September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month
Last week, Robin Roberts posted a photo on Instagram honoring the memory of her mother, on the day of her passing, and she used #ChooseHappySorrow, it struck me. Is such a thing possible, I pondered? Can sorrow be attached to happiness, I questioned. As I rolled the idea around in my mind, I realized that I had stumbled upon an Aha moment, an awakening that would heal me even more. Man, I adore Robin Roberts, her wisdom is deeply transformative.
Happy sorrow is the perfect description that I would use to give insight into my life with Infertility. My menses began when I was 11 years old. One morning, mama woke me up for school, I went to the bathroom, and it was evident that my entry into womanhood had arrived. I was too young to fully grasp all the inner mechanics that came with having a period and unaware of the war that I’d just been drafted into. Early, my cycle showed signs of dysfunction, it would disappear for months. When it did come, it lasted for days and was very heavy; imagine this life at 11 yrs old, talk about the struggle being real. Because she was worried, mama took me to the doctor, we were told, “it’s just the way her body is.” We left with no tests, no exam, and no answers. I wish mama would’ve known how to advocate for me but such a thing wasn’t done in 1986, you took what the doctors said as true. Back home we went mama, me, and my would-be enemy. Over the years my period continued to be problematic as hell. Fortunately, I am one who keeps asking. About the age of 21, I was over the period problems. I made an appointment with a new doctor, I was determined to solve this mystery.
Dr. Hend Aljundi, oh how I will forever love this woman. My first appointment with her happened by a definite divine connection. I was supposed to see her partner but he was ill and out of the office, THANK YOU, GOD! My consultation with her began in the usual manner. After we discussed my period dates and irregularities, she told me that she believed I had PCOS based on my issues. I didn’t know if I wanted to cry, scream, or hug her, I did it all. After years of being told, “that’s just how your body is,” I was on the brink of an answer. She took blood, urine, and did an exam, she called me with my results and told me that I had Polcystic Ovarian Syndrome. I HAD A NAME! Because I was in a relationship and more active than a rabbit, if you know what I mean, but wasn’t getting pregnant, it was obvious that the infertility aspect of PCOS was my reality. For many years, getting pregnant was a goal that I couldn’t accomplish. I can tell you stories of wives tales that I tried, show reports from the multitude of tests I had done, and give you an estimated guess of how much money I spent trying to conceive, those were dark days.
PCOS became a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. It took some of my hair, messed with my weight, played with my insulin levels, and stole the most coveted desire of my heart, my fertility. Yet, God always has a plan. While I’ve never held a baby in my body nor given birth, I have two daughters and three grandchildren, life is good. By choice, I became a teen mom at 17 and I have zero regrets. Despite loving my kids and the life that I have built, there’s always been this sense of emptiness that I’ve carried for my children who would never be. I dreamed of them, I named them(Tamia Michelle and Timothy Dewitt), I prayed for them, but I didn’t get them and it hurts, this is where following the wisdom of Robin Roberts applies. My daughters made my life full, the gratitude that I have for them causes me to thank God daily but there was still a feeling of loss for the children that would never be. I am 44 years old, have had a hysterectomy due to aggressive stage four Endometriosis, it’s safe to say I will never conceive a child.
When a woman lives life with infertility, she does so with feelings of loss and otherness. I had to make a choice, I could let the grieving for infertility consume me or I could make peace with it and grow, a hard pill to swallow. The grief of infertility caused by PCOS isn’t the same as what you experience when someone dies. With physical death you get to a point where you find comfort in your memories, with infertility there isn’t a memory to lean on, only a deafening silence. Some hurts require intense and ongoing healing and recovery, that’s what life with infertility has been for me, a long journey. Healing, as we know, isn’t a linear road, you have to dig deep and move through the process. Long ago I got use to my normal as an infertile woman and embraced, it no longer haunted me. However, that post made by Robin Roberts spoke to a part of me that was hiding and still holding onto the pains of infertility.
Choosing happy sorrow gives voice to my existence with infertility. It validates the very real and present heaviness of infertility, speaks of my gratefulness for all that I have been blessed with, and strengthens my determination to not be defined by a glitch in my body’s reproductive system. To be infertile is to be looked upon with sad eyes and seen as less than normal, I refuse to be labeled as such. Yes, the children that I dreamed of will never be but God gave me the girls that He created just for me. I’m not inferior, my femininity isn’t flawed, and I carry no shame. I took the hand that life dealt me and I’ve played it like a pro. I choose happy sorrow, give thanks for my God orchestrated and assigned family, while I continue to be the trailblazing maverick that I have fought for and love so dearly. Big ups(I am dating myself) to Robin Roberts for being the messenger that God used to take me further into healing, leading me to a new sense of peaceful contentment that has settled my soul.