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How I Got Pregnant at Age 43
(even though I have PCOS)

Marinated Kale Salad-2

I still remember the first time I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). On one level I was relieved to have a ‘reason’ for my irregular periods. But then came the real shock.

‘It’s going to be really difficult for you to fall pregnant naturally’.

Ouch.

I was 31 and newly married. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear.

But life has a funny way of working out for the best. Even when things seem to be going seriously off the rails.

That marriage didn’t work out. For a while I got used to the idea of never having a family of my own. And I was cool with that.

And then I met a certain Irishman.

After a while things were getting serious so I felt I had to share my big fertility ‘problem’. I knew he really wanted to have a family so I was pretty much expecting that to be the end of that.

But (fortunately) he wasn’t put off. In fact he didn’t seem to think it would be a problem.

Now that we have one beautiful boy and another babe due very soon, I’m so grateful that this is where we ended up.

I’ve really wanted to share my story because I know how frustrating fertility problems can be. And I also know how unhelpful modern medicine can be.

If this can help just one other couple, it will be worth writing.

Of course, if you’re already sorted in the fertility department, just skip down to this week’s recipe. It’s delicious whether you have a family or not!

How I got pregnant naturally at age 40 and age 43

1. Stopped taking the pill.
You’ve probably heard of someone who stopped taking the pill and was pregnant the next month. It happens.

But if you’re likely to have fertility issues, the longer you’re on the pill the longer it’s going to take your body to get back to some sort of natural cycle. If I had my time again I would have switched to an alternative form of contraception much earlier in the process.

2. Changed my diet to mostly paleo / low carb.
I wasn’t sure of the mechanism but I knew there was a link between insulin and the fertility hormones. Going low carb made a HUGE difference. It enabled me to go from having one period in 6 months to having a relatively regular cycle. If you’re only going to follow one tip from this post this would be the one!

3. Took a pre-conception multivitamin.
Your doctor is going to recommend folate and iodine. I figured I may as well cover the rest of my bases as well even though I prefer to get my nutrients through whole food meals rather than supplements.

4. Experimented with fertility prediction sticks.
My gynecologist recommended these. Basically there’s an increase in certain hormones just before ovulation. Peeing on these sticks tests for the hormone and when it’s detected you should be ovulating within 24-48 hours. Of course if you have PCOS this hormone tends to be elevated for longer so the test isn’t as accurate as it is for women with regular cycles.

I found them more trouble than help and didn’t bother when we were trying the second time. If you do decide to use them buy in bulk online instead of paying a fortune at the chemist.

5. Measured my temperature every morning.
Another waste of time I didn’t bother with second time round.

6. Learned to really understand my fertile signs.
This was a game changer! Basically it’s about tracking the consistency of your vaginal ‘mucus’ through out your cycle. I took a course called Debunking PCOS (not an affiliate link) with Melbourne based doctor that really helped me get my head around this concept.

Along with going low carb this was huge! If you have an irregular cycle, understanding your body’s mucus sounds gross but is really the key.

I also used the Clue App (not an affiliate link) to track my cycle… Brilliant for spotting trends and just feeling on top of it.

7. Stopped running and started walking instead.
I used to run 50-60km a week. I stopped at the beginning of August on the advice of a fertility doctor and we fell pregnant in September with Fergal. Too much exercise can be just as problematic as not enough. A doctor friend suggested that running causes problems because it gets the body to over heat.

8. Took a holiday.
After trying to get pregnant for over 18 months with one miscarriage, things were getting a little stressful. Thankfully we had planned a trip to Europe for my 40th birthday. We decided not to think about fertility stuff while we were away and wouldn’t you know it… we came home pregnant with Fergal.

9. Focused on keeping stress levels to a minimum.
Second time around we had another European holiday booked as backup but I decided to focus on removing as much stress from my regular life as possible. Minimal work commitments. No goals. Turns out we conceived before the trip!

10. Took up meditation.
This was part of my stress reduction program for our second. I started daily meditation in April and we were pregnant in June. I have no idea whether it helped with the fertility but I definitely noticed meditation helped me be much more patient when dealing with a two year old!

