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Unintended Side Effects



No pee stick photos today. For some reason pee stick photos were always a trigger for me so this time around I’m choosing to exercise a little self-control out of respect for those of you struggling through failed cycles. Today I am 8dp5dt and the sticks are making satisfactory progression. I am feeling a little cramping every now-and-then and this strange sort of wiggling feeling in my uterus occasionally. I felt good yesterday, little tired and a lingering headache but not bad. I was in bed and asleep by 8:30 again. I think the best thing I can do for these embryos is stay rested.

Ok, enough talk about the pee sticks and embryos. Let’s talk about Prozac and body image, shall we?

For my entire life I have struggled with a distorted body image. I distinctly remember being in kindergarten and pausing in the restroom to examine my profile in the long mirror. I did not like how my stomach stuck out and vowed to stop eating Cheese Whiz sandwiches in effort to combat it. I was five and by no stretch of the imagination overweight. What five-year old worries about weight gain? What five-year old decides to give up Cheese Whiz to lose weight?

I have struggled my entire life. I grew up with a mother who is obese. Today her knees are failing and she can’t move around without the assistance of a walker. My mom and I used to shop and garage sale together. We used to spend hours browsing through craft stores. We used to drive to Tennessee to spend and entire day roaming around Sir’s Fabrics (awesome if you sew and live in the area, by the way). All this stopped in college, though, when her knees started to fail.

Today when they visit we spend 80% of our time gathered around the dining room table talking, looking at photos, browsing websites, basically doing everything we can to enjoy one another’s company and dodge any inquires into how her knees are doing and if she has lost enough weight to have the replacement surgery. It is distressing to see. As strained as our relationship often is, she is my mother. I want nothing more than for her to be happy, healthy and able to play with her grandchild and grandcats.

Growing up with a mother who was constantly struggling with her weight had a really negative effect on my self-image and on what I considered “healthy.” As an adult I would exercise every day to the point of exhaustion. I would ration food and deprive; never did I starve or purge. I fought to be thin, terrified of what would happen to my body if I were not.

After the miscarriage my distorted body image got ten-times worse. I have photos of me nude in the bedroom, pinching my pudgy areas. Of course there were pudgy areas! I was pregnant after IVF! That happens. At 5 foot 6 inches and 135 pounds, a good bit of which is muscle, I was a far cry from fat. My fear of gaining weight would send me into full-blown panic attacks complete with sweats and shortness of breath. The fear of gaining weight kept me up at night.

I wrote about my plans to lose weight, which looking back was insulting. I was not fat. Could a little tone up been beneficial? Absolutely. Could clean eating and passing on evening dessert helped my complexion? Of course. To think I was fat, though, was incorrect.

This morning I was digging through my photo archive for a project and I found the photos of me scrutinizing my body.

It was then that it hit me: since starting the Prozac not once have I freaked out about my body.

Do I miss exercising? YES. Very, very much. But for once I realize I’m going through IVF to have a baby. I need to take care of myself in other ways. Rather than waking up early for a painful workout, I have let myself sleep. I have cut back on exercising because weight loss when you are already thin does not a baby-ready-body make. I have allowed myself to eat a little more fat, something that is critical for a baby’s development. And not once have I beat myself up about this. I know that when I’m secure with my pregnancy I will sign up for some classes specifically for pregnant women. I know that after I see that heartbeat I’ll return to my bike for long, slow rides. I know that AFTER my baby comes I can dive into rebuilding my lean, strong body.

Not once has this left me panicking  And you know what? I actually look pretty darn good. Yeah, my arms are not as buff as they were and my waist is a little more soft, but my pants still fit (on non bloated days!) and I still look pretty in my dresses.

I 100% attribute this to the Prozac. Until I started on the medication I was a diet-Nazi and was not fun to dine with. Do I still have my moments? Absolutely. While in Atlanta my dear friend made a right proper Southern meal for my birthday and I felt my pulse quicken when I saw how much vegan margarine she put in everything. “Oh my God! The fat and calories! What the hell am I going to do???!!!”

