My body was failing me. As I sat there in the doctor’s office, listening to him talk, I felt as though I had fallen so hard the wind had been knocked out of me. How could these terms I had never even heard of apply to me? Premature ovarian failure. High FSH. Premature menopause. Secondary infertility. Even worse: “unexplained”—no explanation for why my body had turned on me.

I hadn’t had my period in several months. I’d chocked it up to the fact that I was running a lot, training for marathons, and exercise amenorrhea can happen with excessive exercise.

While I enjoyed the freedom from not having to deal with visits from Aunt Flo, I also knew it wasn’t healthy, and I should probably stop self-diagnosing. What happens, though, when you self-diagnose, and the doctor tells you something completely different? Holy shock and awe, and not in a good way.

As the discerning look on his face emerged, so did the lump in my throat, traveling to become a pit in my stomach. The specialist I then saw took one look at my blood-work and gave me the devastating news: “You have a less than 1% chance of conceiving a child with your own eggs.”

While having another child was not on my mind at that moment, I knew I wanted to give my daughter a sibling one day. Yet in a single breath of stinging words, he was telling me it could not happen, at least not in the way I envisioned.

My ovaries were shriveled, FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) was sky-high, estrogen low. All signs pointed to early menopause—forget the fact that I was in my mid-30s. Could it be the marathon training? Not likely, said the doctor.

I had a child already. I was told by many to consider myself lucky. Sure, I was lucky, and beyond grateful for my daughter, Rio. But I wanted another child. Was I being selfish and greedy for wanting another?

It’s no wonder infertility and secondary infertility often go unspoken by many. That day, when I found myself walking in a daze out of the specialist’s office, it sounded like a dirty word, like I did something wrong, or something I did or didn’t do could have prevented this from happening. I felt broken, ashamed, and betrayed by my body.

All of my life, I’ve been told to trust doctors; they are the experts. The man I saw that day was a reputable doctor with a reputable practice. He went to a top medical school, and he practiced at one of the best hospitals in the country. Who was I to question him? The numbers don’t lie, and this is how it is, I thought.

But his telling me I couldn’t have a child on my own lit a fire in me to do just that. Was I fooling myself in believing I could prove these statistics wrong?

I took to the Internet to immerse myself in resources, education, forums, blogs—you name it. And I found that one in eight couples are diagnosed with infertility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of couples who already have a child go on to experience secondary infertility. That accounts for approximately half of all infertility cases. Wow. These statistics were mind-blowing—especially because nobody talks about it—or at least it seemed that way at first.

I spent countless hours perusing High FSH forums online, and I found a community of women who offered suggestions of acupuncture and traditional chinese medicine, encouragement by sharing their recent blood-work or pregnancy successes, resources that spanned across the globe, and support to one another. These women were complete strangers, but there was a sense of community, and so much knowledge through all of their collective experiences of dealing with High FSH and their quest for pregnancy. My diagnosis had felt so isolating, and I now took comfort in knowing I was not alone; there were other women not only dealing with it, but who were coming out on the other side of it with a baby. I became open to trying holistic modalities, and I was going to fight this like it was my J-O-B.

There were frustrations and second-guessing my body’s capability with every two-week wait that passed, as I wasn’t sure whether to rejoice that I could actually get my period, or cry that it meant I wouldn’t be seeing a positive sign on a stick that month. Then there was the cruel and utter heartache of three miscarriages along the way. Acupuncture every week for a year, vitamins, herbs, and concoctions galore.

There was suffering through the heartbreaking losses, but there was hope, too, and my story has a happy ending. I conceived my son, Arlo, naturally when my daughter was three years old, with my own eggs, and had an uneventful pregnancy. I could’ve easily been fooled into believing the doctor knew everything. My mind and heart would not accept that. I’m no fool.

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Author: Melissa Rosenstock

Melissa Rosenstock is a Certified International Health Coach (CIHC), specializing in empowering people to create healthy habits that fuel them for optimal living. Mel takes an holistic approach - looking at the whole body, mind and soul. She provides ongoing support and guidance as clients set goals and make sustainable changes to improve their health, happiness and overall wellbeing. She is passionate about empowering women to live their dream life in the healthiest way possible. Mel lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband and two kids. View all posts by Melissa Rosenstock

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