“If you want to have children, you should have them by 30.”
When you are 26-years-old and enthralled in exciting research as a graduate student, one of the last things you want to hear is that your biological clock is not only ticking, it’s pounding.
I think every woman who desires to have children dreams about the magic of their first pregnancy – what those first kicks will be like and how the warmth of their baby bump will fill their heart with indescribable joy. I am willing to bet that few, if any, consider the physical and emotional pain that can accompany the loss of your first child through miscarriage. I certainly didn’t.
My miscarriage brought four long months of gut-wrenching heartbreak and psychological strife until I finally sought the expertise of a well-respected OBGYN to learn more about what I perceived to be a personal failure (though, truth be told, the pregnancy had in no way been planned and could not have been prevented).
“You have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS.”
During some moments in life, the hardest thing to hear is the truth, but, oh, the freedom that it can bring! Because PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility among women and because I desired to have a family, the doctor strongly encouraged me to make children a part of my immediate future plans. In that moment, there was beautiful challenge.
One piece of advice that I often share with my female undergraduates is that children, if they would like them, should always be incorporated into long-term planning. As a young person, I was told repeatedly to pursue a career and “important” work, which never involved motherhood or consideration for my fragile reproductive system. I now view my miscarriage as one of my life’s greatest blessings and a necessary turning point.
Earlier this month I turned thirty, and I held the two brightest candles of my life on my lap as I bid farewell to my third decade. My soul (and my marriage, by the grace of God) survived my miscarriage, and a little over one year later I learned I was pregnant with my first child, a son. Two years after his birth, this summer, we welcomed a daughter into our family.
While yoga, a low-carbohydrate diet, and an environment of love helped me to overcome PCOS barriers, perhaps the greatest gift I was given was time – time to consider my life’s bigger dreams and reprioritize. Through adversity, I now know that four years, four months, and even four minutes can change a life. Sometimes we just have to be willing to accept the challenge.
Education is power. If you are interested in learning more about PCOS, please visit the PCOS Foundation’s site.