So you may ask, "how did I get here?" (cue Talking Heads music). It has been a long road. I think to understand me, you have to understand the health (physical, mental, emotional) journey I have been on. Let me start in 2005 (don't worry, I have a magic time machine that let's me travel back and forth between past and present day, though I haven't quite figured out the future part yet).
It was 2005, and I was 33/34. My husband and I had been using the Pill as birth control for almost 8 years, and we decided to start a family. Prior to that, it never seemed right; just after we first married we spent 27 months serving as Peace Corps volunteers. When we returned home, I went to grad school and DH found a job. After grad school, I worked some, spent 4 months overseas consulting, then came home and worked to pay off my student loans and help towards a mortgage. We bought a house in 2005, and we were ready to start a family. When I stopped the Pill, I didn't get my cycle for more than 4 months - but I didn't think anything of it, I figured my body was readjusting after the Pill, and truth be told I had always been irregular - this was normal for me (so I thought). Otherwise, I felt great; I and also started using herbal supplements and felt very energetic. Then in 2006 and 2007 I went each year going 4 months without my cycle. Both times I could have sworn I was pregnant, but doctors kept telling me I wasn't - and peeing on those damn sticks every week, for months straight... you can imagine how insane that could make you.
During those 2 years I felt my health was deteriorating, and at first I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and was treated as such. By the summer of 2007, though, my blood work labs indicated something else. I will never forget the call; I was in the hotel lobby where I was attending a professional conference when my Obgyn told me over the phone she suspected I had premature ovarian failure/primary ovarian insufficiency (POF/POI), aka premature menopause, and I should see a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I was in shock; I was in public; I was at a professional conference with a new coworker who saw my face start to crumble and made the mistake of asking me if I was OK. Needless to say, and embarrassingly so, I bawled all over this girl who I had known for maybe a month? (I think she learned her lesson never to ask again).
When I went to the RE, she didn’t even bother to examine me or do any tests; she looked at my obgyn’s notes and blood work results, she told me I had POF, I had 1%-2% chance of getting pregnant, gave me information on egg donation (the only way I could "really" get pregnant), gave me HRT (hormone replacement therapy), and that was it. The only follow-up I ever got was when I called them to get refills on my HRT. It was an awful experience, and I was made to feel that all she cared about was that I was a prospective cash cow/guinea pig if I signed up to do egg donation. No emotional, mental, physical support. I felt like I was drowning, and didn’t know where to turn. I was also working at a local social service agency at the time, providing training/staff development as a child development specialist for a program working with at-risk families. So, not only had I received news that altered every aspect of my life, I was working in an environment where I had to support teachers and parent educators on how to support parents with the development of their infants/young children. I couldn’t do it anymore.
So, what did I do? When one is threatened there are 2 main common reactions - fight or flight. I flew. Literally. I quit my job. I went into consulting, and worked on short-term international projects. I got to travel in a way I never could have if I had kids. My travels also gave me the opportunity to run from serious conversations, conversations with my husband, with myself. I finally found amazing medical professionals who cared about ME (not how much they could make off treatments), and worked with me to identify the appropriate medications I needed as well as diagnosing me with severe depression. I was numb and depressed for 2 years; now I feel like I have woken up, but now I am angry and raw.
So where does that leave me now? Finally facing my inner demons, and trying to sort out my feelings. After consulting for 3 years, I am looking for my next contract, yet I am also now in a position of redefining what I want to do – continue consulting? Look for a full-time job that keeps me home with my DH? I will write more about my professional dilemma in a later blog.
For now, though, you know a little bit more about me. This is not a medical blog, so I don’t feel the need to discuss my POF in greater detail, but if you have any questions please let me know and I will address as many questions/comments as I can. I will say there is only about an 8% chance of us becoming spontaneously pregnant, so the only ways we could realistically have children is through adoption or donor egg – neither of which are options (I will probably write about this in a later post, as well).
Please bear with me; I feel like I have so much to write about, but don't know where to start or how to organize my topics. I did warn you in my first post that I am very stream-of-consciousness!