After thinking I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, it’s hard to believe I am
At 17, after many confused years of never having had a period, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (or PCOS).
PCOS is a common condition that affects the function of a woman’s ovaries and can cause symptoms including absent or erratic periods.
As this was nearly 15 years ago, information on the condition was sparse. Almost as sparse were the bedside manners of one particular consultant who pronounced, halfway through an internal examination, that me conceiving naturally would be ‘really, very tricky’.
Exactly what a sensitive teenager needs to hear.
I was at college, so babies were not on my radar, but it didn’t make the news any easier to hear. What followed seemed to be a decade of seeing dramatic women’s magazine headlines: ‘My miracle PCOS baby’ or ‘My PCOS infertility hell’.
None of it helped – the fear set in.
The older I got, the further away ever becoming a mum felt. I’d always wanted it, but now I just felt too scared to wish for it.
The fact that I was told, at such a young age (and in such a crap way) that I couldn’t do that properly, stuck with me. It built a deep-rooted belief in me that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t feel like a good enough woman, I wasn’t good enough to have a baby. I was just, well, not that good.
Fast forward to December 2019. My period was late, no new news there. If there’s one thing PCOS brings you, it’s an irregular cycle.
I was knackered, but it was party season. My partner and I were in the midst of planning our wedding.
The possibility that I could be pregnant didn’t even cross my mind. It would take a little bit more than one bit of poor admin on my part (nothing like misreading your ovulation app!) to break through the barriers of these ovaries.
One Saturday morning, we walked out of the venue we’d chosen for our big day, discussing putting the deposit down. I had a gut feeling that we weren’t getting married there. So I stalled, because something I couldn’t explain told me to.
At a family meal that evening, the offer of a glass of wine made me physically gag. The next day I cried for two hours straight for no reason, and ate enough rice to feed a family.
My period must be due, I thought.
Come Monday, a chance agonising graze of a boob in the work kitchen and an odd bubblewrap sensation in my belly made me bite the bullet and buy a pregnancy test.
I was in a foul mood about it. I felt like I’d just paid to be told that my ovaries weren’t normal… again. My cycle was way off, it was only getting worse. This was just another sign that things weren’t right down there.
‘Pregnant’ was not the word I expected to see. I shook.
This. Cannot. Be. Happening.
Because of the ‘I’m not good enough’ trolls in my head, I was convinced something would go wrong
One frantic exchange with my partner, demanding he go out and buy every pregnancy test available in our local Co-op, and far too much money later, it was official.
My ‘not normal’ ovaries worked.
I’ve never seen the colour drain from someone’s face as I did on my partner that night. We’d spoken about kids, sure. We’d spoken about starting up conversations with doctors about my options in the new year so we had the time to plan. We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy ride.
His pale face said everything about how we were both feeling. In utter shock.
We attended an early viability scan when I was just shy of six weeks pregnant. I told the sonographer that I didn’t believe the test, because of the PCOS.
‘I’ve scanned thousands of women with it who were pregnant – just like you are’, she replied.
I was still in denial. Even our 12 week scan didn’t truly cement it in my mind. Because of the ‘I’m not good enough’ trolls in my head, I was convinced something would go wrong. I spent weeks too scared to sneeze incase it jogged something down there, hours laying awake wondering if everything was actually OK in there.
I found it really hard to start thinking about getting ready, buying things for the baby. I was even hesitant about telling a lot of people, just in case.
The first kick I saw in the bath was the thing that made it real. I cried with relief and let myself finally buy a babygrow.
Despite the horrible consultant, despite the terrifying stories, I was pregnant.
And like that, a decade’s weight was lifted from my shoulders.
It’s been a rollercoaster, and the wedding is definitely on hold. It’s been a time of disbelief, and at times utter terror, but mainly feeling so lucky that after all those years of worrying – it was OK.
I’m so excited to meet the baby in August and getting things ordered and pottering about in their little room has been such a joy.
But, I’m also excited by the newfound confidence I have in me and my body.
Turns out, we were good enough after all.