Little Peanut: First Trimester

Disclaimer: This post may be upsetting for any readers struggling with fertility.  Please skip this post and come back another day if this applies to you.  I whole-heartedly understand how you feel and am sending you big hugs.  As well, for any readers who may find reading about normal human bodily cycles uncomfortable, skip this one!

Well, considering in one of my last posts I told you guys about my PCOS diagnosis and how I was terrified about infertility… turns out, anything is possible.

I am pregnant and Dana and I are overjoyed!

In February, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and told that having children would be “difficult, but not impossible” without medical assistance by my family doctor, which was then confirmed by a specialist.  I didn’t know a ton about PCOS at that point, and so began my education about PCOS, women’s health, and fertility.  I found the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” so incredibly helpful that I returned the library copy and purchased one for my own shelf.  I learned how to track my temperature and cervical fluid, even though with PCOS and irregular cycles, the charting can be exasperatingly erratic.

Conventional medicine typically prescribes birth control to regulate periods for PCOS patients which seemed counter-intuitive to me (I want a baby!).  I was prescribed progesterone to kick-start a period every 90 days which I resorted to once, back in April (I hadn’t had a period prior to that in 14 months).  The specialist also gave me a prescription for Clomid, but I wanted to try el natural first and see if we could conceive without it (I know I’m a hippie).

For anyone “trying” to have a baby, the waiting game is a special kind of difficult.  Especially when your cycles are unpredictable and you aren’t even sure if you are ovulating.  There were lots of tears shed by me.  Dana asked me in mid-July if we were “trying” to have a baby which was, needless to say, upsetting to me as in my mind, we had been trying since February to conceive!  (Men…) Edited to say: Dana would like the general public to know that in his recollection of this conversation, he asked me how hard we were trying to start a family.

On the advice of my therapist and sister-in-law, I started going for acupuncture at the beginning of July.  I figured if all that came of the appointments was a good nap, I’d call it a win.  I saw Dr. Amanda here in Calgary.  We started out with twice-weekly appointments and then went to once a week.  I really liked the appointments and recommend Dr. Amanda 100%.  After about 6 sessions, she prescribed some Chinese herbs to help my ovaries get going since the acupunture still hadn’t kick-started my period.  I took a pregnancy test on July 24th before taking the herbs, but it was negative.  My period didn’t start after the herbs either.  Dr. Amanda referred me to the naturopath at her clinic to see if something else could be done.

When you’re pregnant, the doctor typically maps the due date of the baby off the first date of your last period.  With PCOS, the story is a little different.  For me, that day would be May 20th which would mean I’m much farther along in my pregnancy!  However, I know as of July 24th I wasn’t pregnant yet (or pregnant “enough” to show up on a test.)

Based on my Type A record keeping of body temperature, cervical fluid, symptoms, and possible conception dates, I’m reasonably certain our baby’s birthday will be April 22nd, give or take.  I took two positive pregnancy tests on August 22nd and could barely contain my excitement that day (I waited until Dana got home from work to tell him.)

After taking the tests, I quickly got in to see my family doctor as we were leaving for Italy at the end of August.  She confirmed the pregnancy and sent me for an ultrasound to confirm the baby’s birthday.  The ultrasound gave us a birth date of April 14th so my guesswork wasn’t far off.

My first trimester symptoms were largely: 24/7 nausea/”morning sickness”, which was actually at its worst in the middle of the night.  Exhaustion.  Sinus issues, like a sinus cold for 2 months solid.

So off we headed to Italy, which ended up being pretty good timing for a holiday as I really needed to sleep!  I soaked up the 9 hour sleeps at night and took naps almost every day.  Although working out on holidays used to be a priority, it wasn’t on our Italy trip – I was more interested in (a) sleeping and (b) what my next meal was going to be.  Unfortunately, I started to develop an aversion to tomato-based sauces while we were there which only got worse as the trip went on, and I had fewer and fewer non-Italian food options to eat at meals.  Let’s just say I’m still gagging when I think about pasta or pizza.

As I write this update, I’m now 20 weeks along and getting a bit of a bump.  It’s nice to be getting over the “is she putting on weight or is she pregnant?” phase.  The common phrase people tell me is “well… you used to be so fit.”  Thanks guys.

