#pcos, Guest Blog

PCOS Interview with Jess from The Good In Everyday

Okay guys, I’m going to attempt to keep this introduction short and to the point but we all know how that normally goes. Does taking the time to say it, or write it in this case, work against this goal? I feel like it does? Here I am, unironically delaying the introduction, definitely not keeping it short and I have yet to get to the point. Oops.

I often mention when the subject comes up that PCOS is so widely complex. My PCOS symptoms and experience might look entirely different with a fellow cyster. You get insulin resistant PCOS, you get lean PCOS, you get constant cyst PCOS and the list goes on and on. PCOS truly is a gift that keeps on giving. The other day I found an actual black as night, a bit too long for my comfort, chest hair. Smack bang between my titties. It stood out like a sore thumb. I called my husband to show him, and he called it cute. I plucked it and studied the little hair with a chuckle. Thank you so much PCOS, I really didn’t need something else to feel self-conscious about. The acne and weight gain are more than enough, thank you very much.

PCOS is so incredibly confusing and trying to figure it out is a mind fuck. Where do you even start? Some of the ladies has seen great success on the Keto diet while others noted no change, heck some saw a negative change. What I’m trying to say is what works or helps me isn’t going to work and help another lady with PCOS. What I find so absolutely wonderful about the internet though is that we’re able to connect with others on the same metaphorical boat, read their story and learn a thing or two. We can then walk away feeling less alone and hopefully a tiny bit hopeful that one day we will find a way to combat those terrible symptoms.

I stumbled onto Jess when I was searching for a possible cyster to collab with. I get quite a few newly diagnosed and completely lost PCOS ladies on my website and I wanted you to have another lady to connect with. I know it’s so hard to find someone real. I don’t know about you but I appreciate real, here is the good, the bad and the really ugly type of content. I don’t want to read blogs where you have everything figured out. I want to read blogs where you share the in between part. You know nothing, but you’re on the journey to hopefully find some answers. I want to read your bad days. I want to feel less like an alien and a part of a community that just gets it. A community that understands that you’re not unhinged because you started to sob like the day you were born after the TV remote fell off the couch. Jess talks about her experience with PCOS on her blog The Good In Everyday. It doesn’t end there though. She has opened up her platform by having conversations with multiple women who struggle with a wide range of struggles. The conversation topics range from ADHD, Disability, Mental Health, Suicide, IBS, Transitioning, Body Positivity and so much more. It’s empowering to read these blogs. I hundred percent recommend you give it a glance.

It’s safe to say I fell in love with Jess’s blog and I jumped at the idea to possibly have her on my website. She responded and well, you can guess what happened. So…enough about me. I’m going to hand over the reins to Jess.

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I’m Jess, a twenty-five-year-old writer currently exploring my new home of Sydney with my fiancé, Jack. Originally from England, I left the UK in December 2018 to travel America and Australia. Back home, I used to be a primary school teacher and LOVED it, but to be a writer has always been my biggest ambition so I used my time travelling to pursue my dreams.

My PCOS diagnosis story:

I was officially diagnosed with PCOS in July 2018, but really, I could have been diagnosed a lot sooner. I had always had irregular periods and my body hair has always been dark, thick and excessive. I used to be incredibly self conscious of how hairy I was, going as far as using hair removal cream on my arms to hide it. When I was 16, I had two instances of ovarian cysts, both of which I went to the hospital for. At that point, I feel like more investigation could have been done, but instead I was just told to go on the contraceptive pill. I was on the pill happily until summer 2017. I had never had any side effects from the pill – my skin was clear and I stayed the exact same slim weight. All of a sudden, I began to get horrific headaches. When I went back to the doctor, I was taken off the pill immediately and decided to have a bit of time away from using a contraceptive. When I was off the pill, I noticed how I could ‘feel’ properly. I hadn’t realised at the time because I had been on it for so long, but I was suppressed by the pill, almost as if I was living within a very small emotional range. Realising how much the pill dimmed my emotions and flattened me out as a person made me not want to go back on it at all. However, after having two periods, I then had a stretch of over six months without a period. This worried me enough for me to go back to the doctors, who took my bloods and sent me for an ultrasound. I remember being terrified of the ultrasound because it was an internal one, but I it wasn’t as bad as I had told myself it would be. The woman performing the ultrasound told me there and then that it was a pretty clear diagnosis of PCOS and my bloods later confirmed it.

I was pretty numb at my diagnosis. I always suspected from my problems in my teens that there might be an issue, but I didn’t know much about PCOS other than you can’t have children if you have it (a myth, but one at the time I thought was true). I remember crying and thinking that my future wouldn’t be as I had hoped. I had only been with my now fiancé for a few months at that point in time, so telling him when we left the hospital together scared me. I worried he would want to break up, but he was the opposite and was so incredibly supportive. In a way, finding out such big news so early on cemented that we wanted to be together and made us stronger as a couple.

To be honest, when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t really do much. I spoke to a few people who had PCOS, all of whom had managed to have children, and that was enough to appease me. I was told that the only way to control PCOS was to use the contraceptive pill and so I tried three different ones – one gave me horrific headaches, one made me gain a over stone in a month and the other was the one I was previously on and once again caused headaches. In the end, I said I didn’t want to be on any medication and my doctor agreed, telling me to come back if I ever wanted children.

I left the UK in December 2018 to travel and continued to live as I always had – eating whatever I wanted, doing whatever I wanted. I’d never been told much about PCOS and I found that there wasn’t a huge amount of information out there, although I admit initially I did very little of research. My diagnosis was so ‘you have this and unless you’re on the pill there isn’t much you can do’ that I didn’t understand all of the alternatives and implications of just carrying on as I always had. Whilst in Australia, my periods stopped again so I went back to the doctor. It was at this point thanks to the advice of my GP here and the gynaecologist that I saw that I realised I could help myself and that everything I had been doing was not good for me. I had gained weight, something I put down to stopping my active job as a teacher to pursue a writing career, but the weight wouldn’t go even when I tried to limit my diet or exercise. Having always had clear skin, I now had spots around my chin and mouth, I always felt just a little bit tired and my periods were painful.

