The main reason I had gastric bypass surgery was not just that I was fat and couldn't lose weight. Sure, OBVIOUSLY there was that, but mainly I was too fat to get pregnant naturally and I was too afraid to try fertility treatments. I know it seems crazy to choose to have my guts cut open and drastically rearranged BEFORE popping a few Clomid, but that was the choice I made. I feared that there was a REASON my body wasn't getting pregnant and I was worried that if I forced the issue and got pregnant before I lost weight, I would have a high risk pregnancy. I also knew that getting pregnant might cause me to gain even more weight and that afterwards, I'd have even more trouble dieting. Also, surgery was covered by my insurance and fertility treatments weren't. It didn't turn out to be that hard of a decision at all.
Basically, I wasn't ovulating, hadn't ovulated for years and I had all the symptoms of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Even though I never had an ultrasound to check for the cysts themselves, my blood work was textbook PCOS. High testosterone, wonky estrogen, you name it. For years I took ovulation predictor tests like my life depended on it and never once got a positive result. I got a period every 90 days or so, but it was basically brought on by gravity, not hormones. I had to go on birth control pills every few months just to make sure I had a real period. It was bad.
Both my primary care physician (the one who recommended me for the surgery) and the surgeons themselves said the same thing: after you loose weight, getting pregnant will be a cinch. One of them actually used the phrase "oodles of babies." Both doctors also gave me the same strict advice: WAIT AT LEAST ONE YEAR BEFORE TRYING TO GET PREGNANT.
Fat stores estrogen, so when you lose weight, you basically pee pure estrogen and become a huge raging ball of crazy hormones. I got my first period at exactly 30 days post-op. The surgery completely restarted my biological clock. I started ovulating again and got my period every 30 days from then on. Which of course meant I needed to go on birth control to prevent getting pregnant while I was still losing weight so quickly. After the first month, I went to my OBGYN to try to figure something out. It turned out to be harder than I anticipated. I couldn't take the pill because early post-ops have difficulty absorbing nutrients in pill form. I couldn't take the birth control shots because they can cause infertility for up to a year AFTER you stop taking them and I couldn't afford to wait that long for normal cycles to return. You can't have an IUD until you've had a baby and I couldn't find anyone to give me that Norplant thing since it turns out doctors stopped prescribing them.
I ended up trying the birth control patch. Unfortunately, the patch is only guaranteed to work on women who weigh less than 200 pounds (I think! Check with your doctor!) and I wasn't there yet. My doctor basically said to use condoms along with the patch. For the record, I hated the patch. Not only did it not work for me (I got my period in the middle of my cycle), but the stupid thing is disgusting. It gets sticky all around the edges and you end up with this dirty, black lint-rimmed band-aid on your ass, which is just SO sexy and then you have to take it off and put a new one in a different spot and you end up with all these dirty, sticky patches of skin all over you. SO GROSS. I knew it wasn't working, so I quickly stopped using it and instead of using condoms, Dave and I decided it was better to, uh, how should I put this, not make any deposits and that worked just fine for us.
Until it didn't.
Two days after Christmas, on December 27, 2002, Dave left a deposit even though he knew he wasn't really supposed to and that I might get pregnant. It wasn't an accident, either. At the time I was selfishly a little miffed because I had my eyes on THE GOAL WEIGHT, but figured we were okay. I mean, we'd been actively TRYING to get pregnant for several years with zero luck, so what was ONE slip-up?! No big deal. I wrote an "OOPS" on my calendar that day and then promptly forgot about it. The sex had been awesome enough to make up for it anyhow. (Losing weight and getting smaller? DOES HELP!)
Two weeks later I went to take off my bra in my usual fashion, which is to unhook the back and yank it off in one fell swoop, letting my sweater pups fly (or in my case, flop) where they will. Only this time I YELPED. The pain was TERRIBLE. I had never had such sore breasts in my entire life. I knew that was an early pregnancy symptom so I put my cycle information into an ovulation calendar and realized that I had almost definitely been ovulating on the night of our infamous "oops." I wasn't technically due for my period for another few days because I'd been on a 30 day cycle, but every fiber in my being knew already that I was pregnant.
I remember walking into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. I was terrified, I mean I wasn't even FIVE MONTHS post-op and every doctor I'd seen had warned me to wait a whole year before trying to get pregnant, but man, I was happy. I remember smiling at myself and thinking, you're totally going to be someone's MOM. It was the best feeling in the world.
[I realize this segment is taking FOREVER, so I'll continue it again later this week. I've actually been hoping I'd be able to someday find the time to write a nonfiction book about pregnancy after weight-loss surgery, so I'll try not to ramble on too much more here.]