‘Will I be able to have children?’ My doctor looked apprehensive. ‘I cannot answer that.’ I was horrified and anxious.’: Mom shares story with early menopause, miscarriage

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Disclaimer: This story contains graphic details of miscarriage that may be upsetting to some.

“I had been on the pill for almost 10 years. All those years ago, doctors were quick to prescribe you the pill as a form of contraception. I had heavy periods at the age of 13, so I took the pill in the hope of controlling them. 10 years later, I was taking it back to back so I wouldn’t get a period. I wish I knew what I know now, back then. If I didn’t decide to have a break, I wouldn’t have found out that I might not be able to conceive.

I was in a relationship for almost seven years. Once we had broken up, I decided to have a big break from taking the pill. It was May 2017. I was just about to go to Europe with some girlfriends. Of course, I was partying, drinking, and eating my way through Europe, but I began to gain weight rapidly. I was happy. It wasn’t a typical breakup where you starve yourself or ‘binge’ eat. I was just living life and doing things for myself. I didn’t have a period for about three months after coming off the pill, and I also experienced hot flashes. These hot flashes were sporadic and frequent. I remember it was coming into winter and everyone at work was complaining about being freezing cold, while I was outside trying to get some cold air on my face. I was sweating. I would wake in the night in sweats. I just couldn’t cool down. I joked with my family and colleagues about going through menopause, but then my mom became concerned; she encouraged me to go to the doctor. So in early 2018, I had some blood tests done to check my hormones. My FSH level was 75 which is well above the average. My doctor looked apprehensive and urged me to see a gynecologist. I remember asking him, ‘Will I be able to have children?’ and he said, ‘I cannot answer that.’ I was horrified and anxious.

woman eating on a beach
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

My parents came with me. We drove into the city and they came into the appointment with me for support. I don’t know how I would have gotten through all of this without them. The gynecologist looked at me. She seemed anxious. She began to explain to me that my levels were an indication of early menopause. She began to overload me with information about my options. She mentioned needing an egg donor. She mentioned a concern for brain and cardiovascular health. She mentioned a concern for bone density. My brain was going a hundred miles an hour. All of this information was buzzing inside my head. My heart sank. She explained that I was going through menopause and that I had no eggs left. My parents and I sat there in disbelief and shock. I couldn’t speak. You know that feeling when you need to cry and you can feel a lump in your throat? My mom asked about freezing some eggs or having a child right now. The gynecologist explained that this was not an option because based on my hormone levels, I did not have any eggs to freeze. She explained that we would need to do some more tests.

I remember driving home that day. We all sobbed the whole way home. I couldn’t believe the news. My parents couldn’t believe it. My sister came over, and we explained everything to her. Of course, being the selfless and amazing woman she is, the first thing she said was, ‘I’ll give you some of my eggs.’ For weeks I felt empty. I just could not comprehend the news. I have always dreamt of having my own family. I worked with kids every day. I cared and loved them as if they were my own. I couldn’t wait to be a mom. But I just had this dream shattered into a million pieces.

My sister had an old friend who had seen Lauren Curtain. She specializes in Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. Lacy (my sister) explained that her friend was told she might never have children and after seeing Lauren, she was able to get a cycle again and fell pregnant not long after. I wanted to be hopeful but I didn’t want to get too excited and be disappointed. I agreed to go and see her. My sister came with me for support. Lauren was amazing and so knowledgeable. She asked me questions about my history. I had some acupuncture done, and she gave me some Chinese herbs to take. They tasted foul, but I would do anything I could. She explained that I may still have eggs and that it may just be a low reserve. She explained how our body needs to adjust after being on the pill for so long. I think I only saw Lauren once or twice and a few days later, I got my period back. I was so shocked and confused. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to get my period. I continued to see Lauren weekly. She encouraged me to get more blood tests to check my hormone levels. She didn’t believe that I was going through menopause. She gave me hope.

woman and her mom smiling
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

Two weeks after the first blood tests, my FSH levels were back down to around five, which is great. I booked an appointment with my gynecologist and was eager to hear what she had to say. She was just as shocked as me. She apologized for the information she gave me and explained she was taken off guard by my results. She encouraged me to get an AMH test. This gives you an indication of your egg reserve. Mine was low. So whilst I may have had the egg reserve of a 35-40 year old, I did in fact have some eggs. I was ecstatic. After being told I had none, this was fantastic news to me, and I was so grateful. She asked me if I was in a position to have a baby right away. I wasn’t. I was only 23. I was single and had just come out of a seven year relationship. She suggested freezing some eggs for the future. She reassured me that this was not urgent. It was close to the end of 2018. She encouraged me to enjoy a trip to Bali, my birthday and Christmas, and to start the process in the New Year.

