The Art of Making A Baby: 7 Steps I Used To Overcome Infertility

About 3 years ago I was living a lifestyle that was about my wants and needs. I was able to go to the gym 6 days a week and eat all day long without much issue.  It was, what I thought,  a ‘healthy’ method that had worked for me for about 8 years. The thing was, I had adopted this exercise and eat more method because for many years before that I had been in a tango dance with under eating,  over eating,  and generally just disordered relationships with food and my body. I had been so exhausted, puffy, and controlled by the scale that I was desperate for a feeling of control. It was out of this yo-yo that I finally was introduced to exercise and strength training. Once I learned the method, which didn’t come naturally to me at all,  I began to see the power of it. After about a year of learning how to exercise in a way that made me actually feel good, I was in love with it.

My disorder eating and body habits stopped. At least so I thought.

In reality, I had just replaced one form of disordered eating with another. Now I counted macros, portioned out food, and exercised 6-7 days a week. I took food with me everywhere, knew my ‘allowable’ foods and stuck to it. My body did change, but what I didn’t realize was long term this was not going to be sustainable for my body to tolerate. Why? Well aside from the inability to take that style of eating or exercise with me out to any social setting or tolerate any level of sleep deprivation, it was also (unbeknownst to me) causing some pretty big time hormonal damage to an already hormonally imbalanced system.

You see, throughout this same period of time, my periods were horrific and erratic. I would go months and months without a period. Then I would have a period start and not stop for three months straight. Looking back, the connection is unmistakeable. High stress from college, erratic sleeping habits, a full college schedule, and intense exercise 6 to 7 days a week wasn’t exactly what my body had in mind for a good time.

So, after suffering for years with horrible PMS and period symptoms, I was told I needed to go on birth control by my OBGYN. The plan was just to keep my irregular periods at bay. Then in November 2011 my period started and it did not stop until February 2012- yes- 4 months non- stop even on the pill. The doctors kept telling me to try different pills to stop the issue.  It never worked. For me, this was no longer an answer because I knew I wanted to have children. More importantly, I knew being on the pill would prevent that. So what the heck was I supposed?

 

I decided to start seeking out resources, hormonal journals, read everything I could find, listened to every podcast I could, and finally I found a reproductive endocrinologist who was willing to hear me out vs. bandage the issue (aka birth control pills).

 

I underwent several procedures and surgeries for endometriosis and fibroids that year. I went through more vials of blood work than I could count, weekly scans, and ultra-sounds. Getting pregnant was going to require some serious work. Especially because at first glance everything was showing I was healthy and fit 26 year old. But when I pushed the doctors to dig deeper, we uncovered a significant imbalance in my hormones from a reproductive standpoint. Specifically, I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (lean type which is more rare), my progesterone to estrogen ratio were off big time, and I began to show signs of adrenal fatigue issues. Basically my hormones had shut off and my brain and ovaries were no longer speaking to each other.

 

How did this happen?!

 

One major culprit to all of this mess was stress. There are two types of stress, the first is external- which we all know about- I was stressed from life, work, trying to have a baby, and working out hard to deal with my frustrations.

But there is also internal, which can be from over exercise, under exercising and being overweight, under eating, unstable blood sugar, blood pressure, and immune functioning. What we found was my cortisol was very high and when you are in a state of stress almost all the time, your adrenal glands run out of their own storage of cortisol and starts pulling from your progesterone reserves to create more to keep you going. Once this happens, your adrenals fatigue and you deplete your progesterone. In simple terms, there isn’t enough progesterone to go around to promote ovulation or the thickening of the uterine lining because you’re stressed the hell out all the time. (This also leaves your feeling exhausted when you try to get up in the morning, and wired when trying to go to bed)

 

So that whole ‘relax, it’ll happen” thing people say when you are experiencing infertility does have some truth to it- although- it might be the single MOST annoying thing to be told when you are years deep in fertility struggles. (Believe me- don’t say it to someone unless you want to be punched in the face.)

