March 15, 2013

PCOS to Pregnancy: The Family Curse

It's no surprise that I have fertility problems and issues in general with my "womanly" region. I have a family history on my mom's side that points in all the right directions. The stories from my aunts and my mom, while all different in their own way, mimic my own experience. I had some time to catch up with all four of them this week and hear their story.

My Mom
My mom didn't start her menstrual cycle until her late teens. She only had a couple periods before being surprised at 18 with her first pregnancy. After her second child, my brother, was born, she began experiencing severe pelvic pain and symptoms related to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Her dr. found scarring on her ovaries and told her she would probably never get pregnant again. He also prescribed an antibiotic for a pelvic infection and birth control to help regulate her periods. No one warned her about the antibiotic cancelling out the birth control. Another surprise pregnancy followed (me!).

After her third child, my mom had her tubes tied. A few years later, the severe pelvic pain returned. She suffered from ruptured cysts that left scar tissue and a lot of pain. Her dr. recommended a partial hysterectomy. Again, a few more years passed, and the sharp pains returned. An emergency room visit due to a ruptured ovarian cyst led to a full hysterectomy. Her doctor's have said that it was a blessing she had her children so young. If she had waited, her chances of conceiving would have been much smaller.

Aunt #1
Aunt D. has a history of painful, irregular periods. She was on birth control from the time she was 16 until 32 to regulate her periods and control the pain. When she came off the birth control after 16 years, she was hoping to conceive her first child. After 6 or 7 months with no periods and no luck, she began a round of Clomid. When she didn't get a positive pregnancy result the first month and began spotting, she started a 2nd round. A trip to her OBGYN showed that she was in fact 6 weeks pregnant from the 1st round of Clomid. Thankfully, her baby was okay and is now a teenager.

She wanted to get pregnant again right away, but also wanted to breastfeed for a full year. She weaned her 1st child and 12 months and was discouraged to not have her periods return. Four months after weaning (and no periods) she turned out to be pregnant with her second child.

After giving birth to her second child, she decided that she was done having children. Her periods were irregular and not pleasant. Aunt D. under went an endometrial ablation and highly recommends it if you done having children.

Aunt #2
Aunt E. married young and went to her gynecologist right away to start birth control. After 2 months on the pill she felt sick and decided to stop. She decided to let God control her fertility. Her periods were very irregular occurring once every 6-9 months. Four years into her marriage, with no use of birth control and no pregnancy, Aunt E. began to think she was infertile. Then surprisingly, after 9 months of an absent period, she was pregnant with her first child.

She nursed her first child 6 months and then her little one weaned her self. The next month, she was surprised with another unexpected pregnancy. After her second child, she decided they wanted to stop having children and my uncle got a vasectomy. Her periods became more regular as she got older, but still not quite monthly.

Aunt #3
Aunt F. started her period at 17. After her first period, she didn't have another one. She saw her gynecologist at 19,was diagnosed with "ovarian failure" and was put on birth control to hopefully regulate her periods. At 20, she was in the ER with a ruptured fallopian tube, ovarian cysts, endometroisis and a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome. At 21, she was surprised with a pregnancy that quickly resulted in a miscarriage. In the next year she only had 2 periods. A year later, she was blessed with the news of another pregnancy, but this one too ended in a miscarriage. The last miscarriage ended in an emergency hysterectomy to stop hemorrhaging.

Based on my family history, it is no surprise that I struggle with PCOS and infertility. It seems to be a pattern in my family. I don't have any sisters and my cousins are all too young to worry with these things right now. I hope that they too don't endure the struggle of infertility.

We are still praying for a second pregnancy. My little boy is now 19 months and becoming more and more of a little boy every day and less of a baby! I love this stage, but I can't help but think about how amazing he would be as a big brother!

I'm Jenny, the mama behind the blog Cloth Diaper Revival.   I'm a stay at home mom to Noah and a wife to Chas, the cloth diapering dad.  I used to be a 3rd grade teacher until I was blessed with the birth of my first child, Noah. I'm currently trying to conceive my second child while struggling with infertility due to PCOS. This series covers my journey and my experiences along the way.