Endometriosis didn’t crush my baby-making hopes

Guest post by Alison Voss
Photo by Nicole Whiffen.

I think the first time I experienced “the pain” was around 15. I remember the pain coming in waves, inconsistently and never expected. After describing these very scary occurrences to my gynecologist, she ordered an ultrasound where they found multiple grape sized cysts and endometriosis on and around my ovaries. I was told they would dissolve and got used to feeling them when I moved, almost as if the feeling was normal, or if they weren’t there.

The pain became chronic and much more intense over the years. The first severe symptoms I experienced were insanely intense menstrual pain, pain that was so intense I would become incapable of leaving my bed or even unlocking myself from fetal position. It was like someone had put their fist inside my abdomen and was repeatedly punching me.

I had my abdomen monitored frequently and I was on a first name basis and friends with my ultrasound technician at Alameda Hospital. “We can’t keep meeting like this” was our ongoing joke. The pain became increasingly intense and consistent over the next three years and my “bad days” occurred more and more often. I was continually told that I probably wouldn’t be able to have children.

Honestly, my first thought was that I had an epitomic pregnancy as I heard they were painful and I had never experienced the pain I was feeling. The pain was so intense I wasn’t able to speak. I couldn’t walk by myself and I shook uncontrollably.

At twenty-three the stress level in my life skyrocketed. At this time I had my first of many visits to the Emergency Room because of endometriosis flare ups and ruptured cysts. I didn’t know what was going on at first. Honestly, my first thought was that I had an epitomic pregnancy as I heard they were painful and I had never experienced the pain I was feeling. The pain was so intense I wasn’t able to speak. I couldn’t walk by myself and I shook uncontrollably.

These visits to the emergency room became all too familiar, all too quick. I started having flare ups more and more, resulting in emergency room visits followed by recovery days where I patiently waited for the pain to pass. Eventually the emergency room visits resulted in me being admitted to the hospital with no answers as to when I’d be released or what was wrong with me.

My marriage suffered horribly and would eventually end, which in itself caused more stress than I could ever describe. I would try to resume my regular life every time I would get out of the hospital. I was in constant pain and the simplest things seemed to drain me of my energy. I missed at least a day of work a week. Even with the horrible pain, the only part I couldn’t get over was that I wouldn’t be able to have children. This hurt tremendously, more than the physical pain.

By June I had a surgery date in September set to have the endometriosis. It was growing fast and my doctor was concerned about waiting so long. I was admitted to the hospital twice in July and the second visit resulted in an emergency operation. The endometriosis was laser burned away. Two weeks later, the pain was back.

I decided to drop western medecine for a change. I stuck to a strict vegan diet for a few months. I started weekly acupuncture. I noticed a change immediately and was for the first time in years able to get regular work outs in.

After trying every other route, I decided to try something different to combat this disease. I decided to drop western medicine for a change. I stuck to a strict vegan diet for a few months. I started weekly acupuncture. I noticed a change immediately and was for the first time in years able to get regular work outs in. I became a regular at spin class. I was walking miles at a time. My boyfriend and I decided that now would be the best time to try to have a baby, as my body had never been in better shape.

After months of taking immaculate care of my body, I became pregnant, despite how many times I was told the chances were slim to none. Today is my due date. My first child is expected to arrive any moment. Words can’t describe how thankful my partner and I are to be parents.

I am a little worried about the disease coming back after our son is born, but I know how to fight it. There is hope for those with endometriosis, you just have to be willing to explore treatment options. It’s not easy or fun for me to live a vegan lifestyle all the time. But it is the first step to keeping my body healthy. And now, it’s all about staying healthy so I can keep up with my son… the son who I was told I’d never conceive.

Comments on Endometriosis didn’t crush my baby-making hopes

  1. Ali my friend, why am I not surprised that you are on this kick ass website? 🙂 I didn’t know it was your story until the very end! Am I spoiling things by saying that the author just gave birth this week to a beautiful baby boy? 🙂 You are amazing!

    I’m not a mom yet but I can say that being vegan for the past 4+ years has greatly improved my own health. My asthma flare-ups are few and far between, and I can literally count on two fingers the times I’ve gotten sick in the past 4 years. We’re talking colds, flus, anything. My immune system is like superman. There’s something to be said for “alternative” ways to approaching health; don’t know anything until you try it, I say.

  2. Congrats! That’s amazing.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I recently have been having problems with endometriosis for the first time in my life, in the course of just a few months it turned my life upside down – so many visits to the hospital, I eventually had to leave my job, severe depression, and an incalculable amount of stress added to my marriage (as supportive and amazing as my spouse has been, it isn’t easy). I’m beginning to come out of the pain fog slightly these days thanks to meds, but I have wanted to start exploring alternatives for controlling the flare-ups. Hearing about you definitely gives me hope! Thank you!

  3. Thanks so much for posting this. I am also going through a radical lifestyle change to try and remedy the *interesting* way my endocrine system behaves. It was really awesome to read your perspective given the challenges I’ve been facing. Best wishes for a wonderful birth!

  4. I’m happy my story can give hope to some of you ladies. It can be a brutal disease and sometimes takes years of different treatments to find the right one.

    Our little boy, Cooper, was born Sunday February 27th at 12:11 AM. He is a constant reminder that I can control my endometriosis.