You know what I did? I allowed myself a treat and it was delicious. What’s even better is that my pants still fit. Hell did not freeze over because I had one unhealthy meal. Will I eat like that all the time? Good lord, no. My digestive track cannot handle that sort of decadence. Will I allow an occasional treat? Hell yes.

I never intended for the Prozac to help with the distorted self-image. I never expected that 5 mg of a drug might give me the perfect amount of balance that I could actually see and appreciate the beautiful woman I am – even with crazy hair that is growing out and a little extra softness from too many rounds of infertility treatment. Even with a little acne from this new pregnancy. For the first time in my life I am comfortable in my own skin and damn it feels good.



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  1. October 18, 2012

    Doesn’t it feel incredible to be free from those cycling thoughts and be able to look back on them with clear eyes? I used to beat myself up (emotionally, not physically) over all kinds of things. I was SO hard on myself! No wonder I was depressed all the time. Once I got everything cleared up with meds and therapy I felt so much freer to be myself and to think about so many other things rather than just fixating on what a horrible person I was and how everyone disliked me (which was not true at all). I’m so happy to hear that things are changing for the better for you. I know that the FET cycle that worked for me was the one in which I was the least stressed both physically and emotionally (even though I’d given up hope of it ever working) and was my smoothest transfer.

  2. Jen #
    October 18, 2012

    Hmmm, maybe I need some Prozac! I’m so happy that you are turning things around – life is just getting better from every angle! Also, as someone who’s met you “in real life”, I can tell you with 100% certainty that you are one beautiful gal and you deserve every bit of this newly found confidence!!

  3. October 18, 2012

    Oh that sounds WONDERFUL. I was also a 5 year old concerned with body image. I just thought I was so ugly. I used to tell my parents about how ugly I was. 😦 I wanted to look like Princess Jasmine LOL. Instead I was pale, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Weird, right?? And then as I got older it morphed into weight issues. Now I am 6 weeks post baby and I am unsatisfied with my weight loss / size loss, and struggling to not get depressed about it, to remind myself WHY I have the weight I have on (and the acne, OHHHhhh the acne).

  4. jak #
    October 18, 2012

    dog bless prozac!!!! i’m glad for your unintended side effect of better self image:))))))))))) lots of smiles for that!!

  5. October 18, 2012

    Wow. This post could not have been timed more perfectly. I just clicked to your blog to ask whether you still felt Prozac was helping because I have been going back and forth as to whether I need some additional help for the last year and this past month has put me over the edge as far as anxiety due to my babies’s loss aniversary and failed IVFs. To hear that it helped you with body image issues seals the deal for me, I am calling for an intake appointment today. I have had the same thing my whole life, freaking out if I had to go up above a size 0 or size 2 (I am pretty short in my defense though). Obviously infertility treatments and the triplet pregnancy caused serious weight gain (45 lbs in all!). I am now within 5-7 pounds of my normal per-infertility weight but still feel horrible about my body. I hope this helps me too. Thank you so much for your candid-ness.

  6. October 18, 2012

    Belle, that is so good to hear! I experienced the same thing when I started Zoloft. How amazing is it when you realize that some of your issues may have just been chemical after all? It gives me comfort to know that there is at least one thing that is wrong with me that has an answer. I’m so happy for you; you are so beautiful and now you’re going to be a beautiful momma 🙂

  7. October 18, 2012

    Belle, this post makes me so happy! I am ecstatic that such an amazing, beautiful, inspiring person is feeling good about herself.

