My gynecologist gave up on me. “I can’t help you,” she said. “Your endometriosis and PCOS make you a difficult case. You need to see the fertility clinic.” I wasn’t keen on additional medical intervention. The last three years had shown me enough of that. When my husband and I went off birth control, my body seemed to revolt. Erratic and rare periods, facial hair growth, and cystic acne turned me from a beautiful twenty-seven year-old woman into a pizza faced teenage boy who needed to start shaving. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Sex also became extremely painful thanks to a golf ball sized cyst I developed on my left ovary.
In May 2010 that cyst burst and I wound up in the hospital, where my OBGYN discovered advanced endometriosis. “It’s the kind we rip the whole kit and kaboodle out for,” she told me as I lay recovering in my hospital bed, “But since you don’t have your kids yet, we need to put you on a drug that will put you into menopause. It will starve the remaining endometriosis. After that you need to start trying to get pregnant. Have your kids, then come back and we’ll do a hysterectomy.”
At first I loved menopause. I had no pain, my skin cleared up, and I could eat anything. All the foods that previously caused me great gastrointestinal distress were back on my menu. I didn’t mind the hot flashes. After my second dose of the drug, however, the panic attacks started. Where I was previously a calm and confident professional woman, now I doubted every decision I made and woke up in the middle of the night afraid I was going to die. When the time came for the choice of a third dose or to stop and begin trying to conceive, I chose the latter.
But I did not conceive. My period came every 40, 60, 90 days. Every cycle got longer. The pain returned. I began seeing an acupuncturist, naturopath, and pelvic floor physical therapist. This team helped me reduce the pain. Some months I was pain free. However, my period was still erratic and there was no sign of ovulation. So the OB gave up.
I went to Oregon Reproductive Medicine. With my complications they gave me just one option: in-vitro fertilization. Worse mood swings, more stress, and twelve to fifteen thousands dollars of debt. I said no thank you.
The thing about infertility is, you turn into an emotional wreck. Every pregnancy you hear about evokes fierce jealousy and fantasies about stealing babies. Hearing about abortion makes you become selfish. “You’re so lucky! Give ME your baby!”
So I gave up too. I also almost gave up on my husband. I hardened myself to deal with the disappointment of infertility, and I think part of me blamed him for my pain. My therapist and marriage counselor both urged me to explore and resolve issues from my childhood. My sister said my depression was due to the unmet expectation surrounding having children. Our marriage had become all about infertility to me, and it takes a toll when you associate physical and emotional pain with your husband.
I figured I had one option left to save my marriage, and maybe my fertility. My aunt had told me about Clear Passages Physical Therapy. It’s a clinic that specializes in pelvic floor pain, adhesions, infertility, and pelvic floor dysfunction. My cousin went with severe vulvodynia and completely blocked falloptian tubes. After the week of therapy, she left completely pain free and open tubes. I thought that at least I would hope to heal my pelvic pain so that my husband and I could make love again, perhaps even with pleasure! I prayed every day to heal my pain, to fall in love again, and save my marriage. Sometimes I even dared to pray for a baby.
Please God. Please.