10 percent of women suffer from PCOS, which can affect their chances of conceiving. Read on for one woman's roller-coaster story from diagnosis to baby.
In my late teens, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) and I found out that the chances for me to get pregnant were very small, possibly even none. I couldn’t believe that, in an era with such advanced technology, I couldn’t be fixed. So I didn’t give up, and I tried all kind of treatments.
At a certain point, the pharmacist in my neighbourhood started to know me as the crazy one that buys at least one pregnancy test every month. I was always told that getting pregnant is the easiest and most natural thing in the world, I was taught how to protect against pregnancy, and all of a sudden I found out that the easiest thing to do in the world for any woman was not as easy for me. I moved from my home country but I kept going back for a while to continue the treatments.
After I moved to the Netherlands, I decided to continue my treatment here. It was like the movies, with endless frustration: crying, happy masks, and social smiles when people asked me why I didn’t want to have a child after so many years of marriage. If I hadn't have wanted a child so desperately, people’s comments wouldn’t affect me – I would have been very cynical and ironic in my response to them – but instead I felt very guilty, like something was wrong with me. I was a weirdo, I had done something wrong in my life, I was a sinner.
Pill after pill, injection after injection and in the end programmed sex, until – after eight years – the miracle happened.
I was visiting my parents and I went back to my old pharmacy to buy a pregnancy test yet again and at 3 o’clock in the morning I took it. The test had two pink lines, but on the box it said that the lines should be red, so I was unsure. I woke up my sister – she wasn’t sure either, so we decided that it was not possible that I was pregnant.
The next day, my sister bought another test for me. Again two pink lines – this time there was hope and excitement. I couldn’t believe it.... I decided that someone who can’t be pregnant had to do a similar test to compare, so I ran to the pharmacy and I bought six more tests – imagine the face of the pharmacist! I took one more test: I forced my menopausal mother to do one. I was outside the bathroom door with my sister waiting for my mom to do the test. We could hear her through the door protesting, “Now I have to pee when ordered?” We compared the tests and the three of us started screaming like crazy, laughing and crying, holding hands, jumping, hugging, kissing…so much excitement, so much happiness.
At my first official consult at the fertility clinic where I had my treatment, the doctor told us that he couldn't see a sanguine flow in the embryo and was almost certain that I would miscarry, but he said that we would have to check again in a week to make sure. I was so disappointed. Not once had I thought that once I got pregnant that I might not carry my child to term. Fortunately, after a week the news was great – we saw the sanguine flux and everything else we should see.
Time passed. I enjoyed my pregnancy very much, but at the same time, I worked more than before because I was afraid of being considered less capable at work. At around 32 weeks, I had the so-called Braxton Hicks contractions almost all day at work. The next day, I had my normal checkup and my midwife assured me that I was giving birth: my cervix was already opened. I was in shock. She called a taxi for me and she sent me urgently to the hospital.
There, I was assured that within two days, if everything goes well, I will have my baby in my arms. They advised me to lay down to keep the baby in the womb for as long as possible. I was incredibly scared, but the hospital staff were wonderful. They injected me with hormones to help my baby's lungs to expand so she would be ready for the world and they showed me the neonatology section and prepared me psychologically and physically and in every other way possible for any scenario we might face.
I spent a couple of days in the hospital until, because the baby wasn’t coming yet, they sent me home with the advice to be ready any moment to go to the hospital to give birth. From that moment on, I laid down almost all the time for the rest of my pregnancy to make sure that I would keep the baby in for as long as possible. I had a couple of trips between hospital and home; I was hospitalised and released again. Every day, I was grateful that I hadn't given birth yet.
Meanwhile, the baby turned to breech position. At 36 weeks, I had an ECV (external cephalic version, an assisted procedure to turn the baby manually by “massaging” the mother's belly), but the baby didn’t want to turn. I was a bit disappointed since I took pregnancy classes especially to be better prepared for a natural birth that now didn’t look so bright anymore.
I managed to reach 38 weeks of pregnancy when I had an emergency caesarean section because of the risk of preeclampsia. My baby was pushing me so hard with her head in the sternum, she was trying to go up, that my tension exploded. On August 3rd, 2010 I gave birth to the most beautiful and the most amazing girl in the world. I love her deeply and I love my husband who sustained and supported me for so many years.
What have I learned from this lesson? To never give up.
I learnt that, if I don’t give up, miracles can sometimes happen. And I learnt to be happy.
I am a woman with PCOS. Approximately 10 percent of women suffer from this. I would like women to be more aware of PCOS so they can take care of themselves as early as possible.
I am a woman that doctors gave a maximum 2 percent rate of success of having a baby, and I have one. I want you to be aware that, in the end, numbers are just numbers and you shouldn't give up because of statistics. Instead, try your best to overcome obstacles, one by one.
And most of all, I am a story of success.
Picture Credit: Author's own.