I got a package in the mail yesterday pertaining to the adoption… and it just brought back all the bullshit that I’d pushed away… I don’t wish this on anyone. Ever. And this… all this needed to be said. I needed to get it out of me so that I can move forward.
Gender and sexuality have been a big problem for me throughout my life. I grew up in my female body. I was raised female by my parents, but there are pictures of me from high school wandering around in my dad’s shirts, carrying snakes, or doing sports, which weren’t the most feminine things. I’ve always been interested in science and math and messing around with stuff. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty or carrying my weight with stuff.
I realize this doesn’t mean that no women feel like this because gender is stupid and nothing is really masculine or feminine.
I’ve never felt comfortable in my body, but I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable in a male body either, and I don’t really want to make that decision to find out. I passed fairly easily as a guy in college for over a year, and I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed being able to go back and forth as well.
So I don’t really consider myself 100% one way or the other, but I’m not sure there’s many people out there who would say they were 100% one way or the other.
One thing I’ve known for a very, very long time was that I wanted to have children. I wanted to have a family. I wanted to get pregnant, experience childbirth, and raise kids that came from my flesh and blood. I’ve known this since high school.
When I was growing up, I had really bad acne. I went to dermatologist after dermatologist for help, and I got drugs and creams, but nothing really ever worked. I don’t know if that was because it was just the medicine or that I didn’t use it on a regular basis. I’m being honest here: I sucked at being responsible growing up, and sometimes I suck at it now.
Eventually, my parents put me on birth control. It helped my face, and I just went about my business. Then I started missing days before I just stopped taking it completely. My acne came back. My period didn’t.
In fact, I started missing it a lot. I went to the doctor, and all he said was, “You don’t ovulate because you weigh too much. You need to lose some weight and it’ll come back.”
I thought that was a lot of bullshit. How dare he tell me that I’m fat when other people who were bigger than me got their cycles on a regular basis without any issues? But I heard the underlying issue, and it scared me: I didn’t ovulate. And if you don’t ovulate, you don’t get pregnant.
I tried to lose the weight, but it only got worse. I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist, who put me on a study medication, and diagnosed me with PCOS. But he never saw cysts on my ovaries (that I know of because he never told me), and after the study, I was never treated for the PCOS. He just let me go.
I went two years without a period, and I knew… deep down, I knew that I wasn’t going to be having children. I’m not sure how to describe what that realization is like. If you’re infertile, then you know what’s it’s like.
If you aren’t, and you have children, then take one good, hard look at your kids… their laughing, smiling, screaming, crying faces… and try to imagine what your life would be like if they weren’t there… Take at that love that you have for them and stretch that feeling out to something that doesn’t exist, that might not ever exist… Look at your friend’s or family’s kids and imagine what it would be like to see them… when you so desperately want your own that aren’t around… and then imagine what that feeling would be like if you went home and they still weren’t there… and never would be because they didn’t exist…
And then maybe you’ll start to understand the feelings of infertility.
When the adoption started happening and everything became real, I thought, “Yes. Okay, so maybe this isn’t the perfect situation, but this baby needs a home and a family to love and take care of him, and we can be that family.” But then it didn’t happen… and we were left with nothing. Not even any reassurance about anything, and later, we got threats of lawsuits and lawyers, as if the knife hadn’t been dug in far enough.
So Erin and I decided to try for ourselves. We went to the doctor, and I had blood work done. And that’s when it really happened: elevated testosterone levels, elevated insulin levels… Diagnosis: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). When I had my ultrasound a few days later, the tech pointed out to me all of the cysts all along my ovaries. 15 to 20 per ovary.
I was devastated.
It meant that I would have a very slim chance of getting pregnant without intervention. It meant that I Erin and I couldn’t try at home. I meant doctors’ offices and needles and medications. It meant that not only would it be hard because we were lesbians… but now we had the added problem of an infertility diagnosis.
We tried. And two weeks later, we were right back where we started.
We decided, then, to wait before we tried again. Marriage was legal and we wanted to get married, so we decided to focus on that and a honeymoon instead of trying to get pregnant and be pregnant at the same time. One thing at a time. But I’d work on my weight loss and eating healthy and working out to maybe help boost my chances when we came back to this in a few months.
But the funny thing about PCOS is… it makes it exceptionally difficult to lose weight. It makes you crave foods you don’t want, like sweets and junk. It makes tracking fertility nearly impossible through temperatures. And the medications make you sick.
I wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and try my hardest to tell my failing body that it’s okay and that I love it anyway. I see my “apple shape” (which is typical of people who have PCOS), and tell myself that if I never get better, that’ll it’ll be okay… and I try, Gods almighty, I try to believe those words.
And I see all my friends and my coworkers and my family who announce their happy news about their incoming addition, and I tell them congratulations and how happy I am for them, and I am… I’m happy because I know how special that event is and how lucky they are, even if they aren’t aware of it themselves. But part of me breaks a little each time I’m happy for someone else because I don’t get to be happy for myself and I may never get to make those announcements or experience the joy and fear of it all.
And as hard as I try not to think this way, I feel like my body is failing me and failing Erin. I can’t give her the children we want all easy peasy like so many others seem to be able to do. I can’t just do the thing and here’s a baby. I can’t let Erin be a part of the process the way that she wants to be, and the way I want her to be because we have to have drugs, and shots, and ultrasounds, and IUIs and possibly even IVF.. before maybe… maybe we get to bring a baby home. We have to fork out dollar after dollar just for a chance… and Gods, it’s a slim chance… every month to try to get our chance…
And yes, we could adopt or we could go through foster care, and we’ve thought about it… But this adoption… This failed attempt… It hurt us. And we’re scared to try that route again right now. But if that’s what we chose to do down the road, it still won’t change the fact that my body failed us. In fact, it’ll be recognition of the fact that my body failed and we gave up and moved on. And that hurts.
I’m doing everything I can. I take 9 vitamins and my PCOS medication every day like I’m supposed to. I’m going back to the gym. I’m eating as healthy as I possibly can without eating nothing but salads… But this isn’t some guarantee that it’ll work. PCOS doesn’t go away. It just improves.
It may not always be a problem, but it’s always going to be there. And that’s not a good way to give a person any kind of hope.