Living With PCOS: Carey’s Inspiring Journey to Pregnancy
Carey Shofner’s PCOS Journey
When I was 28 years old, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The warning signs and symptoms were there all along. I started my period much later than my friends, and they were always super irregular. Sometimes I’d only have one or two cycles a year. Many doctors told me throughout my teenage and young adult years that I just needed to lose weight or stop eating dairy and/or gluten, but no one ever diagnosed me with PCOS until my husband, and I sought out fertility treatments. I felt so dismissed and ignored that I finally quit seeking answers.
After getting married, my husband and I tried to conceive naturally for about a year without luck. I wasn’t surprised, but the realization of infertility was difficult. When we began our fertility treatments in 2016, I was (finally) officially diagnosed with PCOS. Medications helped with my symptoms, and a few months later, I became pregnant, but unfortunately, that pregnancy was ectopic and not viable. We kept trying, but after 9 months of treatments, we were done. Physically, emotionally, and financially… I was burnt out.
My husband and I would go on to adopt two boys over the years—one at 6 weeks old via private infant adoption and the other as an embryo through embryo donation. By this point, I had come to terms with my infertility, and had done a lot of work to heal my heart. Getting to carry and deliver my second son was such an amazing gift (seriously, science is amazing)! After my in vitro fertilization (IVF) pregnancy with our donor embryo, my body sorted itself out a bit. I started having regular postpartum cycles, but all my other PCOS symptoms remained. However, I never thought that I’d be able to conceive naturally… until I did. Surprise!
This past Mother’s Day, I discovered I was pregnant. Shocking is the understatement of the year! I’d been working to manage my PCOS symptoms over the last 6 months with some new medications and a simple, but dedicated, walking routine. I think these habits helped a lot! They brought my A1C down significantly, and I definitely attribute that to my pregnancy.
Having PCOS during my pregnancies has been hard, especially since I’m insulin resistant. I’ve had to navigate Gestational Diabetes during both pregnancies. This second time around has been MUCH harder, but I also feel so much more knowledgeable about my body and how to care for it this time.
If you are trying to conceive with PCOS, I definitely suggest working with a Reproductive Endocrinologist to manage insulin resistance (if you have it) and to get medications (if needed) to manage other symptoms. I also totally recommend walking! Low-impact cardio is a great way to help lower blood sugar if that’s a challenge. I struggle with fatigue and moodiness due to my PCOS, and being a pregnant mom to two toddlers doesn’t help. However, therapy, medication prescribed by my physician, and a solid nighttime routine have helped a lot! Also, naps. Naps get a bad rap, but sometimes naps are the best kind of self-care.
Remember that PCOS isn’t your fault. Infertility isn’t your fault. There also isn’t one exact thing that’s going to work for everyone. So give yourself (and your doctors) time and grace as you work through finding the best treatment plan for you. Lastly, if you don’t feel heard or understood by your doctor, find a new one. You should never leave the doctor’s office feeling ashamed or ignored. You have every right to quality care!
Follow Carey on Instagram to learn more about her journey with PCOS and gestational diabetes.
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*This blog post was sponsored by Juno Diagnostics