the death of all my children
I collapsed on the floor, balling my eyes out. Not in disbelief—because, deep down, I’d already known what I was facing—but, truthfully, in self pity.
I remember this day like a grieving Mother never forgets the day she lost her child. It was a day I experienced a pain like no other. A pain that couldn’t be numbed, bandaged or healed. And one that so few people I encounter ever really understand—thankfully.
A week or so prior, I was still an ignorant 19-year-old. It’s true what they say, it was blissful. While I’d known something was wrong with me, I really didn’t know what, or to what extent. So, as one does in the 21st century, I sought guidance from Dr. Google.
My main symptom of concern was overwhelming bouts of heat that would come and go. It was weird. One minute I’d feel absolutely fine and the next, an intense wave of heat would wash over my body from head-to-toe, sometimes forcing tiny beads of sweat to run down my forehead.
The heat would only last a few seconds, so I had no reason to believe it was anything serious, but I was curious—the waves were happening so frequently!
It didn’t take long for Google to correct my language. What I was experiencing were hot flashes. I semi-chuckled to myself, thinking it reminded me of menopause.
After reading a few more articles, I realised this was definitely some sort of hormonal reaction. And for a few minutes, I was even quite happy about it.
You see, I, like most young girls, got my period when I was 12-years-old. But I, unlike most girls, didn’t see Aunt Flow monthly. In fact, Aunt Flow never returned. She had simply abandoned me.
So, at 16, I took myself to the Gynaecologist. She ran a few tests and scans and concluded that I was, embarrassingly, under-developed. Don’t get me wrong, all of the things were there as they should be, and all of the hormones were seemingly doing the right things, but my ovaries were on the small side—nothing a little birth control pill couldn’t fix.
The pill was meant to be a temporary aid for me. The idea was that it would help to jumpstart my body, forcing it to begin working on it’s own again. But several years later, I found myself still taking it, with no clear direction from any Doctor as to when I should let nature resume. So, curious-little-me decided to stop taking it—I believed that if my body was ever going to work on it’s own, it needed to be given the chance to do it!
So, when Dr. Google began telling me that hot flashes were related to my hormones, I immediately wondered if everyone’s not-so-favourite Aunt was finally paying me a returned visit.
A few scrolls and clicks later, however, I discovered how wrong I truly was.
I remember when I stumbled upon the abbreviation—POF. Little did I know I’d be reciting those three letters time and time again for the rest of my life.
The symptom list was a crystal clear account of what I was experiencing. In fact, things I didn’t even know were symptoms of a problem appeared on that list.
This was it. The answer I was looking for, but also the answer I’d feared.
I hadn’t anticipated the pushback I got when I sat down with my Doctor and requested the tests. She didn’t believe that someone so young could be experiencing POF, but she agreed to send me for the tests to ease my mind.
When the results came back, my Doctor was shocked. She’d never known someone so young to be diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure. In fact, she had had to pull out some medical books to understand it better.
But it was clear—what were once believed to be under-developed ovaries, were really just ovaries on their way out the door. The latest scan revealed just how shrivelled up they’d become and my latest blood tests demonstrated just how messed up my hormones were.
The pill had simply masked what was already happening.
The truth is, I took the news like a champ. I was calm, cool and collected. I knew everything I needed to know about POF because I’d read as much as I could when I stumbled upon it.
POF marked the end of the life I’d always thought I’d have. POF meant I would never become a Mother.
I thanked my Doctor for agreeing to run the tests and I walked out of the exam room with a new weight bearing down on my shoulders.
With all of the strength I could muster, I held that weight up until I stepped out of that office.
And that’s when I collapsed on the floor, grieving the death of all of my children. Every single one of them.