At age 16 Shonda noticed her body was different from everyone else’s. She was overweight, her cycles were irregular and unfortunately, she had a mustache that everyone was quick to point out and make fun of her for. Her mother took her to the doctor who ordered an ultrasound and was able to identify the underlying cause – she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

She had no idea what that meant or what her journey would look like. She has struggled her whole life with weight. Losing it seemed to be daunting and impossible. If she’d lose weight, she’d quickly gain it back, and it was a constant back and forth. Her cycles seemed to be non-existent more than they were prominent. When it came time to try and have children, they went down the path of medicine, which caused excessive weight gain, headaches, and heartache when it didn’t help.

They decided to give it a rest and pursue foster care and spent two years as foster parents, but quickly learned that foster care was unpredictable and can also end in heartache. When they said goodbye to their placement, their hearts broke. They were on autopilot for the year after, feeling like they had suffered a huge loss. They decided foster care was not something they could continue because the loss was so big, they knew they couldn’t go through it again.

They tried again to conceive. They were successful one time at achieving pregnancy, but, sadly, that pregnancy was lost in a miscarriage within the first month. Her doctor told her that due to her age (she was about to turn 40), her fertility journey had reached its end. The doctor was recommending birth control as a long-term option and told her that they should find something else to fill the void of not being able to have children.

She was so angry, at everyone and everything. She didn’t want to believe that her destiny in life was to be barren and living life on autopilot every single day. They grieved the loss and continue to grieve the loss in their own way, but they have accepted their journey transition. The day she accepted that her journey was not to be the mom she knew she could be (and so desired to be), she was able to allow herself the chance to accept what her journey was.

She has always had a desire to help others, to be the one who encouraged others and lift them up when they were down in a way that she always needed when struggling. She took this desire and put it, along with the name reserved for a daughter should they have had one and started their own journey to help reach others. Because of this, Lilian Grace was born. Maybe not in the literal sense, but she is with them every single day giving hope to others in need.

Shonda R., Ohio

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