Today marks the two year anniversary of when I was diagnosed with endometriosis, so I thought it was fitting that I took some time to share my fertility journey to date. This is very personal, so please be kind. I'm proud of myself for making the decisions I have made, because they are right for me. Please don't think I'm here saying that what I have decided to do is the only way, but I just ask you to challenge the things you are told, and not take everything at face value.
So as it starts, two years ago I woke just before 6am to feel a horrible pain in my lower abdomen. Bad period pain in the way of aches from my torso down (yes legs too) was not unusual to me, but this was much worse and I was around the middle of my cycle. I got myself up and made my way to the bathroom, once I got there the pain continued to get worse. I had to yell to Michael to come and get me off the floor and carry me back to bed. As you can imagine, Michael, at 6am on Sunday being woken to this, was quite confused and not really putting everything together. We were both in shock and trying to work out what was happening. The night before we had been enjoying a BBQ with friends to celebrate my girlfriends birthday, and everything was great!
The pain was coming in waves. Michael quickly fetched me some panadol, but by the time I took it, I had decided I needed to go to the hospital. Throughout that day Michael and I went to three different Hospitals, I was poked and prodded and tested for all sorts of things, and one of the funny ones... I was told I was ovulating and that this is totally normal! Until finally at 6:30pm on Sunday 21st January 2012 I was told I had severe endometriosis that had probably been there for years. I also had a large ovarian cyst on my left ovary that was rupturing and causing the pain. I was booked for emergency surgery to remove the cyst the following day.
In that moment I was so incredibly scared. I didn't know what this meant, I didn't know if I would ever have children, or even if this was something that was life threatening. The surgery came and went and I woke up to hear that it had taken much longer than expected, the cyst was 10cm and had done a lot of damage. It took a lot to remove it, as it had attached itself to a lot of my other bits and bobs in my tummy. (love my medical lingo!) I had lots of scar tissue and was very sore. But the scariest news of all was that my left ovary was almost non existent as a lot of it had to come away with the cyst. BUT on the plus side my right ovary was in tact and with that, the chance of a baby is still possible!
Being a good patient I went for regular 3 monthly check ups and ultra sounds to monitor my insides. My Doctor (the same one who did my surgery) put me onto the contraceptive pill to keep the pain at bay. I did as I was told. This was a whole new world for me, and I was scared of what would happen if I didn't do what she said.
11 months passed, and after our wedding, Michael and I decided that we wanted to start trying for a baby. I came off the pill, and hoped for the best. I was taking a pre pregnancy supplement, and really looked after myself. (Less processed food, more whole food, more yoga, more pilates etc) I was feeling good, but nothing was happening. I started reading up more and more on different natural approaches to fertility and tried a few different things. But still nothing.
Anyone who has experienced fertility issues, and I speak to A LOT of women who have or are going through them now, are on a monthly emotional roller coaster. It's really really tough, and your constantly questioning and noticing every difference in your body, always hoping 'this might be the month'. I hate saying this, because I don't want to come off condescending, but it really is true in the nicest possible way, if you haven't been through it, you just don't get it.
In October 2013, I felt those all too familiar pains again. This time we were at a friends wedding! Eeeekkk! I pushed through for a while because I really didn't want to leave, but it got to a point that I knew I had to go to the hospital. This time we called an ambulance. We were staying away from home, so I wasn't able to go to my normal surgeon. After an awful emergency room experience, my parents (god they are amazing, I'm so grateful for them) drove to pick Michael and I up at 2am and took me to the hospital that my surgeon was at. I had a another ruptured cyst, this time it was somewhere between 4-5cm. Being that it was a little smaller (still big, but compared to my last one) it ruptured all on it's own - which let me tell you hurt like hell! But, I didn't need to have more surgery, yay!
This prompted me to re-asses what we were doing, we had been trying for almost 12 months and things obviously weren't improving. Michael and I decided to seek out the help of an expert and give the traditional medicine approach a rest. After the second cyst, we were told IVF was our only choice, and that I probably had tubal blockages that were causing the fertility issues. Might I just add, that I have found research to say that tubal blockages can be caused by taking the pill when you have endometriosis, as your body isn't able to remove everything it needs to each month because it is controlled by artificial hormones. Hmmm I know what your thinking, grrrrrrr.
I did lots of research and landed with Sharkeys Healing Centre here on the Gold Coast. Michael and I had an appointment with Stacey, who asked every possible question you could think to ask about my health. I love her approach to finding the root of the problem, and going one step further to get back to what is causing the issues and treating it from there. Stacey put me onto a pregnancy supplement, a herbal capsule to aid with stress and sleep, and a probiotic to help re-build my gut and aid my digestion. She also made me up my very own herbal supplement or 'creek water' as I like to call it. All of these things combined, and only 6 weeks later I feel amazing. I have never felt as good as I do now, and I'm really excited about what this means for my future. I feel positive about taking my health into my hands and no longer acting out of fear. I now love and trust my body enough to know it can heal itself, with a little help from Stacey.
Before my next appointment I will be having a blood test to look at a few possible underlying issues, and Michael will be having a sperm count test.
I'm not pregnant yet, but I am fit, healthy and happy, and creating a beautiful environment to welcome a baby into my womb! So far I have learnt that I know my body better than anyone else, and I can make the decisions about what is best for it. I trust my judgement and my body is thanking me!
I feel so empowered and proud, and I know I wouldn't feel this way if it weren't for my endometriosis diagnosis.
Are you on a natural fertility journey? What has helped you? Share your thoughts below.