My Little Piece of Heaven Kind of Felt Like Hell
Two and a half years after my son was born, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. My home was a little piece of heaven. My two sweet angels, and my caring husband were everything I ever needed. We were making plans for the future, and everything seemed to be falling into place.
But life was not perfect.
Things got hard. This time they got extremely hard. My life was a blur. I was exhausted and worn out. I could sleep up to 12 hours a day and still not feel rested. The doctors told me it was normal to feel tired; I had two small children. My hands were so dry that there were deep chasms in the surfaces of my fingerprints. I blamed it on my obsessive hand washing. The doctors told me to use almond oil lotion. My throat was so dry and hoarse – I blamed it on the A/C being turned up too high. The doctors told me to drink more water. Even with counting my calories, and exercising, within a couple of months of giving birth, I weighed more than my 9 month pregnancy weight. When I would bring this up to the doctors, they told me to stop eating so much.
I would get dizzy so easily. I constantly had intense brain fog. It was hard to remember anything, and life felt like a blur. The scariest part of it all was that every week I would feel like a new part of my insides was self-destructing. The pain was intense and shifting. It was always changing, yet always present. I was never OK, and I could not get answers.
The deep passion I had for motherhood was buried under the will to survive.
Amidst all of this, I had two beautiful children to take care of. They were my little piece of heaven. I knew that I loved them so deeply, and that I was very passionate about them, but I also knew that I was not feeling this love as much as I knew it existed deep down inside of me. While I felt love, I did not often feel the vivid, burning kind of love and passion for motherhood that I knew I had somewhere deep inside of me, because it was covered up by the numb feeling of survival that had taken over my life.
There are not words to express how supportive my husband was during this time. He was right in the middle of a very competitive MBA program, and he had a lot on his plate, but he was always there for me, and he always cared. One example of this was when he had a networking event that went late into the night in Boston, and he we was driving that night. Even though it would have been more fun, and maybe a smarter idea to just spend the night in Boston, he brought all his friends back that same night, arriving home at 3am, because he knew that I would need him there in the morning.
He put up with a lot. He would understandably get frustrated at the situation, but he never took it out on me. He was always loving, and supportive. He was able to go through that with so much patience and love.
When my daughter was about 10 months old, I had been so hoarse that I could barely speak for a couple of months, I found on good old Google, that if your throat is hoarse for over a certain period of time you most likely have throat cancer. Google always thinks you have cancer, but it scared me enough that I knew this was not normal and not OK. I needed answers, and I needed them now.
“It was normal”
I scheduled yet another doctors visit. I sat in the office, and once again was told that it was normal to be tired because I had two kids, I needed to stop eating so much, the AC was probably just on too high, and to use more lotion. She did a finger prick and found out that I had anemia. This wasn’t news to me. My iron levels are often low. But she seemed certain enough that an iron supplement would make all of my problems go away.
She thought we were done, but I refused to get off the table. I just knew that there was something more. This was more than iron deficiency. Iron deficiency does not tear your insides apart. It does not give you intense mood swings, and it did not cause the mind-numbing pain that I was feeling. I told her that there had to be something else. There had to be another answer. She finally decided to do a full blood panel. A few days later she called me to tell me that my thyroid was “severely under active”, and that it was testing “off the charts”. She also informed me that I had antibodies, which would make it autoimmune, which meant that my body was attacking itself. I literally was my own worst enemy.
It took about three years to get my levels into normal range, and another couple of years of adjustments to help me to finally start feeling like myself again. This was a new trial in my life that I was not sure I was prepared to deal with. I had to get blood tests every 6 weeks, which is a really big deal because I often pass out with needles. One time I had to get 14 vials of blood drawn. They passed me around the lab for a while until they found someone who was confident enough in her abilities to get through 14 vials with the girl who would most likely pass out. Let me tell you, the lady who was brave enough to take on this challenge was an angel. I am pretty sure she made up the story of her cousins growing illegal drugs on a farm in the middle of nowhere with chickens running around just to distract me enough to keep me conscious, but it worked.
I went through many stages in my recovery. I would be angry. I would be angry that being pregnant caused my body to fall apart. I would be angry that my friends who were pregnant with me were back to their pre-pregnancy weight, and that was nowhere in sight for me. I would be angry that my daughter would most likely have thyroid problems. I would be angry that I was so angry with my body for attacking itself.
Sometimes my anger would move on to fear, and I had a lot to fear. I would be terrified with the realization that I most likely had these problems while I was pregnant. I would be terrified that somehow, while my body was attacking itself, it had also attacked these sweet babies that I loved so much. I watched my babies like a hawk, because I just knew that my body had done something to hurt them. It was not until my daughter turned three years old, that I was finally able to let go and accept that maybe, just maybe, they would both grow up and be healthy. I was able to accept that my body had not ruined their bodies while it was ruining mine.
Along with this fear, I was accepting the fact that I might not be able to get pregnant again, and if I did, I was terrified that by body would not be able to grow my sweet baby the way it should grow.
As time went on, and my feelings evolved, God was able to help me realize that my body was not the enemy, but it was in fact a victim. My amazing body may never be an “ideal” shape or size. But it is strong, and it is powerful. It was able to grow two beautiful babies. It was also strong enough to protect my two sweet babies from itself. This body was able to overcome something really difficult, and in the middle of all of that, it was able to love, nourish, comfort, and guide my family.
As I look back on this experience, I am overwhelmed with the lessons that I have learned along the way. I am so grateful that I have learned to rely on God not only on the days that my body is not quite working like it should, but on the days when everything is going perfectly as well. I am grateful for the times that I have had to really rely on God to help get me though, because I know without a doubt that He loves me, and that He hears me. I am grateful that He has taught me how to be a parent who loves and serves her children, but more importantly, to be a parent who teaches my children to love and serve me when I don’t have the strength to do it myself.