As a child, I never played with or asked for baby dolls. Those dolls never caught my attention. Growing up being a wife and mother was heavily talked about and expected of women. The women around me were always happy to announce they were pregnant. I never had the desire to be a mother.
I got my first period the summer after I turned thirteen, it came twice and never returned. At the time I was happy about not having a period but my concern grew. I felt that perhaps there was something wrong with me. I talked about it with my doctor; she told me it was okay not to have a period and that it would not cause any problems.
That doctor lied to me.
When I turned twenty I decided it was not normal for everyone else to have a period while I just cruised through life without having one. I noticed changes in my body that no other woman around had. I had begun to gain a lot of weight and it all settled on my lower stomach. I started to grow a beard, my hair started falling out, my depression worsened, and my body would shake uncontrollably if I skipped a meal.
I became tired of family members pointing out my beard and my weight. I knew that it was not because I was doing something wrong.
People were cruel to me despite not knowing the pain I was going through. Some of them continue to point out my ‘faults.’ They are all men who will never understand what my body goes through. Men who feel the need to ask me when I will have children. If I were to mention that I have a chronic illness, and what it is, they would laugh at me. The women in my family pity me in some ways and dismiss my illness in other ways. Those who do not deal with PCOS do not know how hard it is on the body and mind.
My first doctor ran multiple tests before giving me the official diagnosis. It was a sad day as she brought up how difficult it would be for me to get pregnant whenever I chose to try. She gave me multiple options to control my hormones and hopefully slow down the rate at which the hair on my chin and neck grew.
I started on medication to regulate my hormones and reduce my glucose resistance. I also started on birth control which threw me for a loop. I bled heavily for a month and had painful cramps. Words cannot describe how much pain I was in. Most days I could not even get out of bed because of the pain, but I pushed through because I had classes and work. I ended up in the ER twice from the pain and all the nurse told me was to take pain medicine. I felt like I was overreacting about my pain when the nurse told me that. Eventually, one of the doctors gave me a strong painkiller and I felt relief for the first time in weeks.
After two more months, my period became a bit more regular. I was still bleeding heavily and having painful cramps and pain in my lower back. The weeks of bleeding were painful and debilitating but I learned to deal with the pain.
Then summer came, and I ran out of medications. My period stopped and my hair growth became worse. As soon as the Fall session started, I went in to start my medications again. Starting them again was not as bad as the first time, but I noticed that my depressive episodes were worse. I started on medication for that at the end of 2022. PCOS can cause depression or worsen the symptoms, and that is something that is often not talked about.
Every time I go in for a check-up or have to mention that I have PCOS the nurses and doctors always tell me how sorry they are. How there are ways and methods for me to get pregnant when I decide to have children. One of my medications causes serious birth defects and I should try not to get pregnant. They are always sorry for me, sorry for the mother I may never become. They do not bother to ask if I want children, they just talk.
I have cysts in my ovaries, so many that they are called a string of pearls. The OBGYN told me I would have a hard time getting pregnant. As if I didn’t know that already.
I am still too young, in my opinion, to have children but my heart aches to know that it will be nearly impossible for me to get pregnant. If not impossible at all. It is also hard to think about having to stop my medications and put my body through them once I can retake them.
There are things I cannot fix, such as my weight, no matter what I do or how hard I try it remains almost the same. I have decided that for now, I should focus on being healthy and loving my body because I neglected it for far too long. Hopefully treating it better and taking care of my body will help me in the long run.
I need to love and treat myself better. Others will not understand and I cannot force them to. Their opinions no longer matter to me. Especially if they have never had a uterus. For this is my body and my body alone, only I can judge it and I have deiced not to.
I think my body has always known what it has and will endure. I think even at a young age I knew there was a reason why I did not like baby dolls. I think that is why I never had an interest in them. I only ever owned one, a gift from an aunt, and it disappeared.
Maria Rodriguez is a fourth-year student at Western Carolina University. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English professional writing. Maria was born in Mexico and moved to the United States at the age of ten. She fell in love with the English language and the art of telling stories and has been writing ever since.