Over the past year and a half, I have been all-consumed by the idea of getting pregnant. I knew it was going to be a challenge for us because I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) when I was 23. The doctor immediately put me on birth control to help control my symptoms, but I stopped using it in February 2012in the hopes that I will conceive naturally.
I'll back up and explain PCOS for those of you who don't know what it is: basically it is a hormonal imbalance. It can cause obesity, insulin resistance and excessive facial hair growth. I'm sure it causes other stuff too, but those are the ones that have affected me. The hair is no big deal, that's what wax is for. The insulin resistance is also under control because I've been taking Metformin for it, which fortunately is safe during pregnancy. The weight gain is what really sucks, especially because I was taking a lot of artificial hormones in the past year in the hopes I could conceive, and those really packed on the excess pounds.
I am really overweight right now. I don't know how much I weigh and I really don't want to know, except I have a doctor's appointment in three days so I guess I'll be finding out. This PCOS is a total Catch-22 in that the hormone imbalance causes weight gain but extra weight also causes my hormones to go wacky. So I don't know if I'm not getting my period due to the PCOS or the weight and as we all know, no period=no pregnancy.
Like I previously said, I've already tried a few fertility treatments. Treatments that were neither cheap nor pleasant. I experienced a whole range of side effects, weight gain being the lesser of those. After the last failed treatment in April 2013, I decided to stop. My checking account was getting scarily low and I was getting more and more unhealthy each cycle. I had an eventual "aha!" moment where I saw that doctors are more invested in getting a solution rather than treating an underlying problem. Or, to put it in blunter terms, the health-care industry wasn't really interested in getting me healthy. (Note: I am not knocking Reproductive Endocrinologists. My RE is a wonderful woman with a terrific bedside manner and if the treatments had worked, I would be singing her praises for 9 months.)
So what am I doing about all this? First of all, I refuse to accept I will never get pregnant. I fully believe I will someday be a mother. Keeping a positive mind about this is the key, I believe, because my mind has a tendency to over-dramatize these sorts of events. (Remember I told you I'm also bipolar? Yeah, the two of those together makes for a very unhappy Mannah at times.) Anyway, I have started a lifestyle overhaul. I hate the word "diet" because it implies that it will only be a short time, and we all know that never works. Years ago, I stopped drinking pop, or "soda" for you Northerners, and I recently stopped drinking coffee too. Does caffeine inhibit fertility? I don't know, but I ain't taking any chances. I have exchanged my beloved white breads and pastas for whole-wheat, and I've also added a lot more fruits and vegetables into my meals. This stuff may sound like no-brainers but for me it is a pretty big deal. My husband and I were eating a lot of crap.
The biggest change I've made was I went back to work! I quit my job in February in anticipation of getting pregnant and being a stay-at-home mother. And, of course, my mind just wasn't letting me concentrate properly on work. I just finished my first official week as a preschool teacher once again and let me tell you, it is hard work. I had actually forgotten how hard it is to care for large groups of children, silly me. I'm on my feet just about the whole time and I have to do a lot more cleaning, which if you know me, you'd know that cleaning is not my forte. Usually I don't care if the floor is properly mopped but if licensing says I have to mop, then I guess I'm going to do it. Twice a day, five days a week. That's a pretty good workout as is, but a few days a week I have started going to the gym after work. The first day I went, I realized how hopelessly out of shape I am, so for now I'm taking it really slow, just doing 20-30 minutes on the bike or elliptical or whatever. Over time, I hope to get my strength up so I can run for longer periods and start lifting weights.
So there's my get-healthy plan! Eating whole foods, working and going to the gym. And my hope is when I manage to lose some of this weight, I will regulate my hormones and start ovulating once more. For awhile I had an attitude of, well what's the point of losing weight if I'm just going to get pregnant and gain a bunch of weight? But now I see that I will likely never get pregnant on my own if I'm not taking care of my body and mind. Hopefully within the year I will be normal and able to get pregnant and start worrying about the right number of pounds to be gaining instead of losing. Stick with me as I continue this journey and feel free to tell me some of your own weight loss or gain stories!