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A lifestyle, review, and travel blog from Seattle

Weight Loss Surgery: A New Beginning For ME

Editor’s Note: Follow Laura’s journey after gastric sleeve surgery in 2013 (this is the start of her journey) . Laura is a 27-year old woman who’s incredibly loving, kind, and adorable. None of that will change….she’s always been and will always be one of the kindness human beings I know. I also want to mention that Laura 3rd generation in our family to have weight loss surgery.  She has several obese relatives including myself, her “favorite” aunt :). She’s by no means in this alone. I love you Laura!

laura as a child
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Those who know me on a personal level know that I have struggled with my weight for a long time.  Looking back it started when I was young, but really came to be a problem when I was 15. As a child I was semi-active, I played soccer and enjoyed time outside but food was an issue.  I would crave things and not know how to properly remove myself from those feelings and it ultimately became a much bigger problem.

When I was 15 I played soccer for multiple teams and focused on getting in shape. I jogged every other day and was cautious of how I acted around food and what I ate.  When boys came into the picture I soon learned that food was usually the focus of our time together.  We would go out to a movie, go out to dinner, go to the Fair; basically anything that had food involved was an option.  My focus became less about staying in shape and more about having fun and it ended with me going from a size 10 to a size 16 in a few short years.  I wish I could go back to myself at this age and really have a lesson about how those choices would contribute to a future struggle with body image and medical conditions.

Weight Loss Surgery: The Childbearing Years

Fast forward a few years, I’m now married and my husband and I are ready to try to have children. I struggled for a year without getting pregnant and really was frustrated with how it was going.  It seems no matter what we were trying a baby was not in the cards for us.

I finally spoke with my doctor about my feelings and we dug into my medical background to find out what might be the root cause of the issue.  It was determined after a few months that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS for short.  This came to a shock to me as I wasn’t fully sure what that meant or how to deal with it.  The bottom line was I needed to lose weight in order for my body to recognize the hormones it was producing each month in order to ovulate.  After a year of trying everything I could to have a child it came down to my body not releasing that precious egg each month.

Once we had the diagnosis my doctor and I returned to the problem, how do I get pregnant.  After a few tries, we found a combination of medications (Clomid and Metformin) that helped me finally achieve that goal.  Unfortunately, the happiness of achieving pregnancy was extremely short lived.

Looking back, my mom has expressed concern about why she didn’t notice there was a problem right away.  My pregnancy was not fun, I was constantly cramping, I couldn’t wear normal jeans because they hurt my abdomen and I was frequently spotting. At 9 weeks pregnant, I finally knew there was a much bigger issue then some cramps and spotting. I had insane cramping and noticed that I was no longer spotting, but severely bleeding.

That night in the hospital was one my husband and I will never forget, I wasn’t permitted anything stronger then Tylenol and after an emergency ultrasound proved that there was no fetus in my uterus but there was lots of swelling and a blockage on my tube I was rushed into surgery to have my tube removed.  It turned out that the embryo decided my left fallopian tube looked cozy and decided to make its home there.  This resulted in my tube rupturing and my life being in danger of internal bleeding.

After a few months of counseling and really focusing on myself  we decided to try getting pregnant again.  We went back to the drug cocktail that worked but after three attempts we were unsuccessful and I was emotionally sabotaging myself.  I quit working out, I quit going to see my nutritionist and I continued to feel upset and frustrated with my body.

Weight Loss Surgery: Making the Decision for Myself

Laura Before Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
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May 2013, was an interesting month for my husband and I, I decided that if my problem with getting pregnant focused on my weight then I am going to do something completely selfish and take care of me first. I researched online and found that weight loss surgery has been successful at lowering PCOS issues by 90% as well as a host of other major health issues.  This could be my opportunity to lose weight and start a family, two things I want desperately in my life.

I spoke with my husband about the whole situation and he agreed that this would be an option but he wanted me to speak to a fertility specialist to see what they suggested.  Looking back, I am so thankful that my husband is supportive of my decisions and willing to work with me to improve our quality of life.  I made an appointment with the fertility specialist and one with the bariatric surgeon and decided we would see what they said and then make a decision on how to proceed.

The fertility specialist ordered a hysterosalpingogram, a long and fancy word for an x-ray with dye contrast in my uterus to see if my tubes were open.  We knew that one was gone from the ectopic pregnancy we had but the other was a mystery.  A few minutes into that procedure and it was official, I have a blocked tube.  So now I have no working fallopian tubes.

The options were laid out for me, I could have a surgery to remove my blockage, but because I’ve had an ectopic pregnancy in the past, I am likely to have one again and may end up with that tube being removed or I could try in vitro fertilization.  In vitro is not a cheap option, it takes financial planning and a dedication to having a child not to mention a strong understanding of the hormones that are being pumped into your body.  I asked the fertility specialist about my odds at being 250 pounds and doing in vitro, they mentioned that being overweight makes it especially hard to harvest eggs and I may end up having to do multiple egg retrievals in order to have enough to try the procedure.

Weight Loss Surgery: Taking Control

Laura  - before bariatric weight loss surgery - watch her journey at MiscFinds4u
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My heart was broken; this idea went from being potentially a $17,000 dollar procedure to over $30,000 dollars.  After some tears I asked the fertility specialist what they thought about bariatric surgery. I’m not sure what I expected her answer to be but surprisingly she was extremely happy that I had considered the option.  I got the go ahead to take a break from trying to have a child in order to have surgery to help me lose weight.

Now weight loss surgery is not an option that one can jump into lightly, I am lucky enough to have coverage though my insurance for this procedure which makes a world of difference as they do not cover in vitro or any other reproductive procedures.  After looking more into my options and meeting with my bariatric surgeon I felt I had enough information to make a sound decision. Knowing I’m not alone for the full financial cost really made my decision clear to me.  I’m having weight loss surgery.