How I manage my PCOS now:

I manage my PCOS through the diet and exercise changes I have made. Whilst I still feel like I can improve on this, I know that continuing to make these steps forward is something I want to do. I’m only at the beginning of my ‘managing PCOS journey’, but if I am already seeing and feeling improvements then I know that it is one to continue.

My PCOS diet:

Changing my diet is something I have only started since September, but I have already noticed a HUGE difference in how I look and feel. I have limited gluten because I didn’t want to cut it out completely in case, I developed an intolerance, and I have limited my dairy intake to the point that I have pretty much cut it out. As a vegetarian, my diet was never particularly bad, but I did eat a lot of pizza, pastas and cheese… I also had a sweet tooth! Swapping to things like gluten free pasta and dairy free cheese as well as upping my fruit intake has made a big difference.  My skin is clearer, I feel less bloated and I am not as tired. Part of me wishes I had made these changes sooner because the difference has been so stark.

PCOS changed the way I look at and plan my future:

It has made me worry about having children more. Before, I think I was a little naive to the idea of fertility struggles. Pregnancy seemed to be one of those things that happened if and when people wanted it to. Of course, I knew about miscarriages, IVF and had heard of PCOS, but really, I was just naive to it all. I was 24 when I was diagnosed, so having children wasn’t even on my radar at that point, but PCOS has made me think of them more seriously.

I know that if and when I am ready to ‘try’ for a baby, I would go to a doctor sooner if nothing happened after a few months than if I did not know I had PCOS. Other than children, it’s just made me appreciate what I have – a brilliant, supportive fiancé, wonderful family and friends and a life I am proud of. You never know what is going to happen and nothing in life is definite, so I try to take a step back, worry less and just enjoy it.

How I’m ‘treating’ my PCOS (Supplements/Medication):

I don’t take any supplements or medication but, from following natural remedy PCOS accounts on Instagram, I am looking into taking zinc and other supplements.

One of the things PCOS has really disturbed for me is my sleep. Whereas before I could sleep in, sleep through the night and loved a duvet day, I now wake up throughout the night. This has been really hard for me as I wake up feeling shocking which only adds to the feeling of fatigue. I’ve used some natural remedies that I have found really help – Lush’s Sleepy cream which I rub on my chest and wrists before I sleep, and Wilde Blends Sleepy aromatherapy oil which I put on the sole of my foot and down my spine. I can honestly say that using these has made such a difference to my sleeping pattern and I cannot recommend the products highly enough.

I think whatever works for the person is how they should treat their PCOS. Birth control worked for me whilst I was on it, but I feel that really it just masked my symptoms. I prefer being off medication and working with my body to figure out what it needs and what I should do, but that might not be what works best for someone else.

My PCOS insecurities:

Having always been the same, thin size, the weight gain and struggle to lose it has been hard. I write about body confidence and I have got a lot better with mine over time, but initially seeing someone I didn’t recognise and having clothes that don’t fit was hard. Some people say to me ‘but you’re still thin’, but for me gaining 2 dress sizes in such a short space of time after pretty much 10 years of my life being one way was hard. I still struggle now, but it’s not as bad as it was.

Why it’s important to me to write about PCOS on my blog:

As with everything I write and share online, I try to be honest and reflect my reality. This is just a part of who I am, so on a very basic level it is just my online life mirroring my personal life.

On a deeper level, though, I like to think that by being open about my PCOS experience I might help someone else. When I was first diagnosed, I did little to research and genuinely believed I only needed to think of PCOS when it came to wanting/having children because that was the impression doctors had given me. It was only when I stumbled across pages online that I realised how much PCOS impacts and also how much I could do to help myself. I’d like to think that someone else who has just been diagnosed and who doesn’t fully understand what it means might stumble across my page and that my words might help them. Just reading other people’s experiences and thinking ‘oh yeah, me too’ has made the world of difference to me, so if I can do that for someone else then great!

My advice to my fellow cysters, especially those newly diagnosed:

My main bit of advice would be to read other people’s stories. Whilst no two PCOS journeys are identical, for me it helped me to realise that other people had headaches and I didn’t need to worry about them as much as I was or see that yes, other people had children even with PCOS. I am someone who Googles things and tends to lean to the worst health outcome, so I found that Instagram accounts from PCOS nutritionalists and people with the condition have helped me more than random Google searches that only convince me of the worst.

Two of the accounts I follow on Instagram who have really helped me are @pcos_to_wellness and @pcos.weightloss. Even if you don’t want to lose weight, @pcos.weightloss has great tips about feeling good and working with your body and @pcos_to_wellness is so open and honest about struggles with acne and different conditions that for some people are relate to their PCOS like bruxism and dermatitis.

Some of the PCOS myths I’ve heard:

One of the most damaging things I have heard is that you can’t have children if you have PCOS. Being told this at 24 was awful and I can’t express how much I cried over it, how much guilt I felt at my partner’s future perhaps not being what he imagined. Over time, I have realised how wrong this is. Yes, having children might be difficult. Yes, you might need IVF and yes, it might not happen for you at all – but PCOS does not mean you cannot have children. I follow so many people who are either undergoing IVF or who have made changes to their diet and health routine and have become pregnant naturally. PCOS might make it harder, but it’s not impossible. I find knowing that a comfort and I wish more people knew it too.

I also wish I had been told about insulin resistance. When I was diagnosed, PCOS seemed like a blanket term – you have it and everyone with it is the same – this is not true. PCOS differs from person to person, some people’s bodies are insulin resistant whereas others aren’t. Knowing which type you have will help you manage your diet and exercise. For example, I know that my exercise needs to be regular, low impact exercise like yoga, Pilates and walks. Even though I don’t have insulin resistant PCOS, I don’t do high intensity exercise like running or HIT sessions because I know that’s not what will work for my body and could cause me damage.

