Monday, September 10, 2012

HA and weight. Which turned into my entire ttc history.

I've been thinking a lot about my weight over the past years as I'm putting together the survey for my book.  So I thought I'd post my weight history for as long as I can remember, as I think it's interesting, and perhaps useful for others going through this.  (Note, I'm about 5'6").

I first got my period at age 14.  Kinda late.  It was the summer after freshman year, I was babysitting for a family up in Maine and my best friend happened to be visiting.  Fortuitous if I wasn't going to have my mom around, to have someone else I could confide in.  I have no idea what I weighed at the time.

My cycles were fairly irregular, and I remember my periods lasting FOR.EVER.  Each was at least 10 days of bleeding.  And I never knew when they were coming, although as I think back on it, I feel like it was about every 5-6 weeks or so.

Then at around 18 I started on birth control pills for a short while, but wasn't very reliable about taking them, so ended up with Norplant (the rods that go in your arm) after a couple of years.  Loved it.  Especially loved that I stopped getting my period a few months in.  I think my weight at the time was in the mid 120's.  That was when I was about 20.  In college I started exercising a bit - I'd go to the gym and use the stairmaster (doing the classic - level 10 but holding my weight up on my wrists. ha ha.) and would run occasionally.

The Norplant lasted five years, I met my husband, and we got married.  At some point I had them taken out and went on the pill.  I worked for a few years, then went to graduate school.  And this is when I really started paying attention to what I weighed.  I guess over time my weight had gradually trended upwards until I was sitting at about 139 in grad school.  Which was fine, but I was never particularly happy with my love handles and the bit of cellulite I had developed.  Went on a few "diets" but could never be particularly consistent about it because I just loved food too much, particularly junk food.  If I could be healthy and live on chocolate and chips I totally would!  During this time I became much more active than I had ever been before - started playing ice hockey a few times a week, volleyball, weight lifting, squash - I loved being and feeling so fit!

Then, some of the post docs in my lab whom I hung out with a lot decided they needed to lose some weight.  And I thought I would join them. Finally get rid of those love handles, and "get healthy" in preparation for having a baby.  Because I'd seen so many places that if you were overweight you should lose weight to be more fertile, and so I figured that was true for me too.  They were men, quite a bit bigger than me, and were aiming to eat 1500 calories per day.  I figured that would be a good goal for me too, as I was smaller than them but exercising more.  So I started an Excel file (I have one for everything!) where I would track my calories for each day.  With all the exercise I was doing, my net calories were around 7-800.

And I lost weight.  BOY, did I lose weight.  I think I lost 12 pounds in the first month I was doing this, then a few more after that.  Which got me down to my low weight of 120.  It was so addictive seeing that number on the scale go down!  I loved how I looked (I had a six pack! and you could see the vein in my bicep!)  And then I went off the pill because we decided we were ready to have a baby.  And my body just laughed at me.

I went to see my PCP, and then my OB/GYN.  Eventually I was diagnosed with HA, and my OB did tell me to cut down on exercise.  I had gained back to about 133 by that point, but still no period.  This was about six months after going off the pill.  Then went to see an RE, who was very doubtful that I would either start to cycle on my own or that Clomid would work for me.  Up to 136 (Jan '05).

Two months later I got my period while on vacation! Had a couple of ultrasounds after I got back and had a 14mm follicle that didn't grow in two days.  So we started on the injectable/IUI rollercoaster.  Over that period my weight kept going up.  Four BFN cycles (just reread all my archives - had forgotten how hard it all was).  Gained some more weight up to about 140lbs (yes, back to where I started!).

After the four BFNs we were going to move on to IVF, but not for a couple of months because of insurance.      Decided not to take bcp until we knew what our IVF schedule was.  Amazingly, ovulated on my own in 12/05 and got a BFP!!  143 lbs at the start of my pregnancy.

Gained 17lbs by 30 weeks and then another 20 in the last 10 weeks (mostly water), for a grand total of 37lbs and final pg weight of 180.

