I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Sydrome (PCOS) about four years ago. This basically means that I have a hormonal imbalance that prevents me from ovulating regularly (if at all sometimes), which can result in irregular periods, acne, and bunch of other not so nice symptoms. I remember it so vividly. I had quit my job as a preschool teacher, feeling a need to be more challenged and to use my Masters degree in public health. I had been job searching for months on end, and decided to take the leap and pursue a career in nursing, knowing I would always have a job. Nursing was always a secret passion of mine, but I did not have the confidence to pursue it.
I was planning on taking pre-requisites, applying to nursing school, and doing a year long accelerated program before Ben and I even THOUGHT about starting a family. Then I got the call. I had previously gone off the pill and did not get a period for over 60 days. My OB did some blood work, and this was the call with my test results.
The call actually came from my OB’s medical assistant, which I now know was extremely unprofessional of my doctor. After everything I have learned about nursing care, patient communication, scope of practice, and how hard a diagnosis of any disease can be on a patient, this was such a bad call on her part. The medical assistant told me I had PCOS, and they were referring me to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). She was unable to answer any questions I had (through no fault of her own, this was not in her scope of practice) and kept telling me the reproductive endocrinologist would answer my questions. I was being disposed of, my parts defective in some way. They were no longer able to help me, and my OB made that very clear in her not so subtle absence.
I can’t say I was surprised. I knew something was not right with the absence of my period, and had never had a regular period growing up. I called Ben right away, and we made an appointment with the RE. My appointment confirmed the diagnosis, and the doctor told me that although my egg reserve was good and I had my age on my side, there was no way she could promise me that the picture would look the same after I was finished with nursing school.
We had a choice to make, and it was an agonizing one. Do I take the chance and delay having kids until after school? Do I focus on having a baby and leave my nursing dream until later? Do I do both? Can I do both?
The answer is, yes I can, and I did. I just graduated from a 2 year nursing program, and have a beautiful 2 and a half year old son. I ended up getting pregnant with Parker through the use of Femara, a fertility drug that induces ovulation, and Ovidrel, an injection that can induces ovulation during an exact time period. After about 7 months, and one try at intrauterine insemination, I was able to get pregnant. I was one of the lucky ones. I never had to use IVF, and the medication did not have any terrible side effects. But the waiting and the many negative pregnancy test really sucked :/
Fast forward to now. I am studying to get my RN license, and Parker is thriving. But there is always that what-if question. So many people have asked me if I want another baby, or when we are thinking of trying. The thing is, this is such a loaded question, because for us it means more than just tracking ovulation and hoping for the best. I have successfully been able to get a regular period back through diet, exercise, and really decreasing my stress levels (this last one is something I have to work really hard on). I do think that having a baby had something to do with it–it is almost like pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding reset my hormone levels. I also owe it to the amazing protocol created by Alyssa Vitti of Woman Code (I recommend this book to every woman, weather you have hormonal imbalance or not).
So I am in some ways back at square one. Of course we would like to give Parker a sibling, but I also want to secure a nursing job before I even think about this. I have worked so hard, and although I “did both” over the last two years, it was extremely challenging and I would rather do one thing at a time now that I have the option. But I always have that ticking clock in the back of my head, reminding me that I am now 31 and what if it does not work the second time around? Have I wrapped my mind around the fact that I may need to use hormone therapy again? Not really!! I am still stressing about passing the NCLEX and getting a job!
My reason for writing this post is to give you a glimpse into what dictated my nursing journey, and why health, mindful eating, and eliminating toxic products from my environment is so important to me. All of these things that affect hormone levels and reproductive health. I am a lot more particular when it comes to selecting health care providers, and want to encourage you to always advocate for yourself and never settle if someone is making you uncomfortable or does not have you in their best interest. I also want you to know that you are not alone. I got so many messages from young women after I posted my You Tube video on PCOS sharing a host of reproductive issues they were facing. What I am learning is that sometimes these problems do not go away, and you cannot let them alter or lead all of your life decisions.
And to those of you who have not faced these issues, please be mindful. Even the simplest questions about a couple’s plans for pregnancy can be extremely sensitive and harsh.