Hey Mama: It’s Me, Your Thyroid

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Dear Mama,

Welcome to the newfound challenges of motherhood! You totally did it!

It’s a whole new world! I know it’s scary, but I’ve seen you handle all kinds of crazy stuff in the past. Remember morning sickness? And the swollen ankles thing? We got through those together! And, look, now you’ve got that bundle of cuteness to show for it!

“Mama”, you call yourself now. How cool is that?

And me? Sorry, I should’ve introduced myself earlier. I call myself ‘Thyroid’.

I’m a gland in your neck. You’ve heard of me before. Right? Oh come on, you totally have. Shaped like a butterfly, my job is simple and straightforward. Make thyroid hormone. Easy, right?

Except it isn’t. Not for me, anyway.

It’s funny because at first, we didn’t even realize there was a problem. Well, you didn’t. I knew. And when I noticed, there were other things that kicked into gear to try to fix it. Your pituitary gland tried to help and that guy went a little overboard.

Okay. Like a lot overboard. He tried, okay? Cut him some slack.

And…

Okay, well, I didn’t want to have to admit this, but we may have accidentally tripped the immune system and now…well, I don’t know how to put this, but your body may think I’m not even supposed to be here. I am, promise, but with all the confusion, your immune system’s put out a Wanted poster with my name on it. Come on…I’m your thyroid! I belong here! 

Total misunderstanding. 

Postpartum, the problems really started. The anger. The depression. The frustration. The brain fog. The joint aches. The inexplicable weight gain that made it hard to look in the mirror and see the glimmer of your pre-baby self.

Is this postpartum depression? You wondered aloud and I silently told you no with a crippling exhaustion that made it almost impossible to rise each morning. This postpartum hair loss is crazy! You thought to yourself each time you brushed your hair and more and more fell out. 

The frustration with work got worse. The fuse with your husband got shorter. And the feeling of this not being normal intensified.

Seven months after the baby was born, you sought help. You called the doctor in tears, blubbering with questions about postpartum depression, about anxiety, about the struggle the months had turned into.

And kindly, she said to you, There may be something more happening here.

A simple blood test finally showed you how much I’m struggling to keep up with what you need. And more than that, it told you how your body has confused me with an enemy and a different sort of help is needed.

Hashimoto’s Disease, she called it. And you, who expected to be dealing with postpartum depression, have been handed news that changes your life.

The good news is that there’s medication that can help. But the tough news is that flare-ups happen. Like this fall. Yikes, remember that? That really wasn’t fun, was it?

Sometimes, I’ll struggle and things will get harder. The anger and depression can come back. The exhaustion might return and make it impossible to keep up with your daughter. The weight’s going to be even harder to lose than you thought. The hair might just keep falling out.

The hardest part is this: I’m silent.

You won’t know I’m struggling until your levels are already on the rise. You’ll have to ask yourself each day if the hair on your brush is a normal amount. You’ll have to wonder if your irritation at your husband is reasonable or if your hormone levels are rising. You’ll have to keep asking yourself if the anxiety you feel is heightened thanks to me or an overly adventurous toddler.

And because I’m silent, the struggle is silent to others. Even your husband, who’s around you all the time, may not get it. He might not see the frustration and anxiety you’re fighting or the pain you’re in. He might get annoyed by you saying, again, that you’re cold or that your knees are aching. He won’t assume, at least not at first, that I’m the one causing the trouble.

I wish I could apologize, but this is our reality now.

It’ll get easier. And it’ll get harder, too. There are things to try: eliminating gluten, cutting dairy, foregoing stress. But this will be a learning process for me and you. And I’ll try my hardest, but sometimes that just won’t be enough. That’s where you come in.

What I’m trying to say is that we’re in this together. And as much as you might not like it, I need you, buddy. I can’t be left on my own. I’m likely to accidentally burn the place down and nobody wants that.

And hey, I’m sorry about the weight gain. That was mean, huh? Especially during a pandemic.

Love you anyway,

Thyroid

Struggling with your thyroid? You’re not alone, Mama! Talk to your doctor and check out The Invisible Hypothyroidism 

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