We’re beyond excited to announce that we are expecting our first baby! There is so much glory wrapped up in every detail of our story, so I made a blog post. Grab a drink, put your feet up, and enjoy reading. 🙂
A Bit of Background
Louie and I got married on March 26, 2017. Adjusting to married life could be an overwhelming time for a lot of newly married couples. But since we already had a strong foundation of eight years as boyfriend and girlfriend, it didn’t take long before we felt comfortable and become well-adjusted into being husband and wife. We spent time mostly watching movies, trying new restaurants, traveling and just enjoying each other’s company.
The discussion about having a baby happened months before our wedding. My dream was to have our first one before I turn 30 years old (in 2019). In my mind though, I knew that dreams don’t come true as quickly as we’d like and that the world is not exactly a wish granting factory; we have to take the necessary actions to make them happen.
For the most part, my biggest worry was my irregular periods. It has always been super irregular, ever since I was in my teens. There were times when I didn’t have it in 2, 3, and even 6 months! Definitely, it deserves attention, especially in this age when I’m ready to get pregnant.
In July 2017, I visited an obstetrician–gynecologist to figure out what’s going on with my body. Through a transvaginal ultrasound scan (TVS), I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I dreaded the condition, with the assumption that it would take forever to conceive. The doctor was great, friendly, and proactive in explaining about fertility and PCOS treatments, so I left the appointment feeling less discouraged and more hopeful.
What are Polycystic Ovaries and What is PCOS?
PCOS is correlated with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, depression, and excessive hair growth. How could I have PCOS? was the question that circled around in my head. My blood pressure and blood sugar level were normal, I wasn’t overweight (and in fact, quite the opposite), didn’t have hirsutism, and wasn’t acne-riddled.
But then, in addition, PCOS is characterized with having high levels of androgens. Per the doctor’s findings, I had an imbalance of sex hormones, with more testosterone than estrogen.
The gynecologist explained how PCOS and pregnancy are closely linked. Polycystic ovary is when each ovary has tiny cyst-like structures. One of the most important factors for a couple to conceive is the development and release of egg (ovulation) in the female. In a woman with PCOS, either the eggs are not produced at all or they are of poor quality. That’s because the ovaries of women produce an excess of male hormones—a condition not ideal for egg development.
Typically, intensive treatment involving medications and changes to lifestyle are required for a woman with PCOS to get pregnant. Therefore, for a safe pregnancy, treating PCOS at its root is strongly advised. To help regulate my period and increase fertility by restoring ovulation, my doctor prescribed Duphaston (two times daily for five days). 10 days after stopping the pill, I’d have my period. It worked, every time, for two months! The doctor said I could stop taking Duphaston on the third month to check if my menstrual cycle would be normalized, and thank goodness, it did.
In addition to taking the prescribed medicine, natural treatments for PCOS which I believe also helped were as follows:
1. Dietary Supplements as Natural Fertility Boosters
When the body can’t regulate insulin, it can build up and cause higher levels of male sex hormones or androgens. Adaptogens and some herbal supplements can help with hormone regulation, insulin resistance, and inflammation associated with PCOS. I took Navitas Organics Maca Powder, Nature’s Answer Vitex (Agnus-Castus) Chastetree Berry Vegetarian Capsules, Spirulina, and Iron Complex from Healthy Options with a nod of approval from my doctor.
- Maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding both the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands—all involved in hormonal balance. I took maca in powder form and added it to smoothies.
- Vitex is a fantastic herb for fertility, helping with a range of issues such as PMS, low progesterone, lack of ovulation, irregular menstrual cycles, lack of a menstrual cycle, acne and so much more. Unlike refined synthetic drugs which force the body to change, Vitex (also known as chasteberry) nourishes and supports the system bringing about long-term balance.
- Spirulina is one of the highest quality protein, superior to all other plant proteins, which is vital to sustaining pregnancy.
- Menstruation depletes iron stores. Taking 18mg of iron a day helps make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells.
2. Stress Reduction
Stress impacts fertility. A constant state of stress can actually shut down reproductive function, and this is not ideal when trying to get pregnant. When stressed, the body floods with cortisol, which can interfere with the hormones that regulate menstruation.
