She Says… Thinking Ahead, Looking Forward

I had my 6 week postpartum doctor’s visit a few weeks ago. I was kind of dreading it, since the thought of an internal exam while I was still healing from giving birth sounded more like cruel and unusual punishment than a doctor’s appointment. However, it really wasn’t that bad.

I was, unfortunately, still in the midst of “healing” at that point. Aka I hadn’t stopped bleeding yet. Most of the reading I’ve done say that a woman recovering from vaginal birth should expect to bleed for about 4 weeks (at the most) and then the bleeding should taper much like a period, and end by around 6 weeks. At my 6 week appointment, which was actually 7 weeks after I gave birth, I was still bleeding. A lot. I had called the doctor a few times prior to the appointment since I was nervous about the slow healing. I was walking a lot, so she suggested that the increased exercise might be to blame, but the longer the bleeding went on (and given the heavy amount), she actually became concerned about retained placenta or some other strange complication. She ordered an hCG test (which came back negative) to rule that out. Since I had issues with bloody noses during my pregnancy (and previously in my life), she considered the possibility of a clotting issue, but my bloodwork was within the normal range. She said my stitches healed beautifully and everything appeared normal upon examination. Finally, after several extra appointments and a lot of unnecessary Googling, it stopped. Just a few days ago, at 7 1/2 weeks. It stopped cold turkey… no tapering or changing colors or anything else that I had read would happen. Whatever, I’ll take it.

Now that I’m considering myself “healed”, I feel like it’s time to move toward increasing my activity level and embracing my new body and clothes that actually fit. Yesterday I spent all of Owen’s naptimes going through my closet and purging all of the maternity clothes, and the clothes that are ridiculously too small for me to fit into in the next few months (no one needs that kind of stress of trying on clothes that don’t fit all the time!). Now that my closet is cleared, I can buy a few new items for my fall wardrobe (hello, new jeans without elastic). I unearthed my pre-pregnancy workout clothes, and I intend to get some use out of them as I try to fit workouts into my new daily schedule. I’m also going to cut my hair. Chop it. It’s all part of the process. I’m totally excited.

At my doctor’s appointment, my OB asked me a question that forced me to think ahead, beyond new clothes and new hair. “What kind of birth control are you planning on using?”. Hahahahaha. The idea hadn’t even crossed my baby-filled brain. Birth control? Well, the form of birth control I’m using right now (ahem, abstinence), seems to be working quite well, thankyouverymuch! In all honesty, though, it’s a valid question. Although the old wives’ tale says that a woman can’t get preggo while nursing, we all know someone who proves that theory wrong. So birth control (for someday, when we actually have sex again) is something I need to consider.

As you know, we had a difficult time getting pregnant in the first place. In my personal opinion (after months of Googling and connecting with other women in situations eerily similar to my own), birth control pills are what caused my body to stop ovulating in the first place. Although I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I don’t fit the classic PCOS profile. I don’t have wonky hormone levels or excessive hair growth or problems with weight gain. My reproductive endocrinologist called it “Lean PCOS”, but I honestly believe it was more a natural reaction to being on birth control for 10 years (and never missing a pill), wherein I effectively trained my body not to ovulate. Anyway, given this history, birth control and I are not friends. I feel very strongly about keeping my body free of added hormones at this point to see if it begins to ovulate on its own. Many women experience a sort of “resetting” of their systems after pregnancy, and issues that plagued them previously are gone. I’m really crossing my fingers that this happens for me, and someday down the line, I get my period like a normal person again.

So that rules out The Pill (even the mini-Pill), as well as any other birth control method that involves hormones. Which pretty much leaves condoms (since I am also opposed to a shot or device that eliminates my period for long stretches and/or inhibits pregnancy for a long time — we’d like to keep this family growing in the next few years!). Ugh, condoms. My hope is that someday I will have regular periods and will be able to use the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), as described in my favorite book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. But for now, I’m essentially just waiting for my period to return.

Or, you know, I guess I could just continue with our current method. But I’m not sure that bodes well for our intimate relationship :)

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27 responses to “She Says… Thinking Ahead, Looking Forward

  1. Hi! I’m a long time reader, though I think this may be my first comment. Have you considered an IUD? The Paragard is made of copper and is hormone-free, safe, and extremely effective. I have one, and I love it. Just a thought! On the other hand, if you want to have another baby in the next 2 years, it may not be worth the up-front cost.

  2. I hear you on saying “no thanks” to hormones. My body (thankfully) always reacted reasonably well to them, and I was on the pill for 10 years with no problems, and then thankfully was able to get pregnant. I got Mirena after my kids were born, and kept it for 2 years, thought it was great. It was only after I had it removed that I suddenly found myself calmer and happier. Hrm…

    So, now, I’m all done with hormones and I have made birth control the husband’s job. Condoms are annoying, almost laughable as a happy married couple, but at least they’re hormone-free, easy enough to deal with, and can be stopped at any time.

