I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I’m trying to get pregnant.
My name is Courtney and I’m 28 years old. I live in Indiana with my husband, Greg, two dogs (a 7 year old Scnoodle named Layla and a 5 year old Brussels Griffon named Chewy), and the two cats we adopted this weekend (both about 2 years old, named Matt Smith and Pepper). To earn a living I am an Events Coordinator, which does involve some travel (yay!) and also involves a lot of spreadsheets, inventories, and computer work (meh). One day I’d love to manage an events facility, like a convention center or recreation facility, or own my own event planning business. Gotta dream big!
Even larger than my career aspirations is my biggest dream- being a mother. Greg and I got married in April of 2013 and have been trying to conceive ever since. I was previously diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but was able to manage it up until now with birth control. Obviously that wasn’t an ideal solution for getting knocked up, so I’ve been off birth control for about 14 months. Every doctor told me that it would take a year or two for someone without PCOS to get pregnant, so my best option was to lose weight and just keep trying, knowing it would take a while. Now, I’ve been aware for quite a while that I could stand to drop a few pounds, and I doubted that would be a fix-all solution, but I’m no doctor.
A large indicator of PCOS is absence of ovulation/menstruation, which was the main factor used in my original diagnosis. I’ve never had a regular cycle and it isn’t unusual for me to go months without a period. When I was younger this of course lead to numerous pregnancy “scares,” so I’m no stranger to a home pregnancy test! Now that I’m hoping to see two lines, or a little plus, the all too familiar solitary line fails to give the relief it did years ago. After visiting my regular gyno for a pre-conception consultation, she told me to contact her if (or let’s be honest, when) I didn’t get my period for 3 months. Well, 4 months after that appointment she got the call. I went on a medicine that kick started my cycle, and had three periods in as many weeks. I guess Mother Nature wanted me to give me all three that I had missed, but I would have been OK with just one.
Shortly after my third “monthly” visitor, I had an appointment with a fertility specialist. I had read before that women with PCOS should always seek out a specialist (fertility or endocrinologist), but I had never taken that step. I made the appointment months in advance, and was dreading making the one and a half hour trip to his office. Every other doctor had blown off my request for assistance, just assuring me with enough time I’d be able to conceive, and they’d look into it further if I didn’t have any luck in a year or so. I really didn’t think this time would be any different. Despite my reservations, I made the trip, and I’m really glad I did.
After the usual medical history questions, and reviewing the files from my gyno and GP, he asked about our conception efforts so far. I’ve been off of birth control for over a year, and we stopped using condoms when we got married. He asked how soon I wanted to be pregnant, and I got a chuckle out of him with my dead serious answer, “yesterday.” My heart sank when he asked if I’d ever gotten an ultrasound to verify my PCOS and I said no, it was always diagnosed based on the symptoms I’ve reported to my doctor. He explained that he doesn’t really consider it PCOS unless there were at least 11 cysts present, and wanted to do an ultrasound that day. I agreed to it, and headed into the exam room. There I got my first ultrasound (which is quite an experience), and my first look at my ovaries. He reminded me of the 11 or more cysts guideline, and asked how many I saw on the screen. Now, I’ve never seen an ultrasound in real life before, and could just see a blob with other blobs in and around it, so I had no idea, and pointed to one of the larger areas and asked “is this one?” The doctor replied “well, I can see at least 40-50 on each ovary.” Shocked, I could only say “oh, well, that’s way more than 11.”
Following this confirmation that my ovaries were indeed very poly cystic, we formed a game plan. He verified that in this state, it was no wonder I wasn’t ovulating naturally. I started on Metformin, a medicine used by diabetics to regulate insulin. Since my PCOS is driven by insulin resistance, this will help my body recognize the insulin that it has made and absorb it, instead of not absorbing it, and making more because it thinks it’s not making enough since it isn’t absorbing enough. With my insulin regulated, my androgen and testosterone levels should go down and stop flooding my ovaries, allowing me to ovulate. To assist this process I am also on a very restricted diet, which is perhaps the most difficult part of the whole process. I hope I’m able to conceive, carry full term and have a healthy child will who will appreciate my essential lifestyle change to have him or her! Of course I think it will be worth it, but I’m at a point where I have to laugh to keep from crying. My self-deprecating sense of humor has served me well in that department, there have only been a few days in the last eight months that I’ve felt defeated.
I went into this already on a vegetarian diet, which I’ve adopted in stages over the past ten years. So, of course, the first thing he lets me know is I can eat all of the lean meat I want. With that out of the question, he goes on that I can have all of the vegetables I want except for those that grow underground, especially potatoes, which have been a lunch staple for me since most restaurants that don’t have a vegetarian menu beyond the list of salads at least have baked potatoes. I can have all of the fruit I want, except bananas, which I’ve discovered since stopping eating them that they seem to be the most convenient and widely available fruit in existence. I breathed a sigh of relief when he said dairy was OK, but then took two of the best dairy items off the list- yogurt and ice cream. My husband is lactose intolerant so we usually don’t have much dairy in the house anyway, but at least I’m left with cheese. I can have nuts and beans as well, so there is a lot of chili being eaten in my household right now. Of course processed sugars are out of the question, which plagues me every day. Perhaps the hardest part, however, is grains, breads, and pasta. My favorite things! I never appreciated how much I depend on them to fill out a meal. Since I stopped eating meat, pasta or rice go into a meal to make it a meal, not just a bunch of sides. I miss not being hungry an hour after I stuff myself on a bunch of steamed veggies or boring salads. I want spaghetti. I want stir fry or green curry and rice from the Thai restaurant by my office. Every day I crave pizza.
I miss all of them, but most of all, I miss my favorite thing… I want macaroni and cheese.