Four years before welcoming her first child into the world, actor and singer Lea Michele was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a fairly common hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.
In an interview with Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt on her Instagram Live series, Before, During & After, Michele opened up about her diagnoses and how it made her pregnancy very, very scary. “I had a very, very intense, very scary pregnancy. I really withheld a lot of my experience from the people around me.”
As Michele continued, she was 30 when she was first diagnosed with PCOS after she went off of birth control for the first time in 15 years. She experienced symptoms of weight gain, irregular periods, and hormonal acne before turning to natural lifestyle changes and medications to prepare her body for pregnancy.
Watch New Moms Lea Michele and Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt Talk Pregnancy and Motherhood:
Roughly a year after marrying her now-husband, Zandy Reich, the couple learned they were expecting a baby boy, who would later be born via c-section in August 2020. They named in Ever Leo. But the nine-month journey Lea went on to meet her little boy was a difficult one, as was the process of conceiving him.
“Our process of conceiving was really complicated,” Michele said, revealing that the irregular periods caused by PCOS made it difficult to know when she was ovulating. “Emotionally, it just started to build and build.”
Eventually, Michele and Reich did conceive, but the first trimester was ruled by heavy bleeding, which lead to doctors prescribing a high dose of progesterone to help her body sustain the pregnancy and bed rest. The bleeding had gotten so bad that she was rushed to the hospital and lived in fear that she might lose the pregnancy.
“Probably every other day, we were certain that this time was definitely it,” Michele recalled. “It was just horrible. It was absolutely, absolutely horrible… I thought it was the most scared I would ever be in my life—until things got even more complicated.”
More complicated because roughly around the four months mark of her pregnancy, the world went into lockdown due to the pandemic caused COVID-19. And additionally, Michele’s 20-week appointment revealed that the anatomy scan “had a lot of potential red flag markers.”
“We were all really, really afraid,” she explained. “I just woke up and I was like, ‘I just want to be a mom right now. I want this time.’ And it was horrible. It was the lowest I’ve been in my entire life.” And Michele and Schwarzenegger Pratt agreed, it’s the lack of control that makes it the scariest. “There is nothing you can do.”
Thankfully, despite all of the trauma, Michele and her family were one of the lucky ones. And now, they have a healthy baby boy they get to enjoy each and every day.
And as a result of that, Michele is singing again, something she had stopped doing early on in her pregnancy. The new mom shared a video of herself singing It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion.
“Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, I experienced some complications that began minutes before going on stage to perform. I haven’t sung since that night in December 2019… until today:) Every day as a mom you are faced with a new insecurity; why doesn’t my body look the same? Am I doing a good enough job? So of course watching this video I see every single flaw from how I look to how I sound. But becoming a mom has instilled a kind of strength and faith in me now that I’m very grateful for. So here it goes. Now I just hope I don’t wake my baby up from his nap.”
In the end, Michele said there was one thing she regretted during her pregnancy and that was not leaning on those who were trying to be there for her. “I didn’t know [that strength] existed within me,” Michele said, but then added, “I do regret not leaning on more people. That was really isolating. I would say to lean on those around you as much as you can.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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