11. Kept believing it would happen.
This can be the most challenging part. Especially as the months (and years) ticked on. But I kept reminding myself of all the people I knew who struggled to get (or stay) pregnant and who now have the families they were hoping for. If you want something bad enough you’ll eventually find a way to get there!

_______

Marinated Kale Salad

Lime & Tahini Kale Salad

Inspired by the lovely Ella Woodward from her first book ‘Deliciously Ella’ which is filled with plant based recipes. When I first made this I was completely obsessed I think I had it three times in one week. I adore how the lime and tahini come together to make a super flavoursome dressing.

takes: 10 minutes
enough for: 1-2

1 large bunch kale
2 limes
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Remove tough stems from the kale and slice or tear into bite sized strips. Place kale in a large bowl.

2. Squeeze over lime juice and drizzle with tahini and soy sauce. Toss salad with your hands massaging the kale as you go.

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Variations

no tahini – use almond or cashew butter instead. Or replace tahini with extra virgin olive oil for a less creamy salad. You could sprinkle in some toasted sesame seeds for flavour.

carb lovers / more substantial – toss in torn flat bread or tortillas OR some cooked quinoa or rice and an extra squeeze of lime to make sure the salad doesn’t dry out.

carnivore – toss in some sliced cooked steak or chicken – I love this steak version!

no lime – use lemon instead.

soy-free – replace soy sauce with coconut aminios or use salt to season instead.

Video Version of the Recipe.

Big love,
Jules x

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{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Food Mumbai 9 February, 2016, 5:48 pm

    This blog is likely to get inspired by… The necessary food items you provide to get pregnant as well as the steps you share will definitely work well with those women suffering from infertility… food delivery in Mumbai
    Big hugs from Food Mumbai Blog

  • J 9 February, 2016, 11:30 pm

    Please also encourage your readers to get a full work up! I wasted a lot of time reading books and changing my diet only to learn that our problem was on his side. All the diet changes and vitamins in the world wouldn’t have helped. Ivf process has been going well so far. Please remember though, this isn’t something that can always be fixed naturally, nor is it always the woman’s problem.

    • kanadelf 11 February, 2016, 7:06 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I did try to get pregnant by changing my diet (after having my daughter thanks to artifical insemination on the 4th try). I went low carb, higher fat, exercised more. I lost 10 kilos in 9 months! And kept my weight stable ever since. But no luck on the baby front unfortunately… 1 more miscarriage, and 6 tries at insemination with no pregnancy at all.

      • jules 12 February, 2016, 11:39 am

        Sorry to hear about your unsuccessful attempts Kanadelf.
        Really appreciate you sharing your story…
        Big love
        Jx

    • jules 12 February, 2016, 11:34 am

      Good point thanks J!
      Yes we tend to assume fertility problems are on the female side but it really is a 50:50 thing. And yes there are always some problems that require IVF so good to explore both options.

  • Marcia 10 February, 2016, 7:35 am

    So much good stuff here! I got pregnant at 35 and 41, and had my children at 35.75 and 42.

    With my first, I went through all the work-ups, and was about to start fertility treatments when I got pregnant (I’d had an HSG which improves fertility for a month or two). Note: I only have one ovary. In the 1.5 years that it took to get pregnant, I’d had at least one miscarriage. I also started taking my temp 9 months into it. This WAS really key for me, because it told me that I was timing it all wrong – turns out I needed to wait a few days. Also, my luteal phase was apparently super short (10 days).

    I was 39.5 when we started trying for #2, (it took 3.5 years for me to get talked into it) and no go. I didn’t expect it to happen easily, when it was 18 months with #1. After another couple of miscarriages, we gave up (20 months in). We gave away the crib over Labor Day weekend in early September (the only thing that we had kept from the first kid, as it was many years later).

    I then started trying to lose a few pounds that I’d gained while trying to get pregnant. See, I was mostly vegetarian with #1, then I went for a year or so of distance running. I took the Mark’s Daily Apple “Primal Challenge” in September of 2011 (21 day challenge). I didn’t lose any weight, but I *did* get pregnant in early October. Turns out that all that extra fat was good for me. Perhaps my earlier infertility was mostly diet.

