A Life Different Than Planned: Living with Endometriosis and PCOS

Before age 18, I already decided I wanted at least 4 kids, and possibly as many as 9, with a combination of some biological and some adopted.

At age 25, after trying to get pregnant for about 18 months, my husband and I started the process for foster care. We decided that maybe God was calling us to adopt before having children biologically. Before we had even gone to our first foster care meeting I found out I was pregnant. When I was 26, I gave birth to my first baby girl, Izzabelle.

After three months with a new baby, we decided to go ahead and start the process for foster care again. We became licensed in April 2014. In May 2014 we decided to try getting pregnant again.

In October 2016 I was referred to an OB specializing in infertility and discovered that I probably had endometriosis. 

Finally, in May of 2017 I had surgery to work on removing any endometrial tissue they found outside of the uterus. Not only did they find lots of endometrial tissue, but I was also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

In June we did a round of intrauterine insemination, which was unsuccessful. We chose not to continue those procedures each month, as at the time we were working on adopting our second daughter. In fact, that summer I stopped caring as much about my pregnancy difficulties, as I only cared about adopting my little girl. Kylena’s adoption became final in August 2017!

In October 2017, after 3.5 years of trying, we found out we were pregnant. A couple of weeks later I had a miscarriage. Unbelievably, the next month, I found out I was pregnant again, and I gave birth to my third daughter, Brienne, in July 2018.

A Life Different Than Planned: Living with Endometriosis and PCOS

As you have probably guessed, 2017 was a bit of a crazy year for us.

When I found out I had endometriosis and PCOS, I didn’t really spend a lot of time learning about them. At the time I mostly only cared about the effect they had on my ability to get pregnant.

The only other things I learned at that time were these facts:

      1. Apparently having cycles as heavy and painful as mine was not normal. I had no idea, as I had nothing to compare it to.
      2. PCOS can cause women to have excess male hormones, which can have symptoms such as facial and body hair. It’s sort of silly, but this one was kind of huge to me. I had always been incredibly self-conscious about my lip hair. I no longer am (as much) because I now know the cause. If any of you have ever heard the Veggietales song, “Love My Lips,” you might remember the line about Larry’s Great Aunt Ruth having a beard. Now all I can think is, “Leave poor Aunt Ruth alone. She probably has PCOS.”

Now it’s 2019 and for now,  three kids is most definitely enough. I’m not 100% sure if my contentment is because I realize how hard being a mom to just three kids is, or if it’s because I feel so blessed to have three when at one point I didn’t know if I’d end up with any. Either way, three is my limit…unless I change my mind and we adopt more down the road a few years!

I’ve also started learning more about endometriosis and PCOS, and have discovered that there are so many more symptoms, that I have either experienced or should be watching for. These include a weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, skin problems, weight gain (especially around the waist, which explains why I look pregnant 100% of the time), difficulty losing weight, depression, high blood pressure, skin tags, and high cholesterol. A significant percentage of women with PCOS also develop Type 2 Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes by age 40.

Like the facial hair, it’s comforting to know that there’s a medical reason for the physical abnormalities that I have always been self-conscious about.

Yet it can also be scary to think about the potential health problems we’re at risk for. If any of you are also dealing with endometriosis or PCOS, I hope you realize that you are not alone. It may affect you in different ways. It may be more or less severe than mine. You might still be waiting to get pregnant after years of trying.

Please know that there are many of us who have felt the physical pain and the emotional pain that these conditions cause. We’re here for you, we love you, and we don’t care if you have hair on your lip.

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  1. I was diagnosed with PCOS in 1984 when there was very, very limited information about it and no internet to research it. I had my first ovarian cysts at 15 and was incredibly blessed to have a mother who advocated for me and changed doctors when we were told I had a bladder infection. I had the upper lip hsir, too. It wasn’t until 6 years later that I got the diagnosis. I had two miscarriages and 4 children; all with medical interventions available then. This all happened by age 30 and so at 35, the recommendation then was a hysterectomy with tubes removal as well.
    My challenges did not all end, however, because PCOS and Metabolic Syndrome are 2 names for the same set of problems. In fact, over 21 years post surgery, I still have health concerns. My weight is finally no longer considered “morbidly obese” and that has been a health bonus. However, there is still the high blood pressure and Metabolic issues.
    Thank you, Marla, for addressing this. God has created us all and with different variations of health. We have a responsibility to share our journeys and embrace our unique differences as women. Lip hair, tummies, and all!

    • Jana,
      Thank you for sharing! <3 I'm so glad your mom advicated for you. I have heard that it's been in more recent years that there's been more information regarding both endometriosis and PCOS, so I am thankful for that.

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