By Sara Baker
I am thrilled to announce there is another JillFit baby on the way! I am 15 weeks pregnant and due in early March. As I have shared with some of you via my blogs and messages on Facebook, this was a long journey for my husband and I, we had been trying to conceive since January of 2011. Below is my story.
I got off birth control in October of 2010, and I was told to use another form of contraceptive for 3 months while the BC left my body, so we really started trying in January of 2011. I knew that it could take up to 6 months to return to regular menstruation. In 5 months, I had only had one period. I went to my primary care doctor, thyroid checked etc., no issues; the doctor was not sure of the issue. She referred me to an OBGYN.
I saw an OB in May of 2011, and now had 2 periods in 7 months’ time. She wanted me to wait 1 more month in case I was ovulating every 60 days vs. 30 days. Waited, nothing. I was prescribed progesterone to jump start my period, worked for one cycle but then again returned to no periods. I was referred to a fertility specialist but my husband and I were not ready to see a specialist quite yet. In August 2011, I was still not regular so decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. I diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) however, I did not have the 3 most common symptoms which were acne, obesity and excessive hair growth. But I did have 64 resting follicles on my ovaries, plus high cholesterol.
PCOS is the most common cause of infertility (1 in 5 women have it). PCOS is also characterized by insulin resistance. This finally explained why I have ALWAYS had a hard time keeping my weight down…no matter how much I worked out. However, at the same time, I was also diagnosed Hypothalamic from excessive exercise! WTF? So I have an insulin regulating problem that many PCOS people can take care of with exercise and diet BUT I could not do too much exercise. Sadly, I was put on exercise restrictions…no more than 3 hours of cardio a week (I was a triathlete and exercise junkie… not fun) keep intensity low, cut back on coffee, wine, core work etc., etc.
I was also put on Metformin to control insulin, as there is a connection between reproductive hormones and insulin. Being put on a maintenance medication was one of the hardest things for me to accept and I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I was on an insulin regulation drug used for diabetics! I was so upset. I have been in the fitness industry for almost 15 years and I preach against medications as I believe diet, exercise and sleep are the best medications.
Moving forward… My husband gets tested, one of the three numbers that is important for conception, is low. They put him on an antioxidant supplements, will retest in 6 weeks. Our Dr. goes through our options…3-4 IUIs (artificial insemination) which have low success rates (15-18%) then IVF if those fail. We decide to wait a couple more months. First IUI with Clomid in December, fails. Up my dose, 2nd IUI in Jan 2012, failed. Emotionally starting to get very scared as we had planned on doing only 4 IUIs and now 2 have failed. I was getting closer to the end. Go to injections (double the cost and side effects, a little higher success rate). Failed. April 2012, our last chance. Failed. Devastated. On such an emotional roller coaster that I start therapy. We get a second opinion just to make sure we felt that IVF was the correct decision. The 2nd fertility doctor told us the same thing; we had less than a 5% chance of conceiving on our own.
We decide to take May and June off for a mental break and we were taking a vacation to Costa Rica in July. We started the initial blood work for IVF before we left for Costa Rica and were trying to prepare for IVF mentally, financially and physically. The first protocol for IVF is a 21 day dose of birth control. My nurse calls in my prescription and I was ready to go.
I had meditated, talked with my husband, my friends, my family and had finally accepted that IVF was our only option to conceive a child. I was terrified that there was still a possibility that IVF could not work but could not let that hold us back from trying. 3 days before I was supposed to start the birth control and 2 days before leaving for a fitness conference (where I would be doing a large amount of exercise over the course of 4 days) I took a pregnancy test…
For 2 years, these tests have been negative so I had already set myself up for disappointment. It was positive, faint but positive!! I have never been more shocked.
After telling my husband in a frightened and excited way, we know we need to go to the doctor to get my hormones level checked to make sure I could sustain the pregnancy. I get blood work that morning; receive a call that afternoon that I am in fact pregnant! My nurse tells me I need to make it 48 more hours to make sure my HCG number doubles. 48 hours later, my numbers are good. One more major milestone to go, 7 weeks, to get a heartbeat of the baby. We go to Costa Rica in shock, excited but still cautiously optimistic. After we return, we actually change our already scheduled IVF appointment for our first ultrasound!! Truly a miracle, we beat the odds. We conceived naturally. So here we are, 15 weeks and everything is going great.
I have been very lucky and have felt really good. Just tired, hungry and I get headaches. I have been able to eat fruits, veggies, lean protein with barely any food aversions. Just seem to be craving cheese and Twizzlers once in a while :)
I have obviously cut back on my intensity on my workouts but am still working out 5-6 days a week. I have always been a huge believer in exercise but prenatal exercise is huge for both mother and baby and believe because I have been exercising and eating well, I have felt great throughout these first 15 weeks.
This story does not even touch on the emotional and mental toll of the fertility treatments. However, we are trying not to look back but moving forward, filled with an immense amount of gratitude and are so excited for Baby Baker.
Thank you for letting me share my story.
I will keep you updated as JillFit baby #2 is on his/her way!! ox Sara