When I was 24 years old, I had to have surgery to remove a large ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit. Leading up to the surgery, I’d experienced debilitating pain and discomfort during my menstrual cycles. Abdominal exams were borderline unbearable. At the time, endometriosis was not a word I’d ever heard of, let alone something I suspected I had.
It wasn’t until the conclusion of the surgery — which uncovered the massive “chocolate cyst” — that I was formally diagnosed with endometriosis. After meeting with the surgeon who explained the findings, I also met with a reproductive endocrinologist who recommended that I find a gynecologist and have regular, annual visits going forward. Prior to that, I had not been keeping up with all of my annual visits.
Without hesitation, I followed my endocrinologist’s advice.
At the time, I was career-focused and not ready to have children, but I knew one day I would like to become a mom and hoped that this would be possible despite my endometriosis diagnosis.
When I met my husband, Ken, I knew we wanted to have a family together. Ken confided in me very early on that he had always wanted a son. For him, I hoped to be able to have at least one son. Ken and I got married in 2013 on the picturesque island of St. John, US Virgin Islands. I was 35 at the time. Eager to begin our family, we quickly began trying to conceive that same year.
In 2014, we bought our first home together — a 4-bedroom house. We hoped that one day we would be able to fill all the bedrooms in that house with children. To my disappointment, that didn’t happen as quickly as I would have liked. One month turned into two months … which turned into an entire year. I began to seek fertility treatment in 2015 after my husband and I had been trying for a year to get pregnant.
I started my fertility journey with two rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI). Neither experience was successful for me. Although I was disappointed, I still had hope. During this time, I began to journal my experience. Little did I know, this would be the beginning of my personal fertility storybook. I later called it “Rising above the Pain.”
At the beginning of the fertility treatment process, Ken had his doubts, but it wasn’t long before he was just as determined as me to see it through. He was a total team player in all of this.
From there we moved on to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Our first round of IVF was unsuccessful. At this point, I started to get anxious and thought it may be prudent to look at other options. We looked at adoption as an alternate plan.
Nevertheless, I pushed forward with continuing the IVF process through to the end.
When it came to assisting me with the injections, Ken used his medical experience (which included 16 years as a United States Airforce medic and 10 years in nursing) to give me the required shots. Eventually, I was able to do them myself, but his help made things go much smoother at the beginning.
My second round of IVF was a huge success, resulting in a healthy pregnancy. Words cannot express the pure elation I felt the moment I found out I was pregnant. I was overjoyed. Ecstatic. On top of the world! The pregnancy was a breeze, and I was so happy to have made it where we were.
We can’t say enough great things about Dr. Namnoum and her nursing team, especially Dawn. Dr. Namnoum was a HUGE part of why we were so successful. Her skilled expertise was number one. Additionally, she had a calm, patient demeanor as well as a genuinely kind smile and a perpetually positive attitude.
With the help of Dr. Namnoum at SGF Atlanta and my OB/GYN clinic, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2017 at age 39.
Seeing so many women having children later in life — like Kandi Burress, Halle Barry, Amal Clooney, Eva Mendes, and Janet Jackson — inspired us to try for a second child. When we were ready to have another child, we knew SGF and Dr. Namnoum would be there to help us. Going through treatment and doing the shots was second nature this time around. Everything was more familiar, less anxious. During the second pregnancy, I had morning sickness for several months, but overall, it was a blessed experience!
In 2021, at age 43, we welcomed our second baby boy into the world.
After everything we went through, I believe that the happiest, most euphoric feelings I have ever experienced were the moments following the birth of my two baby boys. They complete my world and fulfill my purpose of motherhood. Not only that, but we have come close to filling all 4 bedrooms in our home!
My oldest son is Ken Jr., and he is incredibly thoughtful and caring. He’s already showing great leadership qualities — he loves being a big brother. He also shares his dad’s great sense of humor. Our newest baby boy (nicknamed “1-sock Willie” because he never can keep both socks on each foot for long) is a complete joy and has a contagious smile that literally lights up the room.
Throughout the process, our faith in God was our major inspiration and hope. We consistently and steadfastly prayed to God every step of the way. I also found that journaling was extremely therapeutic for me, especially during the low moments.
I want to encourage other new parents to find your village to help you out. Whatever that village is to you, whether it’s your best friend, a close relative, an experienced babysitter, or nanny. They will come in handy after birth! You WILL need a break every now and again. Trust me!
Going into this journey, patience was not my best character trait. In fact, I still struggle with patience to this day. But I had to get over my issues and learn to apply patience to each step of this process.
I also learned that I can be very strong-willed (something I suspect I got from both my mother and grandmother). It kept me going and pushed me to never give up. There were many moments when I almost gave up. But strong will and a voice from God motivated me to push through.
I want others struggling with infertility to know that age doesn’t define you. Do not get caught up by terms like “advanced maternal age” or “geriatric pregnancy.” Go the distance in seeking help and do not be so focused on age or time. If it is meant to be, it will happen in due time.
For other patients with endometriosis, I want them to feel encouraged by the medical advances made over the past several years that have made motherhood a more attainable goal for women with this disease. I no longer look at endometriosis as a hindrance and my hope is that you won’t either. Find the right care team and advocate for yourself when needed. If I can do it, so can you!