When Aaron and I got married in May 2020, the prospect of babies was VERY REAL. I thought that getting pregnant would be easy if not immediate. My husband comes from a large family and I was told for so long that you could slip up and get pregnant the first time you have sex (which was usually a way to keep folks from having premarital sex ….which I wish we would stop saying because does that really help? idk). So, I had in my mind that by the end of May, I would be pregnant or at least within the first three months of marriage.
We got married on May 1st and by the night of May 2nd, I got my period. I was disappointed because it was our honeymoon weekend, but I also was happy that it came after my wedding night because that was my prayer. I had a normal period and was back in action the following week. But then, at the end of May, I had some brown spotting which was abnormal for me. Well, I had brown spotting a few years prior, but now that we were having unprotected sex, I knew that it could mean so much more aka potential pregnancy. I called my OB-GYN who told me I should take a pregnancy test and schedule an appointment to come in. Aaron and I looked at each other like “oh shoot” ..could we possibly be expecting? We went to our local CVS, bought a first response test, and hurried back to the car. When I got home, I took the test, hopped in the shower, and braced myself for the results as I hopped out.
I looked down at the one lined test. I exited the bathroom with a mixture of disappointment and relief. To be honest, we had JUST gotten married so it would be difficult to really adjust to marriage, a pandemic, and a pregnancy – no matter how much we loved each other. But slowly, the disappointment and relief became worry as the brown spotting would. not. stop. I brown spotted for at least two weeks – up until my OB-GYN appointment. This has happened before but years ago so I just didn’t understand what it was. When I got the doctor’s office, she and I chatted about it. She had been my doctor when this happened before so she suggested that it was probably a result of stress. And that was a fair assessment since we were living in a global pandemic but also planning a wedding and getting married and all the change with that. It was at that point that she explained how our body can go into survival mode under stress and shut down any function that isn’t necessary for survival if our bodies perceive that we’re under threat. Reproduction is one of the things commonly affected. I mean, it made sense – if our bodies are in harm’s way, why would we want to reproduce in such an environment? She prescribed something to stop the spotting and told me that it should regulate itself as my body gets used to the amount of change that I’m feeling.
The spotting stopped but it returned later in June. My body did this on and off for almost a year. Where I would supposed to get my period, I would have an extremely light flow with spotting/bleeding that would last for weeks. I could never be sure it was ever really over. Every day. Bleeding. I would be so confused – “So is this a period?” I would ask my doctor repeatedly. She couldn’t give me a clear answer. How would I know? I kept taking pregnancy tests because I could not be really sure only to be met with more and more negatives. I started burying the negative tests in the garbage so Aaron wouldn’t see them. I didn’t want him to experience the disappointment I felt or to know that I was worried. I didn’t want to rob him of hope.
I didn’t have another regular period until February 2021.
As the months progressed, people automatically started to look at my stomach first before they would speak to me as a way of trying to pick up any minor weight details to tell if I was pregnant or not. It was weird. And I guess, some people felt really excited about the prospect of us growing our family which prompted them to be on the look out for signs of pregnancy. Sometimes, people would be so BLUNT as to just come right out and ask “When are you and Aaron planning on having kids?” or “Are you pregnant?” …The planning question always got me because I would think about how unpredictable my cycle was and how I couldn’t just simply PLAN to have a baby. There was no planning. I was barely holding on to my ability to actually CONCEIVE a child.
But I wish that we would all be sensitive to this – not all women get pregnant easily and it’s not our job to ask or pry or inquire about what’s taking them so long or if they are pregnant or not. It’s INSENSITIVE and RUDE because you just never know someone’s life circumstances. Let’s stop being weird.
As the brown spotting continued, I traveled to my OB for countless appointments and had many virtual visits. I was grappling with trying to make sense of my body. I went from being able to track my period to being completely confused about what was going on daily. By October, I knew that it couldn’t be stress from the wedding because months had passed. What was it? As answers were few or nonexistent, I started to feel betrayed by my body. I started to hate my body. I hated my body because I felt like…I didn’t understand why it wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. Why was it deregulated? Why did it just start being weird and especially now when I’m married?! I remember texting two of my friends to tell them that I think something is wrong and that I may not be able to have children as easily as I thought. They prayed for me and told me not to worry – God’s timing. My flaws – my imperfect hormones and uterus – were showing up every day. Every pad and tampon purchase, every negative pregnancy test, served as reminders of just how imperfect I was as a woman and a wife. In that sense, it made me feel quite lonely and devalued.