By six months postpartum was back down to 136 - could have gone lower but didn't want to for fear of having HA again.

Didn't get HA, started cycling naturally at 11 months postpartum, BFP on my third cycle trying (using progesterone to lengthen my LP from 8 days to 14+), starting weight for this pregnancy was 136.

Gained a total of 25lbs, final pg weight of 161.

Again no trouble losing the pg weight, got down to about 128 before deciding once again that I didn't want to lose more in case we did decide to have a third child, once again didn't want HA.

Started cycling naturally at 10 months postpartum.  Started trying for a third child at 18 months PP and got pregnant on my first! cycle.  Starting weight of 128.  Found out our baby didn't make it at 10w.  Had gained up to 133.

Lost that over time, kept on trying for a year, finally moved on to IVF.  Lucky enough to get a BFP on our first cycle.  Starting weight 127.

Gained a total of 30lbs this time, to 157lbs.  Lost 10lbs by delivering Truffle, lost another 10lbs by a week later, and then have been losing about a pound a week since.

And now we get to the real point of this post.  I'm now down below my pre-pg weight, at about 125.  And given that we're probably not going to have another child, I'm finding that my motivation to keep my weight up is somewhat lacking, and in fact, there is a not insignificant part of me that is once again liking seeing that number going down.  Amazing that it's still there after all these years.  I have been trying to add in some more snacks so that I dont' lose too much more weight, I think this is a good place for me to be especially as I'm not exercising that much any more.  But still.  I think it's something that those of us who got ourselves in the way of HA will always struggle with to some degree.  We can push those thoughts away for the most part, but not completely.

Have you been able to completely banish them?


13 comments:

J o s e y said...

Nope. I'm better, much better, but there will always be a part of me that struggles. Always, and I've come to accept that.

Rebecca said...

I haven't had HA, but as someone with a history of anorexia and bulimia, days when the numbers on the scale go down will always be happier days than the days when they go the other way. But I have found that infertility helped put it in better perspective for me.

sarah (SHU) said...

hmm, an interesting post. right now, i am finding myself somewhere between my "definitely HA" weight (BMI 19ish) and my "fertile" weight (BMI 21ish) and it's completely natural -eating everything in sight, pretty much, and exercising to a degree that is fun for me but nothing over the top. i do worry about the return of my cycle at this weight (just don't know - gray area?) but i am completely ready to gain back to fertile land when it's time for #2 (and i don't see us waiting TOO long!).

i feel good and . . .healthy and confident. is it wrong that i don't want to literally force feed myself back up to a BMI of 21? personally i don't think so! plus, it may happen naturally when the BFing calories stop coming out at such a fast rate!

that said, i understand your feelings. i know it will be really hard to motivate myself to keep a 'fertile' BMI when i'm done having kids. part of me questions if it's even that important -- not sure studies have really looked at HA patients who are at a normal-range BMI in terms of osteoporosis risks.

sarah (SHU) said...

(oh, and i got my period at 15 1/2 years old - quite late. i think this is common among HAers -- probably part of that genetically more sluggish hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadotrophin axis)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting on this blog again! It's so hard to find HA stuff on the web. I really appreciate all your information.

kristabella said...

HI Nico, i totally identify with these feelings. definetly think you never lose the mindset completely.

I was happy to gain the weight to try and fall pregnant and did lose it all nursing and got down much below pre preg weight which made me happy I must admit.

My husband unsure if he wants a third (I do i think) and with that, i am happy to keep the weight down.

Interestingly I am cycling at a weight below my pre pregnancy weight (where I had HA) and i atttibute this the to the absence of intense exercise (I only walk in the pram).

thanks for your blog

kristoss

Susannah said...

I too was late to get my first period--a week before I turned 15. What Sarah said sounds about right for me...sluggish pituitary, etc. Despite the fact that my height is genetic, I stopped growing entirely for 2 years, between the ages of 4 and 6...like, didn't grown even a half-inch and had to be evaluated by a ped. endo.