My two cents on the argument that PCOS patients are having to basically treat themselves because there is a lack of understanding and research in the medical community about PCOS and other conditions like endometriosis:

I have to say that my experiences have made me agree. My doctors were great at diagnosing me, but then that was it – I was offered a contraceptive pill or nothing. I didn’t know about insulin resistance, I was never given an information leaflet or even a website recommendation, so I walked away clueless but knowing that I didn’t want to be on a contraceptive pill.

Knowing what I know now about PCOS, I realise how wrong this was. There were things I could have done to help and there is damage I could have done to my body by not doing them. I wish I had been told the advice I have been given in the last few months straight away so that I was better informed, from knowing what foods to try, what to cut down on, what exercises to do. Women are teaching each other how to manage things and offering support which is great, but I sometimes worry about the validity of the advice when I am recommended things like supplements as I feel wary about putting things into my body without knowing if I need them.

Being a part of a community that freely shares their health journey, and talk about important topics is empowering:

I really enjoy participating in the discussions and reading advice and tips from other people. I worry – a lot – so reading other people talk about headaches or aches and pains or tiredness really puts me at ease. PCOS has so many symptoms and effects other than the basic things like excessive hair growth and irregular periods which I was never made aware of before, so having that reassurance and being able to reassure others is great.

I also think that it is important for women to talk about these conditions so that the medical profession listens and advances in treatment, understanding and diagnosis can be made. For too long, women have minimised their pain, suffered in silence or put up with partial diagnosis’s, but to see that changing feels really empowering. My hope is that in the future, no one has to have a half-hearted diagnosis or walks away feeling confused and unsure of what they can do to help them self. If I can be a part of helping that day come sooner, then great.

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I hope that my PCOS story helps someone out there feel like their diagnosis is not the end of the world, because it’s not. You might have to change how you look at things or how you do things in life, but it will be okay. PCOS is a part of you, but it’s not all of you.

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Okay, I’m back. Did you miss me? I hope you enjoyed this blog. I truly loved working with Jess. She is super awesome, but you already know that by now. I’m going to round this one off but before I go – You can find Jess on Instagram @thegoodineverydayblog and of course subscribe/follow her blog here on WordPress.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | The Dreaded One Year Mark | COLA Test (NL) | Part 5/5

And here we are, with the last part of what I’m willing to share about our infertility journey at the moment. It’s been an intense ride and there is a real possibility that it’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better.

December 2018

The part of the journey I struggled with the most if that one-year mark. When we started trying, I told myself that I would be pregnant by that one-year mark. If the baby wasn’t in my arms or growing in my belly, I will have that egg in my womb waiting for life. I clung to this throughout all the hard days. I clung to it when I felt like the worst piece of shit ever because I just couldn’t give my husband what we both so desperately wanted. I clung to it when I felt like falling apart. I clung to it when my period started and I hated my body for not working like it should. I clung to this but as we got closer and closer to this day, the harder it became. Throughout the entire year, I told myself: “You only need to get through this for a bit longer. Once you hit that one-year mark, somehow everything is going to work out.” I feared that day. Infertility will become my reality once we hit that one-year mark. I couldn’t hit that mark. I couldn’t handle it. Saying I was a mess leading up to that mark was an understatement. On most days I could only manage to get out bed and move downstairs to stare off into space on the couch. That’s the only thing I could force myself to do. Fate was cruel because my period started around the area of my precious one-year mark. At that moment I realized that it’s going to get so much harder moving forward. I cried my heart out and just mourned. I mourned that a year went by and I wasn’t able to meet my babies. New Year’s came and left a bitter taste in my mouth. When reality hit that 2018 came and went without a single hint of pregnancy it broke my heart. It…I don’t think I can truly explain in words how I felt. I don’t feel that the words ‘it broke my heart’ is enough. What I felt was so much more than it.

January 2019

I walked into 2019 fully knowing it was going to be hard. I knew that I was going to feel pain I have yet to feel before. I knew things were going to be harder, more painful than the year before BUT I also knew that I would somehow make it through it. I told myself if I could get through 2018, I could get through everything. January started with a bang. The agony and constant pain I felt throughout the year that is 2018 just seemed to happily continue in the new year, slowly growing into something so powerful it could knock me down and who knows if I could get up again. My father had a really terrifying health scare. It was one of those where I prepared to pack my bags and fly down to see him. It was a bad one. January just kept giving though. It wasn’t done with us. I didn’t ovulate. We lost the first month and fuck did that sting. Originally, we had planned to use the OvuSense and try naturally by ourselves for six months before we return to the doctors but the no ovulation encouraged us to reach out and start the process a bit earlier. As our first experience with the two fertility doctors was anything to be desired, we wanted to start all over again. We wanted a fresh start. We went to our normal home doctor and he referred us to a new hospital which is known to have a great fertility ward and arranged to have Onno’s swimmers tested. Yes, we got to the one-year mark without ever having Onno’s sperm tested. That’s how bad our experience was with the doctors. His swimmers are really great by the way which was a relief and a source of pain all together as one. On the one hand, I was so incredibly happy that on his side everything was great. We didn’t have to worry about that at all but…it brought up some ugly emotions. It’s me. I’m the problem. We’re not pregnant because of me. We’re in so much pain because there is something wrong with me. It’s my fault.

February 2019

Our appointment with the new doctor was in the middle of the month, just after Valentine’s day. I have just got confirmation that I had ovulated on Valentine’s day and I felt so giddy. Everything has fallen into place. You hear so often that so many women fell pregnant just before they undergo treatment and I couldn’t help but hope I was one of them. Can you just imagine the stories? My precious baby conceived on the day of love. The appointment went really well. We expressed that we wanted to be taken seriously and action to be taken. Not only do we want to know what’s next, but we also want to know what’s after that. We want a hands-on approach and fucking treatment. My current feelings might have leaked out a bit there but well…let’s first, get through February. So, after a really good discussion, we walked away incredibly hopeful. We’re finally going to get the treatment we need and really start the process. It made the hope of becoming a mother feel more achievable. It just felt really good. The plan was to wait for my period to start and once my cycle starts, we will go in for the COLA test. The COLA test is one of the most extensive tests when it comes to this in the Netherlands. If there is something wrong that hindering us getting pregnant, this test will tell us everything we need to know. Although similar to each month, a piece of me shattered when my period started, but we felt hopeful. At least we finally had the support of the doctors. There is hope.

