Why my fertility is rock bottom at 22

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I have posted before about my gynecological issues (endometriosis & PCOS) but I’ve never posted about how it affected my fertility, and why at 22, I face the harsh reality that I probably won’t be able to have any more children.

I never imagined myself as a mum, and still to this day I don’t see myself as a “good” mum, and once I was diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS at 16/17 the reality sunk in that I probably wouldn’t be a mum. At 19 I was placed on a drug called Zoladex, an injection to induce a chemical menopause to help my endo. I still to this day can’t work out the logistics of how I fell pregnant whilst my body was in a menopausal state, but that was my blessing, as Oliver came along. It was a pregnancy and labor from hell, but he was so worth it. However, my complications didn’t end there… I suffered from postpartum psychosis which plagued the first few months of motherhood for me, and I guess still to this day I feel like I missed some amazing moments with Oliver because of it.

As months went by, my endometriosis and PCOS progressed, getting more and more aggressive. Hospital admissions went on, laparoscopic operations took place (8 operations to count as it stands), and still I was SO adamant I didn’t want another baby, ever. I can’t blame myself; I was still trying to get over my pregnancy, labour and post-labour events.

Then in November 2018 the decision to remove my right ovary came to fruition. It wasn’t a choice I took lightly, but after having an 8cm cyst on my “problem ovary”, enough was enough. My gynecologist and I decided it was time for the ovary and fallopian tube to be removed. After a recent admission, it’s likely that I will at some point lose my left ovary and potentially my uterus as my endometriosis and PCOS are aggressive and resilient, and continue to grow against treatment.

Months on, I can’t help but wonder if I made the right decision. After all, I am only 22. Maybe I do want more children one day. Maybe if I get another chance, my pregnancy won’t be awful and I can live the parts I missed. Just maybe. I’ve endured baby loss, I’ve endured a traumatic pregnancy and labour but it’s unlikely I’ll get the chance to do it again, and honestly it breaks my heart.

The real kick in the teeth is unfortunately if I was to try for another baby I would not be entitled to support from the NHS, even if the partner I was with had no children. Despite the fact I have two conditions that can cause infertility, only one ovary and Fallopian tube, in addition to my only successful pregnancy being traumatic, due to NHS guidelines they are under no obligation to support me should that time come.

I still can’t bring myself to terms with the fact that I might never get a chance to have another baby, to give Oliver a sibling. I guess in some ways it makes me feel like I’ve failed as a woman. I’m unable to do the one thing that’s expected of us. However, it makes me treasure Oliver so much, because in my eyes he truly is a miracle. He pulled through against the odds and made me a mum… Something that I might never have been if he didn’t pull through.

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Making a Safe, Accessible Space: Tips for Disabled Parents

You’ll need to know what alterations are required and how you’ll pay for the more expensive ones. Don’t be dismayed by the presumptions of people who don’t understand that disabled individuals can be just as amazing parents as anyone else. After all, it is estimated that there are more than 4 million parents with disabilities in the United States today, according to the National Center on Parents With Disabilities.

This post is something which is very important to me having witnessed my mother-in-law’s daily struggles with her disabled daughter – it’s easy to think of disabled children and I can bet we all know one person with a disabled child, but how many disabled parents do we know? Paige and Amy have previously both shared posts on their disabilities and how it has affected their lives (see the thumbnails at the bottom of this post to read more!).

Parenting is a scary thing for all of us, but for disabled parents there are even more factors that need to be taken into account.

Here is a fantastic piece from Ashley at disabled parents.org on things that can make parenthood that little bit less daunting for disabled parents in the US.

Thank you Ashley!

Tips for Disabled Parents

Disabled individuals make excellent parents by learning to adapt their physical capabilities and living environment to the needs of a newborn. Preparation is the key – address accessibility and safety needs in advance so you’re able to provide responsive care unimpeded and without fear for your safety or that of your child. That means making modifications to your home and in your habits. That can be easier said than done, especially given the cost of making structural changes to your space.

You’ll need to know what alterations are required and how you’ll pay for the more expensive ones. Don’t be dismayed by the presumptions of people who don’t understand that disabled individuals can be just as amazing parents as anyone else. After all, it is estimated that there are more than 4 million parents with disabilities in the United States today, according to the National Center on Parents With Disabilities.

Courtesy of pixabay.com

Modifications

Anyone who’s ever been an expectant parent has made some changes to their physical living space. Accommodations need to be made for baby and childcare equipment and supplies so parents have ready access to their child both day and night. Exterior stairs need to be bypassed with an entrance ramp for parents who are in a wheelchair or who have some other form of mobility limitation. Bedrooms should be relocated to the first floor so interior stairways don’t present a safety hazard. Replace carpeting with laminate or tile flooring for easier movement, and note that doorways may require small transition ramps to level out the space between rooms.