2019 began, and I started seeing my partner, Luke, in February. By May, we were official. We had known each other for years through mutual friends and had grown up together. Once we started dating, I opened up to him about my history and what this meant for the future. I decided to get another AMH test done to check my levels. They had dropped drastically, so it was time to get a move on. I did my first round of IVF to freeze some eggs in June.  Countless hormone injections, car trips to the city, scans, tears, blood tests, and surgeries. I only managed to freeze four eggs after three rounds. I remember one of the rounds failed. I was so disappointed. After going through all the side affects from the injections, I was defeated. I decided to have a break. At the beginning of 2020, I saw a different doctor for something else. When we discussed my history and AMH levels, he asked me when I thought I might want to try for a baby with Luke. Luke and I had already spoken about this. I explained that we have known each other for a long time and maybe in a year or two we would try. He really put things into perspective for me. He said to me, ‘Is there really much of a difference in waiting a year?’ He explained that waiting might mean it would be difficult to conceive and now would be the perfect time to try. I went home and told Luke. I didn’t really think much of it. I wasn’t sure if Luke would want to start trying so soon. I was sure I wanted kids. I was sure I wanted them with him. I knew he wanted them with me. I just didn’t think we would so soon.

couple smiling together
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

As soon as I told Luke, he responded the best way I could imagine. He held my hand and said he wanted to start trying. He said, ‘I would never forgive myself if we waited and then we had trouble falling pregnant.’ So that was it. We started ‘trying.’ We decided to trust the universe and believed ‘if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.’ We didn’t use ovulation kits. We just used an app to track my cycle and didn’t put pressure on ourselves. I think we only tried for two months. March came around, and we were in and out of lockdown. I went to my sister’s house and had this feeling. It was like my intuition was telling me to do a pregnancy test. The test said I wasn’t pregnant. I wasn’t upset. I was fine, but for days after, I just had those feelings that I was pregnant so I continued to do more tests. Sure enough, those lines became stronger. I was PREGNANT. I remember my family were excited for me, but they were concerned with my history.

Fast forward almost two years now, and I have an almost 1-year-old, our little miracle, Aisley. The last year with our little girl has been the best year of our lives, filled with milestones, laughs, and the most beautiful memories. Our lives are brighter now and we cannot imagine our life without our little girl. Being a mom has changed me, and I feel as though I am becoming who I am supposed to be. I have learned so much about myself. I have fallen more and more in love with Luke as I have watched him blossom into fatherhood.

maternity photo of woman in white dress in a field
Molly Health Photography

Given my history and what the gynecologist told me, I didn’t want to wait too long in between having children. We have also had in my mind that Aisley may be our only child and that is so fine with us. We are so grateful and over the moon that we got our miracle baby. We absolutely love and adore Aisley beyond words. We would love to give her a little brother or sister. We trust the universe and know that whatever is meant for us will find us. In the last few months, we haven’t been careful and we were open to the possibility of falling pregnant. Of course, we wanted another baby but knew it would happen when the time was right. Before Aisley was even 10 months old, we found out I was pregnant again. I was sitting on the couch with Luke watching TV, and I had this random thought in my head. I had this sudden urge to do a test. Sure enough, there were two lines, and I was trying to contain my excitement in the bathroom as I heard Luke resettling Aisley. When I told Luke, he was just as shocked. We were filled with happiness.

mom holding her baby
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

After counting down the days to the eight-week dating scan, the day finally arrived, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. The man tried to do the ultrasound externally and couldn’t find anything. I wasn’t worried at this point because this had happened the first time I was pregnant. He tried internally. Still nothing. He kept trying. His face went blank as he searched for something. We waited apprehensively. He finally told us that although there was a gestational sack, there was nothing inside. He explained to us that it could be a ‘failed pregnancy’ or a ‘miscarriage.’ He mentioned the possibility that my dates could be off, and I could be much earlier in my pregnancy. He asked if I had any pains or bleeding. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t going to happen. He advised us to book an appointment with the doctor to find out more. We left the clinic and cried. Luke held me and kissed me. We were both in shock. We went home to my mom, who had Aisley. She cried with us. We held our little girl so tight. This was the start of a lot of confusion, pain, wondering, doubting, waiting, and overthinking as we were left in the dark for three weeks. Waiting for some answers. I had blood tests every few days to check my HCG levels. Of course, this fell right on a public holiday weekend, so I had to wait four days to find out. We were going crazy, not knowing what was going on. The doctor couldn’t give us an answer, and the unknown scared us. We wanted to be optimistic, but we were also preparing ourselves for the worst possible news.

The waiting was killing us. One minute we thought everything was okay, then we thought of the worst. I had another scan. Still nothing, but they were unsure of what was going on. My HCG levels had increased since the first blood test so things weren’t adding up. After a few days, they decreased, but not by much. Until eventually, they decreased more. The doctor said it was only a matter of time. He explained that some women don’t show signs and symptoms of a miscarriage for a few weeks. I don’t know what’s worse…waiting for it to happen for weeks or it suddenly happening to you unexpectedly. Either way, both are horrible. So we waited, and we grieved.

