How did the doctor determine you were experiencing infertility?
A typical marker of infertility is the inability to conceive after trying with no successful results after a full year. I experienced an unexpected ectopic pregnancy that kickstarted my search for answers. Asking questions about my family history also aided in determining that I would have issues conceiving. Family members going back two generations very uncomfortably told me about their postpartum depression, suicidal thoughts and depression, trouble conceiving, miscarriages and even stillbirths. It felt surprising to learn all of this well into my adulthood. When presenting my research to my doctors (Both ND and MD) along with my symptoms they determined that I may also have trouble trying conceive given the facts.
Did you experience it with your first born as well?
Less so than with second. We decided that knowing that bearing a child would be difficult we opted not to wait until we were in our 30s to try to have children. I became pregnant with my daughter when I was 25 years old. It still took work. Controlling my diet and stress was the key components for me but depending on the symptoms the pcos is presenting the protocol for a good cycle may look different. With my second child with the stress and anxiety of covid I had the absence of my period for more than a year. With some intervention from my ND I was able to come to a healthy cycle in time but between preparing to conceive and actually getting pregnant still took well over a year.
How and when did you find out you had PCOS?
There was a family history of PCOS for me. The symptoms started with insulin resistance followed by the absence of a period for several months. I was 17 at the time and the basic solution was to be on birth control. It helped with the symptoms however when it was time for me to think about conceiving it landed me in more trouble in terms of trying to conceive. I was quite young when my cycle started to become irregular. I was reluctant as a teen to talk to a doctor. In time because of family and friends around me I consulted with my family doctor. In the early 2000s there wasn’t really much awareness about PCOS PCOD or endometriosis. I wish there was more inventions like diet and lifestyle advice versus a birth control prescription because it was a very temporary bandaid that took much longer for me to remedy later in my life.
Did you experience any miscarriages in starting or growing your family?
I had 1 loss before I conceived my daughter that really shook my faith and broke me. Its hard not to blame yourself when you experience a miscarriage.
What helped you to not lose hope during the entire process?
I lost hope a lot. I cried a lot and felt very lonely in the process. Much like the pains of new motherhood I wish that I had more support around conceiving. I feel like because there is so much unnecessary pressure to have children in the south Asian and many other communities, we often isolate ourselves when things don’t go as people would expect. I didn’t reveal to most people that I had a miscarriage and when I started to talk about it I learnt the mostly all of my friends had experienced a pregnancy loss. Why aren’t we supporting each other through this. I would want to hold space for my loved ones who have had to experience this and vice versa. I didn’t really know where to turn.
and while I lost hope several times it was my partner who would remind me that we were in this together and If we were blessed with a child, it would be amazing but ultimately, he loved me regardless of the outcome of this tiresome process. He was the one who would bring me back to my senses to speak and remind me that I am more than just my womb.
Faith: I was ready to call it after several months of no sucess. I have strong faith in Krishna and I knew that if I was meant to have a child it would have happened. You reached out to me about sending Krishna and some of his friends out to Vidya and her Cousins and on the day the package arrived I just felt like I should take a pregnancy test. I had decided that in this moment if it was going to be negative this would be my last try. On the exact day the Krishna entered our home was the day I finally got a positive Hcg test which resulted in my own little Venu-Gopal. The moment I let go of the result was the moment I was truly blessed with a baby. I know for a lot of people this is a fluke and it's entirely possible that its all the work that went into to conceiving. For me it just felt that our child was just waiting for the perfect time to enter our lives. I took this pregnancy test the day before Janmashtami.
Now that you're on the "other side," what is something you know now that you wish you had known then?
It’s okay to ask for help. I think the word infertility is very scary for a lot of people. Medical jargon can generally be scary. Being deemed infertile doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get pregnant. For perfectly healthy people it may take time to pregnant also. I got really caught up in this idea that I wasn’t worthy of a child because I couldn’t conceive and that’s just not a fact. PCOS is a tricky diagnosis and it's something I’ll have to work on my entire life but it doesn’t define me and it doesn’t make me unworthy.
Did you feel hesitant or ashamed telling family or friends that you were experiencing difficulties? If so, how come?
100%. Talking about your health history is extremely vulnerable especially when people have such unrealistic expectations of you. From the second your wedding is over the community starts demanding children from you and if your having trouble how do you express to people with unrealistic demands that you cannot fulfill that. There isn’t really a space created where a birthing person can acknowledge the difficulty without having to take responsibility for disappointing the people who really “NEED” grandchildren or nieces and nephews and so on. It's a lot of pressure to take on what to speak of the needless stress that it puts on a couple. I really isolated myself both times we were trying because I was so high strung about getting pregnant that even if I well intentioned person would ask me when I was having a baby, it would set me into a depressive state for days.
What else would you like to share? Anything I missed?
I think it’s important to acknowledge that it really does take two to make a baby. And while PCOS was the issue for us. My partner didn’t have any problem taking supplements and supporting his health for conception also. I think the our society creates this perception that infertility is a woman’s issue and it really isn’t.
Consult your doctor or health care practitioner with any of your questions regarding you reproductive health. There’s no shame in searching for answers regarding your body.