Tag Archives: HA

HA Recovery: How I Got My Cycle Back

1 Apr

Disclaimer: All opinions on If Gravity Happens are my own personal opinions, views, and experiences. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or anything like that; I am strictly talking from experience as just a normal person who is in the process of recovering from HA. Please contact a professional for any specific questions regarding your diet/exercise/medical issues.

When I was diagnosed last May with hypothalamic amenorrhea, I had already done a little Google searching and was following a forum online from other women who were going through the same thing as I was. I had this feeling in my gut that was echoing all of what they were saying and I knew I had to make some big changes in order for us to ever have a chance at having a baby.

Taken in Oct. 2011, I had lost about 10 lbs after. Hello, HA!

Taken in Oct. 2011, I had lost about 10 more lbs after this picture was taken. Hello, HA!

From February through April, I cut way back on my running. I was running a good 6-8 miles every day prior to this time period but during these months I cut down to about 3-4 miles a few times a week, I tried to add in a little bit of peanut butter and sweet treats in the mean time and started incorporating some full fat dairy into my diet.

Without being officially diagnosed, I had a lot of denial that this was causing my cycle to be MIA but again, my gut knew something with my running and weight (as well as weight loss) was a factor so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to cut back a little, plus I was mentally not able to quit cold turkey at this point so if I did have HA, I had to start weaning myself. I was depending so much on my running to help handle the stress that I felt there was no way I could just stop.

Through April, my running started to be ruined by guilt. As my cycle was still not returning and I was continuing to follow the online HA forum and I gained knowledge on hypothalamic amenorrhea; after every run I would feel tremendous guilt that I was ruining any progress I had made and that I was never going to get my cycle back continuing to try to maintain my lower weight while still running. I also had witnessed plenty of women on the forum who gained weight and stopped exercising, and it paid off!

The forum saved me. Every day when denial would set in, I would read someone on there expressing how important it was to stop exercising, start nourishing, and eat up. I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to go all in. If I can control how my recovery is going to go, of course I’m on board! I couldn’t continue fighting to hold onto exercise and eating habits that got me here and I had to bite the bullet and make some huge changes. It worked for them; maybe it would work for me.

The beginning of May, we had my first doctor’s appointment with the fertility specialist who finally diagnosed me with HA. She started talking about the different fertility medications that would help, etc. which scared both of us and we were definitely not ready for that. With our sense of hesitation, she said I could try and gain some weight and STOP running. She made David swear he would keep me accountable and make sure my running shoes weren’t putting on any miles. That’s what I needed. I needed a Dr. to tell me that so I could finally stop being in denial.

So I stopped.

At this point I had gained 10 pounds on my own with eating more and cutting back on my running but she still wanted me to gain so I continued to gain. I quickly went up pound by pound and enjoyed the extra tablespoons of peanut butter, sweet treats, full fat cottage cheese/yogurt/cheese/ice cream, and continued to work on pushing out the negative thoughts on eating these foods and not exercising.

“As you attempt to recover, you will feel an increase in the anxieties around food intake, weight increases and body shape changes. It is one of the major reasons why going “low and slow” outside of an inpatient setting, is almost always unsuccessful. “Low and slow” is the terminology used for taking a patient slowly up from her current restrictive intake up to recovery intake amounts. As we now know, this approach is not evidence-based and appears to have weaker outcomes both for reaching remission and maintaining it even within inpatient settings. [A. Garber et al., 2012]” (youreatopia.com)

Once I stopped fighting it and started really healing my body, eating a lot more, and allowing it to trust me again, the crazy obsession of needing to run and needing to watch what I ate got less and less every day (never going away even still today, but it’s a lot quieter…)

I needed to do this. I’ll be honest, without HA, I would have never thought anything I was doing was wrong. I never would have known how to really eat and exercise or how to balance it all (still working on that…), and I would have never rid myself of the fear of not running and gaining weight.

When you get pregnant, you gain weight. I can’t imagine the mental, physical, and emotional struggle that I would have had to overcome if I would have gotten pregnant back then. I would have had a harder time not running (I wasn’t planning on running throughout my pregnancy as I was a fairly new runner…) and I would have really had to fight some personal battles to eat to nourish myself and more importantly another human being.

That is one of the many reasons I am glad (did I really just say that?!) I had HA. Looking back I know that I had to learn way more than I ever realized and I had to get to a point in my life that I could no longer be selfish if I wanted to be a mom someday. I had to start thinking about what I was doing not only for my health but for my future baby’s health.

It took 6 weeks of absolutely no exercise (other than walking my dog 20-40 minutes a day…no elliptical, no running, no weights, no videos, nothing), about 3,000 calories a day minimum (I wasn’t counting so this is an estimate but I do know that the more you eat, the faster you gain, the faster recovery would happen. Read from youreatopia and specifically “The Math of the Calories” section, so helpful!), and a weight gain from a BMI of 19.6 to a BMI of 22.3 to get my cycle back.