By October 2020, I did a massive haul of hormone bloodwork and my doctor told me that she thought I had PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome. My testosterone levels were abnormally high. Thanks to YouTube and Google, I kind of figured it out but I wasn’t sure. I just knew that the PCOS cases I saw were of countless women of all races sharing the difficulty they had with fertility and having babies and I just…I just hated that that would be my story. I hated that I got married and then found this out. I felt guilty of somehow bamboozling my husband into thinking I could produce a child with him and then finding out I would have PCOS that would interrupt that. Physical intimacy became more and more difficult with Aaron as I began feeling increasingly insecure about my body and who I was. Feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness impacted my intimacy with him and I wrote in my journal often that I thought he should divorce me because I wouldn’t be able to provide legacy or even be available to him sexually after bleeding for weeks on end. I felt lonely, detached, and worthless. My faith and hope were real low.
As the holidays approached, I dreaded the family gatherings. There was no news for us to share although family and friends looked to see if we would be announcing something special. Facebook and Instagram became big no no’s on Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays because I knew that baby announcements would be out on my timeline. And I felt so low.
To be clear, I wasn’t low because I wasn’t pregnant. I was low because at this point I battled with the reality that after all of this suffering, I couldn’t be sure if I would be able to actually get pregnant. What was all of this sacrifice and suffering for? If I’m bleeding for weeks, but not ovulating, what’s the point of the bleeding? How can this be fixed? My stress increased and my attention span for school and work dropped. I could barely finish the semester because my mind was weighed down with all of this stuff. And to be honest, I felt like God was playing a cruel trick on me. Why would He give me happiness and joy by providing an opportunity for us to get married but stop us from being able to enjoy marriage? I started to think that it was something that I hadn’t done – maybe I didn’t forgive the right person or I wasn’t reading my Word enough. I forgot that God isn’t a work-for-your-salvation type of God…so that was disappointing too. It was hard to see God’s faithfulness or goodness in this.
In December, close to Christmas, we stayed with my in-laws as we came upon our first Christmas married. I opened my laptop early in the morning while my husband slept in so I could attempt to do some homework or something to try to get back on track. Before getting started with work, I went to Facebook and scrolled my newsfeed. I came across a video from a girl I know and her husband. They had gotten married shortly after us. In the video, they were announcing their pregnancy and the tears began to fall. “That should be us.” I thought. “Will that be us?” was my next question. I was sad, angry, afraid. I looked over at my husband and just felt so much sorrow because I thought that we would be in a different place at this point. Feelings of being an inadequate wife and WOMAN showed up quickly too.
In an attempt to get it together, I went upstairs to try to do some work but could not concentrate. I ended up going back downstairs to where my husband was and I curled up next to him with tears falling down my face. My tears woke up my husband, and he immediately wanted to know what was wrong. At this point, I’m sobbing. And I’m telling him how inadequate I feel with this condition – PCOS. How I feel like I’m not good enough to be his wife because I can’t be sure that I’ll be able to provide a child for him. How I feel guilty that my body is out of wack and depriving him of access to me. My husband looked at me and listened while wiping away my tears.
Gently, Aaron said, “I love you and we’re going to get through this. Don’t worry. God’s got us.”
Let me insert here – if you’re not marrying a faith-filled, praying, patient man …then what are you doing? Ok, back to the story.
I cried some more into his chest as he held me. He kept repeating that his love for me wasn’t going to change because of this current situation. That our marriage is more than what my body can provide. That God is ultimately in control.
I did feel a bit better because of his words and my crying eventually stopped. I didn’t get on Facebook anymore that day or the weeks afterward. I decided that I was going to get as informed about my options as possible. So I contacted a fertility specialist and scheduled my appointment for January 2021.