  8. karaleen #
    October 18, 2012

    I love reading this and hearing how you are settling into love yourself and enjoy this season in your life. I love that the anxiety of food and body is easing and allowing you to relax and create a comfortable, hospitable womb for your baby(ies). I LOVE this. And I really love that the pee sticks are progressing well. so looking forward to your beta and 9 happy, HEALTHY months both physically and mentally. I have been in the cycle of awesome body (that I worked my tail off for)…fertiliyt (there goes 15lbs) and then loss after fertility….it is a vicious, vicious place for your pshychie when you have worked so hard, given up control, had your heart ripped out and were then left with a soft, gushy shell and nothing to show for it. BUT…I will tell you this….two babies later….and a much more soft, gushy body later….it is all worth it and I now look at my extra fluff as a badge of honor for our struggle (yes…I still try to work out and eat less and get “back” to my old shape…but it is much harder)…what I don’t do is beat myself up over it anymore. Nurturing these little people and giving my time to them instead of a treadmill is WAY more important. I wish the same for you, peace with where you end up….and I’m pretty sure that will be with a beautiful baby, maybe a bit of a different body and a very healthy life. God Bless…and tons of baby dust for you!

  9. October 18, 2012

    Oh, Belle, I’m so happy for you! This was such a wonderful post to read this morning. I’m so proud of you for knowing your triggers and acknowledging your previous unhealthy behaviors. It does make sense that you would be terrified of obesity and develop a warped body image. This is something a friend of mine also struggles with and unfortunately thinks it’s ok. She is in extremely great shape but is super crazzzzzzy about diet and exercise and thinks this should be motivational to people. It just makes me sad. Hopefully one day she will become as self-aware as you have! Thanks for sharing this.

  10. October 18, 2012

    Yay Belle that’s awesome! (And as someone who also has body image issues, I totally get it). Keep it up!

  11. October 18, 2012

    That’s fantastic that you can literally see the difference Prozac is making. I think so many average sized women have major body issues and it’s not really PC to talk about it…especially if you are not “fat.” Thanks for putting the message out there. And keep looking back on this post if things start to get harder with pregnancy weight.

  12. whatrhymeswithinfertile #
    October 18, 2012

    I needed to read this today. My mom and I are going to sign up at Curves tonight and I have been thinking of postponing it until next week. Now I fully intend to go. I have always had an unhealthy self image and am now obese because of it. I remember seeing my mom critisizing herself in the mirror all the time and I swore to myself that I was never going to do that to my children. And, I want to be healthy for my son. I want to be around to play with my grandchildren one day. I am glad you posted this today…I think you have just pushed me into a place I needed to be.

  13. October 18, 2012

    I love reading this, Belle! I have always thought that you’re a beautiful gal, and I’m glad you think (and know) it too 🙂

  14. October 18, 2012

    Go belle! What a fantastic side effect! Not much to say today, just happy for you :).

  15. October 19, 2012

    I just wrote about this too and how we don’t see ourselves how we are. You are beautiful in all the photos you posted. I’m so glad you can see this now too, like all of your readers did 🙂

  16. October 19, 2012

    I was really looking forward to reading this post and it delivered 🙂

    I related to your relationship with your mother. I used to be your mother in many senses, I lived from the neck up and because I wasn’t comfortable a lot of my social activity revolved around very sedentary pursuits, indoors. 😦

    I had body image issues from a young age, too. My mother struggled with her weight in her head, but in actuality she was average sized and very attractive. So she flip-flopped between insecure and vain. Since she was a single parent, we were often the ones who had to prop her up. Because weight/beauty was such a focus for her and so all encompassing, my sister and I both developed eating disorders. My sister went towards restriction and purging and I rebelled by eating everything in sight!

    It took me YEARS to separate my food/body issues from my mothers’ (cuz I had more than enough of my own!) and to come to any kind of peace with my body.

    I’m sure like you a lot of my issues are chemical in origin, I haven’t found the right pill yet though to ease that, but am hopeful.

    Now that I am at a healthy weight for me, I don’t mind gaining some for IVF (though I do have a 5 lb zone in my head) and as for pregnancy/loss well, that kicked my ass hard, weight wise, but I’m still 100% committed to doing it.

    Thanks for posting this.

  17. October 20, 2012

    This post makes me so happy Belle!!! I am glad you are seeing what everyone else sees!

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