Anne and Matt tried for months to have a baby, while Anne had always struggled with her weight; it turned out to be the one thing in the end that would play a big role in her ability to conceive. When she and Matt decided to have a baby, although she was able to conceive, her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Eventually able to conceive her first son, Parker, her pregnancy caused her to gain a significant amount of weight, her heaviest at around 248 pounds. This began an uphill battle of weight gain and loss and a diagnosis that would change their life forever. After seeking help from Shady Grove Fertility Center and taking control of her weight, Anne and Matt were finally able to make their dreams a reality.
A “Grave” Diagnosis
After Parker was born, Anne was able to lose the baby weight over time. When her son was a year old, she began losing even more weight, but not in the way that she expected. “I found that I was able to eat however and whatever I wanted and lose weight like I’d not been able to do before, I was down to 170 pounds,” says Anne it was very scary, she ended up having another miscarriage and problems with her heart. After dealing with a headache for 3 days, Anne went to the doctor to find out what was going on. “The doctor wasted no time in diagnosing me with Grave’s disease”, says Anne. Graves is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid and the hormones that control metabolism. It’s not been confirmed, but pregnancy can trigger the disease. In 2010, Anne’s thyroid was removed and her endocrinologist began testing her medication dosage to determinewhat combination would work best to manage Anne’s disease. “This was a stressful time, I was dealing with the disease and a recently brokenankle all while trying to keep up with a rambunctious 18-month old. That is when I began eating to deal with my stress” Anne explains. Between the medications and emotional eating, Anne found her way back to 190 pounds, a weight that she was never happy with for herself.
Anne and Matt had wanted to try for another child, but this was delayed so due to the recovery from thyroid removal.In September 2010,they were finally able to start trying again.“After Parker, it took 10 months to conceive, so when we tried this time around we figured we’d just be patient,” says Anne her OB/GYN didn’t find any reason to worry, the Grave’s was managed and Anne and Matt were both healthy. They kept telling themselves “we know you can get pregnant”, she’d been pregnant three times after all. They tried using Clomid for two months, when her OB/GYN advised they move on to a specialist. At now 38 years old, Anne was taking the news pretty hard, thinking she was at the end of the road and they would never be able to have any more children. She felt she was getting too old for anything to work and wondered if their dreams of a second child were over.
She made the emotional call to Shady Grove and scheduled to meet with Dr. Naveed Khan in theLeesburg, Virginia office. Although Anne was unhappy with her weight, Dr. Khan saw no reason why she and Matt shouldn’t be able to conceive. The couple was diagnosed with unexplained infertility; Dr Khan decided to start with a low tech treatment option called intrauterine insemination (IUI). The summer of 2011, they tried 3 rounds of IUI, none of which were successful.
Dr. Khan advised them to begin considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Anne, at 39 years old, thought her dreams were over. “I thought I was done, I was beside myself, thinking it was just never going to work for us.” She was almost 40 years old, and Anne felt like she had run out of options. Dr. Khan and his team assured her that she would have a much higher chance of success with IVF and they would do everything they could to get them pregnant. “I knew that with IUI’s our chances weren’t very good at my age, but I felt like if that didn’t work, nothing would,” says Anne.
She found somewhere within her the strength to fight back. Determined to take control of something, she walked into Weight Watchers, “with infertility, there is so little in your control, my weight was the one thing I could control.” Over the next 4 months, Anne took control of her eating and lost 30 pounds. When she arrived for her egg retrieval, the anesthesiologist read her chart, “191 pounds”. Anne politely corrected him, “160 pounds now”. He was just shocked, “I must’ve taken those extra 30 pounds you lost” he joked. “This was one of her most redemptive moments in my journey. I had conquered something I had been struggling with for years; I felt like the weight had literally been lifted.” Anne explained.
The good feelings were short-lived, the night before her egg transfer, Anne’s son Parker had the flu, so she was up all night with him. She was worried and stressed, “it just felt that everything that could go wrong did go wrong on the day of my transfer. I felt everything but positive about the outcome.” A couple of weeks later, she went in for her pregnancy test. “ I had the worst cramps and felt bitter I knew my period would start any second”. Shirley, Anne’s nurse, told her not to count herself out just yet; those symptoms could very well mean something else.
Anne missed the call from Shirley later that day; she got the message but was in no state of mind to handle any bad news, so amazingly enough, she took a nap! She lay there, trying to psyche herself up to call her back and drifted off only to wake up to another message from Shirley. “Call me back Anne, this is good news!” At about 10-weeks pregnant, Anne says “to this day, I still can’t believe it!” Anne and Matt will welcome their second child in August 2013.
“Now that I have the mindset of healthy eating, it’s hard to go back to the old bad habits”, says Anne. Although she has been advised to stop Weight Watcher’s during her pregnancy, she is confident she now has the strength to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight once she has the baby. Looking back, Anne just believes that she did everything she could to achieve this pregnancy, “it never hurts to be healthier”. She does believe her thyroid medications play a big role in her weight management, but she is fully aware that she has to play her part in controlling her food choices as well. Anne says“I really think it made me feel better, if nothing else. I was depressed about infertility and eating to make me feel better and I am so happy to start a pregnancy at a healthy weight!”
At Shady Grove Fertility our patients come in all shapes and sizes. For the majority of patients weight may be a hurdle, but it is not insurmountable. We have resources to help every step of the way such as support groups and counselors available to meet the needs of your journey. Our doctors will work tirelessly to help you achieve your dreams of parenthood, but they may ask for your help along the way. Stay positive, stay hopeful, and trust that there isn’t much our doctors haven’t seen in their years of experience, we can help make dreams come true, no matter what stands in your way.