It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since I’ve written, but we all know I’m not the best at keeping up with the blog. However, I wanted to update everyone and let you know what’s been going on with me and my journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
Obviously the biggest thing that has changed in my life since the last time I wrote is the birth of our son, Luke, on my birthday this summer 🙂 He came a little earlier than expected but was completely healthy and has already become such an important part of our family. Having Luke definitely impacted my life in many amazing ways, but one thing I wasn’t expecting was the impact it would have on my overall health.
Prior to getting pregnant, I was the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life. I was eating great, running 3-4 times a week, doing strength and cross training, and hadn’t really been sick in over two years. I felt strong and powerful and HEALTHY. After a pretty routine pregnancy and birth, I had no reason to think things wouldn’t go back to normal in due time. However, from a few days after Luke’s birth, I could tell things weren’t quite right.
First I developed an internal infection that had to be treated over the course of several weeks. Luke wouldn’t latch plus I had chronic low milk supply (another post on that later). My hair started falling out in clumps, not just in the way that we’re told to expect hair loss after giving birth, but enough to make me look from the front like I’m balding. I was tired in ways I can’t describe, irritable and moody in ways that don’t align with my personality, and had an overall feeling of being “off.” My brain was fuzzy, my words were slurred, and numerous times a day I would be talking and just stop right in the middle of a sentence, completely unable to remember what I was about to say. For someone who is quite the, uh, verbal communicator, this was extremely frustrating. When I tried talking to some people about this, I was told I was just experiencing typical “new mom” stuff and that it would pass. I was terrified of returning to work for so many reasons, but a large one was that I knew I was going to have to go back to being “normal” when I felt anything but.
Within three months of giving birth, I decided I had to trust my gut and made an appointment for a full physical with a new doctor’s office. I didn’t know what to expect but when my bloodwork came back abnormal, I was still surprised. Several rounds of bloodwork and tests later, I have been diagnosed with Postpartum Thyroiditis. I’m going to bypass all of the medial jargon and tell you to feel free to google it if you want more details than what I’m about to give.
Basically, as a result of the changes that happened to my immune system while I was pregnant with and giving birth to Luke, I’m currently experiencing hyperthyroidism, which will most likely shift in a few months to hypothyroidism, which may or may not correct itself within 12-18 months after that. I may or may not be on medication for the rest of my life. I may or may not be able to conceive children in the future. I may or may not experience more, less, or worse symptoms than I am now. I may or may not gain weight uncontrollably when I switch over to the hypothyroid side of things. I may or may not have an underlying chronic autoimmune disease that has been “awakened” by all of this.
This is basically how things were presented to me–in a whole bunch of may or may nots. If you know me, you know that this is just not how my brain works. I want answers, I want definitives, and I want to fix the problem. The endocrinologist I’m seeing is not medicating me during this stage because she does not expect it to last much longer and my hyperthyroid symptoms (minus the hair loss and extreme exhaustion) have been subsiding. I’m currently having bloodwork run every 30 days so that we will know if/when I swing to hypothyroid and she plans to medicate me at that point since it will likely last much longer and have a greater impact on my overall longterm health.
I’m particularly bitter that of all the symptoms of the hyperthyroid phase, I somehow managed to not get the “rapid weight loss” one. What’s up with that?!
Obviously that’s a joke 🙂
I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bitter over all of this. It seems like I’ve spent my whole life fighting the feeling that my body just doesn’t want to do what it was designed to do. I was the only person I knew who could eat right and exercise like a maniac and still not lose weight. Weight Watchers and a nutritionist helped with that, but it was still a huge fight to drop every pound that I did. Now I’m looking at the very real possibility that I could end up gaining 30, 40, 50 pounds without anything I can do about it (this from both my doctor and the many blogs and message board stories I’ve been reading since being diagnosed). Before getting pregnant, when I was on the insulin resistance diet to combat PCOS, it was the best I felt in forever and I finally believed that I was able to control my body in some small way by how and what I was eating. When we wanted Luke so badly for so long and everyone around me was getting pregnant, I couldn’t help but feel that once again my body was betraying me and not doing what it was supposed to do.
Anyway, now here we are again, with my body not doing the right thing. I’m one of many women who gave birth this summer and I’m the only one I know of who is dealing with this issue. I’m the only one who is formula feeding her kid because something (the doctor now thinks it is tied to my thyroid issues) caused me not to be able to produce milk. I’m the only one who wants so badly to give all of myself to my baby but whose body is so exhausted after spending the day at work that I have to be happy just holding him and giving him a bottle before he goes to sleep. I’m the only one having to live month to month wondering how my thyroid levels are changing and what impact that will have on my body and mind. I’m the only one who is being told that having this beautiful, amazing little boy may have so altered my biological makeup that I will never have another child again.
I feel so selfish saying all of this. I feel like being a good mom means I’m supposed to say that having Luke was enough for me, and that dealing with any disease and its side effects a million times over would be worth it for one day with him. And the truth is that in so many ways it is. But the problem is that I feel like this is stopping me from being the good mom that I want to be. I worked so hard to be healthy, and right now I’m just not. I have asked the endocrinologist, primary care doctor, and OBGYN if there is anything I can do with my diet or lifestyle that can stop my body from attacking itself, and all have told me no and it’s a wait and see game at this point. I’m not good at waiting. I want to be back to normal. I want to take my baby boy for a long walk or get up to feed him in the middle of the night without feeling like I’ve been hit by a bus.
So I’ve resolved myself to controlling what I can control. I can move back towards clean eating and the insulin resistance diet that had me feeling so good before, even though the doctors have said it won’t ultimately impact my thyroid condition. I can work on stopping the “woe is me” mindset and focus more on all that is going well for me. I can be more honest and open with people about what is causing me to struggle right now (this post is a first step). I can stop trying to pretend that everything is ok and exhausting myself even more by acting like I’m not exhausted all the time. I can begin to rewrite that story in my head of what a “perfect” mom looks like and stop comparing myself to everyone else. I can do my best to live in the moment and stop worrying what will happen if I gain weight back in spite of my best efforts. I can thank God every single day for the many blessings in my life that I have stopped taking the time to notice.
Life is not perfect–and neither am I–but that doesn’t mean it can’t be great.