I thought I was set, I thought it would come back regularly and my cycles would get shorter, and we would be pregnant in no time. Unfortunately, I didn’t recover as well as I’ve seen others. I had a few cycles (long but regular) and then things were all screwed up. I was still gaining, still not exercising, but my hormones were still so out of balance that our chances were few and far between. I continued to gain and nourish hoping that it would help my hormones regulate and shorten things up.

After our year mark in January, we decided it was time for a little bit of help after having long, irregular and unbalanced cycles and a new Dr. who agreed.

Currently:

IMG_20130222_172758

Recycled Photo (Taken end of Feb. 2012)

I am on my 3rd round of Clomid and responding nicely to the lowest dosage of medicine because of my weight gain and limited exercise (still just walking, since I’ve gotten my cycle back I’ve slowly added in a little bit of Pilates and yoga).

I am up 25 pounds. Some days, I really struggle with this but I do my best to stay off my scale and wear clothes I feel confident in.

I have been maintaining a BMI of 23.5 (give or take a pound or 2) for 5 months while continuing to eat and rest.

I am doing my best to love my body and regain my confidence.

I am doing my best to fight the urge that even though I am “recovered” I don’t want to find out where my body’s set point is for exercise. I suddenly have a fear that I will over do it and take steps beyond steps backwards.

Daily I have to remind myself that my goal for a baby goes beyond the goal to be fit.

Things to Remember:

Knowing that fitness will always be there for me. Not being able to work out or run right now doesn’t mean I am unhealthy. It also doesn’t mean I don’t want to. I like to think about HA as an injury much like an IT band or pulled muscle, you rest it, nourish it, and it makes you stronger.

Knowing that the extra weight I’ve gained and each little part of my body that I’m not loving right now, is serving as a comfy little nest for my future baby and will allow me to be a mommy some day. Also, once I get pregnant if I have any sort of morning sickness and am not able to gain or worse, lose weight, I will not be teetering on an unhealthy scale.

Knowing that I am in this situation for a reason and that reason is to overcome some very challenging personal struggles to allow me to grow into the person I am today. I have gained patience, strength, selflessness, and I imagine qualities I don’t even see until I am a mother some day.

If you are dealing with HA:

Feel free to email me at ifgravityhappens@gmail.com and I can hopefully offer you some support and at least some friendship!

Our bodies run on trust and need to learn they can again. Eat more than you think you should, rest more than you ever have…

Know that you will overcome this. Stay positive.

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Fear of the unknown

21 Mar

I debated on if I wanted to write this on my blog or not but after lots of thinking about it, I decided if this is going to be a healthy living/infertility blog, I don’t want some things hidden especially if it can help someone else get through any fears, doubts, or worries.

A majority of my readers are struggling with hypothalamic amenorrhea or infertility in general and it’s a hard thing to go through but it’s even harder if you feel alone. With Facebook and so many bloggers getting pregnant and having babies, it really is hard to NOT feel like you are the only one who is struggling. I’m shouting out to all of you today, sharing my story, and hoping that your time spent here will reassure you that you are NOT alone and I am sending so much love and support out to all of you because I get it.

After a couple responded but failed medicated cycles, my Doctor wanted to do some further testing; just in case my HA was masking something bigger.

Unfortunately, now that I am categorized as an infertility patient, I am no longer covered by my insurance. That’s another whole post that I won’t boggle you down with right now but definitely something that I wish was different in the world.

Further testing happened yesterday when I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). An HSG is an x-ray test where they insert contrast to see if everything is clear and normal and look for any abnormalities.

I was pretty nervous for this test. I had no idea what to expect (except for the BIG mistake of Googling for experiences). It wasn’t pleasant but it was, I’m sure, less painful than labor so that’s the attitude I went in with. I was more or less nervous about finding out any bad news than the actual test.

I had to go to Radiology for the test and a nurse took me back to a very large room with some huge machines and monitors. The nerves kicked up a notch…

She explained what was going to happen and who was going to be in there with us. The nurse was amazing! She was so helpful, very comforting, and was like having a friend in there with me! She told me my Doctor would be down shortly and he would be conducting the test and she would be in there as well as a radiologist to run the x-ray machine.

My doctor came in and explained a few things to me and got started. I laid back and the nurse was very helpful with keeping me super comfortable and not exposed. My doctor went through what he was doing every step of the way. I haven’t decided if that was a good or bad thing. It kind of made me feel a little uneasy at times but it was nice to kind of know what to expect. As soon as I was ready for it to be over, it was done. And that was that!

It was uncomfortable with a little bit of pain but I was glad I took the phone nurse’s advice prior to my appointment about taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen an hour before.

My doctor seemed excited to give me great news that things looked normal! I think he saw the bricks being lifted off my shoulders one at a time as he went over my x-ray with me.

Worst part of it all was that I didn’t eat much beforehand, only a sandwich because my nerves got the best of me with a mix of more nerves, going through something uncomfortable like that, and then getting up too fast; I was told I could get dressed and almost immediately I felt light headed. I remember looking at myself in the mirror thinking, I can not pass out so I quickly got dressed and made it to the nurse who eased me into a chair and got me some water. My doctor made sure I was ok but continued on talking about next steps, next appointments, etc. and I imagine I looked like death because I could barely make out what he was saying to me.

