PCOS Story: Aimee Tinkler discusses her positive outlook on fertility after suffering a miscarriage during lockdown

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*Warning – This blog contains sensitive issues including miscarriage*

Hello, I’m Aimee, and I’d like to share with you my personal journey with PCOS.

This past year has been tough for everyone and if you are anything like me there have been times when you have felt very alone. As a fellow PCOS sufferer, I wanted to share the story of my year with you all in the hope it may make some people feel less alone and show that no matter what we are going through there are people out there who understand and can relate to your experiences.

2019 was meant to be my year, I got married to my partner of 5 years and my ‘real life’ was about to start. I already knew that my fertility may be an issue but after our wedding day I felt I was just around the corner from starting the exciting journey to motherhood and ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead.

I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 21 after not having a period for over a year, and my persistence in questioning why I was struggling to lose weight. My university GP sent me for a blood test that showed raised levels of testosterone. A couple of weeks later I was sent for a scan in a portable unit in a Dudley car park and told to go home and expect my results in a couple of weeks. I still vividly remember the phone call that followed. I was standing in my kitchen and the GP told me I had PCOS. I had never really heard of it before but my instinct was to ask if I would be able to have children. “It’s not impossible but it’s unlikely” were the words he said to me and “if you do manage to fall pregnant you have an increased chance if miscarriage anyway”. Those two sentences rang in my ears and as I hung up and I remember sinking onto the cold tiles and bawling my eyes out. I’m sure he thought fertility would be the last thing on the mind of a 21 year old university student and maybe thought his words wouldn’t hurt but being a mother is something I’ve always dreamt of and hearing it may never happen really cut deep.

One thing I did quickly learn, however, was that if I wanted more information on this condition then I would need to do my own research and find people who were going through the same thing. I quickly realised I was experiencing far more symptoms than the ones I had initially been aware of. The fact that I had to shave my legs every morning in summer, how I suffered with periods of anxiety and depression throughout my life, and how after drinking a full sugar coke I would be ready to sleep for a week. All of these were tell tale signs that I had no idea were linked to PCOS. Through my research and the online community I learnt ways in which I could control these symptoms and I was able to adapt my lifestyle so that my symptoms were manageable. I was able to control a lot of my symptoms by being on the combined pill.

Fast forward to 2019 and 6 months after getting married I found myself entering the new year aged 33, nearly 17 stone and newly single. I knew I needed to try and get my weight under control, not just for my physical health but my mental wellbeing too. I researched low sugar diets and with the help of the low GI plan I lost 2 stone by mid March. A long way off my 11 stone target but with my newfound confidence I decided to give dating a try. I quickly met an amazing man who seemed to like me for who I am and didn’t seem phased by the fact I was a little more curvy than other women. For our first date we went for a walk and as I was talking about how my two closest friends were expecting babies he told me how much he saw children in his future. I told him the girl’s name I’d picked out for a future child, and he told me he loved it, it was Evelyn. It may seem corny but it was in that moment I knew that he and I had something that could be special. This feeling was quickly followed by the fear that he would end things with me once I told him I may not be able to provide him with the family he wanted. In the past I’ve had guys end relationships when they’ve found out about my PCOS and I was scared it would happen again. So the whole way back to my car I tried to find the courage to tell him. When I eventually did he couldn’t have been more understanding. Despite the overly heavy first date conversion the words ‘‘well… I’m not against adopting” were music to my ears.

Then 2020 threw us all a major curve ball in the form of a global Pandemic, not the best mood for a new relationship, but we decided he would move in and we would endure lockdown together. Either the relationship would work or it wouldn’t but either way we wanted to find out. That came with a whole new set of challenges and worries. Would he still like me if he sees me at my most vulnerable? I was scared of how he would react when cramps had me in agony laying on the sofa or for him to be greeted by the 5’o’clock shadow that graces my chin when he rolls over in the morning. I needn’t have worried though, after the first month of seeing how bad my cramps were instead of running, he ordered a wrap-around hot water bottle online to make it easier for me.

A few months later, and after a lot of very serious conversations we made a big decision. Given my age and the challenges we may face because of PCOS, we decided that I should come off the pill and we would see what happened next. Amazingly, only 3 weeks later and after not feeling too great I took a pregnancy test and discovered I was pregnant. We were over the moon, despite it being quick we were ready for the challenge and thought it was clearly just meant to be. I suffered very badly with ‘morning’ sickness in those early weeks but I didn’t mind. I was grateful that I was actually pregnant and tried to silence the words my GP told me all those years ago by being focused on the future. The next 4 weeks flew by but at 6 weeks into my pregnancy I felt some sharp cramping and when I went to the bathroom I saw that I had started spotting. That night I went to bed hopeful it was just one of those things, using stories found on DR Google to comfort me that this happens and the baby turns out fine. By the next morning I knew what was happening, I was losing our much wanted baby. My partner was amazing, despite his own hurt, he supported me through every cramp and pain. Every time I got upset or would apologise to him for ‘failing’ he would remind me that none of this was my fault and he held me. In a time when the pandemic was already making me feel isolated from my support network, he made me feel less alone. The next few weeks passed and we decided that the only way to fully get through this was to be honest with our friends and family about what had happened and talking about it really helped us both. My friends, who, whilst preparing to welcome their own little ones, lent me their ears to talk. Even though I was sad for my own loss, it didn’t make me any less happy about becoming an honorary auntie to their new babies. Despite being tinged with pangs of sadness about what might have been, welcoming those lives into the world this year were my beacons of joy and hope.

Moving on for us meant not forgetting about what happened but instead focusing on what steps I could take to make sure I was in the best possible condition if we were fortunate enough for it to happen again. Since the miscarriage I had neglected my diet and crept back up to just shy of 16 stone so we focused on walking each evening after work and reducing the amount of carbs and sugars in our diet. I still have a BMI of 36 and have a long way to go but I am focused on what I need to do and have great support behind me to help me get there. This year we are optimistic we will get our rainbow one way or the other and until then I have my friends two new littles ones in my life to love and to spoil. I am also focused to better my overall mental and physical health. I would never have imagined this time last year that life would have brought me here but despite everything I feel like I am in a good place and ready to tackle this horrible and crushing condition head on in 2021.

Love Aimee x

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  If you have been affected by any of the topics in this article please reach out to:

Fertility Network UK

Tommy’s

Verity Facebook group or local groups