I’m still going to crossfit three times a week, fitting in a bit of yoga, and maybe a weekly 5 km run.  Being active throughout this pregnancy is so important to me, and the research backs me up!  Healthy mama, healthy baby, and hopefully a smoother delivery (here’s hoping right?).

And with that, and 900 words, I’ll sign off.  So glad to share our happy news with you all!

Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain

I am breaking Peanut Butter Kait’s blog silence to address several high-profile celebrity deaths that occurred this week, including Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Although I do not consider myself a notable fan of either person, I want to use my blog to draw attention to the importance of mental health and getting help when there is a need. 

If you are struggling, you don’t have to do it alone. In Alberta, call Canadian Mental Health Association, Suicide Services: 1-403-297-1744. In the US, call 1-800-273-8255.

Since I was a young girl, even slightly before puberty, I remember feeling emotions very intensely. I also had thoughts of suicide and self-harm then too.  I’ve talked before on my blog about my depression.

When I was in high school, around age 13, or 14, or 15, the waves of depression started crashing on me with unbearable strength. Fortunately my parents were very proactive and took me to see my family doctor, and I started seeing a therapist as well.

I clearly remember going to the doctor and telling him about all the sadness and overwhelming feelings I had been experiencing, and he prescribed an antidepressant. At the time, I was also cutting.  I had appointments as often as I needed them with my therapist.  Reflecting back on this time in my life, I feel an emotion too big for words for how much stress this must have caused my parents.

Depression is a really hard enormous THING to express. I’ve described it to family and friends as swimming in a fast-moving river where I can barely keep my head above water to breath.  Physically it feels like my stomach is full of cold rocks and I can’t get enough oxygen.  I can be very smiley on the outside, even when I feel terrible on the inside, so depression isn’t always obvious.  One of my favorite blogs, Cup of Jo, posted a really solid article about depression and suicide yesterday. Here’s the link for a read:

When I was 15, in the winter, the sadness was getting worse. Despite being on an antidepressant, getting therapy, and having loving friends and family, I was struggling.  A few nights my mom slept with me to keep me safe.  When I was feeling suicidal, she took me to emergency to try and get me help.  They couldn’t admit me because they didn’t have beds so she had to take me home.

On February 27th, 2005, I did my usual bedtime routine and hugged my parents goodnight.  I am sure this blog post is already upsetting to some of my family members and friends who read Peanut Butter Kait, so I won’t go into the specifics, but I wrote a note before bed to my parents and climbed into bed, preparing to not wake up the next day.

I’m so thankful my attempt was not successful. I woke up the next day – quite surprised, maybe a little disappointed, and very drugged – and quietly did my usual morning routine and caught the bus to school.  I didn’t tell my parents.  But fortunately when I got to school and confided in a friend, she encouraged me to talk to an adult and I opened up to my favorite teacher.  The rest of the day was a blur of lying on the sick room bed holding my best friend’s hand, then going to emergency and getting admitted to the hospital.  I ended up staying there for almost a week.

My doctor took me off the antidepressant after that. He thought we could try something different: he encouraged me to get out for a run – 3 times a week for 30 minutes – and report back.  That advice has been my life preserver for the past 13 years.  (I also highly recommend counselling!)

My whole life I’ve basically chalked my depression up to hormones and genetics. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of.  The important thing is to be open about what you are experiencing and ask for support when you need it.  Depression comes and goes for me.  As I write this blog post today, I deeply empathize with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, but I’m not personally feeling down at the moment.

Another piece of my depression puzzle has come to light this spring. I was recently diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is a genetic condition that apparently ~10% of women suffer from.  It manifests itself in different ways, but for me, means that I have polycystic ovaries, hormonal imbalances, depression, and acne.  Although I understand PCOS to be a fairly common issue, I am still heartbroken to know that although it is not impossible to get pregnant with PCOS, it is certainly challenging.

What I want you to know is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU ARE LOVED.  If you are suffering from depression, please reach out to me, a family member or friend, a therapist, or call one of the phone numbers listed at the top of my post.

With love,