(Warning: I'm going to talk about periods again. And again, it's not gratuitous and it's completely relevant, and I'm not going to go into graphic detail. But it's in here.)
Wow. So, this took way longer than I meant for it to. But maybe that's not a bad thing, right? I mean, I really explored all of this in-depth, and gave myself the time I needed to think through how to say what I needed to say.
So, here I am now. In graduate school, pursuing a career path that I meant to follow years ago, but I probably never would have taken that step if circumstances hadn't forced my hand. (Although, as I've pointed out before, there could have been easier ways for whoever is in charge to make the point that I wasn't where I was supposed to be - a lottery win to pay off my student loans and cover tuition, maybe? Especially considering that as it stands now, whatever increase in earnings I will have after graduation will be entirely consumed by student loan payments - which I have accepted that I will be paying until I die.)
In any case, career-wise, things are on track for me. I even have an exciting new project in the works that I hope will end up being a catalyst for huge changes in how service delivery is approached in the mental health and social service field. I have big ambitions, and a vision to follow through on those ambitions. I'm going places. And I can't even regret any of the time that I spent on other pursuits, because every single professional step I took informed what I am seeking to do today. I can see, clearly, how every moment of it was leading to this point.
If you'd told me ten years ago that this is where I would be at 34, and where I would be headed, I wouldn't have believed you.
I haven't accomplished everything that I dreamed for myself as a teenager or a young adult. Career ambitions were not really important to me. I saw myself as a wife and mother, not a single career woman.
But I have accomplished goals that it never occurred to me to set. And they are all things that, had I gotten married and had children before I was 30, I probably would never have done. I definitely would not be on the path that I am now. Because I would have settled into motherhood and not sought anything bigger for myself or in service to others.
But what of motherhood?
I still don't want it any less. I've gotten a little bit better at dealing with facebook pregnancy and birth announcements. I made it through the royal birth coverage without shedding a single tear. But I do still want a child more than anything else in the universe.
And I'm not sure if I will ever be able to go back to adoption, without having had a baby. Right now, I can say for certain that, to me, it would feel like settling for second best, and that would not be fair to any child placed in my care. Maybe five or ten years from now I'll feel differently, if a baby does not come to be in that time.
Of course, it would be completely irresponsible to try to get pregnant right now, even if I could afford the procedure. In school, unemployed, and living on student loans. I'm not stupid or selfish enough to plan to bring a baby into that kind of insecurity.
But I am rapidly approaching my 35th birthday, the use-by date after which my doctor told me I would have less than a 5% chance of conceiving. And I will be 36 before I graduate and re-enter the workforce.
The conventional wisdom with PCOS is that the chances of conceiving are better when you're younger. This is certainly what my doctor has told me more than once. However, in the midst of my struggles over the past two years, I found a small but growing body of research that challenges that assumption.
There was one study specifically, done in Sweden, that claims that women with PCOS may actually have better chances of conception the older they get. Other studies have also shown that the menstrual cycles of women with PCOS become more frequent and regular as they get older, which would appear to support the idea that the chances of conception would be higher.
When I lost my job, I lost my health insurance with it, and as such, I stopped taking birth control, which kept my cycles regular. I had 3 pill packs left, and I planned to use them every 3 or 4 months to have the minimum amount of periods to keep my uterus healthy.
To my intense surprise, I haven't needed to use any of those pill packs.
Last December, when my first spontaneous period started, I figured it was a fluke. But, just as well, I thought, because it was that much longer that I could put off using the birth control I had left.
The second time it happened, in March, I was a little more surprised. This was not something that happened with my body. Clearly, it wasn't a regular 28-day cycle, more of a 3-month cycle if it continued, but going less than a year between non-hormonal-birth-control-induced periods was pretty much unheard of for me.
When I didn't have another period in June, I wasn't surprised. The one in March must have been a fluke, too. And now my body was back to its normal PCOS-defective self.
But then, at the beginning July, it happened again.
I can't emphasize this enough: without being on the pill, I had never gone less than a year between periods, and now I'd had three in a seven-month time frame.
Two could have been a fluke, but three? Is it possible that my reproductive system is getting its shit under control?
Could it be that those studies are onto something, and I don't have to give up on having a baby someday after all?
I don't know. And as I've said before, I'm afraid to hope.
But I still do hope.
I'm not ready to give up on this yet. And maybe I don't have to.
I can't help feeling that, if I am able to have a baby someday, it will make up for all the ways that my body has failed me thus far. Making me feel like less of a woman, because it produces too much testosterone and fucks up my metabolism. Causing chronic pain and making everyday tasks more difficult. Making me feel like a young woman trapped in an old woman's body.
If my body is able to bring a healthy, full-term baby into the world, all of that will be forgiven.
So, I'll finish school, and see where things go from there.
Who knows what the future holds?