Emily’s Story – Hormones After Childbirth

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | July 27th, 2011

Another month, still not pregnant! God, am I just not supposed to have any children? I never thought it would be this difficult. Then finally, after years of trying to conceive and with the help of medical science, I became pregnant. But then just as quickly, we lost our unborn child to a miscarriage.
 
Almost another year would pass before I got pregnant again. This time I went to term, and we finally welcomed our baby daughter into the world in October of 2002. After a very difficult pregnancy where I had morning, afternoon and night sickness for 8 months and yet still gained 60 pounds, I was overjoyed to finally hold her in my arms.
 
After such difficulty through the whole process, I assumed that I just was not meant to be the mother of even two children, let alone the small herd of children I always wanted. At my age, 36, it did not seem to be in my future anyway.
          
To my astonishment, being a new mom now proved even more difficult. Not because of the daily act of dying to oneself to care for this precious gift from God, but because I expected to bounce back from my pregnancy. I thought I would soon feel like “me” again, but I never did. The pregnancy weight did not come off as I had hoped and mentally I was strung out.
 

I actually became afraid of the dark. Each evening as the sun went down despair would overwhelm me, and I would cry because I knew it would soon be time to go to bed. Though I was so exhausted, I was unable to sleep. I survived on a few hours of sleep each night for the first eight months of my daughter’s life. I clung to my daily prayer which was, “God, your grace is sufficient to get me through the day and through the night.”
 
During this time, I went to several doctors complaining of extreme fatigue, sleeplessness, hair loss and weight gain! Each doctor told me that I was a normal mother of a newborn. I answered that it could not possibly be true, for if it was, no woman would ever have more than one child. Then I would tell them about my cousin, three years older than me and the mother of three children under the age of 4, who ran circles around me. This approach got me nowhere. I just need to be patient, I was told. I was treated as if I were a hysterical new mother and hypochondriac. But things just kept getting worse.
          
To compound these problems, my baby struggled with some health issues the first couple of months of her life and I was barely able to help her. She spent her 1 month birthday in the hospital with an IV in her arm. My husband and I “celebrated” Thanksgiving at the Denny’s near the hospital. Through all this, she was not sleeping and neither was my husband, who would often stay up with her because I was too tired to get out of bed. I reached my low point right before Christmas.
 
I was so tired, so fatigued, so exhausted that I thought I was going to lose my mind. One day speaking with my husband, I broke down crying. I could not live this way much longer. Was this post-partum depression?? We called my OB/GYN who wanted to immediately put me on Zoloft. He surely thought it was! I refused because I did not believe myself to be depressed and masking my symptoms with an anti-depressant would not lead me to the truth of my actual problem.
            
For the next seven months my husband took care of me and our daughter and I called every relative, friend, and co-worker who had ever given birth. I quizzed them over their experiences. I found one or two similar symptoms but these women had been prescribed anti-depressants for their troubles; I knew that was not the solution for me.
 
At a family reunion in May, 2003, I overheard my sister, a former nurse, discuss hypothyroidism with my aunt. As she listed the symptoms, I realized that hypothyroidism was my problem. I had the answer I had been searching for! (Now if you are wondering why my sister did not figure this out before, it was because I had been thin, a size 2 before my pregnancy, and she had been taught that people with sluggish thyroids are heavy-set. She admitted that she had suspected hypothyroidism before but just thought I was not trying hard enough to lose the baby weight on my own.) That reunion was the beginning of the breakthrough for me.
          
Not only did I now know that I was living with hypothyroidism, but I had been for years! I just thought my dry skin and dry eyes were from living years in the desert of Southern California. (I had silicon implants placed in my lower tear ducts years before to help with my dry eyes.) I thought my anxiety attacks were from the stress of school and working in the film industry. I had become afraid of riding in elevators and on airplanes. I even carried Benadryl with me wherever I went. I always had a “reason” for all of my weird quirks. Hypothyroidism was never one of them. Even after I moved back to Texas, I could not understand why my “quirks” were still hanging around. I thought I was leaving them behind in Los Angeles.
 
In the process, I also felt that I solved a family mystery. My mother had died of cardiomyopathy 13 years earlier. The doctors never could tell her what caused her heart condition. When she first started seeing her doctor years before regarding her extreme fatigue and other symptoms, he concluded that she needed to be on anti-depressants. When her enlarged heart was discovered they said her only hope was a heart transplant. She did not live long enough to receive a new heart. Her younger sister would later die with the same problems while waiting for a heart transplant and her only other sister was heading down that same road. Thankfully, she later received a heart transplant.
          
The doctors never could tell me what was happening to my family. As I recounted my symptoms, I realized that my mother and my aunts all shared the symptoms of hypothyroidism. In fact we could all be the poster girls of hypothyroidism. Then the surgeon who performed the transplant on my aunt told my sister, the former nurse, that during the surgery he noted that my aunt’s lungs were partially paralyzed. My sister asked how this condition could happen and the surgeon replied that he had only seen it in extreme cases of hypothyroidism! Though my aunt’s doctor had tested her for hypothyroidism, he said this was not her problem because her blood work was in the normal range. To this day, more than two years after my aunt’s transplant, her doctors are still saying she does not have a thyroid problem because of the TSH tests. We hope to have this remedied very soon.
          
With a grocery list of symptoms and a suspect of hypothyroidism it still took a year’s worth of struggles to finally convince my doctors to refer me to an endocrinologist. Once I saw the endocrinologist, who listened to my symptoms as much as read the test results, I was quickly put on Levoxyl. I was also pregnant again with the help of medical science.
 
With Levoxyl I had a slightly less difficult pregnancy, gained 40 pounds, and delivered a healthy baby boy! Now it was all the more important for me to get my thyroid under control – two babies two years apart! Levoxyl helped me sleep and I had a little more energy but I was still very fatigued and still suffered from all of my previous symptoms.
 
Needless to say I was disappointed. This was not the result I was anticipating. So, my doctor switched me over to Synthroid, but I did not see any real changes. I did not want to just limp along through life. I was too young to feel this old. My kids needed a mommy and my husband needed a wife. Then I saw an advertisement for the Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Texas Monthly. I called that day.
 
The day I was scheduled to go, I was nervous and excited. Maybe this time would be different. I prayed it would be. I quickly found out how different. The nurse and I went over my list of symptoms and I learned about Armour Thyroid. They also confirmed my hunch about the relationship between cardiomyopathy and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, if left untreated, could lead to cardiomyopathy.
 
I rang the alarm bells in my family and became a patient of the Center. I am so glad I did. Not only did the doctor at the Center listen to me, he wanted to help me. I received kindness with my care and great attention to my health. I was floored by the phone calls of support from the Center’s nurses and follow up calls from my doctor – just to see how I was doing! I could never have imagined medical treatment to be like this. It was beyond any call of duty I had ever experienced. The Center was truly different and in a very good way.
          
Now at 39 years of age with two children, I have more energy than before. I can think clearly and my memory has improved. I am losing weight, finally, and am now a size 8/10 and plan to lose more. I do not have sleeplessness or sensitivity to light any longer. I am hopeful and am able to care for my family. I feel as though my life has been given back to me. I have been given a miracle. I have only been a patient of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center six months and am excited about my results. My husband is thankful for the help I have received. Though I am early in the program and some of my symptoms are still problematic, they continue to decrease in severity. I know that I am getting better and am convinced that this will continue. Given my family’s history with my Mom and her sisters’ heart problems, only God truly knows just how much the Center has changed my life. But 
from my perspective, it has already been a tremendous blessing.

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