“I’m sorry Laura, we can’t find anything wrong with either of you, it’s what we call 'unexplained infertility'. We do think your weight could be impacting on your chances of conceiving and suggest that you lose some weight."
If I had a pound for every time I’d heard this sentence or one very similar, I’d have been able to afford a cycle of IVF!!!
I’d always been outside the 'normal' BMI range and always joked that I wasn’t overweight I was under tall, but after nearly a decade of seeing friends and family have babies, it wasn’t a laughing matter and my desire and longing to be a mum was certainly no joke. We made the decision to go for IVF. I saw it as our last chance and told myself, if it doesn’t work I’ll know we’ve tried everything. We’d tried the fertility drug Clomid 3 times without success and researched fostering and adoption.
We were denied treatment on the NHS due to our local PCT ruling that due to Chris having 2 sons from his previous marriage, we 'were not a childless couple'. Despite me pleading our case at appeal and involving our local MP, sadly we were still denied the funding.
Having researched the process and costs, we decided to pursue the egg sharing route. This brought the cost of the treatment down considerably and also allowed me to help other women struggling to have a baby. To be able to do this, I needed to have a BMI of 35, at the time my BMI was 42, I worked it out that I would need to lose 3 stone.
Having flirted with the gym over the years but never committing to a long-term relationship with it, I decided to try something different. I had employed a personal trainer, Nic in our gym a few months prior to devise me a gym programme but never actually went to do it! Nic ran her own boot camp locally and offered me a place on a two week special event comprising of 3 sessions a week for a fortnight.
Although the thought terrified me, I signed up and attended my first session. Weighing in at my first session, I was nearing 17 stone. Horrified but determined to do something about it, I embarked on my first my class. I was KNACKERED!!! 60 minutes of dashing about and feeling like the fattest person there, everything hurt. I went home and cried to my husband and swore I wasn’t going to the next class. However, 2 days passed and the next class arrived. I found myself there again. Again, I was knackered and everything hurt on top of hurting from the last session, but again, I was determined. I found myself uttering clichéd phrases like “no pain no gain” and “if it’s hurting its working”. I had actually started to enjoy it!! Me, the fat girl at school who used to pretend to have my period so I could get out of PE!!
After the initial 2 weeks, I was gutted as I hadn’t lost any weight and swore that was it, I’d done with fitness, it wasn’t for me. After some harsh words from my husband and a reality check, I signed up the next course, a 6 week course, 3 times per week. I sat down with Nic and she gave me guidance on my food intake and I purchased one of her detox food plans. I followed the plan which was none of this juicing, gels or starvation clap trap, it was proper, nutritious food, just what my body needed. After a week on the plan I had dropped 10lbs. I was thrilled at seeing the results I so desperately wanted and needed. I continued eating healthy, planning my meals weekly and attending the boot camp.
I added in a 1:1 session with Nic each week which I admit was hell and I came close to vomming a few times it was that hard, but I found myself getting fitter week by week and enjoying the challenges! Nic would advise me of food choices and offer me feedback on my food intake. I found myself cooking meals from scratch, drinking more water instead of fizzy drinks. Takeaways became a one off treat instead of the norm. Everything was allowed, just in moderation and much smaller portion sizes. At no point did I ever say I was on a diet, that word was BANNED!! I told people I was changing my lifestyle as that was what was needed. From past experiences, all diets have an expiration date, we lose the weight we want to and we go back to our old habits and put it all back on (or in my case more!). Within six months, my periods were now regular and much lighter, and instead of having a 45 day cycle, I was reaching a more “normal” cycle of 28-35 days.
Our initial appointment at CARE Fertility in Manchester was in March 2014 and I had pledged to reach my goal by then. It was the turn of the New Year 2014 when I had gone to the gym for PT with Nic and weighed myself. I HAD DONE IT!!! I was at my target weight. The challenge now was to maintain the weight loss, a problem I had struggled with in the past. I continued training and eating healthily and by the time we came to have our IVF treatment, I had lost a total of nearly 5 stone. Completely smashing the BMI target of 35 and reaching a BMI of 30. Clothes shopping became easier and much more pleasurable, having always shopped more for shoes as they always fit as opposed to clothes that didn’t, I ditched my “fat uniform” and started to wear fitted clothes and brighter colours.
The healthy eating became a way of life and staying active was second nature. All the way through our treatment, I continued to train right up until when I was due to have my eggs retrieved. I found the training helped with the stress of the treatment, a good outlet to vent any frustration and keep my mind occupied from the “what if this doesn’t work” feeling I had every now and again.
We had our blastocyst embryo transfer 18.11.2014 and were sent home for the dreaded '2 week wait'. We tested on 01.12.2014 and saw the words I had prayed so long to see WE WERE PREGNANT!! All the hard work had paid off. Seeing our baby’s heartbeat at CARE 2 weeks later was the most amazing feeling. We welcomed our baby girl on 8th August 2015 after a 13 hour labour and ironically, on Nic my PT’s birthday!
Laura Magee, CARE Manchester patient