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🙂