I’ve already mentioned in previous posts and on Instagram that I have been having issues with my hormones since January 2017, but have realized that I haven’t talked about exactly what has been going on here on the blog. Sit down with a cuppa, it’s a long one, folks!
I was 7 months postpartum and still not sleeping a whole lot. Despite the fact that the Very Hungry Kiddo was now getting solids for a month, he was still having like, 3 milk feeds a night. I had been on the pill since September after I got my period back after having the munchkin. I was terrified of getting pregnant again because the sleep deprivation was still very real and I was still in the middle of it. I was on the same pill that I was on before getting pregnant and I was one of the very lucky few who never experienced any side effects. Sure, I was exhausted and had very little energy, but what mama with a 7 month old wouldn’t be? I had a low libido, but I assumed it was because I was so damned tired all the time.
But… the same point of my “cycle” every month, I got intense anxiety. It was typically days 13 and 15. I started tracking it using a menstrual cycle app. For 3 months straight after that, I experienced the same symptoms. My anxiety was in the form of becoming very obsessive over the idea of relactating.
In the future, I will write a dedicated post about our breastfeeding experience. But let’s just say, it was a colossal failure, a shit show, really, and we didn’t get the right support that we needed in time to make a difference. Being a first time mom, I had done a lot of research prior to giving birth, but there are some things that you just can’t know until you go through them yourself.
So, despite the fact that he was thriving on formula that I felt good about giving him and he was taking to solids like an absolute champ, I would spend roughly 2 days per month obsessively researching relactating. I knew at the time, objectively, logically, that what I was doing was batshit insane, but I simply couldn’t stop. Luckily I had the support of my husband and mom who held my hand while I dealt with the crazy.
I decided that I didn’t have these crazy thoughts and anxiety while I was off the pill after giving birth (despite already stopping breastfeeding then), so I was going to give it a few months sans pill to see if there was a difference.
Immediately, there was. The relactation anxiety stopped. I vowed to stay off hormonal birth control and just use condoms.
I went back to work, but despite the fact that now the kiddo was sleeping through the night (IT WAS AMAZING), I still felt exhausted. All the time. No amount of sleep would rejuvenate me. I assumed it was because of my backlog of sleep. And my libido was super low too, which was very strange for me. Prior to going back on the pill postpartum, my libido was always normal. Hell, even immediately postpartum it was there in a big way, which was a huge shock to me at the time.
I had some big changes going on my life, like adjusting from being a stay at home mama to a working one, juggling multiple childcare situations, etc. I had turned in my notice at work and was going to start a new career, which I was excited about, but I was dragging my ass at work and felt guilty about it. I couldn’t help it though, even though I was back and had had the baby, I still had that extreme tiredness that I did in my first trimester.
Back in October, I went to my doctor to speak about my concerns with my hormones. I decided that enough was enough. I had significantly improved the quality and quantity of my sleep for several months and my stress levels were low due to a less demanding job. At that point, I was 16 months postpartum and the kiddo had been reliably sleeping through for 5 months. But I didn’t feel right. My intuition, gut, call it what you will, told me that my hormones weren’t right. My periods were getting shorter. Libido was low. Very, very low energy. Anxiety was high.
My doctor picked up on the anxiety and referred me to mental health services. I chose to go private because I still to this day wouldn’t have seen someone to help me, the wait list was so long. It made a massive difference, but it still wasn’t helping this unshakeable fatigue, my nearly constant brain fog. Libido was still lacking.
I started charting my cycle using my basal body temperature using the Fertility Awareness Method and saw that my luteal phases are short. 6 days, with 23-24 day cycles in general, which indicates low progesterone at the very least.
I really prioritized sleep in a major way even more, got at least 8 hours per night, drastically reduced stress and anxiety from counseling and yet another change of job to work even fewer hours, more flexibility and similar pay.
I read about how to support your body post-pill and how to support progesterone production. I began to supplement with a B Complex*** and Magnesium*** (with cofactors of Calcium which I need anyway because I’m lactose intolerant and Vitamin D for absorption).
I also started reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility***, which I checked out from our local library. This thing is a fascinating, amazing treasure trove and is like the women’s health bible. It’s an enormous book too, like if Stephen King wrote a book on women’s reproductive health. Great if you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid pregnancy, or just want to know more about your body or a specific reproductive condition.
I ordered a home blood test kit, which was a disaster, read more about there here, and decided to go back to the doctor, despite my worries that I wouldn’t be listened to again, that I wouldn’t get the help I needed again, that I would waste my time and fail again. That I wouldn’t be convincing enough. Menstrual cycle was at an all-time low of 22 days. I started to up the amount of healthy animal fats to support cholesterol, which in turn supports hormone production and balance.
I am still taking a B Complex twice daily (and Magnesium/Calcium/Vitamin D in the evenings), and on the random days I have forgotten to take it I literally feel like a sleep-deprived zombie, even though I get at least 8 hours every night. For me, it’s a thousand times better than caffeine and makes a huge impact on my energy.
Appointment is made. I have an emergency appointment with my doctor tomorrow (a different one from October, for what it’s worth). I also have another appointment with a female doctor in April, so I figured it push comes to shove, I can always speak to her if it’s a disaster with my actual doctor on Friday. I’m hoping I can use the right words to convey my need, to convince him that a blood test is worthwhile and needed.
I’m excited about taking the next step and finally stop the guessing game of what I can do to help myself feel better. Because I’m ready to thrive and feel more like “me” again.