Last summer, I learned that during the normal postpartum period, there are 4-6 months where a woman's thyroid goes into a slight "hyperdrive" mode... rapid weight loss, maybe a little bit of a rapid heart rate, and maybe some extra perspiration. At about 6 or 7 months postpartum, the thyroid goes back to normal, or even occasionally dips down into an under-productive mode. Most women don't even realize the changes in their body.
For me, it was pretty debilitating.
Every time I took a shower, I ended up with large clumps of hair in my hand. All along my hair line, I had 1 inch-long sections that stood straight up, while the hair on the rest of my head was extremely thinned out. I have always had thick, healthy hair. Seeing my hair so thin and brittle was scaring me.
Confession: I haven't cut my hair since last July.
I was keeping my hair in a cute chin-length Victoria Beckham-type bob. I was afraid that cutting my hair would just make what was left look extremely shaggy. Of course, maybe it could have hidden the short sections better, but I was too tired to schedule an appointment and not sure if I wanted to risk the shagginess.
|Lucas took this of me a couple days ago. Pretty good, huh? You can see where one of my shaggy segments is by my part. My hair has started to grow back enough that I can usually tame those spots.|
I was also extremely fatigued. Everyone kept telling me it was part of being a new mom, and that it would get better. I knew what being a new mom felt like. I was a second-time mom. When I say "extreme fatigue," I'm not talking about pulling an all-nighter... just take a nap, and you'll feel loads better. I'm talking about sleeping constantly, and when you are awake and trying to walk, it feels like 2 people are hanging off of your shoulders and dragging you down. Just the effort of picking up your feet a few times to go to the bathroom, and you're ready for another nap. Every time Jack went down for a nap, I put a movie on for Lucas, and I passed out. When my eyes were open, everything was foggy. I couldn't understand half of what I was hearing, no matter how hard I tried to concentrate. I used to be the mental keeper of my husband's keys or my son's favorite toy. They'd ask me where something was, and I could remember exactly where I'd last seen it. I can't count the number of items I misplaced last summer and fall. I needed my husband to schedule just about every appointment (including mine). He did just about every household chore. I did my best to at least keep dishes going in and out of our dishwasher, but I couldn't even accomplish that every day. I was seriously considering whether or not I should keep working. I couldn't have gotten through this without Jason's support.
The extreme fatigue was leading to depression. I just wanted to be able to function normally. I didn't even care about being supermom. Actually, I was experiencing 2 extremes at one time. I had such a hard time caring about anything, and at the same time, the apathy was creating some serious anxiety, because surely I should care about something, right? I had some very irrational phobias... On Tuesdays, I tried my hardest to get the trash together after the boys went to bed so that Jason wouldn't have to do it when he got home. However, every time I took the trash cans to the end of the driveway in the dark, I would start crying. I couldn't handle being outside in my own yard in the dark. Thankfully, Jason saw how anxious and terrified this made me, that he insisted I leave the trash can for him to take to the road.
Other issues I was dealing with included a huge intolerance to cold. I was so chilled all of the time that it felt like I had a fever (even though my temp was normal). My eczema flared up, and I ended up with a staph infection because my body couldn't defend itself. I had frequent palpitations which occasionally left me short of breath. During one month, I had 3 separate periods.
After several months of seeing my primary physician, insisting that something was wrong, and several lab draws with a "mildly elevated" thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), one result finally jumped to a critically high level. I was finally referred to an endocrinologist, placed on thyroid hormones, and very slowly, I've been returning back to "normal" (although I still have some bad days). More lab tests have shown that I actually have antibodies to my own thyroid, leading to a diagnosis of Hashimoto's Disease, a type of autoimmune disorder. My endocrinologist said that my body will continue to destroy parts of my thyroid throughout my lifetime. I've been having to adjust to remembering to take a medicine every morning, at least a half-hour before I eat (or my body will not be able to absorb it correctly), lab draws several times a year, visits to a specialist at least yearly. I have been having to accept the fact that the dosage of my medicine will need to be almost doubled if I even want to think about getting pregnant again, or else I could miscarry or my baby could have some sort of brain malformation.
I'm sorry to anyone who feels I have been rude or unsocial in the past 8 months. I am only just now beginning to realize how much I have missed out on simply because I couldn't pay attention or understand.
I'm sorry this post is so ridiculously long :).
I will try my best to catch up with everything that has happened the past few months :).