I can’t begin to express the feeling of joy that I have about this whole process, for the first time in a long time I feel in control of my life.  I’m not wishing and hoping that things work out; I’m standing up and taking ownership for my body and my actions. I know that having PCOS, low thyroid, and sleep apnea are because I’m severely overweight but the weight didn’t just pound itself onto my body… I put it there.  Being able to say that has taken some time.  I’m the victim in the situation but I’m also the one doing the attacking.  It’s a strange concept but it’s one I’m learning every day.  I have a choice and dang it; I’m going to do what’s best for me before I worry about everyone else.  I’m going to have weight loss surgery.

This is the new me, and new me… welcome to the world.

 Follow Laura’s  journey with gastric sleeve surgery and check out an update on her progress

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  1. Best wishes on your journey Laura. I will be following along and cheering you on from a distance. Next time you see Connie, tell her to give you a hug from me :)

  2. Well written Laura! I have struggled myself with weight so know how emotional it can be. Your story is heartwarming and I will be following your journey. I wish you the very best and all your family dreams come true!!!

  3. Laura, I look forward to following along with your journey in weight loss and motherhood. It sounds like you have made a very difficult and informed decision for yourself, and I hope it all works out the way you want it to. As someone who is extremely overweight with health problems, I am encouraged by your courage to have this surgery. Best of luck to you.

  4. I will be following your journey, too. While I don’t have problems with my tubes, I can relate to a lot of your story. I have PCOS and sleep apnea, too. We tried fertility drugs and struggled to conceive for a while but thankfully we were finally able to have 2 healthy baby girls. But I am STILL overweight. I am actually at the heaviest I have ever been. I am miserable. I have tried to lose weight and while I did lose over 50 pounds when my younger daughter was about a year old, I have since gained them back and 25 of their friends. SIGH! I really wanted to get bariatric surgery. My friend had the gastric sleeve surgery done and looks great. I even went to the informational session with the surgeon last year. I made the decision. I was all set. My husband was supporting me. I was ready. And then I called my insurance company and while United normally does cover it, my husband’s company that we have our insurance through has bariatric surgery as a an exclusion to our policy and we just don’t have the money to pay out of pocket. I hope one day that we will. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of the sleep apnea, the CPAP machine, not fitting into clothes, not wanting to look in the mirror, and just generally being uncomfortable with myself. You are not alone!

    I applaud you for taking matters into your own hands and making the brave decision to get yourself healthy AND for sharing your story for others to relate to. I have a friend who had gastric bypass surgery and she went on to have 2 more successful pregnancies. She just had to get extra nutrients to support the pregnancy because she couldn’t eat enough after the surgery to support the pregnancies without the extra nutrients.

    Are you only considering the bypass or are you looking into the sleeve, too?

    WOW! Sorry for rambling so much. I guess I should write about about all this on my blog since I obviously have a lot to say since I just rambled here but like I said before, I can relate to so much of it. I wish you much luck with your surgery, weight loss, and journey to start a family.

  5. Laura, Wishing you the best of luck! It sounds like you’ve done your research and know what to expect. Btw, I think you already look fabulous! However, as a weight loss struggler I completely understand the need to take big steps. I’ll be watching your story….Good luck!

  6. I can’t wait to follow your journey through this. I have struggled with weight my entire life since hitting puberty. Even playing three sports through high school I was never smaller than a size 10, and 5 births later, I am nowhere near being that small again. Can’t wait to see how this works for you!

  7. Hi Denise, thank you for reading my story.

    • Hi Laura I hope everything went great with your life I’m considering gastric sleeve surgery myself and im really concerned about side effects not only in short time but a in a long way im only 18 years old and im worry about my life or my tommy life in about ten or tweenty years or more so I read that you are a third generation bariatric surgery so i will like to know a little bit of their life experiences. i know is a little indepth but i just want to know how is been doing for those relatives while doing this. i know im too young but i tried everything and my health risk are sooo many please help!

    • Laura is busy with a newborn baby so I’ll answer for her. Laura is doing AMAZINGLY well, so much so that her mother had the same operation several months ago. A gastric sleeve is far different than the original gastric bypass. Two of my aunts (Laura’s great-aunts) had the original operation – one died from it after they nicked her bowel, the other gained all the weight back by overeating and eating high-calorie foods. Both of them suffered from vitamin deficiencies and they looked horrible with sunken and dark eyes. That’s not the case with this new operation – the nutritional issues aren’t as prevalent with this one, though you still have to take supplements.

      Laura’s infertility problems obviously went away as she became pregnant and gave birth just a few weeks ago to a healthy 8lb baby girl she named June. What a difference a year makes!

      Good luck to you hon and as an obese older woman, let me give you a little advice that I didn’t learn until I was 40-something. You have control over how you react to what someone says to or about you – you don’t have to let the taunts, stares, looks, etc., harm you. You are NOT your weight and if you’re unhappy overweight, you’ll likely be unhappy thin too. Value yourself based on your thoughts and actions and not your waist size. Learn how to truly believe that no one can say anything that can make you feel bad about yourself – their words have no weight when you believe in yourself.

      If you aren’t there now, go see a counselor. I promise you that counselling helps no matter why you go – weight, depression, anger, etc. It’s like anything else in life. The more you learn about it, the more you know, and in the case of learning about relationships, self-esteem, etc.,, the better you’ll feel as a human being.

      That’s why I’d tell my 18-year old self. I wasted 30 years hating my body and my inability to be a size 6 (at 5’10” that’ NEVER going to happen) – I’ve learned to love what my body can do for me and I love life.

  8. What a journey you have been on. I can’t imagine how hard it is to go through not being able to have a baby. I wish you all the best.

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