Radical lifestyle changes helped prepare physically and mentally for a baby
Lindsey had always taken care of her body and considered herself a healthy person. But when it came down to whether she could be a mother or not, she went all in on lifestyle changes for pregnancy. She wanted to do everything she could to create the most perfect environment for egg quality and a baby.
Being a mother one day had always been in the back of Lindsey’s mind. But it wasn’t until after she married her partner Amber, that she really started to think more about it. At her annual gynecology appointment in 2018, Lindsey, a Realtor in the Baton Rouge area, casually asked her gynecologist how, as a same-sex couple, she and Amber should go about trying to get pregnant. Her doctor sent a referral to Fertility Answers. But when the office called to make a consultation appointment, Lindsey got cold feet. “Having a baby was really just a thought then,” she says. “At that point, I knew we would need insemination with donor sperm. But I wasn’t sure how ready we were as a couple to start it all,” remembers Lindsey.
A year went by until finally they felt ready to start discussing their medical options to becoming parents with a fertility specialist. They had a consultation at Fertility Answers and started what Lindsey calls a “marathon” to get to their baby.
Early attempts to get pregnant proved disappointing
After purchasing donor sperm from a national sperm bank, Lindsey attempted two intrauterine inseminations in early 2020, one which was cancelled and the other in which she didn’t get pregnant. They started another IUI in May of that year, but after her ovaries produced too many dominant mature egg follicles to safely perform the insemination, her IUI was converted to an in vitro fertilization cycle instead. Four mature eggs were extracted and two fertilized successfully with the donor sperm in the lab. However, the embryos experienced delayed growth and developed poorly during their time in the IVF lab. Lindsey didn’t get pregnant.
At their post-transfer consult, it was recommended that they change sperm donors and adjust her stimulation medications before moving forward. And, to give them a better chance at pregnancy, they also opted to biopsy any embryos using preimplantation genetic testing, PGT-A.
Lindsey underwent two more ovarian stimulations and egg retrievals at the end of 2020 which resulted in just two viable embryos to test using PGT-A. After testing, one embryo was graded high mosaic, a mix of normal and abnormal cells, and the other abnormal.
Lindsey and Amber were at their lowest point after such disappointing results. “This was all harder on us than we expected,” says Lindsey. “We went into that first IUI way back at the beginning with such high expectations and anticipation. We thought it would be so easy to get pregnant.”
A new year, a different approach
It was at this point that Lindsey felt she needed to do something drastic and make significant lifestyle changes for pregnancy. She had always been a relatively healthy person and understood the relationship that what goes into your body can affect so much. It was January 2021, and a good time to do something radical. Lindsey decided to follow the Whole30 eating plan for at least 90 days leading up to their next egg retrieval. The Whole30 program emphasizes eating whole, unprocessed foods heavy in proteins, fruits and vegetables, and completely eliminating grains, legumes, dairy, sugar and alcohol. “Amber, being a gym owner, gladly joined me on this endeavor. But I ended up changing a lot more than just my diet,” says Lindsey.
In fact, Lindsey decided to go all in. She would watch not only what went into her body, but on her body as well. “I learned that endocrine disrupting chemicals can mimic hormones in the body causing a wide array of health issues,” says Lindsey. Endocrine disruptors and toxins are found in many everyday products, including some cosmetics, food and beverage packaging, toys, carpet, and pesticides. These disruptors enter your body through the air you breath, the food you eat and things your skin comes in contact with.
To combat these environmental toxins, Lindsey avoided using plastic, makeup, perfumes, nail polish, hair color and candles that could be chemically altering her body or affecting her fertility. She also added acupuncture and stopped using the microwave and taking over the counter medicines. “Dr. Chappell said I was his best student, and that not many people would have followed this strict regimen.”
And, to help get her mentally ready as well, Lindsey started fertility yoga and added meditation into her daily routine. Part of her meditation practice included envisioning her future. “The mind is really powerful,” she says “I envisioned my future with a baby girl.”
Finally, triumph and victory
On day 91, after starting her radical plan to transform her mind and body, Lindsey underwent her fourth egg retrieval. Again, out of all the eggs fertilized, they had just one embryo that was viable. But this time the embryo tested normal. “When Caroline from the office called to tell us the embryo was normal, it was such a beautiful moment for us. We were celebrating already even though it was just an embryo.” They decided they wanted to know the gender. It was a girl.
One calendar year after receiving the PGT-A results for their embryo, Rowen was born.
Reflecting back on her lifestyle changes for pregnancy, Lindsey isn’t sure what specifically worked for her. “My success may have been all of these things or none of these things. I’ll never really know,” says Lindsey. “But what I do know is that I now have Rowen, and I’m a mother. I would do it 10,000 times all over again to feel how I felt the day Rowen was born.”
Lindsey still follows most of the protocols she set out for herself more than two years ago. And the whole experience, the ups and the downs, made them both realize that the best things in life are never the easiest. “This marathon to Rowen has helped us appreciate the hard times even more,” she says. “If that very first IUI would have worked, I don’t think we would have been ready to be parents. We needed to learn the patience that this whole journey taught us. It makes us appreciate every single moment we have with Rowen.”