  5. Congratulations! Enjoy mamahood!

    On a side note, it is amazing how a change of diet seems cure what ails us. I’ve heard/read that a vegan/raw diet can also help treat PCOS, for example. And of course, I’m sure not alone in modifying my kid’s diet to try and effect changes in her behavior and mood, along with physical ailments.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. My mom and I both suffered from Endometriosis. My mother had a full hysterectomy and pushed me to do so as well when I was only 21 years old. I stood by my dreams of having more children and have not had any more encounters with the demon disease since conceiving my daughter 4 years ago. Now, we’re pregnant with our 5th child.

    Congrats on the baby and on keeping your head up, girl!

  7. thanks for this – I have endometriosis as well, although laparoscopys and medication have helped me immensely. I am also vegan, but for ethical reasons. I have no idea if it helps with the pain or not because I’ve been vegan since I was 16, before the endo got really bad. Best of luck to you.

  8. This was great to read. Every time I hear about a woman with endo having a child, I gain so much hope, because that was the hardest part of my diagnosis for me.

    It is important to know, though, that not everyone works for every person. I tried a vegan, gluten-free diet and unfortunately it didn’t help me (I am vegetarian now, for ethical reasons), but I am very glad it helped you. I might try acupuncture, though!

    Not being able to exercise has been one of my biggest frustrations as well.

    So many congrats to you on your baby & thank you for writing this. More people need to know about endo.

    • Cutting out dairy was huge for me, as animals store much of the toxins in their body in their fat. I read that pork was especially bad. Some people do not have any reaction to meat or dairy and I consider them very lucky. I am very sensitive and can feel my abdomen flare up even an hour after consuming meat and dairy. It was huge to me to be able to start working out, and it made it easier to keep up with the diet. I lost 30 lbs!

  9. I actually went the other way with this. I was told I had endometriosis when I was about 17, and that biological children might be difficult.

    This led me to realize that adoption is a better path. Now I don’t want biological children even if it is possible to have them. Adoption all the wayyyyyy!

    Thank you for your story! Congrats on the mamahood!

  10. Congratulations on both Cooper’s conception and birth! I was diagnosed with endo at 21 and treated it with Depo-Provera for several years. That helped a lot, but made it really, really difficult to start my cycles back up again when we were trying to conceive. I ended up getting a laparoscopy before quitting Depo, then it took nearly 2 years of using the birth control pill and ultimately Clomid to be able to ovulate again. It was a real battle.

    I’m glad you didn’t have to go through that part–I hope pregnancy has put a stop to the disease for you!

  11. Congrats! I’ve been told by multiple docs that I probably have endo, as both my mom and grandmother had it and I have incredibly severe cramps. Not being able to conceive is a big concern of mine, and it’s always wonderful to hear stories of women with endo having babies.

    Side note to anyone else with endo concerned about future babies but without any plans to have one soon: try asking your doc about skipping the placebos in birth control. After having trouble controlling my period pain with regular birth control, my doc put me on birth control minus the periods with the added benefit of fewer cycles pre-pregnancy attempt and theoretically less scarring. Period free for 2.5 years and loving it!

  12. I just stumbled across your site. Congratulations! I’ve been trying to convince myself to go back on a raw diet …. struggling with the motivation. I became pregnant last year after 2 months raw after 5.5 years of infertility … an amazing miracle, although it ended in a early miscarriage at 10 weeks. I’ve been trying to make myself adopt strict eating habits again. This is encouraging; I need to just do it. Thanks!

  13. Im so glad that this is the way your situation worked out. I am twenty three, with a balance of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and endometriosis.I have had two years of hormonal therapy. I have had to have a bi lateral ligation and an endometrial ablation. I am one hundred percent infertile. My eggs arent viable. I will never be a biological mother.

    I am glad that this isnt the case for you.

  14. This is great to hear. I’ve been dealing with endo for a few years (I’m 21), had a laproscopy last year, and have been dealing with quite a lot of pain. The only thing I’ve ever dreamed of is being a mum and having a little life grow inside me, so this really gave me hope. Now I just have to stop being a stressed university student and start eating right and taking care of myself! Congrats 🙂

  15. Congratulations. That’s so awesome to hear.

    I have had endometriosis since age 15 although not as severe as yours. I had laproscopy at 18 which didn’t not really help. While my GYN had always told me I would be able to have children, for 10 years of my life I did not believe it was possible or that it would an incredibly long hard road to deliver a baby as I knew too many women that had to have hysterecomies or fertility issues due to the endo. Based on this fear, I wanted to started trying to conceive a month after my husband and I were married, fearing it would take many years or never happen. I was pregnant within 2 months. I was completely shocked and overjoyed.

    While the endo was almost non-existent for about 10 months after my son was born. The pain did return. However, I quickly became pregnant with my second soon (due in July). I will be making dietary changes if and when the pain returns after this baby is born as well.

    I feel very grateful that the endo never caused any infertility or pregnancy problems. I wish I could have been hopeful all those years that I could have the family I always wanted instead of being depressed thinking my body may never be able to do it.

    I am so happy for you and my heart goes out to all those suffering with endo. There is hope for having endo and children.

  16. I, too, have terrible endometriosis. I was told it would be difficult to get pregnant, if I even could. I’ve had three laparoscopies to remove the buildup of the endometriosis adnd scar tissues.
    I got married May 7th… It’s June 4th, and I just found out that I’m pregnant!! I am truly so excited and blessed. I just hope the pregnancy holds!

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