Maybe you’re just too fat to have a baby and other things no one said but I heard in my head

I’ve struggled with my weight for much of my adult life. I was very active in as a kid and through my teen years, and with only a few exceptions of the low-fat lifestyle trends of the 90s, I didn’t think all that much about what I ate. I started pretty steadily putting on weight in college, but for much of my early 20s remained only about a size or two bigger than I was when I graduated. I wouldn’t call myself a yo-yo dieter, but an slowly-moving, unmotivated yo-yo is a fairly apt description of my weight after 26 or 27.

Three years into fertility treatments, the scale isn’t too kind to me. It started to tick up when I started Clomid, then exploded during the transition from IUIs to IVF. Much of this was related to the hormones pumping through my body. It is also more literally tied to eating ice cream to dull the feelings of unsuccessful cycles, miscarriages and feeling like I’m completely broken. I can own that. All total I put on about 35 pounds in these three years and, in October when I met with the doctor offering a second opinion, was the heaviest I’ve ever been.

Over the course of that conversation, the new RE suggested that because of my weight, I was probably producing poor quality eggs, resulting in poor quality embryos, leading to lack of implantation. I wasn’t shocked by this assessment, but I was taken aback. This wasn’t a factor on the table with my Peyton Manning doctor. He never once said to me that I should consider putting the spoon down. I’d certainly read a bit online about BMI affecting egg quality, but if I’d asked and my doctor didn’t think it was the reason for three years of ultimately unsuccessful treatments, then it probably wasn’t… right?

In the moment, I left that RE’s office feeling absolutely deflated (like Tom Brady’s footballs… [I’m just going to keep running with these weird football analogies, so roll with it]). It was a deep cut to hear that my weight could be preventing me from achieving success. He’d told me that to take me on as a new patient, he’d want me to first lose 20 pounds. Twenty pounds caused by Clomid and ice cream and Estrace and pizza and watching everyone else become a mother.

Over the last four weeks I’ve used every ounce of brain space that I once reserved for progesterone dosages and ultrasound appointments to retrain myself to eat. Knowing myself well enough to know follow-through isn’t my strongest quality when it comes to a new routine, I joined one of the medically-supervised weight loss clinics that seem to be popping up on every corner. The staff has been supportive and has helped me address the areas of emotional eating that are the biggest triggers and challenges for me. I feel better, and I’m doing really well on their program. I’ve said goodbye to sugar (again), and have actually started to like the taste of Greek yogurt. I belong in a Dannon commercial.

I’m going to tick that 20 pounds off and keep going until we’ve pulled together the financials for another stim round. I can’t be the thing standing in my way of being a mom, so I’m not going to be.

Embracing TCM

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been reading The Infertility Cure. The book focuses on TCM and how it can be beneficial for those struggling with infertility. Within the first few pages, I felt a connection to the material and became excited to read more about how I could supplement the Western medicine (specifically my upcoming IVF) with Eastern.

The book includes a list of 100+ questions about your body, your habits, your menses, and the like. It’s broken down by the organs that govern its function (liver, spleen, lung, heart and kidney) and the vital substances of the body (Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood). Even if you know virtually nothing about TCM (I didn’t), you probably know that balance is important. After answering the yes/no questions, it became very obvious to see which areas of me likely had an imbalance. For example, I answered nearly all of the questions related to spleen function with yes (crave sweets, fatigue, sweat with little exertion, obsessive worry, easy bruising), indicating that I am deficient in spleen qi. All of these symptoms of this deficiency — things that I generally thought were just “me” and normal — quickly made so much sense. And after three and a half years of trying and failing to have a baby, something actually making sense is pretty rare.

Last week I met with my acupuncturist for the first time, and I immediately loved her. She’s warm and friendly, and perhaps most importantly, eager to help me get pregnant (and stay that way). I feel that way about my fertility doctor and nurses, but she brings a distinct energy to Team Baby. I like it, and I feel at ease with her.

I don’t have a phobia of needles (unlike my husband), so I wasn’t very nervous to try acupuncture. I already knew that it wouldn’t hurt and would (hopefully) relax me. I spend much of my time feeling like a ball of anxiety because of infertility, so spending 45 minutes lying down under the directive to let things go is comforting. Plus, acupuncture is a positive thing that I can do for my body that requires no significant effort on my part. I don’t hate that.

My homework following my first session was pretty simple — substantially cut back on my sugar intake, drink more water, and take an herbal supplement I was given. The latter two being easy-peasy. But cutting sugar would be my Everest. Sugar and I are BFFs. Because, ya know, it’s delicious. I’m one of those people whose mouths hang wide open when someone says they’re “not a dessert person.” I legitimately do not understand when I hear that.


I’m more than a week down. I’ve turned down cupcakes and chocolate lava cake with a snickerdoodle topping, just in the last two days. And I hate to admit it, but I feel a bit better. I’m adjusting to one stevia in my morning coffee. The sugar I have eaten has almost exclusively come from fruit (which my acupuncturist encouraged, particularly berries which will help me “build up my blood” – another areas where I was lacking, apparently). And while fruit is no ice cream with hot fudge, I’m enjoying it.

I’m eager to see more positive changes as a result of TCM and acupuncture in the coming weeks, especially as I start my IVF meds in a little more than a week.