Since I work full-time in the office for more than 9 hours every day, drive about three hours back and forth, wake up very early, and even do extracurricular activities during the weekends, life is full of high demand, which puts a lot of stress on the mind and body.
I prohibited myself to use my laptop to blog or continue work once I reach home from work. I made sure to just relax and spend time watching Netflix series and movies with my husband. I also slept an hour earlier than my usual sleep time.
Whether it be aerobic exercises, weight training, swimming, or dancing, any form of regular exercise can help deal with the issue of PCOS and pregnancy. Since I’m the type who easily gets bored doing the same things, I subscribed to GuavaPass and attended a variety of classes, such as Zumba, Anti-Gravity Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Upgraded Forma Core, and Martial Arts Tricking, for three months.
4. Diet Changes
Eating the right foods and avoiding certain ingredients can help manage PCOS symptoms. A nourishing diet can help regulate hormones and the menstrual cycle. Dietary improvements include: eliminating processed foods, reducing the consumption of grains, increasing dietary fiber, avoiding processed sugar, balancing blood sugar with multiple small meals, and daily intake of essential fatty acids.
I don’t eat a lot of sugary food, so to make a big change in my diet, I quit eating rice and limited my fruit intake to 1-2 servings per day. By “serving,” I mean one medium-sized piece. Keeping carbohydrate intake low reduces the amount of insulin the body needs to produce. Having a small amount of carbohydrate in my system all the time must be the best way to stave off sugar and carb cravings.
5. Ovulation Tracking
Ovulation tracking and fertility apps help in monitoring the best time to try and conceive during the “fertile window” of the menstrual cycle. I downloaded and installed Flo, a free mobile app available in the Google PlayStore and AppStore. It’s a smart and simple female period tracker which has an accurate ovulation calendar, fertility calculator and PMS symptoms tracker. I used it as a handy period calendar or menstrual cycle diary where I recorded moods, PMS symptoms, and menstruation period. It sends notifications and reminders on predictions for upcoming periods, ovulation days, and fertility.
Our Pregnancy Story
Since my period has become regulated, thanks to the meds and some lifestyle changes, I bought 30 pregnancy test strips from Lazada. Why 30?! So I can obsessively pee on them at home whenever I want, and I wouldn’t be worried about wasting ovulation tests in the clinic or in a hospital. The description stated that these strip tests are at a sensitivity of 10miu and work to an accuracy level of 99%. It’s a pretty good purchase at only PhP 361!
My monthly “regular” period stopped after six months. I panicked but decided to wait it out a few more days, thinking it might come eventually, just later than my new “normal.” It didn’t. Something might have gone wrong. With a strong surge to visit the doctor for a checkup, I scheduled an appointment in that weekend. But before then, Louie told me to use one of the pregnancy test strips to test for pregnancy.
After seeing the result, we looked at each other in shock—which turned into giggles. The test showed two very solid lines. While I was shaking my head and smiling at the same time in disbelief, he was laughing at me with an “I told you so” expression. 😛 I took another strip for confirmation, and it turned out positive again. I stared at the vibrant lines, with my heart and mind racing.
Perhaps since I got very cheap pregnancy test strips, the outcome may be inaccurate. Still in doubt, on the next day, I walked to the nearest drugstore from the office during our lunch break and bought a more expensive pregnancy test kit. The pharmacist said that the test would work just as accurate as a urine pregnancy test in a doctor’s office.
As soon as I reached home, I used the new kit and the result was the same. So yes—OMG, we’re pregnant!
We visited the ob-gyn in the weekend, as planned, with my family, for the fourth round of validation. We saw our baby’s heartbeat and the doctor confirmed the pregnancy. It was March 24, 2018, Saturday, two days before our wedding anniversary. ❤
Pregnancy So Far
As of this writing, I’m on my third trimester and the baby is the size of an acorn squash. I feel fine, except that I experience heartburn after every meal every day. Last month, I had a sonogram and was reassured that the baby’s growth is on track. My baby bump is showing so much faster now, and the flutters of a healthy baby kicking and jabbing are getting much stronger. I gained 15 pounds and my waistline (belly area) jumped from 26″ to 32″. I can’t fit into my pre-pregnancy pants anymore! My priority is our baby and if that weight gain goes with this pregnancy, so be it! 🙂