Years before I even knew what bariatric surgery was, I became aware of my crazy fertility but that was okay as we wanted a family. We got pregnant within a week of getting married and were thrilled. At my first OB appointment I was 245 pounds. When I delivered I was 301.
~~ Noel Moriarty – Admin of Bariatric Eating Support Group on Facebook
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Six months later I was taking antibiotics along with my birth control and WHOOPS. At my first OB appointment for baby two, I was 255 pounds and this time I had the added stress of taking care of an infant while pregnant. I was 301 pounds (AGAIN) at delivery.
My PCP was worried about me, I was getting bigger and bigger in the months after my second child and could not lose the weight even though I am a culinary graduate specializing in nutrition. I know how to lose weight but couldnt get it under control. My primary suggested bariatric surgery and I was open to it.
Six months later, on the day of my bariatric surgery I was 295 pounds.
The month leading up to surgery I told my husband ‘dont touch me because if I get pregnant before this surgery I will never speak to you again!’ I was very aware of my heightened fertility having had two pregnancies within two years, and I wasn’t taking any chances.
After my bariatric surgery, I was instructed to give myself 3 weeks of pelvic rest and at 3 weeks with 2 carefully thought out and chosen forms of birth control protection, ‘owwww my belly’, but we engaged.
Three weeks later, I realized my period was late but thought “meh, major surgery… no big thing.’ My husband told me to take a pregnancy test to calm my nerves and I discovered we were pregnant – I was numb as I had been warned and worry set in.
I had a difficult time finding an OB who would work with me. My surgeon had never had anyone get pregnant this soon after surgery. I was terrified and didn’t know what to do. I was so sick because I was still trying to learning bariatric eating AND I was pregnant. I was exhausted because I had just had major surgery AND I was growing a human.
After 3 days of my not being able to keep down anything but flat full sugar sprite, my OB and my Bariatric Surgeon told me to eat or drink anything that would not come back up.
I remember that day because that was the best and worst advice anyone has ever given me. I was a fat girl who was just given a free pass – so I went out and I got donuts. They were delicious and they stayed down. Once I found a few foods that would stay down I was able to get some strength and eat more of a variety but it was very carb heavy because that is what calmed my stomach.
Even better, or so I thought, was that I was still losing weight. Dr G was closely monitoring ‘baby and me’ and everything seemed okay. Out of my three pregnancies though, this one was definitely the worst. The hormones from surgery never lessened and then I had added a whole new hormone cocktail that was now pulsing throughout my system.
I felt terrible and my joints were not okay – by the end of my pregnancy I was unable to shower myself because my malnourished body was so weak. There were days where I could not walk and could barely take care of my two small children.
At nine months post op I had my third C-section and welcomed my rather large miracle baby. He was over nine pounds and two weeks early. He couldn’t breathe and was taken to neonatal ICU because of fluid in his lungs – he stayed there for the longest 36 hours of my life.
At my post partum appointment I was 230 pounds. I had lost 70 pounds during my pregnancy and immediately had myself fitted for an IUD. I could not risk being even more fertile at my lowest weight in many years! I nursed baby James for fifteen months and during that time was not eating properly but I had given myself the excuse that I was nursing.
Now that I am more than two years post op, I can stand back and take a look through a different set of glasses. My early post op pregnancy took away my honeymoon period – my chance for super accelerated weight loss – I am amazed I did as well as I did but now I have to fight for every stinking pound. I am forty pounds from goal. I struggle every day because my I did not change my eating habits and my first 2 years post op I was growing and then nourishing a baby.
I am lucky that we had no major health complications but I also had an amazing medical team who worked together to overcome my very high risk pregnancy.
I know for many women, things do not end up well with pregnancies as early in their first year post bariatric surgery. The stress and worry over my babies health because of my accidental pregnancy ‘against medical advice’ was not something I would wish on anyone. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Please discuss this topic with your bariatric surgeon and primary physician, even if you think you cannot have a baby and have assumed you cannot become pregnant. Losing weight often changes this and you don’t want 9 months of worry.
There is a reason they tell you to wait! My current pregnancy is both planned and well nourished. I have the calm I was seeking and now counsel nutrition for the Bariatric Eating Support Group on Facebook. If you have questions about post op pregnancy from someone who has now been there twice, join our group and ask us!