    (She says, 15 weeks pregnant… hahaha….)

  3. Like the poster above, I’m also considering the hormone free IUD. Most of my mama friends have it and love it for low-thought birth control after baby.

  4. sounds a lot like my healing period (no pun intended). It took around eight weeks for the bleeding to stop and then I didn’t have my period for another three months! Oh – and regarding the birth control issue – yeah, I don’t like using pills either. We go the old fashioned condom route. Never as much fun, but what do you do?

  5. 2 thoughts: I have a two year old who was conceived the first time I ovulated (7 months after baby #1) while I was breastfeeding and ‘waiting for my period to return.’ Ha!
    Also, I would strongly recommend the hormone-free Paragard IUD. That said, it has a .4% failure rate. My Baby #3 is due in March, but until that happened I thought the IUD was fabulous.
    As a frame of reference, I also had a tough time getting pregnant with our first. It took 9 months and there was an early miscarriage around 6 months. I would not consider myself to be Fertile Myrtle. Well, at least I wouldn’t have then.

  6. I feel exactly the same way that you do– It took me a while (and fertility meds) to get pregnant so there’s no way I’ll be putting any hormonal birth control back into my system.

    While the hormone free IUD is certainly an option, I still have a problem with it. Sure, it creates a hostile environment where eggs are less likely to fertilize and implant, but IF an egg was to fertilize and implant, from what I understand, an IUD essentially causes a miscarriage. Not cool with that idea and would like the environment in my uterus to stay as hospitable as possible!

    I second your disdain of condoms– yuck. We’ll be going with a diaphragm (old school, huh?) as our birth control method once Liam arrives.

  7. We are having this same discussion right now since my 6 week follow-up is coming up soon. I also have no desire to go on any hormonal birth control. We aren’t even sure if we want to prevent pregnancy for very long at all considering we’re 30 and it took us over 2 years to have our little girl. SO, we might be that crazy couple with rebound pregnancies soon.

  8. A diaphragm or cervical cap is a hormone free option. I personally hate condoms, so I’m back on the pill (but I haven’t had your history). My husband will NOT agree to try natural family planning, so my options are limited. I won’t do an IUD since I’ve heard such horror stories about those. I did the mini pill and I had no problem on that (mood-wise or milk production wise)

    Abstinence is not an option around here either, we were so excited to get clearance to resume activities, lol.

  9. I’ve never been on any birth control of any kind; I feared the hormones and just plain anything beyond nature dictating what went on in my body. Mainly it is was because my mother and grandmother both had breast cancer (and survived it, thank goodness). I guess since I never knew anything but condoms, I don’t think “ugh” at all really.

  10. Thank you so much for all your posts. I’ve been off hormonal BC (after ten years, like you, on it) since early July and haven’t had any kind of normal cycle or period yet. There are so many variables–I’m not sure if it’s because I’m marathon training, or because I have a hormone imbalance, or because my body just forgot how to ovulate. It’s so frustrating, and I don’t really know what to do, because we’re not TTC yet! It makes me feel better knowing it’s NOT just me having issues like this, though. For now we are using FAM/condoms (even though they’re probably not necessary).

  11. I am with you 100%. My doctor looked at me like I was crazy when I said I didn’t want to go back on the pill. Then I reminded him that he had to put me on progesterone to get pregnant because I wasn’t ovulating after being on the pill for 10 years. And then he agreed with me.

    I HATE condoms, but it is way better than something unnatural coursing through my body. Eli is 13 weeks and I haven’t gotten my period yet. I REALLY hope that my body puts itself back on course, but I’d be okay if it wanted to wait another several months!

  12. Well, the whole ‘what to do after baby’ isn’t an issue for me yet.
    But, I did just quit the pill to go the Fertility Awareness Method. Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a GREAT Book.
    I was on hormonal birth control with no break for 6 years, and this is my first cycle off of it. I’m on CD 16 and have yet to ovulate, and have already managed to convince myself that birth control has ruined my reproductive system (I really should quit using google and being over-dramatic).

    We are using condoms until I figure out my cycle. Honestly, the first time we used a condom…..it was so wierd. It felt like we were first dating again!

  13. I didn’t get my period back until more than a year after my first son was born and about 8 months after my second (I nursed them for 15 months each). But I definitely started ovulating before those periods showed up – I’m one of the “lucky” ones who can tell when I’m ovulating (I say lucky because we conceived baby #1 in two tries and baby #2 in one try, but the 12 hours of stabbing pain every month makes me feel decidedly unlucky). I never went back on the pill after the first baby, but decided to just stick with condoms so we could quit using them whenever we felt like trying again.