March 2019

I took the COLA test relatively early in March and then it was just the waiting game. Six weeks to be exact. The theme of 2018 and now 2019 continued with bad news after bad news. We got the news about my grandmother and I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never see her in this lifetime again. I had to accept that she is dying and that I wouldn’t be able to go down for her funeral. I love my grandmother so much and I’m forever grateful that I got to know her but fuck it hurts. I was also convinced I was pregnant. Although this is nothing new. At the start of this journey, I would read into every single symptom and get my hopes up, something I had to stop doing as we neared that one-year mark. It just felt different. I didn’t have any crazy symptoms; it was just something I felt deep inside of me. AND then the universe slapped me in the face and my period started. It stung so much more because the timing of it…it was cruel. Not even minutes before my period started, Onno and I had talked about it. How great it would be considering the paint job in the baby room is finally finished (the baby room is a blog for another day). In less than 24 hours we could test and hopefully, for the first time ever, get those two lines. On cloud nine, I jumped in the shower and saw my period had literally just started. It…it hurt so much. Why couldn’t I have gotten those 24 hours? Why did it have to start after I just poured my heart out? The cruel timing was gut-wrenching and I sobbed in my husband’s arms that night. We cried together until I finally managed to fall asleep. It hurts so much. I wouldn’t wish the pain onto anyone. A part of me still wishes that this is all a cruel nightmare and I will wake up soon. It’s not. It’s my reality. Infertility is my reality and it is slowly destroying me.

April 2019

It took me a few days to get up and face the new month head on and I placed all of my hope on the next appointment where we will discuss the COLA results. I had too. It was the only way I could move forward and…the appointment…it didn’t go so well. The hope that was the only thing keeping me together was ripped away and I can barely breathe. My body and heart feel so heavy and…I’m in so much pain. I’m not okay. I can barely see my screen through my tears. This appointment happened on the 15th of April so two days ago and it might be too soon to be talking about this. To add salt to the wound on the very same day of this…hell…my dad heard that he is losing his leg. And today…I realized that there is a real possibility that I won’t ovulate this month. It’s a lot. My heart is in so many pieces and I…words can’t explain it. I’m not really ready to talk about it. I still need to wrap my head around everything but I will get there. I’m strong. I’m really tired of being strong but what other choice do I have?

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So much has happened since the last update in middle April. Life has been pretty insane lately. As some of you might know, my father lost his one foot and well there were complications. I’m not really in the place to talk about it yet but I will do so when I’m ready. It’s healthy to talk about but it’s not something you should rush. I just want to say a big old thank you for each and every one of you that have been here since part 1. It’s been a crazy, vulnerable ride and most of the time I’m happy I shared this. I’m happy that I’m no longer hiding something so big in my life anymore. Infertility isn’t an easy thing to share but it’s something that needs to be talked about more. It’s more common than what you would think. No women should feel ashamed about her infertility. Some days I still am, it claws away at me and I feel like a failure but I will get there. I will get to the other side. I have to believe this. I can’t for one moment think that the day where I won’t hold my baby will never arrive. It will happen for us. I just need to stay positive. I need to stay strong.

Regarding more blog posts about my infertility journey. I mentioned this in the very first part but I will mention it again, the time between sharing anything related to my infertility will probably be a good 9 months (oh, the irony). You’re seeing this part in May and I have yet to finish the April dairy (not ready to talk about it), you will most likely see the next update around December where you will see the rest of the April dairy and so onwards. I will, however, have separate blogs every now and again if there is something I feel inspired or ready to share. I plan to review OvuSense somewhere in the next few months and if I’m able to put everything in words, I will talk about the baby room.

Thank you so much for all the love and support! Thank you for reading and I will see you in a click!

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My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | A Rough Few Months Full Of Heartbreak And Disappointment | Part 4/5

Here we are with part 4. I’m fresh from part 2 and 3 and this is getting harder to write. A lot harder than what I thought it would be walking into it. It’s such a personal and vulnerable experience that it feels just…I don’t know how to describe it. I feel naked. I think I will take a moment and come back to write part 4 when I’m ready.

February was hard. Most of the month I just…you know what I just realized? I’m writing this on the 31st of January 2019, EXACTLY ONE YEAR AFTER I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH PCOS! This just blew my mind. Here I am about to share what was going through my mind in February with the new diagnosis and it’s one year later. It feels like yesterday. These emotions are so fresh in my mind because I still feel them to this day. Oh boy, there is just so much I have to get off my chest…it’s difficult to get everything out. So much has happened that it’s pretty damn insane. There was something happening every single month and there wasn’t really a moment of oh let me catch my breath. Heck, I didn’t even scratch the service in the January update. Did I mention that we were looking for our house around this time? Oh, and that we found out my grandmother’s cancer is here to stay and there is nothing they can do for her? Yeah, that happened in January. I had a lot to chew on in February. A LOT. Honestly looking back, I’m like FUCK ME! That’s crazy! It was a theme ALL throughout 2018. It was intense things after intense things, EVERY SINGLE month. There wasn’t one month where nothing extreme happened. At least I know now with full confidence that if Onno and I can survive 2018 and still come out strong, we can get through ANYTHING. Our bond only got stronger through every punch to the gut. The really sad thing is, the theme that was 2018 is being carried through to 2019 and I’M FUCKING EXHAUSTED. I just need a break to catch my breath but life is just like NOPE. I’m getting off track and I still haven’t taken a break from writing this series. I’m overwhelmed just by thinking of all the crazy intense things that happened in 2018. But let’s get back to February. We will get back to the other months later.