My body has also ALWAYS been reluctant to lose weight, even from overweight weights. When you wrote "and boy, did the weight come off" that was definitely never my experience, even while anorexic. I would be eating 800 calories a day and losing a pound every 3 weeks. My body put up a fight (thank goodness!)

For me, the most interesting part of my HA Journey Round 2 was that I stopped exercising and gained weight in order to cycle. Once I started cycling, between Dec-August, I lost the weight I gained and was actually the lowest weight I'd been in years, but wasn't exercising at all. So Kristoss's comment was true for me as well...eliminating exercise proved to be the critical factor for me, rather than weight.

And as for those feelings, of course I'd rather not still be hanging onto these 5 pounds! But my perspective is 100% different now. I'm pretty proud of the fact that my body rallied and carried two babies to term. For me, I can't get to a very low weight without doing it unhealthily, and I mistreated my body enough in early adulthood. I have the osteopenia to prove it! I'm not sure if we will have a third child or not, but whatever happens, I don't plan on returning to a no-period state again!

Anonymous said...

The only way I differ is that I got my first period at twelve, so, dead average. however, all through high school, when I would *guess* my BMI was around 23 or so? I still had very long cycles. Post college, gained weight to be borderline overweight. When I started dieting and exercising, I stopped ovulating completely, even though my BMI was still right where it was in college. My body just doesn't like surprises, I guess. Keeping my BMI around 22, my periods came back. Got very serious about running, BMI around 20, I did not ovulate. Period. Full stop. Was VERY lucky that the shock of going off the pill prompted me to ovulate four weeks later (not unheard of, according to my doctor) and I managed to conceive immediately. Did not ovulate at all while bf'ing. TTC my second, did not resume ovulation after weaning first child with BMI around 21. Added Vitex and started having six-week long cycles, and conceived on the fourth cycle. Again did not ovulate while bf'ing. Weaned that baby and resumed anovulatory cycles immediately. In spite of extreme emotional stress related to the health of my oldest child, I lost a great deal of weight, dropped my BMI to 19, ovulated, and got pregnant. My doctor's best theory is that, for some women, pregnancy and bf'ing can sort of "teach" the HPA to do its job, and I am one of those very lucky women.

I will be done having kids after this baby is born, and to answer your question, no, the push to lose the weight and keep the BMI on the low end has never, ever, ever gone away, and I don't think it will this time, especially without the motivation of TTC. And really, I was one of the lucky ones and could tweak my body into doing its job relatively easily, which sort of doesn't help, because it makes 19 seem much healthier than it really is for someone with my frame/build/genetics.

Katie Jones said...

Hi Nico - question - have you seen any gals around 30 yrs with DOR (depleted ovarian reserve) with HA? I finally got myself into an RE (surprise AF came 1 week before my appointment). Doc said I have HA along with DOR - and I'm scared to death. I want children badly and have been gaining weight like its no ones business. I'm 5 ft and my weight hovered around 95lbs...which I thought was fine. I'm now up to almost 110 and havent gotten my period yet - I'm hoping that it normalizes quickly and that I can get pregnant ASAP. My time is running out, rapidly. I could use ANY advice that you have. I feel like I have so many things that I'm up against now.

Susannah said...

Hi Katie, I signed up to get a notice when a comment was added to this post. I happen to be 30 years old, diagnosed with DOR at 29. Had my first son at 27 and my second after the DOR diagnosis. He was conceived on my second Femara cycle. Feel free to email me at suemagoo18 at gmail dot com.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Nico, do you mind my asking whether you breastfed your kids and if so how long did it take to get your period back after weaning?

Nico said...

Anon, I got my period back at around 10-11 months postpartum with each of my kids, while still providing them milk to some degree. Most HAers, though, do not cycle while nursing, and it generally takes 6 weeks to 3mo to start cycling again. If your weight and exercise are at a reasonable level for you. Hope this helps!