When my husband, Darwin, and I married two decades ago, we were both overweight, and by the time I was in my early forties, I weighed 295 pounds and had high blood pressure. Darwin, a gospel singer, weighed 430 pounds, and was suffering from congestive heart failure, diabetes and arthritis. Worst of all, our obesity was keeping us from fulfilling our greatest dream: to become parents.
We'd always wanted to have a baby and had even picked out names: Zachary and Bethany. But despite never once using birth control, we hadn't managed to conceive. My doctor explained that the fat we were both carrying was affecting our hormones in the worst way possible. Darwin's weight caused him to have low semen and testosterone counts and an estrogen level almost as high as a woman's. My estrogen levels were also very high, which is the equivalent of taking birth control pills. Forty-five percent of obese women are unable to conceive, my doctor told us. Darwin and I knew it was time for a change.
"I can't imagine how to improve on your beauty," said my husband. "But I know you'll be much healthier and happier shedding the weight."
Over the years we had tried every diet out there, from Atkins and South Beach to Weight Watchers and Slimfast. I'd lose 40 pounds, but the weight never stayed off. This time we decided on something drastic: weight loss surgery. If it didn't work, at least we'd know we had tried everything. My husband chose gastric bypass because the procedure would help reverse his type 2 diabetes. I picked sleeve surgery, in which doctors reduce your stomach from the size of a football to the size of a small banana. We scheduled our surgeries ten days apart in spring 2012. We were going to do this as a team.
Darwin has always been my greatest source of encouragement. "I can't imagine how to improve on your beauty," he said more than once. "But I know you'll be much healthier and happier shedding the weight." He had a vision of our family in his mind's eye and he never lost focus.
Since our surgeries I've lost 110 pounds and Darwin has lost 140. But by far our greatest victory is the baby growing inside me. I'll never forget standing in our bedroom on September 9, 2013, with Darwin by my side, holding a white plastic stick that said "pregnant." We both broke down, crying and holding each other, overcome with joy. That night I barely slept a wink; I kept waking up to read the magic word that said I was finally going to be a mom.
The next day we had an ultrasound. When we heard the heartbeat, we started crying all over again. It was the best moment of my life. Even though I'm now 45, my doctor says that thanks to the weight loss, I'm in great shape to have our child, who is due this May. I haven't had any complications and I feel wonderful. The journey has been so amazing, I still get choked up every time I talk about it. We didn't just pray—we trusted God to give us a baby and did the work to make our dream come true. Every night my husband rubs my belly and we wonder aloud about what our child will look like. Life is good. -- Traci Hobbs