Lea Michele is opening up about her complicated pregnancy for the first time ever, sharing how her late diagnosis with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — a hormonal disorder that can cause infertility — made her process of conceiving, carrying and birthing "very scary."
"I’ve never shared my experience with anyone, which I think is something that now that I am a mom, I see myself doing in a lot of ways. Not sharing for fear of not sounding perfect or just being afraid and definitely in my pregnancy I definitely withheld a lot of my experience from the people around me," Michele told Katherine Schwarzenegger in an Instagram live. "I found out I was pregnant very unexpectedly in December 2019. My husband and I tried for awhile. I have PCOS, so our process of conceiving was very complicated."
The 34-year-old Glee alum went onto explain that the process of being diagnosed with PCOS was in and of itself a difficult one. But while she found it manageable in her daily life, she wasn't aware of the complications it would bring when she and husband Zandy Reich began trying for a child.
"If you have extremely irregular periods, you never really know when can you get pregnant actually. And then on top of that, I had to have multiple procedures to remove polyps and cysts and scar tissues, and it just got really hard for us," Michele explained, later going into detail about the negative impact it had on her mental state. "I had had my third procedure, I was really kind of down after taking so much medication and constantly healing from these surgeries. I was like, let’s just stop. ...I really kept feeling like maybe this just isn’t meant to be for me right now. Maybe this isn’t gonna happen, which is something that for me personally was always my biggest fear in my entire life, that I wouldn’t be able to become a mom. It’s what I’ve wanted more than anything. And emotionally it just started to build and build."
Shortly after the November procedure that led Michele and Reich to make the decision to stop trying, the couple found out that they were expecting. "I had the most blissful 72 hours of my life. It was literally, I was floating around New York City listening to every beautiful song that I had imagined I would sing and listen to with my baby. And I was there performing, and shortly right before walking onto the stage to have to perform for a large group of people, I started bleeding terribly, horribly. I’m backstage, no-one knows except for my husband that I’m pregnant. I had to tell my mom that I was pregnant in the bathroom and so, that lasted my entire first trimester," she shared. "I experienced very heavy bleeding, some which was scary to the point that we rushed in the middle of the night to the hospital and probably every other day we were certain that this time was definitely it."
Michele went on to say, "I was put on an extreme amount of medication, progesterone, to help sustain this pregnancy and I was put on bed rest for my whole first trimester. So that was just, horrible. It was absolutely, absolutely horrible. I thought it was the most scared I would ever be in my life."
Her pregnancy only become more complicated as she hit the 20-week mark just as the pandemic was at its height, forcing her to attend appointments without her husband at hospitals that were at full capacity. She then received bad news at an ultrasound that landed her in more hospitals with more checkups on the baby. And while she didn't share what she was going through with anybody, she eventually made the decision to share her pregnancy with the world.
"I finally announced that I was pregnant and I still was uncertain if the pregnancy was going to last but I just needed to," Michele said. "I just woke up and I was like, I just want be a mom right now. I want this time. And it was horrible. It was the lowest I’ve been in my entire life. ...I remember I would wake my husband up in the middle of the night and just be like, you have to hold me, I’m terrified right now. We were all really, really afraid."
Michele admitted that "The moment that I allowed myself to just breathe and realize that everything was going to be okay was the minute that they handed me my baby," which happened in late August. But even then the actress was hard on herself after finding out that she would need to have a C-section. "I really wanted to have a vaginal birth. To me, I felt like, for whatever reason, I felt like that really means that I’m a mom. And also, I felt so weak and helpless during my pregnancy and scared and just a version of myself that I don’t ever…it was just horrible, and I felt that if I could have the experience of having a vaginal birth that I could show my strength."
After welcoming her baby boy, Ever Leo Reich, into the world, Michele reflected on the strength that both she and her child exhibited throughout the entire process.
"I just think that we as women, whether you are a woman who’s trying to get pregnant and might be having complications, or someone who can get pregnant like that, whether you’re a mom of one or ten, the strength that we have as women, whether or not you feel like it’s there, it’s really, it’s there. I didn’t know it existed within me," she said. "And my little baby was such a fighter, he really was a fighter. And I remember the minute I held him, the first thing I said to him was, ‘You did so good. You did it. You did so good.'"
Read more from Yahoo Life:
Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.