February 2018

A few months have passed since I wrote the first few batches of the infertility journey and I’m fresh of some really bad news. I have a lot to chew on but I trust that talking about this will help so here I am. After the fresh diagnosis of PCOS, the news about my grandmother and the stress that came with house hunting, I entered February 2018 wounded and fragile. I realized that this journey wasn’t something we could do on our own and we need the support of doctors. Spoiler alert: My experience with the doctors here when it comes to my infertility is fucked up. We first had to make an appointment at our normal doctor so he could refer us to the fertility section in the hospital. Once we had our referral we could make our first appointment. It had a 6 weeks waiting period and I realized that there wouldn’t be much I could do in the month of February. I spend the entire month just learning about PCOS and the trying to conceive journey when it came with women with PCOS. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, I bought PCOS books and spend every day just learning as much as I could. I absorbed all the information I could get and it was…hard. The fear of what might become my reality cut into my very soul.

March – July 2018

March was the start of everything. I started my supplements and we had our first appointment with a fertility doctor. It seemed incredibly promising. Promises were made and hope blossomed in my chest. I felt so giddy that they could see I had ovulated recently and I don’t know. I guess I thought that it was a sign that everything would be hunky dory and I will be pregnant in six months. Just like the doctor promised. He immediately arranged some blood tests so we could see what my hormones are doing and send me off with the prescription to start Clomid in my next cycle (1 – 6 April 2018). The blood tests came back and everything was pretty normal. My period started and I drank my first Clomid (50mg) pill. How it normally works is: they ask to see you two weeks later near your ovulation time to see if you’re ovulating or not and then they will run some blood tests at the end of the cycle to confirm the ovulation. The ultrasound looked promising and I had a few good follicles. I took my blood test the same day which wasn’t the right timing. There was simply a miscommunication about it and by the time we realized it, my period had already started. We never confirmed that first month if Clomid worked for me or not. March just wasn’t our month. It stung. Each and every month hurts. It chips something inside of you away. Something deep inside of you gets destroyed when you see that negative test. Something that can only be mended with your baby’s giggles. At our next appointment, they decided to put me on Clomid for another six months. I got my three months’ worth and they send me on my way. This is where the experience with the doctors came less than ideal. Firstly, they never arranged to redo the tests correctly to see if I was ovulating on Clomid or not. So, until today, we have no idea if Clomid (at least the 50mg) works on me or not. Secondly, we never saw the same doctor or the first doctor. So, there wasn’t one person in charge of our treatment so we were kind of forgotten about. I took my Clomid every month, hoped that it worked and cried when it didn’t. The one month that stung the most was the June one. My period was a bit on the late side and I planned to test on Onno’s birthday. I desperately wanted it to be positive. I arrived in the Netherlands permanently on Onno’s birthday the year prior, wouldn’t it just be perfect if we find out we’re pregnant then too? The timing would be perfect as we just moved in our first home. I wanted it so badly. I went downstairs to test while Onno waited in bed and I found blood in my panties. I cried, put the test away and crawled back into bed and sobbed in Onno’s arms. It was a hard blow. The next month I drank my last batch of Clomid and we started to discuss what we should do next. We have started the process in the city but it wouldn’t be realistic to always travel there. Why don’t we restart the process in our new town and just start all over again? So, instead of arranging the next three months of Clomid from the first hospital, we arranged to be transferred. There was a waiting period and, in that time, I just worked on the house and prepared myself emotionally for what’s next. Our fourth and final round of Clomid was unsuccessful and all we could do is just wait and hope the next doctor will take us seriously and give us a more hands-on approach. We were hopeful that our treatment would be better in the smaller town and we were more than excited to hear that the doctor they have on staff is specialized in PCOS and women trying to conceive with the condition.

August 2018

What happened in that appointment broke my heart into so many tiny pieces. It was one of the hardest blows yet and it spun me into the darkest place I’ve ever been. We saw doctor 2 middle August and what seems to have become a common theme, I left her office in tears. She…what basically happened is they didn’t want to treat me until we hit the one-year mark. They will only help us in six months. It hit us hard. I couldn’t and I still can’t understand why they would send someone away when they were diagnosed with infertility at the very start of their journey. We both know my chances of conceiving naturally isn’t the best. I don’t have the normal number of chances in the year like normal couples. Why send me away for a year? Even though it hurt and destroyed something inside of me, I could accept the waiting period but…what angers me now is just how the appointment went. Firstly, I was under the impression that we made an appointment to see a specialist in PCOS and yet here is this woman basically telling me everything I’ve learned these last six months is wrong. According to her if you have your period, you ovulate every single month. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Women with PCOS can have what is considered a normal period and still not fucking ovulate. It was one of the first things I learned when I started looking into PCOS. Not only was this fact confirmed by all the books I’ve read, other ladies with PCOS, it was also confirmed by doctor 3. Doctor 2 had no fucking clue what she was talking about. Looking back now I was more upset about basically throwing all my hard work, all of my pain these last few months aside. It was irrelevant and wrong. Everything I know about PCOS is wrong according to the doctor. What I thought Clomid was doing was in fact not correct. The confusion and anger that all of the pain these last few months meant nothing added to the blow. It hurt more than hearing a doctor say that they won’t help you until you hit this mark in your journey. For the next two weeks after that appointment, my world just unraveled. Leading to that appointment my mental health wasn’t in the best place. The negative test month after month has started to chip away at me but that appointment, it changed everything. It had sent me to such a dark space that it terrified me. I needed help or I wouldn’t be the same at the end of this. I wouldn’t be able to survive.

September – November 2018

September was a turning point. I started the month by telling the world about my past and starting the process of coming to terms with everything that happened. To make peace and to heal. That as you all might know, send me through a crazy and intense journey. The first part of September I was just trying my best to piece all the pieces of me together so I could face my infertility journey head on with enough strength to get me through to the other side. We decided to wait out the one-year mark before we see a new doctor and hopefully finally get the treatment we deserve. We wanted to take it to another step and we did. We bought a medical device I heard so many PCOS ladies talk about, OvuSense.

