One morning following my second round of IVF, I walked into my closet and realized that nothing fit. I couldn’t button my pants or squeeze into my little black dress. When I put on my favorite tight tank top, it rolled up at my belly like Gus in Cinderella. I never thought the day would come when I would compare myself to an overweight mouse, yet here we are. Thanks, infertility—you’re a real gem.
No matter what I try, the weight will always come on. Fertility drugs are known to cause bloating and weight gain, so even if I keep my diet and exercise habits the same as when I’m not stimulating, I’ll still gain weight. To make matters worse, my doctor cautioned me against any intense exercise during a cycle because it puts me at high risk for ovarian torsion, a condition that occurs when an ovary flops down and rotates, cutting off its own blood supply in the process. Sounds awful, right?
Ice cream soothed me through the emotional rollercoaster that is IVF. For me, there’s nothing in the world that is more soothing than a pint of ice cream and a Netflix binge session. Unfortunately, this isn’t the healthiest form of therapy. Over time, the binging added insult to injury, causing the pounds to add up on top of all the bloating from my enormous ovaries and high estrogen levels. I couldn’t find a single item of clothing that made me feel beautiful and I really started to miss the girl that was excited to wake up and find something trendy to wear.
The drugs cause bloating… as if I need to look bigger than I already am. I’ve just been thinking of it as a practice-run for pregnancy. Although the irony of looking six months pregnant when I am unable to actually get pregnant is (almost) funny to me, I try to remember that once I get through this awful stage of life, I won’t remember the pounds I packed on along the journey.
Dragging myself to the gym was rough at first but it totally uplifted me. Getting to the gym was tough for me. I was never totally active because I was one of those lucky girls who could eat anything and not worry about her weight. Emphasis on was. When the pounds started to add up, I knew I had to get to the gym but had no idea where to start. I began with the fun stuff: kickboxing, dance classes, and a class that allowed me to jump on a trampoline for an hour. Slowly, I worked my way up to weight training and cycling. While I couldn’t exercise during cycles, I would greatly look forward to getting back into it afterward.
This is the start of the sacrifices I’ll make for my future children. Here are a few highlights on a long list of things I’ll sacrifice when I have an infant: sleep, my social life, skinny dipping in Cabo, and my hot body. Bye forever. But, like everyone says, it will all be worth it. I truly do believe that and remind myself every day that the sacrifices I’m making through treatments will pay off someday.
I pamper myself in ways that don’t include a full pan of brownies. My primary coping mechanism for any form of stress, anxiety, depression or anger is to binge on the unhealthiest foods I can get my hands on. To guide myself away from a path of chocolate chip cookies and fried chicken, I treat myself in other ways. From massages to shopping trips, I allow myself to splurge a bit for the 10 days that I’m stimulating.
I bought some fancy new yoga pants. Normally, I wouldn’t spend $100 on a pair of leggings, but when you can no longer squeeze into a single pair of pants in your closet, it’s time to treat yourself. High-wasted yoga pants are a gift from God, allowing me to move around freely without constantly thinking about the way my stomach rolls ripple over my pants. You’re my hero, yoga pants.
I lean on my husband even more than usual. I allow myself to be super clingy and needy during treatment cycles. I warn him that the “stage 5 clinger” train is rolling into the station and he reciprocates will a ton of mushy love. Thankfully, he humors me.
I have to remember that my body is capable of amazing things. Although it feels like I’ll never lose the weight, I have to remind myself just how resilient my body is. A woman can literally carry an entire human in her belly for 40 weeks. I constantly remind myself that this is temporary and if my resilient body can keep it together with all the injections that I’m putting it through, then I can too.
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