Photo above: Monica with daughter, Annie in 1987
I was catching up on my People magazine reading when I came across an article interviewing actresses about the compliment they’re most proud of. Almost every single one said it was being told they were a good mom or had well-behaved children.
I could really relate to that article, as being a mom has been the greatest gift of my life.
There’s no experience that compares to growing a tiny human in your body, birthing them and raising them over many years until they become independent and productive members of society. The journey between those two points is fun, challenging and the stuff that life is made of….
But not everyone has an easy time of having a baby. I know what it’s like to not be able to get pregnant. Almost 30 years ago, it took me five years to have my first and only baby. I went through most forms of infertility treatments, just short of in vitro, until I got lucky.
My reproductive health had always been challenging. Right from the onset of menstruation, as a young teen, I had terrible menstrual cramping and clotting. Cramps were so intense that I couldn’t get up from my bed two days each month, hugging a heating pad, unable to get comfortable, sweating and exhausted. Even narcotics didn’t help. Every month was a trial and I dreaded the pain and the loss of time brought on by my cycle.
After I married, in my 20’s, even with using birth control I never got pregnant. After five years of infertility I finally started the work up. A hyposalpingogram revealed that one of my Fallopian tubes was actually ripped from the extreme cramping of my cycles, and the other had a large cyst blocking its entrance. I also wasn’t ovulating (which I now know was the cause of the terrible cramping).
Why I wasn’t ovulating is a good question. I believe that the emotional stress of my early family life, which included immigration, resettlement, (see previous blogs: “Thanksgiving” and “My Heroine”) and trying to be the “perfect child”, affected my HPA axis, the one controlling my adrenals and sex hormones.
I was put on medication that forced me into menopause in order to shrink the cyst. I remember thinking, “boy, I sure don’t look forward to that stage of life!” I immediately gained 10#, felt depressed and generally ached all over. Later I started using a fertility drug called Clomid, which forced ovulation, and happily by the third month I did become pregnant.
Even pregnancy didn’t go smoothly. Three months before delivery I started labor pains. So I was put on bed rest and g