*OvuSense is a true medical device which was developed by specialists for use in home and clinic. OvuSense is backed by over 50,000 cycles of use, 2 clinical trials, and 5 peer-reviewed publications, confirming the medical basis for core body temperature monitoring. OvuSense is used to track and predict the exact day of ovulation. Unlike any other monitor, OvuSense can alert you up to 24-hours before you ovulate based on your in-cycle data. Clinically proven to be correct 96% of the time, this gives you more time to try to get pregnant each cycle. As well as being the only monitor with live 24-hour advance prediction, OvuSense provides a 99% accurate full eight-day fertile window at the start of each cycle – helping you take back control of planning for pregnancy. OvuSense is fully certified, safe and effective. OvuSense is a class 2 medical device – with full regulatory approval in USA (510k), Europe (CE), Canada, and Australia. Why trust your tracking to anything else when you can use OvuSense, worry-free, knowing it has undergone rigorous testing? OvuSense measures what matters. Unlike BBT monitoring, OvuSense can monitor the true fluctuations of progesterone throughout the cycle. By measuring what matters with OvuSense you don’t need to use other devices at home for your fertility tracking. OvuSense can also help with diagnosis and monitoring medication. Only OvuSense helps with the diagnosis of your individual cycle characteristics and allows you to track how medication and/or supplements affect your cycle pattern, giving you and your doctor confidence that the treatment is working.*

OvuSense changed everything. It gave me back some of that control I desperately needed and it comforted me to know that all the data this medical device is gathering will help us conceive. The device gave us vital information. We saw that I ovulate incredibly late in my cycle, nearly a week after what we thought my fertility window was. Not only did the device show that I tend to ovulate very late in my cycle, but it also showed that my luteal phase might be too short. Something that’s not the best when it comes to supporting a pregnancy. It also showed that I DON’T ovulate every month. I will definitely write a review about OvuSense and go into full detail in a separate blog but the short story is: I would recommend it to my fellow trying to conceive cysters.

I’m going to round this blog off here just before the one-year mark in our infertility journey. What happened that month is big and this blog is already on the long side. I know that I didn’t really go into detail while I was just summarizing these last few months but I want to express how painful they were. It broke a piece of me inside and every month my heart broke a little more. It was the worst few months of my life and it made 2018 one of the most difficult times of my life. My worst nightmare has started to take shape and on most days I could barely breathe. It took everything in my power to fight every single day to get better and to heal. A fight that I still fight today. I wrote this poem in this time period. I hope it sums up everything.

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Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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OvuSense website — https://www.ovusense.com/us/ — Information in italics* is straight from the OvuSense website.

PS. I’m sorry this blog is one day late. I was too ill to edit it on Tuesday and things just went downhill yesterday. It’s not much better now. Also, I’m sorry if there are any grammar/spelling mistakes. I really can’t focus.

 

 

My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | A Diary Of That First Month | Part 2/5

In part one I was mostly just ranting about insensitive comments that has been said to me over these last few months but in this part, we will go back to the start. Maybe if you get to the end of this blog series and follow every single step of this last year of my life, you will understand. I guess that is the purpose of this blog series. I want those who haven’t experienced infertility to walk away with a different insight on the subject. And for the couples who are going through this to feel less alone. For those couples to feel that their journey and struggle are recognized and they will walk away feeling supported.

December 2017

The moment that Onno said yes, let’s have a baby is imprinted in my mind. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. I knew I wanted kids when I was a kid myself. I wanted to be a young mom and have a bundle of kids. I told this to Onno when we started dating. I had no intention to start a serious relationship with someone who didn’t want kids later in the future. As I ended up marrying Onno, you could guess that he was all for it. The exact time period of when this would happen was a bit in the air. I knew it would be in my early twenties but we had to take a lot of steps before we were in the position to start a family. I had to live in the country to start off with. Onno had to have a stable job.  Once we tied the knot, we were in the position in life where we had to decide what is next. Where do we want to be in five years? Around the time of our marriage, I was still contemplating if I wanted to study or not. Once I committed to following my true passion and pursue a career of being an author, the last building block fell into place. The next natural step was babies, house, and car. I started getting around the idea of being ready to start our family in mid-November 2017. One month later I was sure. I’m ready to be a mom. I then brought this up to Onno. He didn’t jump in immediately. He needed some time to truly do his research and reassure himself that he could support a child. We both realize that having a child isn’t cheap and if we want to provide for them, we need to be financially secure. Once he was sure that we could, in fact, support a child, he was all for it. The timing was perfect. According to my period tracker, I was ovulating. The mood was perfect. It was Christmas and it felt like a sign from the universe. The first time we had unprotected sex knowing that this might turn into a baby was a wonderful feeling. I was floating in the air, so incredibly happy that we were starting our family.

I wrote two journal entries around this time. Back then I had it in my mind that I was going to record everything that happens while we’re going through it to share at a later stage. That never happened. The experience was too raw. It took me to a very fragile place and triggered my depression in ways that…it was hard. I realize that by going back and writing every month out is going to trigger those old feelings but I’m hoping this will help me heal. When I talked about what happened after I shared my abusive past, it helped me a lot. It opened up new doors for me and gave me a new perspective on things. So even though I know this process is going to hurt, I’m going to write it anyway.

Here is my first journal entry.

Trying To Conceive | Journal Entry #1

This blog is probably going to be the most personal blog I will ever write and share. It is so close to my heart, my very soul, that sharing this makes me feel vulnerable. Although I’m writing this on the 29th of December 2017 with no idea when I will post this or what will change from now till when you finally see this. I can only write about what I’m feeling and experiencing now. I’m not even sure if I’m going to share this…at this point, I’m writing this for myself. To get all my emotions sorted and just feel what I’m supposed to feel.

