Jodie – pregnancy after PCOS

John, Bella and Jodie

So I’m stood in my bathroom looking at a whole heap of pregnancy tests, all with a blue line on them and obviously they were all completely wrong and there was some issue with these tests that needed to be reported. I couldn’t have kids so what was going on?

I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects hormone production and can cause irregular periods, higher levels of testosterone, weight gain, excess hair loss or growth) when I was 13 and was then told at 17 there was no chance I could have children even with medical intervention.  It had never really been a big deal for me because I knew at such a young age that I couldn’t so I had never ran the whole my baby scenario through my mind, never thought about being pregnant, never considered a child of my own.  I just got on with life, had great jobs, travelled, had lots of friends and then when I met John, my husband I told him that I wasn’t the girl for him if he wanted children and he was fine with that.  I was taking the pill as I wanted to make sure that I was regular with my periods for the first time in a long time.  I then got one of those viral vomiting bugs and it wouldn’t shift to the point that one of my oldest friends asked me if I was pregnant. I reminded her that I couldn’t get pregnant but what she said really played on my mind.

So one Saturday John had gone to work and I decided to do a test to prove I wasn’t pregnant.  I went to the pharmacist and to be sure bought loads of pregnancy tests.  I was so convinced that that they would be negative I smoked a cigarette whilst I waited for the results. It wasn’t the result I was expecting – they all had a thin blue line on! I was in complete shock! I couldn’t get pregnant so I needed to let someone know that there was this big manufacturing problem with all these tests – it would impact so many women, getting a positive test result when they’re not pregnant, how upsetting would that be? I could NOT be pregnant!

So I went to the medical centre and saw a doctor who said ‘congratulations!’ I didn’t think he was listening so I reminded him that I couldn’t have children to which he replied ‘with this many positive tests – you are pregnant.’ Oh.  OK. I did a blood test to confirm the outcome and would you believe it but the girl who did the test was an old school friend who said that she could see I was expecting!

I was then panicking about how to tell John as I’d always told him that I couldn’t have children so what would he do? How would he react? How would he feel? I was so nervous I couldn’t even verbalise the fact that I was pregnant. So I told John I had a present for him and got a box, wrapped one of the tests in it, put a label on it saying unexpected news and waited till he got home at 8 that night.  I was so nervous that when I met him I couldn’t even hand it to him just told him to look in the glove box of the car.  He opened the box and burst into tears! ‘thats $%&^%& amazing!’ was his response – he was crying, I was crying.  It was lovely – I was pregnant with PCOS whilst taking the pill – what are the chances?

I was sick right up until I gave birth – the nausea and vomiting was pretty bad.  I had a scare at eight weeks when I had some spotting and was told by a doctor to go straight to the hospital as I was definitely having a miscarriage.  After a few hours they asked how much blood I had lost and  then blood tests confirmed that my pregnancy hormone level was still high so it was nothing serious – there was no miscarriage! It did mean that I went into the system as a higher risk pregnancy so I had to have more check ups at the hospital.  My first appointment was at ten weeks and I was told that I would have a massive baby and that I would have gestational diabetes as I was carrying a bit of weight.  I also had to complete this questionnaire which she used to determine if I would have post partum depression which I wasn’t apparently! (there is NO test that can predict if a mother will have post partum depression before she gets it – it is triggered by hormones, by change in lifestyle, by reaction to birth, by a whole host of reasons individual to each woman that gets it – it cannot be predetermined by a questionnaire) I left that appointment in tears – I was having this massive baby and I would be sick and I felt horrible, just so scared and down about what was to come. Then the system put me in touch with the local midwife service and they were so lovely and supportive, they made me feel so comfortable which is just what you need when you’re pregnant. 

Everything was fine up until about two weeks before Bella was born.  I developed a pain under my ribs and it was crippling as well as pretty constant.  So we went into hospital and whilst I was having minor contractions it wasn’t enough to be causing me this degree of pain.  I had an ultrasound which showed a three and a half litre tumour on my liver.  I was admitted into hospital and then had to wait for someone to make a decision about what to do.  After five days I decided enough was enough and discharged myself as I wanted to sleep in my own bed!  The pain subsided and a few days later I went into labour.  

I laboured for about forty hours.  At about 30 hours I was checked and was 4 cm dilated so I decided to have an epidural as I was so tired by this point.  I woke up after a few hours sleep and asked John to stop that dripping noise – it wasn’t a tap, it was my waters dripping off the bed! I really enjoyed my birth – even though she had to be delivered by ventouse (a vacuum that is attached to the babys head to help bring them out) I didn’t feel any pain and I felt really good and in control of what was going on.  I saw the placenta which was amazing! It was red, and a funny shape where it had been around the baby, it looked a bit like a tree with all the veins – it was incredible!

I breastfed Bella for about two weeks then one night when I was doing the 2am feed I had the most excruciating pain right back where my liver pain had been.  I couldn’t stand up, I thought was going to die from the pain.  We went to the hospital and a scan had shown that the weight of the tumour had torn part of my liver away.  Bella then had to go on the bottle as I was on morphine and some pretty heavy duty drugs.  I remember standing in the pharmacy crying my eyes out and I couldn’t work out what was the best for my child  – there seemed to be 30,000 brands and 200 different varieties of everything.  I eventually chose but I felt so helpless as it must have taken me 2 hours to get the one I felt was right.

I then had three surgeries over three days.  Every time the tumour was drained it refilled itself and no one could work out why. The doctor told me they couldn’t work what it was as it wasn’t a cyst and it wasn’t cancer.  There was a link between that and the PCOS but what that link was he couldn’t tell me.  Bella was being taken care of by my mum at this time.  John was still working and doing long hours so he came in with Bella every second day and it was hard not seeing them, being sick, it was a really low time.

I found it hard after she arrived.  I’m organised to the point of OCD.  I had a job where I managed 900 flight attendants for Qantas Airlines.  A baby threw that organisation out of the window! I felt isolated, my job was really busy with seeing people all the time – and now there was just me and her and the hospital and then back home again. Everyone I knew was working or they had older children. My mum had Bella in her routine and I was so frustrated – she was MY baby! I took Bella home and got her settled back with me but I really struggled – I would phone John crying in the day, I’d cry when he go home.  After a week or so he told me to go to the doctor as he felt I needed more support then he could give me. I didn’t want to go as I had seen enough doctors by that point but I eventually went and it helped.  I was referred to a local mums centre where I could get counselling, meet other mums, just knowing someone was there was a big help.  Bella was a very unsettled baby and they showed me sleep techniques.  It was years later that she was diagnosed with a lactose intolerance – so part of her screaming was that.  

Bella is now 13.  She dances, loves singing, she has a great heart, is loyal, loves school, is kind, she drives me mad at times – I’m not going to lie but is she is a little (well not so little anymore!) miracle baby!