Your body. Your mind. Your hormones.
They didn’t tell me about this. No one did.
I’m talking about changes a woman’s body goes through after childbirth.
I knew the weight could be hard to drop. And I also had been warned about stretch marks. I was told that it would be hard to ever get back to your pre-baby body. But those were all things that were common knowledge and women would openly “warn” you about. So I worked out my entire pregnancy and post-partum. I bought the lotions for the stretch marks. And I “watched what I ate” to help me get back to my pre-baby body. Most of the stuff helped, which was a nice surprise!
What wasn’t a nice surprise were the embarrassingly heavy periods, permanent uneven boobs due to breastfeeding, clinical depression and an autoimmune disease. These all blindsided me and are issues that I still deal with almost 5 years after my daughter was born.
Before I had my daughter, I was extremely healthy. I only had health insurance because it was offered through my job. But I never used it. Never. I thought going to a doctor was a waste of time. Even when they mandated yearly physicals to qualify for the health insurance, I was annoyed that I had to have one. Because I knew I was healthy, and all the testing would prove it.
Even during my pregnancy, I was healthy. (Although, I almost miscarried, but that’s another post for another day). I didn’t have the high blood pressure or gestational diabetes commonly associated with pregnancy. And I knew I was lucky, so it’s not anything I ever took for granted.
Even the first few years after I had my daughter … I was healthy. I did the required check ups, and everything seemed to check out.
But then, everything seemed to hit at once.
Once I started getting my periods back, I noticed that they were heavier and longer than they ever used to be. For a solid 11 years of my life, my periods were totally predictable and consistent. After my daughter, I had no idea when they were coming, how long they would stick around for or how heavy they would be. I was bleeding through Ultras … sometimes within an hour. I would watch clumps of blood come out of me every time I would use the bathroom. Do you know how frightening it is to bleed through an Ultra, and then also watch additional blood and clumps of blood come out of you???? I know that some of you do know this feeling. I once had a friend say that when she went to the bathroom, she described it as a “crime scene”. See, she too was using Ultras and was shocked at the amount of blood coming out of her still. And yet another friend, said every time she used the bathroom, all she could see were clumps upon clumps. It can be so unnerving. And you feel like something is wrong with you. I can’t tell you how many times I called the doctor after these extremely heavy periods. Only to have them run a bunch of tests and everything to come back “normal”. Normal? Is it normal to leak through an Ultra in less than an hour? Is it normal to watch 4-5 clumps of blood come out of you as you pee in the toilet? Well, after talking with numerous women who have had babies, the answer is, yes, it can be normal to have irregular and unpredictably heavy periods.
Next came the depression. I wrote about this previously, and I still have more to come in a future post, but postpartum depression hit me hard. Really hard. And no one warned me just how bad it could be. I had heard of it. And I read in the news things that women had done as a result of being undiagnosed with postpartum depression. But no one had been open and honest with the severity that postpartum depression can be. It will blind side. It will knock you on your ass and shut you down. Now the good thing is, it doesn’t happen to all women. And for some women who are diagnosed with it, it isn’t too severe. Mine was. And it was life altering. But more in another post ….
I started working on my depression and healing from it, through various methods, like medication, meditation, yoga, self help books, spirituality, etc. It’s something that I did (and continue to) work very hard on. I want to be the best mom I can be for my daughter and she is my motivation to get well and stay well.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also came to realize that my boobs would be forever different sizes! And I know this is a superficial thing, but it happens. And so I want to state it here. Your boobs will be different sizes once you are done nursing. Your child will favor one breast over the other. And that is okay! It used to bother me that my breasts have become so noticeably different sized. But now that I look at them, I see vessels that were able to nourish my child for 15 months!!! It makes me feel empowered to know that my boobs were able to do that for my child. So mom who is reading this, you are still sexy and you are still beautiful!
What really blindsided me most of all, was the autoimmune disease. One day in the summer I was sitting at my computer, while my family was out of town, and I realized my mind and body were in overdrive. I could not stop my legs from moving, the room seemed to be spinning and my words were coming out a mile per second. I felt like I was on some sort of stimulant or drug that gets you really wound up. Since I was alone, I didn’t know what to do. I knew something wasn’t right, but I also didn’t think it was serious enough to go to the hospital. Wayyyy long story short (and one that will be talked about in a future post), I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease. My immune system was attacking my thyroid. So my thyroid became hyperactive and was elevating all the functions and levels within my body. Especially my heart rate. It was over double what a woman’s should be and the only two medications that can help slow the heart rate in hyperthyroidism, I was extremely allergic to and could not continue to take. It got to the point that within 2 months of my new diagnosis, I needed surgery to remove my thyroid. BUT, my heart rate was so high, that the surgery was high risk. Again, I will tell this story in more detail in another post, but, upon researching it after everything settled down, it was found that this is something that can often sit dormant, until activated by pregnancy.
Now, would I trade any of these changes in my body or hormones for who I have now, NEVER! But I want to help women know that there are changes that occur after the birth of your child. And it will be worth it. It will be worth it every single day, I promise you. But that doesn’t mean that it still isn’t hard. And there aren’t challenging days or times that it is a struggle to get through.
But we are moms. We are so strong. So strong that we don’t even know our strength until it’s tested. But we make it through. And most times, we do it and make it look effortless. Because we are women.
And we are mom HOOD!
Feel free to comment on something you didn't know would change after child birth...