Living with PCOS taught me to be hopeful and thankful

When I got married in December 2012, my life was blissful. I had a caring, and loving husband in Kenya and I went off to Rwanda to pursue my career. Every once in a while we met in Kenya, or Rwanda for a weekend getaway or more to celebrate life. Life could not have been any better.

We were not in a hurry to start a family. Living in different countries could have contributed to this, and my husband and I enjoyed our time alone- without kids. Two and half years flew by fast. We were healthy and happy. Or so we thought.

One day in one of my usual visits to the gynecologist, my happiness was crushed.

“You have cysts,” the doctor told me. It was May 26, 2014. I remember vividly.

My name is Nadia Uwase Omondi. Here is my story about dealing with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

The diagnosis

That night when I went for my routine checkup, a new gynecologist was on duty. On examining me, he noticed some cysts. He pointed out that it was a serious condition- a major cause for many fertility issues among women.

“Some women go for more than 20 years without having babies,” he added. I was shocked. Most importantly, I realized I was uninformed of the disease, and this scared me.

When I left the hospital, I called my husband with the bad news. Luckily, he received it better than I did. He noted that he would stand by me with or without children.

For the first time, I started thinking about the past months since we got married. I came to a realization that while we had not discussed the prospects of having kids, we had not used any family planning method either. The news hit home. I was infertile.  I was devastated.

I wondered why this was happening to me. I cried to God. I reminded him of his promises upon our lives. At this time, family and close friends joined us in prayers.

The elusive conception

My husband assured me that if it was in God’s plan to have children, we would eventually have them. It did not calm me down, but I did not have to stress over the possibility of not having children and a demanding husband.

Whenever I saw a child or a pregnant woman, I would whisper a prayer and claim such blessings upon my life.

After the diagnosis, counseling, and support from my doctors, we were advised to plan our irregular visits with my husband to coincide with my ovulation period. Previously, I had not thought that conceiving could be this strenuous until we had a ‘baby making’ schedule. It was energy and emotionally draining. For Persons with PCOS, ovulation is rare. To ensure that we had viable ova and sperms, the doctor gave us a strict plan to follow in the process.

I was put on medication to stimulate the ovaries, keep them from being affected by the cysts, and to reduce the rate of developing diabetes. I underwent further tests to detect any other anomalies. Luckily, everything else seemed fine.

I embarked on research to gather more information about the disease and any support available for PCOS patients. I reached out to friends and other people with PCOS for support and guidance. My doctors in Rwanda and Kenya offered physical and emotional support.

Expectant Mr and Mrs Omondi and their daughter. ©The Omondi’s

The long wait

After the doctors did their best, and I was put on the right track, the challenge was left for me and my husband to sort. Month in month out, the pregnancy results were negative. The results and the process broke my heart.

One time I remember, a sonographer in Nairobi shuttered my dreams completely.

After examining me, she muttered: “you should forget about having babies” she said with a straight face after noticing that the follicles she had seen a week earlier were absent.

I was broken.

“Let’s hope God gave you a gift for 2015,” my gynecologist said upon reading my report. I went home with mixed feelings. On 9th January 2015, I spotted. As I was not sure what was happening, we waited for a few weeks before taking a pregnancy test.

On 24th January 2015, it was confirmed that I had conceived. I couldn’t believe it. We made several other tests, and they came out positive.

Seven months after diagnosis, we had conceived. After nine months of smooth pregnancy, we welcomed a baby girl by the name Eliana- meaning God has answered. We were overjoyed.

It took me about thirty months to conceive again. As with the first pregnancy, I did not experience any complications. At the time of conception, I was scheduled to see my gynecologist for support. In mid-December 2017, which coincided with my ovulation, my husband flew in from Kenya. I conceived, and we canceled the visit.

Today, I have two children, a girl- Eliana, and a boy- Elshammah, meaning God hears. To me, they are my miracle, of which, I thank heavens for every day.

Mrs Omondi with their daughter Eliana and son Elshammah © The Omondi’s

PCOS and diabetes

According to Mayo Clinic, PCOS is a common hormonal disorder among reproductive-age women. Women with PCOS may experience rare or prolonged menstrual period or excess levels of male hormone (androgen). The ovaries can develop numerous small fluid collections (follicles) and fail to release eggs on a regular basis.

Although the exact cause of the disorder is unknown, it is believed that PCOS may lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. As such, early diagnosis and treatment are paramount.

To keep the disease and its effect at bay, I exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet. Following the birth of my first baby, the cysts cleared, and I am currently not taking any medication.

Lessons learned

My advice to young female adults is to consider regular checkups to catch any anomalies early. Additionally, should one be diagnosed with PCOS, this should not be a cause for despair. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and keep the faith.

To women, men, and families watch your words. Your words should never be a source of more pain to a couple struggling to conceive. Children are gifts, and not everyone is lucky enough to have them.

My heart and prayers go to women and men who are on the verge of giving up due to this and many challenges.  

I am forever grateful to family, friends, and colleagues who in one way or another offered me support, and stood by me throughout the period. May you never lack!

Story as narrated by Nadia Uwase Omondi who was diagnosed with PCOS in 2014.

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