If you have been following me or my blog for a while, you might know I was having tests done regarding my PCOS and wanting to start a family. I’ve shared little bits here and there of our journey to a family, but I don’t think I was doing it justice.
I was leaving certain bits out, mainly because I thought they weren’t what people were looking for or that I’d be judged hard for our decisions or how we did things.
But, I’ve realized that wasn’t helpful. For myself, or for those on the same path and looking for information. So, it seemed like I should take one of two paths; share it all, or not at all.
I decided to share it all.
When I say share it all, I don’t mean every little tiny detail. That would probably be TMI overload and seriously invade our privacy. However, I do want to share enough that it’s helpful and accurate to my experience.
Now you know all that, I wanted to share with you how our journey to becoming a family has looked so far.
The journey to a family
B and I officially started our relationship in early 2016, even though we count from when we met online in 2015. I say officially, as in we moved in together and pretty quickly decided we wanted a family.
I know a lot of people won’t agree with that, but it’s true when they say you just know it’s right.
Anyway. We set in motion what we needed to do to make it happen. I was already starting to come off of my antidepressants thanks to our working and living situation, and we started talking about how our journey looked, realistically.
PCOS & adoption
Once we decided we would start moving towards starting a family, I started doing more research into PCOS. I knew it affected my body to a certain extent, and we both wanted to be as healthy as possible if we decided to conceive ourselves.
We also started looking at adoption, and what the criteria and costs were. I’ve known from a young age that I wanted to adopt sooner or later, so it was a natural option for us. Unfortunately, everything I found said it was 25+, and only being 20 at the time, it seemed like it wasn’t an option for the next 5 years for us.
We went back to researching PCOS. I found a lot online that suggested I would have problems conceiving, even though all my doctors up until then had said it wouldn’t affect my fertility at all. After 6+ months of trying and no positive ovulation tests in sight, still thinking it was our only choice I went to the doctors.
Desperate to be listened to
I went to the doctors to ask their advice, and also discuss some of my other symptoms caused by PCOS. I took all my paperwork from my previous doctors and scans, but the doctor I saw didn’t even believe me. She said it would have been a teenager thing, and I was older now so it wouldn’t affect me.
I pushed, and eventually got a scan. She told me the scan would prove I had nothing wrong with me, but even the sonographer said she could see I definitely had PCOS during the scan. There was no doubt about it. I didn’t see that doctor again!
That was late 2016. I returned to the doctors for it multiple times, until April 2018. At that time they had asked me to do the same blood test 5+ times, and each time it had come back inconclusive. Nothing else was being done, I was just asked to do the same blood test again and again.
At this point, we were on the verge of giving up and just waiting to see what happened over the next few years until we met the age criteria for adoption, in which case we would pursue that route.
A new start
In May 2018, we moved 70+ miles away. It was a new start in more ways than one, and we were a lot happier. We signed up to the doctors and decided we’d give it a go there to see what they said.
By this time we had been trying to conceive almost 2 and a half years. I was growing a full beard, enough that I had to shave, along with multiple other symptoms that were only getting worse.
Right away, they put a plan into place. I was so happy I think I teared up on the way home. I’d waited so long for someone to acknowledge that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal and I wouldn’t “just get over it”, it was a huge relief.
As we had been trying to conceive, the doctor’s plan was to have a child first, and then treat my other symptoms as the treatments would be dangerous if I were to conceive while using them. This made sense to us, so we went along with it.
Exploring fertility treatment
After trying for 2 years, on the NHS you qualify for fertility treatment. I did some research – although not enough in hindsight – and my doctors would always answer any questions I had. I was always told at my appointments that there was a treatment for my other symptoms of PCOS and that if it came to it IVF was an option.
I had multiple tests done, including many blood tests and a cervical swab. They filled in my referral, and I was pretty much told I’d be accepted straight away and moved onto whichever treatment I needed.
I got my first appointment through only a couple of weeks later, and it was booked for the beginning of December 2018. B and I went to it together, and at that appointment, I was recommended an ultrasound and an HSG scan.
An ultrasound to check my ovaries again, and an HSG to check if my tubes were blocked. If they were blocked, I was told I could do IVF or surgery to open them back up.
Since I was talking to a specialist, I didn’t really question any of it. I was still thinking that having a child ourselves was the only option and that if it came to it IVF or surgery would be the route we took.
We went home in high spirits that evening. We thought we were moving forward one way or another. We’d mentioned adoption a few times to each other over the years, but as we thought I had to be 25 and we seemed to be getting somewhere with having our own biological child we moved it to the backburner again. One day we would look into it again when I was 25.
Always get a second opinion
I booked in for the ultrasound, and apart from it being another definite diagnosis of PCOS, everything else was pretty normal. I tried to book in for an HSG twice, but it couldn’t be done either because I was still bleeding or the days weren’t right (it has to be done before day 10 of your cycle).
In the meantime, I got our next appointment for the fertility clinic. I’m not sure why, but I had a horrible feeling about it.
I had a lovely doctor for this appointment. She was direct and to the point, and gave me so much information. Unfortunately, it was all information that I should have been given from the start. All of a sudden I was being told almost all of what I had thought throughout the whole process was wrong.
This doctor recommended against having an HSG scan. If it came back my tubes were fine, it would add stress to the situation because I would be too overweight to qualify for ovulation treatment, harming my health in more ways than one. If it came back my tubes were blocked, it would mean our only option would be IVF or surgery.
That wouldn’t be a problem, except the IVF I had been told was an option all along had been cut in September 2017. Meaning it had never been an option for our case, as they weren’t taking on any more IVF rounds in our catchment area.
If my tubes were blocked, surgery wouldn’t be done. Her exact words were “the tubes are like seaweed underwater, and as soon as you mess with them they become like garden hoses. You will never get the function back, so the risks of surgery outweigh any positives”.
Changing our minds
Hearing that was obviously fairly upsetting. I was more upset about the fact I had been severely misinformed by multiple professionals, than knowing IVF was not an option. I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea of IVF from the beginning, as I know it can take a huge toll on your body and mental health, but it was nice knowing there was the option if we chose to take it.
I think this is what our turning point was. We spoke about it, and we decided to look into adoption again, even if it was 2 years away for us. Whenever we spoke about adoption it was a much happier conversation than fertility treatment or even just natural conception had ever been.
While looking into it, we found out that the age in the UK wasn’t 25 at all, but was 21. This was another huge turning point for us, as it seemed too coincidental that for 3 years all I had found, for some reason, had said you had to be 25 when all along it’s been 21.
Pausing for a moment
It’s very exciting knowing we meet the criteria to show our interest in adoption, but we don’t want to rush into it. I’d be all for rushing in and going to meetings next week, but that’s not realistic.
Even though we’ve spoken about it for years, and it was our first option, we still have to make sure it’d be something we’re definitely prepared to do.
So, we’re taking a breather for a couple of months. To make sure we could handle the process, to make an informed decision about it all.
What did your journey to a family look like? Are you still halfway through like us, or are you just beginning? Tell me in the comments!