After a good time resting in the room with the nurse after my doctor left, I felt my strength and vision come back and was able to leave.

It was a huge relief to know that any more obstacles I feared were now crossed of our list of possibilities and replaced with so much hope!

The fear of something unknown is one of the worst fears someone can have. I am definitely a worry wort and I have to try really hard NOT to think the worst case scenario (I am also a planner…those things set up the best climate to make someone stressed…) but eliminating these one by one is really helping me to continue to be positive and enjoy the present because I know that what we want in our future is possible.

HA Update: First Clomid Cycle

12 Feb

January was not only the start of a new year trying for our own little baby but it also was the beginning of our treatment journey. After meeting with yet another new Dr., he felt that I would respond nicely to Clomid and it would up our chances from the very smidget of a chance each month to a normal cycling couple. I was very resistant in taking this road but I am glad I did. I have put in the work I needed to naturally by gaining weight and nourishing my body and I was ready for some help.

We were really hoping, with some Vegas luck, that this would be it. I think that’s why when I saw the first sign it was over, my hopes came crushing down on top of me. I never thought I would have gotten this upset as I have gone through this month after month but this time, I really thought we’d have our happy ending.

Starting fertility medicine brought me new found hope but it became real to me the past few days that that new hope isn’t a magic pill that is going to give us our baby. I need to remember this.

I am feeling all kinds of emotions right now and I want to apologize to those around me who I’ve taken it out on with my negative attitude and hopeless tone. I feel more than guilty for putting this burden on the ones I love around me but I am so thankful for the support system and unconditional love of my family and friends. I don’t know what I’d do without any of you and I love all of you very much.

This post will mark my closure to this last cycle and today I will begin my day with a fresh slate. As always, I am hoping for the best possible outcome but am thankful that I know I will respond and we will have a shot. It’s no longer up to us. We can only do what we know to do and it’s just that. The rest is up to a higher power whether that’s God, my guardian angel, fate, or just plain chance.

I have a Type A personality most definitely and whenever I struggled whether it be school or work or friendships or whatever, I would put my all into the next chance to make sure I succeeded. Dealing with infertility challenges that aspect of me which is what makes everything so much harder. I feel out of control, because I am, and I feel defeated…even though I know I’m not.

In order to pick myself up and move on I have to set some goals to change some things in my life so that I can still live my life.

  1. I will begin living for today. I’m done living for 2 weeks at a time. Constantly waiting, dreaming of what might be, and setting myself up for such devastation.
  2. Keep myself busy. Although I feel busy, I really do have a lot of down time without running in my life, I need to replace what that use to be for me. It’s been too long living without something to look forward to that I do solely for myself, something that helps clear my mind, body, and soul.
  3. Start loving myself. I’ve put a lot of blame on myself for what I am going through each month. I think that’s what makes it so hard in our struggle for baby. It is what it is. Yea, maybe if I would have taken better care of myself and been smarter when losing weight and running, I wouldn’t be in this position. But who’s to say I wouldn’t? Doesn’t everything happen for a reason? I need to stop saying this and really start believing in it.
  4. Find things I love to do and do them. I really love to cook, I love to blog, I love to be active and be outside (winter blues are kicking in), and I love to spend time with my family and friends. None of these compare to the relief I got when I was running but maybe all of these things combined will give me some moments to get my mind off of it all. An summer is always so much fun…and hopefully right around the corner?!
  5. Take care of myself. Make sure that I am getting plenty of sleep, meditation would be very beneficial (my Circle+Bloom is definitely getting pulled out this time around!), and maybe a scheduled relaxation night every week would be good. A warm bubble bath can definitely change the world!

Dealing with any kind of long term or temporary infertility is hard. It’s hard for all of the people involved. It’s hard for David and I, it’s hard for my loved ones who get put in the position to have to comfort, and it’s hard to remember what life was like before starting to try for a baby. I refuse to go on for another year feeling this way. I don’t expect to change overnight but I will find true, genuine, happiness again.

I also have to remember, I’m not alone. Although at times it may seem everyone gets pregnant as soon as they think about having a baby, there are a lot of people that it takes a lot more time for things to happen. Fortunately, so far in our journey we are still very early, but no matter how long you’ve been trying, each month can be very tolling.

There are a lot of resources that can help those going through infertility and those who know someone dealing with it, my favorite being: www.resolve.org.

Resolve speaks from the eyes of those enduring the pain of infertility and helps those understand how they are feeling and know that it is normal – and okay – to feel that way.

For Family & Friends of someone struggling with infertility:
http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family–friends/infertility-etiquette.html

http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family–friends/when-infertility-strikes.html

For those struggling with infertility:
http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/coping-techniques.html

http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/emotional-aspects.html

If you are dealing with infertility, how do you cope with unsuccessful cycles?