It’s no secret that a woman’s fertility drops significantly after 30. When she’s older, getting pregnant becomes more complicated. Catie, a health and fitness coach as well as the owner of Little Wood Project, has fought against her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms and tried to conceive for 3 years. The tough Trying To Conceive (TTC) process and miscarriage do not defeat her, but makes her stronger and is inspiring. Let’s take a look at her story.
Hello Catie. Can you tell us a bit about you and your husband?
I am a portrait photographer as well as a health & wellness coach, and I have been married to my husband, a database administrator, for six years. We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, although I am from California and he is an Army brat, having moved several times throughout his childhood. We got married when we were 26, and since we had spent the majority of our dating relationship long-distance, we wanted to spend our first couple of years as a married couple, just the two of us. I remember telling my husband that I figured we could start trying right around turning 30…since my mom had always told me that your fertility declines and becomes more complicated after 35 (she is a maternity nurse). We had no idea what lay ahead.
What is your TTC story? When did it begin and how has it gone so far?
We have been trying to conceive since early 2013 after stopping birth control pills at the end of 2012. We tried a couple rounds of Femara, a couple rounds of Clomid, and then two Clomid + trigger shot rounds. During the Femara rounds, I would go into the doctor to do a blood draw to confirm ovulation. Also, since my periods are irregular, the actual day of ovulation is kind of unpredictable. I was going to see my OBGYN for these first couple rounds of medicated cycles. One of the things she noticed is that my uterine lining was thin when they would do the ultrasounds to check on follicles. I had been referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist to address the thin lining issue, but I had a terrible experience where I felt like the doctor wasn’t listening to me and I just felt really overwhelmed at the entire process. Right now we’re in the process of meeting with a new Reproductive Endocrinologist. We had a great consultation and I feel very confident in this new doctor. She was kind, empathetic, really listened to our concerns and took a thorough history- completely different than the other doctor. This past August, we had the surprise of our lives when I took a pregnancy test at day 42 of my cycle and it was positive. Unfortunately, I miscarried four weeks later. We're waiting for my body to regulate the hormones back to pre-pregnancy levels before moving forward. PCOS has been a significant factor that affects your fertility. Can you tell us how you found out you have this health issue? Does it have any specific symptoms? How does it affect you? In 2012, I was diagnosed with PCOS and had been put on birth control to regulate my periods since we were not trying to conceive. After coming off the pill, my periods came back on their own, but they ranged in irregularity from 31 days to 42 days in length. Finding out that I had PCOS was one of the answers as to why I had been having trouble losing weight. PCOS symptoms also include insulin resistance, unwanted facial hairs, sugar/carb cravings, irregular periods, anovulation, and infertility. Turns out that because of my PCOS symptoms, I was not ovulating regularly. Read more what Dr. Zhang talks about PCOS and miscarriages.
You are also a health and fitness coach. Do you have any fitness tips that can help TTC couples release stress or increase fertility?
I'd recommend finding what works for you when it comes to fitness. Whether that is CrossFit, yoga, bootcamp, or at home programs, find something that you like and commit to doing it. Once it becomes a habit for you, it's so much easier to stick to it. I know for me, focusing on health and fitness helped me tame my PCOS symptoms and enabled us to get pregnant, even though it resulted in miscarriage. For women with PCOS, finding a fitness program that you can stay consistently with will make a huge difference! Read more: 5 TTC Fitness Tips Before Getting Pregnant
TTC for you is not an easy journey. Can you tell us what has helped you get through frustration and inspired you?
Probably the worst thing about going through infertility is feeling like you are alone. You're the only couple going through this. I've found comfort in online communities - I have a few fertility Facebook groups I'm a part of, as well as in person communities. I found a local infertility support group through Resolve, the National Infertility Association. It's helpful to share experiences and not isolate yourself. Being able to talk to other women about what you're going through is so helpful. While I do talk to my husband about it, it's definitely a great resource to be able to talk to other women who are walking the same path as you.
Do you want to share anything regarding PCOS awareness?
PCOS is a condition affecting many women. Most may not even know they have it. It's not life-threatening and there is no cure, but it can be managed. If left unmanaged, it could lead to future health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, and infertility. If you think you might have PCOS, ask your doctor. One of the best things you can do to manage your PCOS without medical intervention is to improve your nutrition and fitness. Read more: TTC Story: I Have PCOS & A Baby Bump Defeat PCOS By Reading These 3 Success TTC Stories Ovulation monitoring lets you understand your fertility health and can assist in self-diagnosing infertility issues such as PCOS. For example, women who consistently use the KNOWHEN® Saliva Ovulation Test will see a full fern picture every day indicating their estrogen levels are always very high. This is a symptom of PCOS and they should immediately seek a doctor’s help and begin treatment before it’s too late
Catie is a photographer, blogger, entrepreneur, online health & fitness coach and a wife, Catie and her husband desire to one day be parents. They decided to share their journey through their blog because they know how hard it is to go through infertility. “No one talks about it and it's hard to find support that isn't in the form of sympathy.”
Learn more about KNOWHEN®, the only Saliva Ovulation Test to include a free Personal Fertility Monitor App. It’s designed to assist women in tracking their ovulation results from puberty to menopause. The KNOWHEN® Ovulation Test is easy to use and reusable daily while lasting years. It answers important questions about the secret and unique fertility code of a woman’s body in a few minutes, with just one drop of saliva. When used daily, there’s no need to guess about fertility as the App allows women to quickly record and track test results.
The Personal Fertility Monitor App features a calendar with color coded dates that monitors a woman’s unique fertility cycle, most likely days to get pregnant, sexual activity and more. Results are saved on a secure server for safe and exclusive access when needed.