On the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, Onno and I decided that we’re ready to start our family. We don’t want to wait 4 years like we discussed only months proir. We don’t want to wait 2 years like we always say when family asks. We don’t even want to wait three months. Becoming a mother has always been such a big dream of mine. I want so deeply to have a baby with my husband. When I think of my future, ten years from now, I always imagine three children in that said picture. It’s what I crave for. A big family. Kids that will drive me insane but love me whole heartily well until they become teenagers. When my grandmother got sick just after I came back to the Netherlands and my father went in for an operation and complications arose…it made me realize how precious time is. It also made me realize that our children might never meet everyone I love so dearly. You can never predict life. Anything can happen. Although it made me sad, at the time we weren’t ready to start a family. I, however, have always fantasized with Onno about our future family and this was when we discussed possible names.

Diederik (Didrick) Robert Dijt

Diederik (the Dutch version of Didrick) is Onno’s grandfather’s name. Robert is my father’s second name. My father’s first name starts with a D and my entire childhood, even now, my father has always referred himself as a doctor because of his initials; DR. It’s his favorite dad joke. I’ve always found it absolutely hilarious and wanted to remember that memory by giving our first son the same initials.

Pameela (Pamela) Milly Dijt

Pameela (the Dutch version of Pamela) is my grandmothers name on my father’s side. She has always been a great role model as she fought cancer twice and continued to live life always believing the best in everyone. She is truly such a gentle soul. I want to remember her spirit by naming our daughter after her. Milly stands for Mildred. Milly is my grandmothers nickname on my mother’s side. She died before I was born so I never got to meet her but I’ve heard many great stories of her. It felt right to use her name. I love these two names. I have no names for a second boy or a second girl just yet but I know deep inside my heart we will have a little Diederik and a little Pameela running around.  

I feel such a deep desire to meet Diederik or Pameela as soon as possible. The timing of our first month was so perfect. It just felt so right. Everything was falling into place. The next three days were bliss. I felt so satisfied with how life was heading. We are officially trying. The time is right for my body and who knows maybe around my birthday a certain stick will give us the best news. I searched on the internet, reading so many articles about trying to conceive, what to expect while pregnant and so much more. I knew that the chances we will get pregnant after one month of trying isn’t 100% but I felt hopeful. I even went out and bought pregnancy tests and worked out the exact date I could take them. I just allowed myself to feel the excitement. Following the advice of many articles, I purchased a multivitamin. It is recommended to drink folic acid and vitamin b while trying to conceive as it not only prepares your body for your future child but once you get pregnant these vitamins are essential for a healthy spine and brain for your baby. It is ridiculously important for the first four weeks of your unborn child’s life. Most women only find out they’re pregnant long after that time so drinking these vitamins while trying to conceive can only benefit you. It felt like fate. The shop had a buy 1 and the second 1 is 50% off sale and I immediately found a great multivitamin that had everything I needed and will sustain me for nearly three months. It felt good. However, I woke up with blood in my panties…and when it didn’t go away the next day I finally came to the crushing relation that I was on my period. Two weeks early. Right on my ovulation period. It broke my heart and I cried in Onno’s arms.

I couldn’t help thinking…is there something wrong with me? Why am I bleeding now? I haven’t had an irregular period in months. Why now? Why now when we’re officially trying? I felt robbed. Robbed of those two weeks of waiting before your period is supposed to start and you can pee on that stick. I craved those two weeks of excitement and nerves. Those two weeks of maybe there is life inside of me. It was just robbed away from me before I could experience it. It was gut-wrenching. My mind went to the worse…What if I can’t have children…?

My mother and her mother had uterus growths and struggled to conceive. I’m not entirely sure what exactly it is as my mother never truly went into full detail about it. I did a quick google search and this could be what my mom was talking about. Basically, as I understand from what my mother has told me, there is a growth lining her uterus that makes it difficult for the fertilized egg to attach itself to the lining of the uterus and thus dies and you bleed it out. You simply have to go in, get the growth scraped and try for a baby after you recover. My mother struggled to get pregnant with me and only after getting scraped was she successful. They time the procedure out so it’s close to your ovulation. So the egg can stick to the wall before any growth can come back. The idea of seeing a gynecologist and having a vaginal examination scares the shit out of me. It’s something I figured will have to be done when I’m older but now for my own peace of mind, I should get it checked, right? I’m so young so the growth shouldn’t be a problem yet? That is to say, I even have it.

When I saw the blood in my panties it occurred to me that it could be my fertilized egg that couldn’t stick to my wall. I can’t be sure as I’m far from being a doctor nor know enough about this growth or if I have it to, well diagnose my irregular period. It just added to the blow and heartbreak. What if it is the growth? What if there is something wrong with me? What if I can’t have kids?

After a few moments of crying, I eventually gathered my thoughts. We are going to continue trying for three months, if my period continues to be irregular I will get it checked as irregular periods is anything but good. Annnd we will go from there. I still feel robbed but I also feel positive. Our time will come. We will meet little Diederik or Pameela soon. I feel it inside my soul that I will get pregnant somewhere in 2018. I’m planning on it. Heck, it is the real reason why we postponed the bicycle tour and why I decided to stick to the three weeks of 150km and one week of 50km. Being too physically active can hinder your fertility.

I’m disappointed, sad but I’m hopeful. Yeah, I don’t have the exciting 9th of January anymore but what I do have is a loving husband, a supporting best friend and a trust that it will work out.   

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I can’t tell you how surreal it felt to read that journal entry. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT LIFE WAS GOING TO THROW MY WAY. I just want to go back and warn her. I want to tell her to buckle up for one of the worst years of your life. I’m going to round this blog off here because it’s already super long. Thank you for all the kind messages. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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My Struggles With Infertility

I Struggle With Infertility | What You Shouldn’t Say To Someone Trying To Conceive | Part 1/5

I’ve tried to write this blog so many times. To be honest, there is just no easy way to talk about this or start the dialogue. This entire experience has been such a raw and personal experience that has ripped me apart. I struggle to open up about it and talk about it. I guess I should just start from the beginning. These last few months, Onno and I’ve been struggling with infertility. Boy, that’s a hard sentence to swallow. Onno and I started trying for a baby in December 2017 and it’s been one ugly rollercoaster ever since. So much raw emotions. There is so much I want and need to share when it comes to our infertility journey and I will start that soon but first I want to talk about something.

