Not exactly an ideal start
She was sitting rather anxiously in the waiting room of the gynaecologist she was referred to. Being 22 this wasn’t her first time being examined, still the thought of that vulnerable position a visit would entail just made her palms sweaty every time. She had a tendency to always expect the worst from doctors because they always looked so serious and hmmm-ed with concern. And when it came to her health, she just did not trust her own body. When she was a small kid, she was diagnosed with a kidney disease which had felt like a hold over her entire life, including her dreams for a good few years.
Finally it was her turn, so before she stepped into the exam room, she just summarized one more time in her mind the reason she was there. ‘I haven’t got my period in 2 months and according to the tests I am not pregnant.’ - recited a couple of times. She just couldn’t wait for this appointment to be over. When she entered the room, she got a bit more relaxed because the doctor looked like a respectful old man with no creepy vibe. ‘So far so good’ - she thought. The physical examination itself was uncomfortable as usual, but nothing unbearable. She hoped for a bit of a chat, a few jokes to lighten the mood and of course a huge smile on the doctor’s face while he was telling her that everything was okay. Instead, here it was again, the hmm-ing doctor and the concerned look while he was looking at the ultrasound pictures. After a minute of hmmm-ing, which felt like a lifetime for her, finally he said: ‘So we are done with the examination, once you’ve finished dressing up, let’s have a chat.’
Her hands started trembling. She usually got clumsy when she was stressed and this time was no different, it took ages for her to put back on those pants and shoes.
‘You have polycystic ovaries’ - said the doctor without hesitation or any small talk. ‘This means that you don’t get regular periods... How old are you, Dear?’ - asked condescendingly while scribbling something in her file.
‘Are you in a serious relationship at the moment?’
She was just shocked by the question, but she was so stressed and confused, she responded anyways. ‘Well, I am in a relationship that has just recently started.’
‘Would you like to have kids?’
She just nodded with a more and more puzzled expression on her face.
‘The reason I am asking is because with these polycystic ovaries you have another one or 2 years to have kids of your own. If you don’t get pregnant now or in the very close future, you may never be able to have children.’
She froze completely and it took a couple of seconds until she actually processed the doctor’s words. When she did, that generic polite smile on her face disappeared immediately and was replaced by worry wrinkles on her forehead. She was just staring at him and heard herself blurting out the question ‘How is that possible?’ with a voice she did not recognize as her own.
‘You don’t ovulate and that’s a big problem, my Dear…’ said with a bit more care as he recognized her desperation. Then he continued: ‘I know this is big news and believe me, I would prescribe you a decent young man to have kids with right now if I could, but that’s not how it works, unfortunately... Go home, talk to your boyfriend, think about what I just said and come back if you have questions.’
She didn’t know how she left the exam room, how she paid for the visit, she just found herself walking towards the underground to go home. She was supposed to call her boyfriend after the appointment, but she just couldn’t talk, couldn’t think straight. ‘What has just happened? Did he really say that I wouldn’t be able to have a kid if it’s not right now?’ - asked herself. ‘I am 22, in the middle of my university studies, with no steady relationship at the moment. The one I am in is super messy, definitely not family material. How am I supposed to have a kid now?’ She was so immersed in her thoughts, she did not pay attention to where she was going, so she almost missed her street.
When she finally got home, she sat down at the dining table and continued her inner dialogue: ‘And if I don’t have a kid now, seems I can’t have one later… how am I supposed to decide about my whole life right now?’ She always wanted to have kids and a big family, but it was never in the forefront of her mind. She was young, her life was just about to begin. She thought she would have plenty of time before all this and when the time comes it would just happen naturally without having to worry about it.
The more she sat there, the more she spiraled into anxiety and her thoughts began to taste bitter and bitter with every minute.
‘Is this a dream? This must be just a bad dream and I am going to wake up soon.’
‘Why me? I can’t believe this is happening to me!‘
‘In those stupid soap operas and rom-coms women get pregnant just by the look of the male protagonist, which then brings on the whole drama… what a lie!!!’
‘My stupid body is not working as it is supposed to… AGAIN!’
She just sat there, crying and thinking about what she should do, but she was unable to figure out how to stand up from the chair she was sitting on, let alone her whole future.
‘Am I still a woman if I can’t have kids?’
PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complex hormone disorder. It is a collection of symptoms and it may present itself differently for different women. The most common symptoms include irregular periods, infertility, acne, hirsutism (excessive amounts hair on body areas where men typically grow hair), obesity, difficulty in losing weight, an excess production of the hormone testosterone, irregular ovulation, and cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, in the ovaries. There’s no single test to diagnose PCOS, and there’s no cure. Resources suggest that it affects 6-10%of women worldwide and can also lead to severe mental health issues including anxiety, depression, body image issues and eating disorders.
References and further reading:
*The above story is based on my own life and journey into motherhood, but occasionally some details may have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Original thumbnail image is from Unsplash.