 

Once I began understanding the progesterone issue and adrenal issues I was experiencing, a plan could be put in place. For me, this plan forced me to question my previous methods of my “all or nothing” healthy living  and begin to explore more big picture sustainable health.

 

So I found myself turning inward to explore what it meant to be able to sustain a healthy pregnancy in my body.  It was time for me to rethink what healthy meant in this new season of life. What were my goals in this new place? Why did I want to exercise, what was my purpose?

 

When I was 19-23 it was mainly a focus on aesthetics. Looking like I thought I “should” to fit the mold or be ‘happy’.

But now, looking good suddenly didn’t matter the same way it used to.

Being happy was no longer centered around my pants size.

Instead, I wanted to create a balanced body so that I could physically grow another human being.

 

Being happy for the first time in my life meant gaining weight and slowing down. Nourishing, resting, recovering, and healing.

 

It took time to learn how to slow down and not push harder anymore.

 

Happiness was about learning to love my body in the present moment, and accepting it might get a little uncomfortable.

 

This meant a major shift in my mindset, my intensity, and facing my fears of possible weight gain and what felt like- a loss of control.  But in reality, this loss of control is exactly what I needed. I needed to let my body rest.  My body needed to know it was okay to move everyday, but that maybe it didn’t need to be iron man. The loss of control I was feeling, was what my body needed to regain hormonal balance.

 

I cut back on workouts and focused on about 3 days of movement- one day of weights, lots of relaxed walking, and slow flow yoga.

 

I learned to start listening to what I needed vs what I thought I needed.

 

The key for me here was learning to evolve with my own life. I didn’t need to stop moving or exercising, because that would have not made me happy either. Nor would it help prepare my body for the endurance race of pregnancy and delivery.  I just needed to adjust for the different stage of life I was living. My body wasn’t 19 anymore, it was asking me to honor that.

 

When I finally slowed down, focused on healing and nourishing foods, movement, and mindset, my body began to fall into sync. I was able to heal myself and my infertility WITHOUT the use of more pills, hormone injections, and procedures.

 

After 3 years of failed infertility treatments and an overwhelming feeling of failure and lack of trust in my body, simply changing my ‘push harder’ approach changed everything for me.

 

I was able to get pregnant, stay pregnant and deliver a beautiful healthy girl.

 

I attribute my pregnancy with the lifestyle changes I made and the healing elements I brought in to my life and my husbands life. Ironically, many of the changes I made were incredibly simple and low cost.

 

The biggest question I get when I share this story and my journey was HOW?

How did I do it without doctors, especially when they told me I may never be able to conceive?

 

1) I Began Eating More Fat! What I mean by this is that I started to eat more healthy, saturated fats that my body desperately was craving and I was not feeding it. My diet before getting pregnant was mainly protein, lots of starchy carbs, cheese, cow’s milk, and a side of veggies sometimes. But nowhere in there was I eating anything rich in Omega 3s. So I started eating more avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, flax and chia seeds. I tried to make sure I had one healthy fat source in every meal I ate.  

2) I Practice Good Sleep HygieneI went to bed before 10PM every night. This meant making sleep a top priority. I shut down electronics 2 hours before bed even my cell phone- this was wicked hard just as an fyi. I also wore a sleep mask to make the room totally dark and encourage the production of my naturally occurring melatonin. The goal- reduce cortisol, increase melatonin to nurture reproductive hormones

3) Scale Back on the Caffeine- Now I actually have never been much of a coffee drinker, but the reason coffee can interfere with someone’s fertility is because it spikes blood sugar, insulin, and cortisol. Especially if you drink it on an empty stomach- this creates a firestorm in your body and sucks away your progesterone reserves which we know you need! If you are already in a hormonally fragile state, the best best it to start weaning off coffee and instead drink warm lemon water or even a Maca late. (comment below if you want that recipe!)

If you want to know the 7 steps I took to heal my hormones and overcome my infertility {{without more medication}}, grab your free copy here! 

 

 

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