Opening up about my struggles with infertility is incredibly difficult. I’ve been very cautious with who I share this part of our lives with. It’s not something that’s easy to talk about it. I’ve told four friends, two of those has been incredibly supportive throughout the journey. My best friend in the entire world has been with me every single step of the way. She was there for me when I cried my eyes out every month when my period started. She was there for me when I hit the one-year mark and went to a really dark place. She was there for me when I was convinced that I was a failure of a wife and my husband would leave if I can’t have his baby. She was there for me when I cried for hours on end because my body was working against me. She was there for me every single step of the way and I will forever be grateful to call her my best friend. My other friend has been so incredibly sensitive to my journey. We rekindled our friendship after I shared my past and she told me about her recent miscarriage. We bonded over the fact that she too was now trying to conceive. She ended up getting pregnant soon after her miscarriage and as I’m writing this blog, late January 2019, she is now a mother of a beautiful little baby boy. There were moments throughout our communication that she said things that are my trigger but other times she just got it. She knew I couldn’t be her cheerleader throughout her pregnancy. She knew if she came to me and complained about pregnancy aches, I wouldn’t be able to follow her line of thought or respond in a way she might have wanted. I could always just think: “Well, at least you are going to have your baby. I wish I can feel these aches.” It took me a few weeks to open up to her about this but once I did our friendship shifted. She understood my jealousy and didn’t judge me for it. I am truly happy for her and I know she will be a great mother but I think it’s completely normal and human to feel a little jealous.

The other two friends I told…let’s just say their response wasn’t as positive. I mentioned before that I have triggers. There are just a few things I feel like you shouldn’t say to those who are trying to conceive. Especially if you yourself have never struggled with infertility. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT. The same can be said for those who have never experienced abuse but feel the right to decide what acts of abuse counts as abuse. My best piece of advice is if someone you care and know is struggling with infertility; is to choose your words carefully. Your words can cause more damage than you can ever imagine. As you’re going through this journey, your state of mind is so fragile, words cut deeper than what I can even begin to explain.

Here are the few main things that you shouldn’t say.

Take it easy. Once you stop trying, it will happen naturally. I can scream when I hear this one. I’ve heard it so many times and every time someone says this to me just know I’m showing you the middle finger in my mind. This is what goes through my mind when these words are uttered. Fuck you. Do you honestly think that I haven’t been taking it easy or tried to do so? Do you honestly think that I haven’t done everything in my power to improve my chances of fertility even by 1%? I realize that stress is incredibly damaging for your fertility and I take measures to be relaxed but taking it easy isn’t an option. When you say take it easy, it means to sit back and throw the dice. Even though I’ve disclosed that I have PCOS and this is a cause of my infertility. So even though my body works AGAINST me, yes, I’m sure that taking it easy will go great for me. I can just stop drinking my handful of pills that has helped balance my hormones which in return has regulated my period and ovulation. Sure, I can take it easy and stop that. It’s not like I enjoy spending hundreds of euros every two months to get my supplements or enjoy taking twenty or so pills every single morning. I can just sit back and take it easy like you said and stop all of these little things I do every single day to improve my chances. It’s not like I will fucking fight you for the option to drink coffee and eat my weight in carbs and candy. This is turning into a nice little rant. Oh, and then we have the ‘once you stop trying, it will happen naturally’ one. First of all; Fuck you. Once I stop trying to improve my chances, my chances to conceive will drop. Yes, I might get pregnant naturally but where my chance to get pregnant now on a good month is maybe 70% (I have no idea if this is correct. I’m using this to make a point.) but if I leave it to nature (so no outside disturbance; supplements and regular exercise) it will definitely drop. By how much I have no idea. I’m not a doctor but every part of my being knows that the steps I take every single day are improving my chances. I also know that I need help to conceive. Naturally might not be an option for us. It happens. You need to take into an account that there is a history of infertility in my family line. My mom struggled to conceive me and her mother struggled with conceiving as well. It’s in my family history. I’ve done everything in my power to improve my chances to get pregnant.  I was able to find out critical information thanks to the steps I took to improve my chances. I will talk about it more in an upcoming blog. I’m getting slightly off track. What I’m trying to say is that you should be more cautious about your choice of words. Because when someone tells me to take it easy and once you stop trying, it will happen naturally. They completely ignore all of my hard work. They completely belittle the effort I’ve put in. They completely brush aside the pain I’ve experienced. Now I know that this is only my point of view and that I’m being too sensitive but that’s the fucking point. My infertility journey is a sensitive subject and that’s not going to change. So, I will continue to get angry at those who make insensitive comments but…I’m getting too of track. This blog is writing itself and turning into a rant more than anything.

This is incredibly hard to write about and I’m scared. I’m terrified that the response I get from talking about this journey would be negative and I don’t need that in my life. Believe me, the things I tell myself when that test is negative can’t beat a comment by a stranger. That doesn’t mean the comment won’t hurt. I’m not entirely comfortable talking about infertility. It’s hard to open up about this but I feel like it’s something I need to talk about. That it will help me to talk about it. So here I am, standing naked in front of the internet, pouring my broken heart out.

I’m going to round off this blog here. In the next few parts, I will walk you through this entire journey. From the start until now. We’re going to dig deep but I must say it feels good. I’m almost relieved now that I’ve decided to share this on my blog. It’s something that I’ve kept on a tight leash for a year now and it just feels nice to have it out in the open. The next few parts will go up every Wednesday until I catch up with recent developments. While we’re on the subject, this part of my life will always be out of date. What I mean with that is quite simple. I will not talk about what is currently happening with my infertility until some time has passed. It’s not something I want to feel pressured to share until I’m ready. You will find out in Part 5 where we are with the journey today but you won’t hear much more until way later in the year. I just need time to adjust to whatever news before I share it.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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