daddy.

My emotional health has really taken a beating. We tried two additional rounds of IVF after losing our baby girl, both unsuccessful. My heart hurts for what could have been, for what should have been, but I know I cannot take any more pain like that. I have a son who is here. He is alive and well and beautiful. He is known, so I am okay with giving up on the unknown.

2. We can plan for our financial future.

Fertility treatment is expensive. No way around it. Planning for our future has been put on the backburner to pay for the never-ending bills that keep strolling in months after we thought those days were behind us. Every blood test, scan, and exam is billed individually, so every couple of weeks we are made to endure reminders of the journey we took, taking us back to a place I don’t want to be anymore.

These bills are trickling down and should stop soon. Because of that, my husband, son and I can start to plan for our future. We want to build a house that suits the three of us and we no longer have to wait to see how large (or small) our little family will become. There is something exciting about knowing what tomorrow will look like and planning to make tomorrow as bright as possible.

3. We can plan a trip to Disney.

As mentioned above, my son is obsessed with Mickey. We have 122 Mickey Mouse Clubhouses and 23 Mickey and the Roadster Racers on our DVR. While mind numbing (after the 1,000th time being seen), our son still brightens up every time he hears the hotdog song. While we were on the fertility journey, we didn’t know when we would be able to take our son to Disney. Having a potential newborn put that trip on perpetual hold. But without that potential, my husband and I plan to take our little guy to Disney sooner rather than later. I cannot wait to see the look on his face when he sees “Mick Mouse” in person. The awe and amazement of a child is mesmerizing and I want to give him as many experiences as possible. Ending this journey will enable us to do that.

4. My body is now my own.

I have mentioned the emotional aspect of infertility, but the physical aspect of fertility treatments are as equally tough to endure. I have been injected over 100 times by my husband in the stomach, back and butt. I have been pumped full of hormones that made my mental health take a nosedive for the past several years. Adding in actually being pregnant and giving birth, my body has not been my own since we started this process.

Hubby and I are at a point now where we are sleeping at night, my boobs are no longer a milk factory and my hormones are no longer artificially derived. I can drink an adult beverage as wanted, train for a mini-marathon and just get back to being me. I haven’t been me in a very long time. I am excited to see who I am now, and what I will become now that this journey is over.

5. I can devote myself to my son.

When my son was born, I was always waiting for the next phase. When would milestones be reached and when would new stages begin and end? As I held him at night, I planned for our next child, thinking about what we would do differently and what we would do the same. I was in a perpetual state of wondering about what was to come, which didn’t allow me to live in the present.

When we decided to end our journey, I looked at my son, already 2 years old, and wondered where the time went. He knows his colors, can count to 10 (omitting 3 and 4 most times), and has already lost the baby fat that once caressed his beautifully round face. I refuse to let any more time pass without enjoying and relishing in every moment of his upbringing. Tantrums don’t bother me anymore. He is a little person with big emotions and I have gained the patience to help him navigate his feelings.  His emotional and physical wellbeing are what’s important and I won’t take any moment with him for granted.

So, while one journey has ended, I try to look forward to what life has in store for my little family. I am trying to give up on the past and what should have been, but I also know that the pain of infertility won’t truly ever go away. Buried way down deep I will always want what we couldn’t have. But I will focus on the positives to make those moments of sadness more fleeting than there were yesterday.

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When You’re Dealing With Infertility The Second Time Around

“I’m nervous about doing the two week wait again,” my infertility buddy confided to me just weeks before she found out Parker was on his way. We found out we were pregnant just weeks of each other after dealing with what felt like an eternity of infertility, and her son was born only 12 days after my daughter.

Mason was the first to become a big brother, followed quickly by Wyatt. And then Stella became a big sister, and just a few days ago, Cadence, too. One by one, the women I met in the online world of learning-to-cope-with-infertility have announced their second pregnancies. Meanwhile, I’m still broken.

I’ve lost track of their stories. When I post my congratulations and they say they were “pleasantly surprised,” I don’t know if they mean it happened the way it’s meant to or if the treatments went unexpectedly well. I don’t know if they implanted their frozen embryos or turned out to be one of those magical infertility unicorns who somehow gets pregnant without medical intervention after their first pregnancy.

I am not a unicorn. Womp-womp.

No, I am one of those who experienced primary infertility and who, should she ever work up the courage to give it another real shot, will experience secondary infertility, too. I know enough now to recognize how screwed up my systems are, and I’m not so much bothered by the knowing I’m broken as I am with the knowing I might have to deal with a second round. My daughter just turned two, and I still feel so traumatized by the experience of getting pregnant, despite “only” having needed three rounds of Clomid to get that BFP.

That’s why I unfollowed the blogs, after all. That’s why I don’t know what it took for my friends from the blogosphere to get a second positive pregnancy test. It just became too much to constantly relive those moments. Phone calls from nurses with disappointing test results. Another blank pregnancy test with no second line. Forever teetering between insane optimism and complete nihilism. I spent most of my pregnancy utterly terrified of the worst-case scenarios, too, so the years between “I’m ready to be a mother” and holding my baby for the first time really just feel like a blur of stomach-churning anxiety and depression.

I feel guilt for leaving my sisters in the trenches, but I’m not exactly prepared to do it all again. I don’t know if I ever will be, and I’m just so full as a girl mom to an “only” that I can’t imagine it being any other way. We aren’t actively trying to get pregnant. We aren’t peeing on sticks morning, noon, and night. We aren’t on drugs, making doctor appointments, having blood draws. We aren’t hoping against hope that the cycle doesn’t reset again. In that sense, I’m not really experiencing infertility, am I?

But the knowing.

What can you do about all the things you know now?

As I learned to cope with primary infertility, I remember so distinctly thinking, at least those women have a child. At least they got the experience of carrying life. At least they know.

I believed (on some level) that secondary infertility was just as painful, but that didn’t diminish my pain and anger and fear that I might never get what they had. I always chastised myself for thinking that way, because I shared the pain of wanting a child and the indescribable disappointment of learning that there are some things in life that you just can’t work hard enough for, that there really are no guarantees. I shared the feeling of being let down by your own body. I empathized. I understood.

But I didn’t know.

Primary infertility is fearing what you’ll never get to experience.

Secondary infertility is knowing what you’re missing.

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