Trying To Conceive AKA the ‘Fun’ Part
For most of our adult life we try to avoid pregnancy. In school, as a young pre-pubescent child I remember the focus of sex education being on the perils of teenage pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex, you will get pregnant and you will get chlamydia, that was the take home message. So, as we get towards the age of having sex we do what good girls do and take our contraceptive pill and don’t ask any questions. “Doctor I am having extremely painful heavy periods”, “I am not having any periods”, “I feel really depressed around the time of my period”. Young girl, don’t you worry there is a magic pill for all of these problems and if that doesn’t help don’t fear we will try a different combination. Azurette, Yasmin, Camila, Heather to name but a few. So we take our pills like good girls and don’t ask questions about why? Why do we have to take these pills that don’t address the underlying symptoms but just mask them. Why is it women go for years without knowing what they are experiencing is PCOS, Endometriosis, Amenorrhea or signs of a hormone in-balance. Unfortunately, as for many women this was the case with me.
After 10 years, I decided to stop taking my contraceptive pill. Like all young women having been on the sex education bus with the talking creepy giraffe, I thought pregnancy would follow very shortly. For a year, I didn’t have a period and experienced agonizing pains in my lower right side. After countless trips to the doctors and A&E (in which I never received tests and was repeatedly told by male doctors it is “just” related to my periods, a shitty consequence of being born with a womb) I was diagnosed with PCOS. I was also told that this may affect my chances of getting pregnant.
This was not the first time I had been told this. When I was younger, I had Pelvic inflammatory disease twice, both times I was sent home with antibiotics and a leaflet that casually said 1 in 10 women will experience infertility after PID. When I was told I had PCOS I remember leaving the scan crying and feeling like I would be that 1 in 10. I remember trying to do the math on the statistics of getting pregnant with these underlying conditions 2XPID+PCOS+Pre-cancerous cervical cancer cells that required a procedure that reduces the chance of carrying a baby to term = SHIT. It seemed that more and more people were getting pregnant around me. As a doula sometimes it felt hard being so involved in a world of pregnancy and birth, knowing that I may never get to experience it.
After lots and lots of crying and of course what ifing, I thought okay, what should I try to do next. For the first time in my life I decided to actually consider maybe my periods are trying to tell me something about what is going on in my body. So I started to learn. I read books, listened to podcasts, read medical journals and started charting my cycles. I made lifestyle changes, received counselling for my anxiety and PTSD, reduced my high impact exercise and actually started to intuitively eat for the first time in my life. Instead of starving myself everyday in fear of putting on weight I started to eat when I was hungry. I gained weight and had to do a whole lot of work and relearning in understanding why this felt like such a negative thing for me. After a few months of slowly implementing these changes my periods came back and started to become regular. After nine months I had my first positive ovulation test. I remember crying so much with happiness and telling my friends who didn’t really understand the significance of it. After 13 months of these changes and 25 months of coming off my contraceptive pill, I had my first positive pregnancy test and now I am typing this with my son asleep next to me.
I am not writing this with the belief that what I did is a way for everyone to become pregnant. Unfortunately, for many couples there are factors which are unexplained and their journeys are much longer and much much harder. But I am writing this story in the hopes that it will make you take back control of your body if pregnancy is something you might want in the future. Demand more than the contraceptive pill for painful or irregular periods and learn what your body may be trying to tell you. Take away the shame about periods, discharge and infertility and talk to your friends openly about it. Take that tampon out of your sleeve Linda, as you scurry to the bathroom and instead wave it proudly in the air shouting fuck the patriarchy! Because as with all things knowledge is power and our periods provide us with a wealth of knowledge about our unbelievably amazing bodies.
Resources which I found helpful during my TTC journey:
Period power by Maisie hill
The fifth vital sign and Fertility Awareness Mastery Charting Workbook: by Christy Harrison
A Companion to The Fifth Vital Sign by Lisa Hendrickson-JackAnti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison
Fertility Friday podcast
The positive birth company TTC pack
This post was previously published on Medium.
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