If doorways are less than 32 inches wide, consider installing expandable hinges to improve access. Bathrooms can be particularly hazardous places for disabled individuals, the site of more falls than any other room in the house. Grab rails should be installed alongside the toilet and in the shower, and skid-resistant mats placed in front of the sink and toilet. Light switches and electrical outlets should be lowered for easier access, and door knobs replaced with levers.

Financing options

Many of these modifications can be made with relative ease and quite affordably. However, others can run into the thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are a number of options for financial assistance made available by the government, including Home and Community-based Medicaid Waiver Programs, for individuals who receive assistance via a Medicaid waiver.

The USDA also makes loans and grants up to $20,000 to low-income homeowners for repairs and improvements through its Rural housing Home Repair Loan and Grant Program. Eligible veterans have access to a loan for home modifications through the VA’s Home Loan Guarantee Services.

The right equipment

Much of the equipment commonly used in baby- and childcare has also been modified in recent years to meet the needs of disabled parents. Side-entry cribs allow wheelchair-bound parents to reach directly into the crib for diaper changes and late-night feedings, and swiveling child-safety seats make it much easier to move a little one in and out of the car without placing undue strain on the back. For bathing, small plastic baby tubs can be placed at tabletop level, with the hose from a kitchen or bathroom sink providing the water. A shoulder strap sling, which can be purchased for about $50, makes carrying a baby or small child much easier as you move around the house or run errands.

Preparation is key for an expectant disabled parent. That includes making any physical alterations to your home to ensure adequate accessibility and safety, and it makes good sense to invest in equipment designed to make parenting as easy as possible for a disabled individual.

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Reviewing 2018

Recently it’s safe to say  my life has been a whirlwind, after all…I wouldn’t be me if my life was drama free, and as 2018 approaches an end I’ve looked back at everything this year has thrown at me. Friendships, Relationships, Illness, Drama the list is endless.

Lets start with the friendships. I’ve lost some, I’ve made some. I’ve wrecked some, I’ve earned some but the loyalty of my friends this year has kept me sane. The ones that have stayed awake messaging me till late at night, the ones that helped me find me when I couldn’t. The ones who still messaged me while on holiday because they knew I was at a low point, or the one who drove 80 miles to pick me up for the weekend, how about the ones who visited me in hospital. They have helped me more than ever this year, and for them. I am eternally grateful.

Relationships? Pffft, after nearly a year of being single I’ve discovered so much and learned so much about myself, and the most important thing I have discovered is I do not need a man to define me. I never have and never will need a man to complete me. It’s safe to say I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly with men this year and looking back I don’t know why I allowed myself to pay any of them the slightest bit of attention. Not to mention getting hooked on a guy for the best part of 6 months, who really wasn’t phased by my existence *insert eye roll here* Maybe 2019 will hold a relationship for me, but I can honestly say I am not phased in the slightest whether it does or doesn’t. It has taken the best part of a year but I have finally come to acknowledge that I am better off without a relationship, and when the time comes, it will be with someone I deserve.

Illness…Well 2018 has seen it’s fair share. My step-father has become terminally Ill with heart failure and kidney failure. I was diagnosed with BPD alongside having endometriosis and PCOS, with the double suicide attempt back in September, this year has been insane. poor Oliver has endured measles, tonsilitis and hand-foot and mouth ( but he does go to nursery so he was bound to catch them at some point) so 2018 has been a bit of a weird one for Illness, and my recent surgery showed me that no matter what this life throws at me I can overcome it.

Drama, Ah, the thing that makes me well…me. I am the biggest drama queen ( which I will admit with no shame at all) Drama follows me where ago, and 99% of the time I don’t look for it, it comes looking for me. 2018 kept up with tradition with drama surrounding me everywhere I looked. Fortunately I feel I’m at a stage in my life where I can laugh about it, and nothing really surprises me anymore. 2018 started with me splitting with my fiance and the father of my son, with court hearings, surgery and drama filled events continuing the year. Hopefully 2019 can be ” Drama free ” but, I don’t think that would be very me. It’s not that I enjoy the drama, it’s just there. Like a shadow- very dramatic description.

Last but not least, Mummykind. When I had the idea for Mummykind I never in my wildest dreams expected it to blow up the way it did, within a year we have worked with brands, expanded with new mums joining the team and our little ones have got bigger by the day and my love and pride for Mummykind grows daily.