    The funny story is that my second child was unplanned, because we’d given up. Thing is, over the years of tracking, I knew when I ovulated AND I knew that I had problems with insomnia during that time. The insomnia would last three days. The first night of insomnia, I went to the gym at 3 am. My husband teased me about nudging him if I couldn’t sleep. So, night #2 I did, and the next morning I said “hmm…that wasn’t the greatest timing”. Or maybe it was!

    That said, if your eggs are old (at over 40, they are), the chances of getting pregnant goes down. Still, something like almost 80% of women over 40 will have a successful live birth between 40 and 45.

    • jules 12 February, 2016, 11:36 am

      Thanks for sharing your story Marcia!
      It’s a great example that every couples fertility journey is different.
      Jx

  • Cass 10 February, 2016, 10:01 am

    Lovely story Jules!
    Thanks for sharing it.
    Cass

  • Jennifer 11 February, 2016, 7:25 am

    You looked so beautiful at nearly full-term pregnancy in the photo you posted recently, and this is such an inspiring story for other women with fertility problems. Looking forward to your baby news!

  • Linnea 13 February, 2016, 7:09 am

    I am on my fourth baby after the age of 37. I also got pregnant at 41 and now, am expecting at 43. I think there is a lot of fear mongering out there about how difficult it is to achieve pregnancy past 35. My own MD told me “not to get lazy” that a pregnancy (at 42) “won’t develop into a baby” and that it would just “get ugly” (the miscarriage). So when I got pregnant, against her wishes, I didn’t tell her. Easiest pregnancy yet.

    I did everything you mentioned and also bought a great book “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” by Twenge, Jean.

    Best wishes!

  • Gerold Manders 20 February, 2016, 6:20 am

    As a male with fertility problems I can (somewhat) relate with women or couples in a similar bind. Having said that…I think it is a funny coincidence that both times Europe was involved in you becoming pregnant.

    Of course, I have to follow up with the bad joke:
    Maybe I haven’t found my “mating grounds” just yet.

    Anyway, I do hope that your tips prove helpful not only for women, but also for men.

  • Mila 29 February, 2016, 1:33 pm

    First off, congratulations on your new baby boy!

    As far as the things that helped you get pregnant, you stopped taking the pill. You also went Paleo. What makes you think going Paleo and not getting off the pill resulting in the change in your cycle pattern?

    The pill has a tremendous effect on how the things function. So is taking it out of the equation.

  • Romi 7 April, 2016, 1:09 pm

    This salad is SO good. The dressing tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts. I halved the tahini as I wasn’t sure if I’d like having quite that much, and to make it more substantial I threw in a handful of lentils. It was creamy and tart and not dry at all. So good! Think I just found my new favourite super-fast make-ahead work lunch.

    • jules 18 April, 2016, 3:35 pm

      So glad you liked it Romi! xx

  • lana 6 June, 2016, 12:39 am

    I like your blog! Thank you for all this useful info! I also have pcos and I know how it feels. I’ve been in treatment for years. Unfortunately it brought zero result. I’m currently pregnant with twins from donor egg. We had this procedure in Ukrainian clinic biotexcom. I should say now I have no feeling my babies are not mine genetically. To be honest I had some doubts. I didn’t know how I feel about the procedure… I thought maybe I should wait and try something else and it will help me to get pregnant. But we’d found out that the likelihood of having our own children was practically zero. So ivf with donor egg was our last and only one option. I have a very ‘modern’ family with step parents/brothers/sisters, half siblings and step nieces and nephews etc. Genetics really means nothing to me. People who raise and love you are your true family. In the beginning my dh wasn’t fully on board. We had some very serious arguments about the procedure. But when he found out I was pregnant everything in him changed! The babies I’m carrying are our children and will always be ours. It’s such a hard decision to make, I know. Only you will ever know if it’s right for you or not as it’s not right for some people. I look at it like at usual treatment of infertility. Doctors just help you a little bit. And then you carry/ give birth/ raise – do what usual parents do. We still haven’t decided whether or not we’ll ever tell the babies about the donor. But we’re definitely not telling anyone else how we came to be pregnant. It’s only our bussiness. I don’t see something super special in it so everyone should know. These babies are mine. I really feel it and I don’t make myself to do so. Girls I wish you all the best and good luck xx

    • jules 15 June, 2016, 2:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story Iana!

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