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Conceiving with PCOS

To be told that you may struggle to conceive and that you “shouldn’t leave it too long” to have a baby isn’t something any woman wants to hear.

But to be told that you “shouldn’t leave it too long” to start trying when you’ve been in a relationship for just over 6 months is just plain awkward.

I’ll take you back to October 2011, I was 24 and my boyfriend (now husband) and I had just got back from our first holiday when a routine ultrasound scan of my bladder to try and solve the mystery of why I was suffering from so many UTIs (which to this day, remains unsolved) revealed I had polycystic ovary syndrome. The symptoms had always been there (I had, on average, three periods a year that lasted weeks and were insanely heavy) but I hadn’t even thought about trying to get to the bottom of it, at the time my constant UTIs were the more pressing issue.

The consultant then said I shouldn’t leave it much more than a couple of years to try to conceive as the condition would only get worse over time.

So no pressure then…

I then had to go and discuss with my boyfriend that his new girlfriend was “reproductively challenged” to quote Sex and the City, and let’s face it, having THAT conversation so early on could very easily produce a man-shaped hole in the door.

Luckily Now-Hubs was great about it and suggested I get a second opinion, and I’m so glad I did. At this point, all I knew of PCOS was that women who had it really struggled to get pregnant, so all I could envisage were bleak years ahead of us with an endless stream of negative pregnancy tests.

But the wonderful consultant at our nearby Park Hospital not only reassured me that there were plenty of options for women with PCOS, but that the original doctor was irresponsible and out of line for telling me  to hurry up and have a baby when I might not be ready.

We discussed my options and decided to try me on fertility drug Clomid, which I had to take on days 5 to 9 of my cycle and would essentially make me ovulate, when we were ready to start trying. We decided we were ready to try in July 2014 and after the second cycle of Clomid, I took a pregnancy test on Christmas Day that year and it was positive!

My point is that PCOS doesn’t necessarily mean infertility. It might not be easy to conceive, but there are so many treatment options out there now, it’s absolutely not hopeless. If it worked for me, it can work for anyone – although my husband is convinced he’s just got super strong swimmers!!

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All that she wants is another baby…erm…

Now that Isla is a year old, we’re constantly fielding the “are you having another one?” question. As I said before, the answer to this varies on a day to day basis. On bad days, I never ever want to go back the sleepless nights, black tar-like nappies and constant breastfeeding, especially chasing around after a toddler while doing it. On other days, when Isla is being a little angel, I think it’d be lovely to have another child to complete the set – when Isla is at least 4. Hubs thinks the same as me, on good days he’d love a little brother for Isla, whereas whenever we see families struggling with their brood, we exchange a look that says “no way. No chance.”

I’m currently in the ‘No more children’ camp, one of the reasons is because my pregnancy was quite tough, up until week 20/21 I struggled with terrible morning sickness and was constantly exhausted, as though I’d run a marathon on no sleep, and I suffered with back and round ligament pain in the third trimester. Just getting up and going to work was tough, and I was in bed by 7.30 in the evenings. I wonder how the hell mothers cope with the difficulties of pregnancy while caring for toddlers.

I often watch my friends with more than one child and wonder how they do it. The age differences between their children vary between 17 months and three years, and it looks hard work at all ages! Plus there’s Second Child Syndrome, which I’ve witnessed with quite a few people’s second or middle children. Aside from the period of sleep regression, we’ve been so lucky with Isla as she’s such a happy, sociable, placid little girl and it worries me that our next one could be a nightmare!

Then there’s the fact that twins run in our family. I don’t want three children, I’ve always wanted two and that’s it. If I’m chasing after a toddler while coping with a twin pregnancy and then newborn twins I’ll probably lose my mind.

As for her being an only child, I don’t think we’d have to worry about her being lonely as she goes to nursery and has friends her own age, so she gets plenty of interaction with other kids.

Plus I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and we needed help to have Isla, and the older I get, the harder it’ll be to have another child, so we can’t wait too long to make the decision. But if we have another one now I feel like I won’t be able to enjoy Isla’s baby years as I’ll be tending to the needs of a newborn.

But for now, the jury is still out. Just don’t ask me when we’re having another one or you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a good slap!

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Keeping mum

When we found out we were expecting, obviously we were over the moon and wanted to shout our happy news from the rooftops.

Except we didn’t really, because I was only about 4 weeks when we found out, it was still so early so not only were we worried about telling people, we were scared to get our hopes up too.

Because of the fertility drugs I’d been taking due to my PCOS, there was a slightly higher risk of miscarriage, plus I’m a born worrier anyway so I was so nervous about, well, everything.

Keeping our happy news quiet was more difficult with some people than others. On Boxing Day, the day after our two big bombshells (see my very first post) we went up to Yorkshire to see Hubs’s family. Since they aren’t big drinkers, plus I’m well known for drinking a shit-ton of water anyway, it wasn’t hard to keep schtum there. But between Christmas and New Year we had a group of hard drinking, hard partying friends up to stay so it was much harder to keep it quiet. Especially as they had bought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate our engagement. I had to fake a kidney infection as to why I wasn’t drinking that night!

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Another difficult person to hide it from was my dad, as we went to spend New Years with him and my stepmum and when we get together, we normally enjoy a bottle of rose or two and then they get stuck into the port (not me though, I preferred a wee glass of Cointreau on ice normally, port is too heavy for me) and on NYE, dad had bought us a bottle of pink fizz for the occasion. My “kidney infection” prevented me from partaking and luckily, he didn’t question it too much. When we actually did break the news, he said he kind of knew anyway, fathers intuition and all that!

Not so easy was keeping it secret at work. Our office is a long room with most of the desks facing either side on or at the loos at the far end, so when we went back to work on January 5 the morning sickness was in full flow, so to speak. I suffered from quite bad morning sickness until 20 weeks, sometimes being sick 5 times a day and peppermint tea, which I usually love, made my stomach heave. So people at work twigged fairly quickly, particularly those who had children themselves.

I told my lovely editor in mid January and she was brilliant and kept it quiet, but as time went on obviously word spread, as it does in offices, and the knowing looks as I emerged from the loo for the fourth time in two hours became more frequent. I finally told a handful of people, including our MD, when I was around 10 weeks but it was such a relief when the 12 week scan came around in mid February! Not only was baby healthy and had passed the 12 week danger point (as it turned out, I was actually 13+3 weeks when we had the scan) but we could finally tell people. The cat was out of the bag!

So what other tall tales did you mummies tell to hide your amazing secret in those first few weeks?