Take a a trip down memory lane . At 13, (if I’ve remembered correctly), I started my first period.
I was in secondary school and I took the trip that every school girl has taken not to the toilet but to the matron’s office. If anyone saw you in the matron’s office they knew it was bad news - and not because you were ill but because you were hardly ever sent home.
Instead you were handed over a disposable plastic cup that would spill out the water as you aggressively clenched the cup and took the tiniest white pills as an act of desperation but also knowingly that it would make no difference.
With my hands to my stomach and in a position of travail I would lay on her cold hard bed begging her to send me home.
As if that would have made any difference to how uncomfortable I was feeling , I preferred to be at home then to be at school with this unfamiliar place of new womanhood.
Ok story time over, you probably get the point - I hated my period it was painful , inconvenient and actually quite lonely .
I never felt comfortable talking about it, and whilst no one would have known when I ‘came on’ , the indicator was my moods and fainting from debilitating pain.
I say I hated my periods , but that’s a reach because they were also extremely irregular.
I could buy maybe two regular packs of sanitary towels that would sometimes outlast a full year because my periods were almost absent.
You’d probably be thinking now , what caused the absence ?
Well let me tell you that I didn’t care to find out - and this cost me my best fertile years .
Up until university, the same issue continued and it never occurred to me that this could potentially impact my fertility in the future.
The irony is that we spend so much of our best childbearing years trying not to get pregnant (that wasn’t the case for me I was hardly allowed out) but you get the gist.
It surprises me when I hear people say the best time to get pregnant is in your twenties , for me that’s when I was focusing on my career and was never concerned with the fact that ten years before all the signs were there.
When I got married, and after time my biological switch turned on, my diagnosis of unexplained infertility was bittersweet.
As loaded as it may sound , in the very far back of my mind I had a feeling that my fertility would be compromised because of my erratic menstrual cycles. However, I never had that support or ever sought out the advice I needed to get it checked out .
Whilst I wasn’t in any intimate relationships , part of me felt scared and guilty to tell my mum and the mother figures in my life that something was wrong with my cycles . I didn’t want them to think I was having sex (even though I weren’t). The thought of them worrying about me becoming a mum also worried me. It’s the same feeling you have when you see a police car drive by or stop at your street.
You know this has nothing to do with you, but your butterflies start going crazy in the pit of your stomach.
The journey I’ve been on has taught me so much, and little did I know that there would be more to learn about my body and reproductive health even after I achieved the very thing (my son), that in some respects was the evidence card that everything was fine .
After my ectopic pregnancy last year , which resulted in the loss of my left tube, I came to terms with the fact that my fertility was slightly compromised.
I was met with the not so helpful, but possibly well meaning comments that
"It’s not the end of the world"
"At least you know you can fall pregnant naturally"
What they didn’t realise was my childhood trauma revisited me in another way - this time I was concerned about the prospect of having one tube but also still very erratic and almost absent periods, and what that meant for my fertility.
It was like a double whammy for me. On one hand I finally had proof I could get pregnant but it was taken away so suddenly.
This new bump along the road definitely tested and also strengthened my faith.
So fast forward to lockdown, by this time there was no sign of my second proper period after the loss. When it finally came in April I was relieved but also sad . It was a reminder that we wouldn't meet our baby. That period arrived seven days before the baby's due date.
3 months on from this I was met with another late period. My glass half full mentality was waiting to announce the typical surprise miracle pregnancy story you hear after a loss but that wasn’t the case after taking a few negative tests .
I called my doctor and told them they need to investigate what was happening . My blood test results came back normal. I pushed for a referral that was pending , and whilst waiting I was confused and desperate to get some answers.
My old familiar friend Google returned with so many possible solutions that actually heightened my confusion and worry - this clearly wasn’t helping because stress and hormones work very well together .
Another three months took me to September, and still no period. I had made up my mind that I was perimenopausal .
My skin was getting so bad it couldn’t just blame it on 'Mascne'. I had piled on some pounds and couldn’t blame lockdown either .
I chased the gynaecology referral unit to find out when I would be seen and they flippantly replied that it won’t be this year.
Thankfully I managed to get a referral of an ultrasound appointment . My GP was also concerned about how long I had gone without a period and admittedly he himself needed some answers.
It took a few weeks until late November when it was finally the day of my scan. In the time of waiting for my scan appointment my period finally arrived after 7 months. Typical ...
On the scan day I really struggled . I could only think back to every scan appointment that started with sheer optimism and ended with a twist of fate.
I started to feel anxious about what they may see or notice . For the first time I never even allowed my thoughts to get to the point of thinking that the sonographer could also say , there’s a baby been hiding in your uterus all this time.
Loaded I know , I’ve heard the stories before and I was hoping I could also claim one of those titles and join the club of pregnancy scan nuances.
I walked out with no indication of what was going on . The sonographer kept his poker face on whilst I tried my best to get some more answers there and then.
He sent me away with the instruction that my GP would call me with the results in 7-10 working days.
As if you thought patiently waiting would be an art , I couldn’t fathom waiting even longer to get some answers.
Three days later, still no call , and you know what they say,
‘No news is good news’.
For the first time that actually helped and this sense of ease may have helped me to get another period . YES! This time 44 days later since my last one.
Just when 7 days in, I was ready to accept that it’s good news but still with no explanation on why everything was happening. I saw my GP's number flash across my screen.
I gulped and struggled to concentrate when I heard the secretary say ,
"The doctor wants to speak with you"
As I responded by asking her what was wrong, she told me it’s not urgent.
However, as I finally got to speak with my doctor the next day he said what’s urgent is for me to prioritise my family planning if I want more children.
My doctor confirmed that my right ovary was polycystic and this is what may have been causing the lack of periods.
We think it’s PCOS.
With no filter , he reminded me that with no tube in the left and a cystic ovary on the right - I’d need to start thinking quickly about my options to conceive.
I didn’t panic, I wasn’t sad and it actually all made sense.
Finally after so many years I had some answers, but more questions.
What did this mean for our future family plans?
Only God knows, and for that I will continue to keep the faith.
For everything that has happened in this crazy year I continue to look forward even when I’m sad , disappointed and question what’s going on.
I have faith and confidence that no matter what , it’s all going to work out according to God's will.
I hope you also find ways to stay encouraged in these strange times...
Seasons and Greetings to you all x