From Here to Health

My journey back from autoimmune disease

Health History- Post Pregnancies (mostly)

So I left off basically with the birth of my daughter.  For the most part, we were doing really well.  For the first 6 months, it really was great.  I was having some issues with nursing such as cracked nipples, bleeding, soreness, but nothing that a committed mama like myself couldn’t get through.  Fast forward to February of 2008 and I once again have a weird virus.  For about 10 days I have a fever of 103-105 and I feel near death.  Just totally wiped out.  My doctor runs all sorts of tests, but comes up with nothing.  I continue to nurse through this because I am obviously some sort of  nursing superhero.  Truly, looking back, I can’t believe I was so committed to nursing through all the issues I had.  I know now there would have been no shame in quitting and honestly it probably would have been better for me and my daughter.  And just so you know, it isn’t just nursing.  The theme of not knowing when to quit runs pretty deep in other areas of my life as well. Stubborn, determined, committed or just stupid?  I’ll let you decide.  Anyway, back to the health history.  So all we know is I had this crazy virus.  It does finally clear up and I continue on.  However, I should mention that at one point my doctor put my on antibiotics during this illness.  You will see why.

Now to a more uncomfortable topic.  Not only was I on antibiotics for the mystery virus (which of course wasn’t helpful), but I was on IV and oral antibiotics 3 times over the next 7 months.  I had 3 rounds of very serious battles with staph infections in my breasts.  I had had mastitis with my boys multiple times, but was able to work it out without antibiotics thankfully.  However, something was different with my daughter.  Here comes the uncomfortable part….I now had breast implants. I share this for several reasons. 1. It really does matter in this health history. 2. I want to feel like I am being toally open and honest 3. There may be somebody out there in the same position I was in who could benefit from my honest analysis.  Let’s start with number 1.  While my implants did not cause my infections, my doctor does believe they left this perfect little pocket where infection could just sit and hang out.  It was also apparently a little pocket where it was hard for the antibiotics to get to, thus the reason I had to get IV antibiotics in the hospital.  Did I continue to nurse?  You betcha!  Brought that baby to the hospital.  It wasn’t until round 3 when she was 13 months that I decided she had had enough of my antibiotic tainted breast milk and I quit.  We probably would have been better off if I had quit after round one, but as you will see, I like to learn my lessons the hard way.

Number 2.  I don’t know if this blog is really going anywhere, but I want anyone who reads it to know the real me.  Open and honest.  I try to be that way with people I know in “real life” and I want to be that way here.  I would hate it if this little bit of information came out some other way and it caused someone who had read other parts of my story to think maybe I glossed over other issues as well.  My promise is to lay it all out on the table…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Number 3.  My honest analysis of the implants.  This is a really tricky subject for me.  I have so many mixed feelings around them.  Let me start by telling you how it happened.  I told you earlier that I pumped milk for my premature twins for 11 months.  Have any of you seen the electric pumps?  Seen what they do to the nipples in the pumps?  If not, seen a cow on a milking machine?  You get the idea.  After 11 months of this, my breasts were shot!  They went from a 34C to a 34A that looked like  saggy, deflated balloons.  I kid you not.  However, I might have been able to live with this if I hadn’t had body issue images since I was about 12. I won’t go into detail here (maybe another post), but I have had bouts with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and serious issues with body image.  My breasts (and maybe my eyes) were the only parts of my body that I liked.  They were full, round, perky.  They made me feel feminine and attractive.  Now they were gone and I was left with something so sad looking in their place.  Let me say quickly that I did not regret pumping for my boys.  They did incredibly well on my breast milk.  It looked like liquid gold for the first 6 months.  We were told they would have numerous problems and they had ZERO.  So I wouldn’t change that.  However, I hated looking at my chest.  I lived with the saggy balloons for the next few years while I was trying to get pregnant again.  When it had been 3 years and I had decicded it just wasn’t going to happen, I decided to do something about it.  Let me stop right here and say that I was in no frame of mind to make a big decision like this.  I was really heartbroken over the infertility.  I gave away all my baby stuff and was trying to make myself feel like that part of my life was over and I was ok with it, but I wasn’t.  I went in to see a plastic surgeon on on a Monday and they did the implants on a Friday.  Another huge mistake!  Take some time ladies.  It’s a big decision.  There are risks.  Don’t let anyone make you feel like there is a rush.  So this was May 2006.  As we all know I got pregnant in November 2006.  Just figures, right?  My new boobs looked good for about 2 months total and then pregnancy began to shift things around again and they got huge!  I had opted to go back to a 34C.  I just wanted them to look like they looked before.  Now with my pregnancy they had jumped to 34DD.  It was uncomfortable and unattractive in my opinion. I am only 5’1″ so they looked pretty massive on my frame.  I told myself they would shrink after I quit nursing, and they did, but not as much I had hoped.  They finally settled at a 32DD.  And they don’t look like they did before nursing my daughter. They are not awful, but they are not the same.  Moral of this story, if you do want implants, wait until you are CERTAIN you are not have any more kids.

