After diagnosed with Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Ashley has tried IUI, Clomid, Follistim and more. For the dream of having a bigger family, she and her husband adopted a beautiful little girl; however, they didn't stop thinking about having their own biological child. In 2010 and 2013, she gave birth to her son and daughter and finally had time to take a break from TTC. Now she is a happy mom with her lovely children. Her ways to handle her PCOS and miscarriage could be something you want to learn from. Take a look at her interview now. *See part II - Ashley's Tips for Infertility
1. Can you briefly tell us about your TTC journey?
I was diagnosed with Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome in December 2005 after a miscarriage and then three months of no period. After a few months of discussion, my husband and I decided that treatments weren't for us at the time so we decided to adopt. In 2008, we became the parents of a beautiful and beloved little girl and have had an open adoption with her birth mother since then. In 2009 we were preparing to start our paperwork to adopt again when we felt it was time to try to have a biological child. We started on Clomid, which didn't work, moved to Follistim, which didn't work then the doctor figured out that I had an insulin resistance. I began taking glocophage and the injectables, did an IUI and became pregnant in early 2009. The baby didn't grow and I miscarried on Mother's day. We took a couple of months off then tried Clomid with glocophage and I got pregnant the old fashioned way, giving birth via c-section to a boy in May 2010. In March 2012, we did another round of Clomid and Glucophage and got pregnant the old fashioned way with our daughter, who was born January 2013. *phew*
2. How did you realize that you could have infertility issue? And what was your reaction at that time? How did you handle it?
I got pregnant in August of 2005, while on birth control. I miscarried at five weeks and we tried to get pregnant for a few months afterwards. I went in to my doctors several times thinking I was pregnant and doing blood tests, but never was. Eventually I made an appointment and talked to my doctor about wanting to get pregnant and she asked when my last period was. I mentioned that it was when I'd miscarried, three months earlier. She noted I'd gained 40 pounds since my miscarriage and told me she wanted to run some tests. So I did blood-work, got an ultrasound and was sitting in my office when my phone rang and they told me I had cysts in my ovaries, elevated testosterone and had Polycystic-Ovarian Syndrome, they'd give me the number to a fertility clinic and hung up.
I found out what that all meant when I hung up and googled it, spelling it horribly wrong. So in my office, at work, I learned that I would never be able to get pregnant on my own, I would be lucky to ever carry a baby to term if I got pregnant and that PCOS can kill you if you let the symptoms get out of hand.
I did what any sane person would do. I left work and spent three days in bed sobbing. I was in total denial at first, I thought there was a mistake. I was furious, I saw all these young girls getting pregnant and treating their babies like accessories, a family member of my husband's got raped and pregnant as a result; I couldn't give a baby to my husband but she could have a baby through a violent act? I made deals with God, that I would be the best mom ever, that I would be a better person, a better wife I would do whatever it took to become a mother. I worked out, I ate rabbit food, I tried to live up to my end of the bargain. I became really depressed, cutting myself off from my friends and especially those who were pregnant. When we decided to adopt, I reached a peace and joy and began to come to terms with the idea that maybe this wasn't a punishment but a different path for me to grow from.
3. You were diagnosed in 2005 with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), can you tell us more about this syndrome?
One in eight women have some form of PCOS. It is the most common cause of female-based infertility and we really don't know a whole lot about it. Each woman shows symptoms differently; I joke with some of my friends about being PCOS twins because we have the same manifestations of symptoms. We don't know if it's genetic, although it does tend to show up in families (my sister was diagnosed with it but does not show the same symptoms as me and should be able to get pregnant and carry without a problem) and the symptoms can either be seen or totally not seen. I've met people who told me they have PCOS and I'd never be able to tell. Others I've asked how they were treating their symptoms and they'd hiss "How the HELL did you know?!"
In me and my body, I don't ovulate. My hormones are all thrown off and my eggs start to grow but never mature enough to be released. So they stay in my ovaries and become cysts, forming the elusive "string of pearls" in ultrasounds. I can grow a wicked mustache, gain weight only in my stomach and have problems with my insulin, so I still take Metformin, 2000mg a day, every day. While I have an IUD currently in place to control my bleeding (I either have NO periods or try to bleed to death) I have had a period and have ovulated every 28 days for the last six months since I started taking it.
The fun part (sarcasm) about PCOS is most people don't know who to turn to in order to treat it. Your general practitioner will send you to your OBGYN. Your OBGYN wants to put you on birth control pills, which actually makes PCOS worse and tends to throw most women with PCOS into a horrible depression because the hormones in the pills and the hormone imbalance in your body wage war and cause you to be miserable. Your OBGYN, if not throwing birth control pills at you, sends you to a reproductive endocrinologist, whose only goal is to get you pregnant and bounce you back to you OBGYN, who doesn't know how to treat you when you're not wanting to get pregnant, not wanting to go on birth control and not wanting to gain weight like a mad woman. (By the way, the answer for "who do I go to then," is an endocrinologist. No joke, took me ten years to figure that one out, guy popped me on Metformin and BAM! Clockwork periods baby!)
Oh, and a diabetic diet and exercise (cardio) is super important. Like don't skip out on that. It will save your life.
Ashley is a 31 year-old girl who owns a fertility blog - Feigning Fertility. She and her husband have been married since 2004. After diagnosed with PCOS in 2005, she had been trying to conceive and dealing with infertility for many years. In 2008, they adopted a lovely girl; in 2010 and 2013, Ashley gave birth to her biological son and daughter. Now she’s a great mom to 3 beautiful children. In her free time, she loves reading, knitting and taking photos.