As my 36th birthday is approaching next month, I have been spending a lot of time thinking of where we are in our journey of growing our family, where we have been, and how far we still have on this path. When first struggling with infertility at 26, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I remember the advice my fertility specialist gave me then: have all your babies by the time you are 35 as you won't be able to have them after that. We were blessed with a daughter when I was 28, conceiving while on Metformin. Five more years of infertility followed, including multiple rounds of months of clomid. At 33, we were finally pregnant again, conceiving on our last month of clomid usage. Devastatingly, in March 2010, at 23 weeks along in my pregnancy, I gave birth to our stillborn son, due to placental issues. The following months were the darkest in my life, and it took me a long time to even consider embarking back on this journey.
My husband was ready long before me, however, gave me the time I needed. By September 2011, I realized it was now or never, as 35 was fast approaching. We went back on Clomid cycles right away, and after eight cycles, there were only a couple of ovulations and no pregnancy. After being told by our fertility specialist in April 2012 that there was not much further hope in us conceiving our own child, I finally decided that I needed to search elsewhere. I did an Internet search, trying to find someone in the Lower Mainland that worked successfully with women with PCOS. I truly believed that my journey was not over, but I needed a new approach, a new focus. Thankfully, I found Acubalance, and in particular Dr. Ryan Funk.
I started working with Ryan in June 2012 and my life has improved in so many ways. The work that Ryan does is truly amazing and inspiring. I am so thankful for him, and his kind and thoughtful demeanour and approach. He seems to know exactly what needs to be focused on each week, whether it be related to my fertility, or my physical, mental, or emotional well-being. Weekly appointments and acupuncture with Ryan have kept me motivated, rejuvenated and focused in moving towards my goal. The progress that I have made in four months of hard work and determination is exciting and worth celebrating and sharing.
I remember sitting waiting for my first appointment, thinking that this is just a pipe dream that I have, to ever have another child. Less than two months prior, our fertility specialist told us that there was not much more that could be done: we had exhausted our cycles of Clomid and I was not a candidate for IVF due to my high BMI. Ryan came in and in the course of an hour, listened to my story with care and compassion, asking me some very difficult and detailed questions, and then clearly told me that I was not an easy case as I had a lot going on. However, this is where Ryan differs from the countless other health professionals I have ever worked with: Ryan was positive and gave me hope. He said that he would welcome working with me and even though he could not guarantee a baby in the end, he could guarantee improved heath by following his treatment plan, guidance, and coaching. He told me it would not be a quick fix and helped shift my focus in order to be able to follow my dream.
To summarize my "a lot going on," I will list several of my health challenges on the day I walked into Acubalance: PCOS, infertility, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, prediabetes, lack of ovulation, irregular/absent periods, anemia, obesity, lack of energy, foggy mind, difficuly sleeping, hirsutism, hair loss, acne, skin rashes, brittle nails, indigestion and reflux, inflammation, bloating, depression, moodiness, lack of concentration, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, desire for another child but fear of another pregnancy. To say I had "a lot going on" was an understatement.
Ryan's approach was simple in principle: "let's regulate your cycles and get you healthier, and then, we can work on trying to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby." Whoa! Light bulb! I went there, so that I could find a way to get pregnant. I was thinking about the end result, not the process in which needed to be followed. What Ryan accomplished with his "nourish the soil then plant the seed" analogy was far more enlightening to me than the numerous doctors who spent less than five minutes with me and told me to lose 100 pounds and then come back to see them. Ryan never once asked me how much I weighed nor focussed on my weight. Obviously, he could see that was an issue but didn't focus on it.
After our first hour together, I was sent home with a book to read, my homework. It made sense to me. How could I possibly nourish a baby properly if I was not nourishing myself properly? My other homework? Cut out just four things: gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and caffeine. Just four things?! This was going to be a challenge but, at that moment, I knew this was my chance to change my ways, there was someone willing to help me, and I needed to believe that if I did what he asked of me, that I would see changes. Our next appointment, Ryan had a treatment plan prepared and we added in supplements to the dietary changes I had already begun making. Each appointment built on the previous, more books to read, and more lifestyle changes made.
Changes I have seen! Within the first week, I started to feel better, I couldn't explain exactly what that meant but I just felt better. The next week, again, even better. I could quantify it by the energy I had and the fogginess of my mind started to lift. My inflammation and bloatedness decreased significantly within the first month. I finally could wear my wedding rings again! They had not fit in seven years! I knew I had lost weight, due to my clothes fitting better or not fitting because they were too big or baggy. After two months, I had to go buy some new clothes in smaller sizes. Also, after two months, I had a regular-length cycle. To date, I have now had three regular cycles, at 27 days each, and ovulation strips are finally working for me. Last week I went for a progesterone blood test on day 21 of my cycle, and my result was 30! This is a huge accomplishment, as in the past, even with Clomid, my progesterone levels have been between 7 and 24. This means that I am actually ovulating on my own, naturally and having regular cycles! Prior to this, I have never, my whole life, had regular cycles. There is much more progress I have seen in myself over the past four months: my blood sugars have been stabilized, energy levels significantly increased, clearer mind, restful sleep, reduced hirsutism, less acne, fewer skin rashes, stronger nails, improved digestion, including no longer having to take medication, more stable moods, more everyday happiness, and more confidence in myself. I have lost almost 40 pounds, and am a few pounds away of being at my weight I was when I got married ten years ago.
I will not lie, this has not been any easy process for me by any means. Significant changes had to be made, and I've made them. I've had challenges and slip-ups and had to get back on track. It's amazing how my body can now tell me when it doesn't like something I've fed it. The first time I decided to have wheat and dairy after not having them for almost a month, I felt awful for three days. What I learned from that was that was how I used to feel all the time, everyday. It was a reminder of where I had been, and somewhere I didn't want to go again. There are always choices to be made. I look at this part of my journey as finally choosing me. Choosing what I need in order to be well.
I don't know what the future holds for me as far as having a pregnancy, but I do know that even though I will soon be 36, I am healthier and have an increased fertility than I did at 35 and younger. I look forward to the next four months and to see how much more progress I can make. For the first time in a very long time, I am starting to believe that my dream of another child may actually happen.