One more thing,  I think the reason this topic was uncomfortable for me to share was because I have carried around some shame and guilt over getting breast implants.  A good, Jesus loving girl like myself doesn’t get big fake boobies, right?  Surely it’s in the Bible and I just missed it.  While I do think that God wants me to treat my body as a temple, with love and respect, I don’t think he truly cares about my implants per se.  I do know if He cares about my carrying around guilt and shame.  He does not want that for me. Ever. Period. About anything.  He created me to live a victorious life.  Victorious over my infertility!  Victorious over my eating disorders! Victorious over a ill-timed, ill-fitting pair of fake boobies!  So I’m laying down the guilt and shame here and now.  Hopefully my failures can be a lesson for someone else as well as myself.  Can I get an AMEN!

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More health history- Pregnancy #2

So I left off on the health history with my second pregnancy.  After nearly 4 years of trying, we did conceive in Nov. 2006.  Of course we were ecstatic!  It had been a really rough road to get to that point.  Lots of tears, lots of prayers, and lots of disappointment.  My first trimester was tough.  I was really nauseated for the first 13-15 weeks.  No vomiting, but just constant nausea.  At around 6-7 weeks I developed an arrhythmia.  My heart would feel like it was beating out of my chest.  Because it was beating so hard and I could always hear it, I also sensed that it was beating out of time.  Sometimes it would skip a beat, other times it just didn’t seem to be keeping a regular rhythm.  My o.b. agreed that there was an issue and sent me to see a cardiologist who specialized in pregnancy.  He diagnosed me with a heart murmur and also an arrhythmia due to the stress of pregnancy.  I wore a heart monitor for about 6 weeks and he kept close tabs on me, but assured me it would get better after my first trimester.  It did.  While I was thankful that I didn’t need medication and the situation was resolving, I also wondered what it was that was causing this.  The female body was meant to cope with the stress of pregnancy and if my body wasn’t dealing adequately then something somewhere in my body must have been out of balance.  After about 4 months, these issues were mostly resolved and I went on to have a pretty normal pregnancy for the next 5 months.  My daughter was born via c-section in Aug. 2007.  She was perfectly healthy and the surgery went well.  I recovered easily, but I believe now that the surgery was just one more trauma that was damaging the cells in my body.

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The beginning…A very good place to start

Oh how I wish I had started doing this at the beginning!  Nevertheless, I am going to try and go back to where I think this whole journey started using my (these days) less than stellar memory.  This is just one of many areas that has been impacted by my health issues.  My memory just isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I now believe this journey started during my pregnancy with my twins in 2001-2002.  I felt fantastic until about 61/2 months and then it went downhill very quickly.  I developed preeclampsia and my babies (both boys) quit growing.  I was admitted to the hospital at 30 weeks and they were born at 31 weeks via emergency c-section.  It didn’t register with me at the time, but I now believe my body saw this event as a serious trauma.  Obviously, I wouldn’t change anything because the surgery saved the lives of myself and my boys, but I didn’t realize at the time the domino effect this event was going to put in place.  Fast forward 6 weeks and my boys were in the NICU, but doing well. I, however, was very sick with a mysterious virus.  We believe it was West Nile based on my symptoms and my Dr. concurred that it was possible, but for some reason didn’t think it was necessary to test me.  I did recover after about a week, but looking back I realize that after these events my level of vibrancy was slightly diminished.  At the time I attributed it to being a mom to premature twins and all the extra responsibilities that came with it.  Caring for them and pumping breast milk for the first 11 months was pretty all consuming. There is a lot more I could say about being a mom to twins (it’s pretty fantastic!), but since this blog isn’t really about that I am going to try to stick to the topic at hand.  Going forward over the next few years, the symptom I remember most is headaches.  I had pretty bad migraine, cluster, and tension headaches after my boys were born.  I didn’t think all that much about it.  I had CAT scans and saw doctors for it, but just kinda figured that I was prone to headaches and that was that.  Fast forward to Nov. 2003 when I began trying to get pregnant again and more issues come in.  My husband and I conceived our boys on our very first try so I thought getting pregnant again would be no big deal.  Easy peasy, right?  Wrong!  We did get pregnant again (with our beautiful daughter) but it wasn’t until Nov. of 2006.  I tried Clomid.  I had all the invasive tests to look for structural damage and scar tissue.  Apparently nothing was wrong, but I still couldn’t get pregnant. There was obviously some hormonal issues going on that made pregnancy difficult to achieve.  This took a huge emotional toll on me.  I know now that the stress over the fertility issue was another domino in my tumbling health, but once again I didn’t know it at the time.  Back then I mistakenly thought that mind issues were mind issues and body issues were body issues.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  They are 2 sides of the same coin, ever intertwined and connected.  As I said earlier, I did eventually get pregnant again.  Once again, this pregnancy had difficulties and that is where I will pick up tomorrow.

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