I tested this morning and had a positive pregnancy test. While I would like to, in the fullness of time, lose another 15 lbs, this is, for all intents and purposes, my goal. It’s pretty self-indulgent to post 1000 words of my pregnancy odyssey, but I feel moved to put it down somewhere—and you all can skip it if it is too blah blah blah.
In late June of 2009, after nearly ten years of marriage, my husband and I finally decided that we wanted to be parents. We’d both gone back and forth on the issue before, but there were some huge obstacles:
1. I weighed 300 lbs
2. I had PCOS
3. He has a terrible genetic form of rickets, a painful, nearly untreatable degenerative bone disease.
4. He has a very low sperm count (though we didn’t know this at first).
5. We were in significant debt.
I’d tried to work on each of these problems in the past just in case we decided we wanted a baby, but that was never enough motivation. It wasn’t until we made the commitment as a team that we were able to start chipping away.
I knew we’d need to use reproductive technologies of some sort—probably IVF and genetic analysis of the embryos to select the ones without my husband’s disease.
The first thing was diet and exercise for me, of course: for the first time, instead of making a diet into a 6 month period of self-denial and pain, a sort of ritualistic punishment for the sin of being fat, I sat down and put the time into coming up with a sustainable plan. The weight started coming off at a very nice clip (it’s easy at 300!). I also started directing as much money as I could into paying off debt.
By January 2010, we were out of debt and I was down to about 230—a weight where I thought a doctor would talk to me, but not one where I thought I had the best possible chance of success. I also really wanted to do IVF in the late summer, to time the baby’s arrival with early summer the next year: I am a teacher. Also, we didn’t have as much money saved as we would need.
So while I continued to lose weight, we totally revamped our spending. This was more my husband’s project than mine. We gave ourselves very strict spending levels and he starting keeping up an elaborate, itemized spreadsheet. We discovered that just like counting calories, carefully recording purchases makes a huge difference. We started being able to save close to 50% of our net income, enough to make us realize that we could afford to have him stay home after the baby was born.
By August 2010, everything was roses. My weight was under 170 (BMI was 28), we had enough money in the bank to cover IVF (insurance didn’t cover much, and we were basically having the most expensive IVF possible, what with all of our issues). The whole thing had been like a musical montage: once we made the choice, we just rolled out of bed and BAM! made it happen.
Then the IVF was a disaster. Everything looked good leading up to egg retrieval: no side effects, great response to stims, lots of follicles, and then in quick succession: only 9 eggs (damn, bad sign but not the end of the world), then only two fertilized (very bad sign) and then, literally when I was sitting in the waiting room, bladder full as ordered, waiting to go in for the transfer, we find out that those two had multiple genetic defects. Those five days were the worst emotional roller coaster of my life. I felt like we were holding on to a glimmer of hope while things just got darker and darker.
So I had a bad several days. Then we moved on to plan B: artificial insemination with donor sperm (IUI). My husband was fine with this—had in fact suggested starting with it, but I wanted to try using his genetic material first (I do think he’s pretty cool, after all, and can be sentimental like that) but after the IVF went so poorly, it seemed likely that not only was his sperm low in quantity, it might be low in quality, too (he had a LOT of chemo as a child) and that further expensive attempts were unlikely to be successful.
So we waited a month, tried a donor cycle over Thanksgiving 2010. It failed. Then we waited another month for some additional tests (doctor wanted to do them earlier but I convinced him to let me try one IUI cycle first) and they all came back good. So we tried a second cycle this January. I was SURE this one was a bust. I was getting all the signs of an impending period. But this morning I saw a second line. It’s too early to be too confident: pregnancies end at this stage all the time. But still, after 18 months of shaping my entire life around getting pregnant, it was awfully nice to see that line.