I had no motivation to do anything. Some days I didn’t get changed out of my pajamas. I didn’t have an appetite. We spent time together as a family. Luke had some time off work with me. I was so thankful because I don’t think I could have been by myself. Having Aisley made it much easier. I couldn’t imagine not having her and going through this awful tragedy. We held on to our little girl even tighter and thanked our lucky stars over and over that we have her here with us. Weeks went on, still no symptoms. I had to go back to work. I was feeling so many emotions. I was feeling so many emotions. We broke the news to everyone else we had told. I returned to work and still nothing…I felt heartbroken, empty, and anxious. Some work friends who know urged me to take time off, but the distraction was good. I needed it. I wondered, ‘Why me? Did I do something wrong? Will I ever have more children?’ Eight weeks of imagining two children and being a family of four. Eight weeks of imagining what our baby would look like. Eight weeks of imagining Aisley as a big sister. Eight weeks of imagining that newborn smell. Eight weeks of imagining when we would meet them.

Three long weeks of wondering when it was going to happen, three long weeks of praying maybe the scan was wrong. Three long weeks of blood tests, scans, and doctor’s appointments all while adjusting back to work and juggling being a mom. Three long weeks of overthinking, three long weeks of more pregnancy tests. Three long weeks of waiting. I eventually had some light cramping and bleeding, but nothing drastic. I had family members and friends who had been through a miscarriage tell me how horrific it was. I was confused as to why I hadn’t experienced any severe pains or bleeding. I didn’t know what was ahead of me.

couple holding their daughter
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

A few weeks later I started getting really painful cramps. Luke had just gotten home from work and I had been working from home. Luckily, I had just finished up. I cried on the couch, curled up in a ball. As the pain got worse, I went and had a hot shower. I knew something was happening. I was so afraid. The pain was similar to labor. I cried in the shower as the water dropped down on me. I tried breathing through it. A few minutes later, the pains increased. I was in agony. The bleeding became heavy. I watched the blood flowing down the drain. I was horrified. I was hysterical. You know that cry when you can’t catch your breath? I felt this big clot of blood pass, and as I looked down I saw the gestational sack. I screamed. Luke came rushing in. He felt helpless. He asked if I needed anything. He didn’t know what to do. I told him I was okay. I couldn’t look at the floor. I didn’t know what to do. The bleeding was so heavy. It continued to fill the shower. It was the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through. I stayed in the shower sobbing for over an hour. Eventually, I got out and got into bed. Luke went to the shops and got me some pain relief, pads, and snacks. He looked after me all night. Once I had passed the sack, the pains slowly subsided. But I still wasn’t feeling well.

The next day, I had my best friend’s baby shower. I had offered to have it at my house months before. She offered to change the date or location. But I insisted. I needed to keep my mind busy. All I could think about was going to the gym and doing things to keep busy over the next few days. I was heartbroken, I was exhausted both physically and mentally, but I knew that my time would come again. I trusted the universe and even though it is such a traumatic experience to go through. I trusted the timing of everything. I continued to live life. Some days were harder than others. I just wanted to stay in bed. Other days, I felt okay. I went hard at the gym. I became more motivated to train. I focused my energy on weight loss. I kept telling myself that our time would come and that I had lots of things to look forward to.

We agreed to wait a little and try again. Being so close to Christmas, we thought it was a good idea to enjoy the festive time and try early next year. We are open to whatever happens, but feel as though we don’t want to put pressure on ourselves. It’s funny how we weren’t ready for another baby just yet, but after I fell pregnant, we were so grateful and excited. Once that was ripped away from us, I found myself just wanting another baby and that was all I think about. We definitely are ready. We trust in the universe. We know that one day Aisley will be a big sister.

mom holding her daughter
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

During the grieving process, I really relied on Luke, family, and close friends. Luke and I spent a lot of quality time together and talked about how we felt every day. I felt supported and loved by Luke, as I always do. I had to remember that he was grieving too, maybe in a different way, but we were both there for each other. Our families were beyond supportive, as well as our closest friends. We were sent so many gifts and flowers. I feel so blessed to have such supportive people in my life and I couldn’t get through life without them. I also opened up about my experience on my social media platforms. My inbox flooded with messages from people I didn’t know, friends, family, and people I hadn’t spoken to for a while. I was overwhelmed with the love I received. I had many women explain that my sharing of my story helped them to feel as though they were not alone. And they are not alone. When I was waiting to find out what was going on and after my miscarriage, I researched to see if anyone else had shared their experience. As much as I would never want anyone to have to go through such a horrific experience, it was so nice to know that I was not alone. Connecting with other women really helped my healing process. I practiced meditation, used oracle and tarot cards, and wrote in a journal every day. These things help me on a daily basis but particularly helped me through this tough time.

I truly believe that things will work out for us. I look at every experience as a lesson, and I have learned so much from this experience. It breaks my heart that this is such a common issue that women face in their lives. Just know. If you have gone through something similar, you are not alone. Talking is the best thing you can do. I hope that my story has resonated or helped anyone who may need it, and if you are still on a fertility journey, I see you, I hear you, and I am right there with you.”

parents in the pool with their daughter
Courtesy of Bronte Ryan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bronte Ryan from Mornington. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story hereand be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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