So 2018 has been…well s**t to say the least, but it’s also allowed me to learn a lot, from not liking Sushi to discovering I have a determined personality. I’ve learned that Oliver is the most magical boy, and every day he warms my heart with his adorable personality ( also learned he has an incredible talent to make me want to rip my hair out in record breaking time and is far too sassy for my liking sometimes) but all this aside, I’m excited for 2019 – however I will not be doing a “new year, new me” I plan on being the same Sassy, drama filled Amy you all know and love after all…that’s why you all read my posts…right?

Endometri…what?

Endometriosis…you’ve either heard of it or you haven’t. I had never heard of it until I got diagnosed with it that it. Now I have mentioned about endometriosis before in my post on “being a chronically ill parent“… But this post is dedicated to endo, with coping strategies, tips and tricks.

According to the NHS, “Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the womb (endometrium) is found outside the womb, such as in the ovaries and fallopian tubes.”

My story with endometriosis (or endo as I prefer to call it) I guess started at 8 when I started my periods (young, eh?). I remember being so confused at that age, and I remember one thing that really upset me was not being able to do my swimming lessons at school (there was no way at 8 years of age I was using a tampon). 

As I grew older my periods became more and more painful and my mum would say; “welcome to womanhood my baby, it’s normal for it to hurt,” and one day I came on and was in so much pain that I couldn’t move from the sofa. I was crying in pain… my Nan insisted I saw a doctor who didn’t say much but prescribed mefenamic acid for the cramps. I was offered the pill to regulate my periods but my mum said no as she didn’t feel going on the pill at 13 was right for me, despite the fact that I was bleeding for 3 weeks of the month and had no pattern at all. Mefenemic acid helped to ease the cramps for a year or two.

At 16, I was admitted to hospital (yet again) and this time the paediatric doctors refereed me to Gynaecology. Two consultants came and sat with me and asked a series of questions about my periods, my sex life and my lifestyle. I answered as honestly as I could… 

“yes my periods are irregular, yes they’re painful, yes they’re abnormally heavy and yes sex is painful”

The two consultants nodded at each other and proceeded to say – “textbook endometriosis”


“We’ll need to do a laparoscopy to confirm but I think that’s what we’re looking at”… They didn’t really tell me much about the condition they just told me that I would be having surgery. Naturally, I went away and researched it myself. Endometriosis UK were fantastic at informing me, and it finally all made sense. The reason that my ultrasounds were coming back as clear is because endometriosis doesn’t show on scans; only through surgery can you be diagnosed with endo.

My surgery date approached, I counted back from 10 and the next thing I remember was that I woke up with my consultant saying, “Miss Simkins…. Miss Simkins, wakey wakey.” 

I opened my eyes to see him stood there, I tried to sit up but felt like I had been stabbed in the stomach. 

“No no no, don’t try and do that just rest!” He said. “So the operation was a success, there was the odd complication but we sorted that, I did find endometriosis but I’ve treated it, though the condition isn’t curable so it’s likely that it will grow back.” He proceeded to show me the pictures of my surgery and I saw what endo looked like – it was fascinating to see what had been causing me such unbearable pain. “So we’re going to start you on something called Zoladex and HRT and I’ll see you in clinic in 6 months.”

Zoladex was a weird one. I had a love/hate relationship with it. 

Zoladex is an injection that triggers a chemical menopause, so all the time i was going through chemical menopause I wasn’t menstruating therefore no periods = no flare ups (in theory)… BUT with this came all the menopause side effects; hot flushes, weight gain, acne etc., plus it was a tad embarrassing to be going through menopause at 16, I guess, but it helped… Massively. But, like all good things, it came to an end. The maximum amount of time that you can stay on Zoladex is 6 months, but I’ve had 3 rounds of 6 months sessions in total now.  

My periods are still extremely heavy and painful and my flare ups are now so painful I have to rely on oramorph and tramadol as well as seeing the chronic pain team for tender point injections. Though, when I have my monthlies I subscribed to a company called Pink Parcel who make my periods less stressful and I look forward to my period just for my box of goodies!

My battle with endo is ongoing, I was later diagnosed with PCOS which i’ll save for another post. I urge anyone with endo like symptoms to see their GP. Heavy and painful periods are NOT normal and you don’t have to suffer. 

On the 7th of July Sarah and I from mummykind will be doing a live Q&A session on Facebook, so if you have any questions on endo feel free to inbox us them or even comment them. I’ve made it my personal mission to raise awareness on Endometriosis, I’ve previously had a letter from David Cameron himself regarding the matter, I won’t rest until young girls are educated properly on women’s health!