  14. I, too, hate the hormones…but am now the proud mother of two kiddos only 20 months apart (I was nursing and we were being “careful” – um….).
    So, this time, we went with an IUD. We perhaps want to have another child, but not for two-three years, and didn’t want the risk/inconvenience of condems. I have to say – I’m lovin it!

  15. So weird Kate, I am 9 days post partum and JUST got back from the doc today worrying about bleeding. It’s good to hear you bled for a long time! I mean, seriously, Google schmoogle becuase I also looked it up and they were like “well, yes, after one week lochia should be tapering….etc etc” ONE WEEK? Um, pretty sure it looks more like murder than tapering as far as bleeding goes. My friends also told me they bled for quite a while so who knows what google is telling us. Bottom line? No googling anymore, I remember all the hours spent googling then I was TTC and holy heck that was not helpful :)

    I will think about the birth control thing prior to my 6 week visit too, but totally agree, no BCPs for me either! Body will be left alone to make hormones galore and we will figure out hoe NOT to get pregs, shouldn’t be too hard :)

    Congrats on the 7 weeks! Since I am in the throws of that first 10 days/2 weeks, could you tell us Owen’s “schedule” so I have an idea of what life may SOMEDAY be like when we are that far out?!

  16. SO glad that the bleeding stopped cold turkey! I respect any decision that is best for you and hubs about birth control! Although, condoms do suck haha!!

  17. I just want to share this anecdote for anyone who might have had difficulty getting pregnant and might therefore be tempted to not use birth control. I have a friend who had a very hard time conceiving, including miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies (which resulted in the loss of a fallopian tube and an ovary), and finally got pregnant with twins after four IVF attempts. When her twins were 7 months old, assuming she would never get pregnant on her own, she was shocked to learn she DID get pregnant, the old-fashioned way, with IDENTICAL TWINS. They were born recently at 32 weeks gestational age. While these babies are certainly a blessing to their lives, their arrival is something they were not prepared for… so unless you’re ready to get pregnant immediately, assume that pregnancy is a possibility at any time!

  18. I’m with you. If I can stay pregnant with clomid, I don’t plan on using bcp once we have a baby. I think that is what messed up my hormones as well. I went 10 months until my cycles started on their own after going off of it and I know I never got pregnant because he was in Iraq for most of that!

  19. I too believe that being on the pill for almost 15 years and never missing a day of taking it lead to my fertility problems. Although all the doctors I saw would never agree that to be the case. I too was diagnosed with PCOS, a mild case. My husband and I decided to avoid birth control all together, we’re living on the edge :p

  20. A month after I had my son in January, my doctor convinced me to take a birth control shot. It made me vomit, diarrhea, loss of appitite (which effected my milk supply), and it stopped my periods. It was only suppose to last but all the symptoms mentioned can last up to 18MONTHS! I still feel nauseous and no period, but the others are virtually gone. My sister has been on the pill since she was 16 and she is now struggling with PCOS and endometriosis.

    So, I’m kind of in the same boat as you since the pill makes me so sick. Just waiting for my period to come back and using condoms until then…. **sigh**

  21. PLEASE post a picture of your haircut!!!! i know this post was about much more important things, but hey…i’m dyin’ to see what you did!

  22. I got pregnant while breastfeeding. HAD to get that in there =)

  23. First of all, how are you not jumping your husband’s bones right now!? I just had my baby a week ago and I’m SO ready for sex again. I read that breast feeding releases a hormone making the mother want to have sex so I figure that’s what’s going on with me. The next five weeks couldn’t go faster on that count. We’re just doing…ahem, other things, until then.

    Also, have you looked into the diaphragm? Much less awkward than a condom……

  24. I’m 6 mths pregnant now and we were talking about this this past weekend, what to do after the baby is born. We want a second baby, but probably not for another two years or so … and I loved being off the pill and the freedom I felt from not being regulated by hormones after 9 yrs of being on it. Good to hear what others are considering/have done.

  25. Hi Kate! As you know I have the same issues as you (re: not ovulating after going off BCPs, after 10 years of being on them). I am also hoping that pregnancy magically “cures” my hormone imbalances. But since it took us sooooo long to get knocked up (and because the less invasive fertility treatments like Clomid didn’t work for us), I want to live on the edge sans ANY form of birth control going forward. Well, we’ll see how I feel about that later on, but that’s how I feel right now.

    I am hoping and praying that your period comes back naturally!!! Keep us posted. :) xoxo

  26. such a tough decision! I totally won’t allow breast feeding to be my method. Too many people get pregnant while breastfeeding and I wouldn’t be willing to risk that. Plus my friend just had her 6 week post appt and the doc said the pill “shouldn’t” mess with her milk meaning that it “could”. So I would never want to risk that either! So I am thinking condoms will have to be what I do when the time comes also…granted I have time to think about it, but I definitely want to wait to have another kid, and I want to be responsible…

  27. Kate, did you ever get your period back regularly? Did your body reset?

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