slowly recovering from having All The Babies.

After Laurelai was born, my body went into this weird tailspin.  There was so much going on, and between having lots of little kids and a newborn, and the exhaustion of moving and church planting, and the fact that I'd had four babies very close together without really taking very good care of myself, I kind of physically broke down.

I was outrageously fatigued, but I couldn't sleep; I was addicted to sugar and simple carbs; the more I exercised, the more weight I gained; my hair was falling out and my skin and lips were dried out; I was constipated; I was always freezing during the day and burning up at night; I had no control over my very crazy emotions; my period was suddenly irregular and truly monstrous; etc etc etc.  I felt like crap.  There were some days I could barely get out of bed, and all day long, all I heard running through my head was, "I'm dying.  I'm dying.  I'm dying."  (That, or, because of my crazy weight fluctuations and emotional instability, I'd hear, "You're disgusting.  You're the worst.  Everyone thinks so.")  It was... a rough time.  I hate looking back on that season.

I took a full-page list of symptoms to the doctor's office, where I was basically told I was just experiencing normal postpartum hiccups and that I would be fine.  One doctor simply diagnosed me with anxiety and wrote me a prescription for Xanax.  So I had to kind of research things on my own to try to pinpoint what was going on, and do what I could by myself to help myself recover.  From all the reading I eventually accomplished, I'm quite confident it was a mixture of thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, and hormone imbalance.  They all kind of go hand-in-hand, and when one jumps off a cliff, its other two buddies jump with it.  Peer pressure at its finest.

So, anyway.  I've been intentionally taking care of myself better over the last two years.  I've been trying to  correct some of the issues I was having, and to proactively build up my body to be able to handle the stress of future church plants (including, and perhaps limited to, this one) and future pregnancies.  Considering that postnatal/maternal depletion is a majorly real (and frequently unaddressed) issue for many women, I thought I'd share what I've been using to help me heal in case it can help anyone else.

Diet:I started my healing journey off by doing a Whole30.  That month marked the first time I'd started feeling like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  Since then, I've been very, very strict about avoiding gluten; I haven't ingested gluten in nearly two years.  This is super important if you're dealing with thyroid issues.  I also make sure to drink at least a half a gallon of water a day.

Supplements:I've never really been a supplement kind of girl; I'd believed that a healthy, well-rounded diet can provide whatever you need.  I still believe that, but I've also come to realize that our food and water sources have been so janked up for so long, that much of what our food should contain isn't really there in adequate quantities, or our food and water contain 'extras' that deplete our bodies of needed nutrients.  So I've started slowly, gradually, taking a few supplements, and these have made a world of difference.  Here is what I've been taking:

- Magnesium citrate (shown above as Natural Tranquility): magnesium deficiency can show up as constipation, morning sickness in preggos, restless legs, mood swings and increased cortisol, fatigue, body pain, and recurring headaches.  68% of Americans are magnesium deficient.

- Selenium: necessary for those with hypothyroid symptoms, including autoimmune issues

-Copper and zinc: work synergistically to help with hormone balance

-Prenatal multi: because, well, I'm always prenatal or breastfeeding

-Calcium: helps with magnesium absorption

-Vitamin D (Vitamin D from sun exposure is more bioavailable than a supplement, so I only supplement when necessary and get some sunlight whenever I can.)

-Kelp (Iodine): supports thyroid health in those that don't have Hashimoto's

Exercise:I started healing my diastasis recti using Ab Rehab before I did any other exercise.  (More to come on this topic next week.) I made sure I was seeing improvement in core strength before adding in some running.  I also made sure my adrenals seemed to be healing from the other things I was doing, since running and other cardio activity can cause weight gain in people with adrenal fatigue or failure.  So I started slow with the running using the Couch to 5k app and carefully watched how I felt during or after a run, and whether or not it was making me gain weight.  I currently run for about half an hour, four days a week.  I'd like to start adding in a couple days of yoga as well.

Body care:
I've been focusing on decreasing my skin exposure to synthetic chemicals, which can contain phthalates and parabens and other hormone disruptors.  These can wreak havoc on your hormones and adrenals.  I've started using the oil cleansing method on my face instead of soap, and using rose hip seed oil as a nighttime facial moisturizer.  Additionally, before each shower I've been dry brushing to help flush my lymph system (and ugh, it feels amazing, so it also seems self-indulgent).  And after each shower, I apply magnesium oil (magnesium is best absorbed transdermally), a really healing all-natural body lotion, and diluted nutmeg oil over my kidneys for adrenal support.

I can honestly tell you I feel amazing.  I finally wake up feeling at home in my skin.  I have seen really positive results over the last two years of making gradual changes, and all of the symptoms I mentioned above have improved or have been totally eliminated.  I feel like I'm getting to a point of health again, and I'm not dreading the drain of the next pregnancy, whenever that comes.  Slowly, but surely, I'm recognizing who I am - mentally and physically - and I'm so glad.  I still have a ways to go in my healing journey, and some things I'd still like to add to my regular routine, like taking a fermented cod liver oil and butter oil supplement, and doing regular oil pulling, since I've developed my first-ever cavities since Rocco was born, and my teeth are very loose in my gums.  But I'm happy with the progress I've made, and I'm looking forward to continued healing.

I'd love to answer any questions you might have, or chat with you sometime if you're identifying with any of the stuff I was experiencing!


the jersk. said...

can I hire you to be my mom-doula? like just be around and help me do all this stuff. my moola, if you will. which, coincidentally, is what you'd be making because I pay the big bucks.

seriously though, this is so great! I need to do all of it. but i apparently don't feel crappy enough to give up gluten. eyerolllllllll. le sigh.

todd said...

I'm so glad you're feelin like yourself again

The Jones Family said...

I'd love to hear more about your supplements! I'll email you. :)