Endocrine Health and Postpartum Recovery
Let’s talk about endocrine health and post partum recovery, shall we? After I had my son, I quickly began to realize those facebook moms who tell you how tired you would be were not joking. I remember thinking, “Wow, this shit is HARD. They weren’t lying. I can’t say I wasn’t warned.”
I felt like I was drowning and alone. Alone in the sense that my husband went to work every day and did not know what it was like to juggle my tasks. I felt like a failure as a mother and a wife. It was hard to find time to shower, brush my hair, or finish a meal, much less keep a tidy house. There were times that my hair was so knotted from being in a messy bun for three, or four days. Okay..maybe a week? Anywho, life was hard. Rob got home every day from work and would ask me, “what did you do today? Did you get anything done?” There were times where that question alone made me feel so terrible. I would just crumble inside. I was struggling all day long, and yet there was nothing to show for it other than me and the baby being alive. I had gained so much weight, despite the fact that I hardly ate anything. 45 pounds gained since I had delivered, actually. Oh, and all that hair that I neglected? When it was brushed, it fell out in chunks. I was also told this was a normal, to-be-expected postpartum issue. I knew my husband was frustrated with the house, and with me. I know he, and everyone else, thought I was a lazy slob. I felt that way, also. I just couldn’t seem to get it together.
I felt alone because I had friends who were also mothers with young children. They were always taking their children out of the house and seemed to be accomplishing everything. While they were on top of the world, I was sitting beside a monster hill of unfolded laundry, on the couch, in the center of a messy house. I had these same friends and family members come over and, quite frankly, ask me why the house wasn’t picked up if I was home all day? Why was I not dressed to the fullest, like my old usual self? All of these questions and looks of disappointment tore me to my core.
Seven months went by and I still had not started a cycle. I knew this was not normal because I was no longer breastfeeding. I stopped breastfeeding at six weeks. (I could not produce enough milk. Rare, I know. But, it happens. This alone crushed me.) I ran it by my doctor and I was prescribed medication to give my body a “boost” to get out of pregnancy mode. Well, that did not work, so I had to go in and do blood work.
A few more weeks went by and I recieved a call from my doctor.
“Are you feeling extremely tired, experiencing any hair loss, depressed, gaining unexplained weight?”
“Uh, yeah. All of the above. But assumed I was just experiencing all those postpartum hardships everyone warned me about. I thought I was just doing a really crappy job at handling it all.”
She assured me that was not the case at all. I was told my levels were all over the place and was being referred to an endocrinologist. They suspected that I had a brain tumor excreting extra hormones, and that I had severe hypothyroidism.
I felt relieved, but worried. Relieved because I wasn’t a crappy mom all along. I was just really sick. Worried because I was just told over the phone that I had a brain tumor. What the heck does that mean?! Turns out, I have a pituitary tumor. It is very, very common. It is actually uncommon that it causes any issues. Most people don’t even know they have it. Ha. Not me, though. This little “usually harmless” tumor is wreaking havoc on me.
My pituitary tumor meant that I would not have a period unless the tumor was removed, or if I used a chemo-like pill to shrink the tumor. I was told that I was extremely lucky to have gotten pregnant and had a healthy pregnancy. My chances of resuming cycles and getting pregnant again were slim to none. In other words, I was told to count my blessings and be grateful that I had a child. That was soo hard for my husband and me to hear. We always planned to have at least three children.
We were scheduled to go back in three months to do another MRI to see how the tumor progressed. I did not make it three months. Without any treatment, I started my period!!! I called my OBGYN’s office and the nurse relayed the message to me that my doctor’s response was “....you’re SHITTING me!” Hah! You guys, if that’s not God...
I followed up with my endo, and we decided not to do any treatment to the tumor and just treat the thyroid issue with synthroid. I stayed with regular cycles and got pregnant with my little girl a few short months after that. God is good. All the time, He is good.
I hope you take these things from my story:
1. Listen to your body. If you do not feel right, seek help!
2. You’re a good mom. Whether you are sick or not, it IS hard. Don’t let anyone make you feel like a failure. You just shoved a baby out, or had a baby cut out. Give yourself time to heal and figure out how to manage your new life. Give yourself some credit. You are enough. You are worthy. God trusted YOU with this precious life for a reason.
3. DO NOT make a new mother feel like she is not worthy. You do not know the battles they are facing. We do not all handle situations the same. Instead, offer sincere help.
4. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. I don’t care if Debra has octuplets, meal preps, has a perfectly clean house, and looks like a model by 6 am. Because Hannah has hired help, at noon is just finishing her morning coffee, and her kids are still in last night’s pajamas. But, guess what? They are happy, healthy, and life’s good.
5. Hypothyroidism/ Hashimoto makes you feel like crap. Endocrine health issues suck. I know your struggle. No one will understand why you’re slacking, and moody, and achy, and exhausted. That’s okay, though. You know your body.
6. I’m telling you from experience, in the kindest way: Cut it out with the pity party. It’s just bringing you and everyone else down. Instead, figure out the root cause of your anxiety, depression, or whatever issue you’re facing and seek help. Don’t let your struggle ruin and dictate your life. YOU are in control.
7. Trust in Him. In all things good and bad, trust in the Lord. I promise, He’s got His hand in everything.
“When he told you you're not good enough
When he told you you're not right
When he told you you're not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you're not worthy
When he told you you're not loved
When he told you you're not beautiful
That you'll never be enough
Fear, he is a liar”
-Jason Ingram / Zach Williams / Jonathan Lindley Smith