Have you been struggling with infertility for a while? If that’s the case, know that infertility is not as uncommon as you may think.
Yet, the issue is still quite taboo these days.
That’s why we decided to invite Karen Rolling, a dynamic mommy who went through infertility due to PCOS.
Karen has two hyperactive boys who she loves to bits and calls ‘’miracle’’ babies (they’re adorable). Indeed, having them wasn’t easy as she experienced some fertility issues. When her dream finally came true, she naturally felt like a miracle had happened.
While Karen is happy to share her story to raise awareness around infertility and PCOS, she also wants to do it to support women struggling just like she did and tell them they’re not alone.
Her message is a message of hope and faith and will hopefully help you through this incredibly difficult experience.
Irregular Cycles and Painful Periods
Karen always wanted to have kids. Now, like most of us, she believed having a child, especially while being young, would be easy. After all, that’s what we’re told from a young age. However, as mentioned above, having complications, and struggling with fertility issues is more common than we might realize.
On Karen’s mother’s side, irregular cycles and painful periods have always been an issue.
And unfortunately for Karen, her periods are no exception! Indeed, her cycles have always been painful. She gets very dizzy and experiences intense cramping. She even begins to have cramps as early as a week before her cycle starts. Doctors recommended early that she should take painkillers a week before the pain would start, the first week of cramping, and during the week of her period. That’s three full weeks a month on painkillers. Pretty full-on if you ask us! And another thing is that she can never predict when her periods will come.
Indeed, one of the main symptoms of PCOS is having irregular cycles. And in some cases, the lack of periods, sometimes for months, can be another indication.
When growing up, Karen thought issues with her cycles were to do with her weight. She never thought she was at risk of not being able to have kids. And why would she? Her mother and her aunt both experienced painful irregular cycles, and they both had children. Besides, she was never diagnosed with PCOS before she struggled to conceive.
Karen was very surprised at how much of a process conceiving turned out to be! She got married and went on her honeymoon, where her husband was eager to start trying for their first child. But Karen had just started a new job at a time that required her to be there for a minimum of a year before she could obtain her maternity leave. So, they decided to wait for a few months. As they were getting closer to the 12-month mark, they started to try. Nothing happened. She started to get concerned.
After months of trying, she finally got pregnant. She later discovered her baby developed on the side of her belly instead of the front, but that’s pretty much the only problem she had. She went on to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy boy.
Second Pregnancy - The Diagnosis
The second time around was much different. As Karen was having constant pain for two months and no periods for seven weeks in a row, she decided to consult with a doctor. Her sister suspected Karen might be pregnant, but the diagnosis turned out to be quite far from it. She had cysts blocking her tubes, therefore preventing her eggs from being released from the ovaries into the uterus during ovulation. According to the doctor, that made her first child a literal miracle as her eggs couldn’t be released and fertilized.
The doctor started to ask her questions about the length of her cycles and having coarse hair on unusual parts of her body like chin or stomach. Now, beautiful Karen is no werewolf, but sure, she does have a few hairs on her chin and stomach. For the doctor, the diagnosis was clear: She had PCOS, cysts, and fibroids. PCOS is short for Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome, a hormonal imbalance that affects one out of ten women. Now, unfortunately, this condition can heavily impact fertility.
Because the couple was planning to have more kids in the future, the doctor suggested Karen lose weight and put her on medication to regulate her cycle and help her fall pregnant.
Understandably, the news came as a shock to Karen. As she kept to herself and tried to live a positive life, she would become obsessed with falling pregnant. She took over 30 pregnancy tests over time and analyzed every irregular cycle. During that period, every time she took a test, it turned out negative, taking a massive emotional toll on her. She started to blame her body for not fulfilling its purpose, having a child. But after a while, she decided to leave it in God’s hands, staying thankful that she had been blessed with the gift of motherhood at least once.
One day, she attended one of the prayers about infertility at her church. She went with her sister, who had gone through a miscarriage. Surrounded by women who weren’t able to have any children, she decided to take a step back and join them in their prayers from afar. After all, she had been blessed with one child, and they hadn’t. As she prayed, she felt a deep sense of peace warming her body.
That experience really helped her let go and feel happy with her life the way it was. So, she decided to have fun and make the most of every moment. Her husband and her even discussed a trip abroad to celebrate their anniversary and have fun. However, something told Karen not to purchase the tickets. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason, but it was there.
She suspected she had the flu at the time and decided to go to the doctor. When the doctor came back, he was puzzled. She had done it again, and he had no idea how! He told Karen she was pregnant, and her flu symptoms immediately disappeared.
Yet, the dynamic mom wasn’t out of the woods. From looking at the sonogram, the doctor wasn’t sure the baby would make it past a few days. He told Karen not to bond with her baby as of yet and not tell anyone she was pregnant, including her husband, until the next appointment. She was extremely careful in the following days and again left it in God’s hands to decide whether the baby was going to stick or not.
When she came back, the doctor teared up. The baby was growing and was healthy. This is a real goosebump situation, isn’t it?
Needless to say, this supermom was even more protective of the baby during her second pregnancy and worried until the day she delivered her gorgeous little boy.
Karen originally wanted four children (yep, she likes a good challenge!). But she is happy she was able to have her two miracle babies. And she is ok with not having another baby if it’s not on the cards. Looking at the positives, that’s one less car seat and one more man cave ;)
Infertility is Still Taboo
It’s important to note that infertility issues are still taboo. One recurring misconception is that infertility is a women’s issue. Yet, infertility can also be due to male factors (in fact, 40 to 50% of the time). Besides, the relentless questioning, including ‘’when you are going to have a child?’’, or ‘’when will you have a second child?’’ that many women experience at some point in their lives, can put a lot of pressure on couples struggling with infertility.
That’s why, as Karen experienced difficulties getting pregnant and challenges while being pregnant, she wants every woman struggling to know they’re not alone. She recommends learning about your health and body and getting familiar with what happens during pregnancy to avoid feeling overwhelmed. But the most important thing is not to let yourself be pressured by people trying to get you pregnant. At the end of the day, no one knows what’s happening inside your body and what you might be going through.
If you have any questions, you can find Karen on Instagram.