There are some moments in your life that you will never forget as long as you live. November 7, 2012 is one example for me personally. After years of suffering with endometriosis, the seventh of November was the day that I was officially diagnosed with the horrible illness. I finally had answers behind numerous years of menstrual pain, painful sex, irregular bowel movements, and infertility. I was relieved to have answers but crushed that I would have to learn to accept living with such a life-altering disease.
Two weeks later, at my post-op appointment, my gynecologist went over the laparoscopy and my endometriosis. He stated that the best way to fight endometriosis was to get pregnant. I remember hearing the brakes squealing in my mind. This was the same doctor who I had cried in front of just weeks before. I had begged him to perform a laparoscopic surgery while complaining of my pain and struggle to become pregnant. All signs pointed to endometriosis – I knew I was living with the disease. His response was that he had burned off all of the lesions that were covering my uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries and that I would not have any more issues while trying to conceive. I just needed to have intercourse every other day. No other treatment was offered to me.
Obviously, I left his office feeling disgusted. Five years of trying to conceive and he did not take that into account. As every woman who battles endometriosis knows, sex is painful. There was no possible way that I would be able to tolerate being intimate with my husband 3-4 times per week. I honestly did not know how I was going to come to terms with the fact that my own body was failing me. Although I do not remember the exact date of my postop appointment, it was another one of life’s moments that I will never forget.
Let’s fast forward to June 14, which is another night that will be instilled in my mind forever. I was very ill and after a night of pain and severe vomiting, my husband forced me to make an emergency room visit. After explaining all of my symptoms and medical history to the triage nurse and emergency room doctor, I was instructed to take a pregnancy test. I did not think anything of it, as I usually am given urine tests while in the emergency room. This moment would be different, I found out I was six weeks pregnant.
The night that I found out I was pregnant has been the greatest moment of my life. The only day that I know will be better is when I get to hold my daughter for the very first time. Although I continue to struggle with endometriosis despite my pregnancy, I am at an amazing point in my life. Through God’s good graces, Dr. Folkestad changed my life for the better and made it possible for me to have my miracle baby. I will always be grateful to Dr. Folkestad, for officially putting a name to my pain and taking me out of the darkness of infertility.
And now the worry begins.
As a woman with endometriosis who has experienced the darkest corners of the disease and infertility, I am feeling so blessed for being able to carry my child. I want nothing more than to have a healthy baby, so the gender of the baby honestly never mattered to me. However, my feelings changed when I found out that I was having a daughter. Do not misunderstand, because I love my baby girl more than anything in this entire world, but I am terrified that she will develop endometriosis.
I do not want my daughter to suffer an ounce of the physical or emotional pain that I have lived with and continue to live with despite being pregnant. Since endometriosis is thought to genetic, I cannot help but worry for my daughter. I know that I could never live with myself if she develops endometriosis. I will constantly live with this fear day in and day out until she begins menstruation and I can be certain that no signs of endometriosis are present.
On the bright side, I will be her biggest advocate. I will make sure that she has the best possible care at the first sign of any symptom. Although I know the emotions and recovery that come with surgery, I will never hesitate to consult an excision specialist. I have made it clear to my husband that I will monitor her periods and listen to hear if she has any complaints about how heavy or painful her cycle is. The moment I hear any symptom of endometriosis from her mouth, she will be given options for birth control and I will contact one of the top endometriosis specialists in the country.
Some may disagree with me that even considering birth control before she is sexually active is not good parenting or that she may view birth control options as an invitation to be sexually active. This is definitely something that has crossed my mind, but we will have that discussion as well. To those that feel that way, please understand that I will never do anything to jeopardize her health and well- being. As her mother, I am her biggest fan and biggest voice. There will never be a moment in her life that I will not advocate for her health. She is my pride and joy and I never want her to experience the dark path that endometriosis can take a woman down.
About the Author: Heather Pickens was diagnosed with three chronic illnesses and infertility at 25. She lives in the Southwest with her husband and two dogs. Her goal is to spread awareness while providing the utmost support to woman living with reproductive illnesses. You can also read about her journey at Hello, Endo! or follow her on twitter @helloendoblog.