I hope in sharing my Hashimoto’s journey + story, it helps other women know that they are not alone!
Every time I share snippets of my story with Hashimoto’s, so many women tell me… “I keep feeling like it’s all in my head because so many people have dismissed my symptoms and the way I feel.” We need to do better for women!
I was about 5 weeks postpartum with our first daughter, Remington, when I started experiencing rapid weight gain. The initial postpartum weight loss had been easy for me. Then a few weeks in things quickly spiraled out of control.
At my postpartum checkup, I asked my doctor to check my thyroid. I explained my symptoms, rapid weight gain (over 20 pounds in 2 weeks), severe migraines, anxiety and not able to sleep at all. She knew of my history with auto-immune diseases, Type 1 diabetes, and that the likelihood of developing an additional auto-immune condition was pretty high.
Then she said the words I will never forget: “You need to be more gracious to your postpartum body.”
….dismissed the way I was feeling, sent me home and refused to do any blood work.
Honestly, I get more upset thinking about that horrible encounter now than I did at the time. I was sleep deprived (clearly newborn days), my husband was deployed and I had legitimate symptoms…and of course I was a new mom and postpartum when our emotions are a bit more fragile (not a bad thing)! It’s great to “love your body” but I had legitimate health issues which should have been addressed.
Over the next month or so I continued to experience the rapid weight gain and my health declined. The migraines were so intense I could barely care for our sweet baby. I asked a second doctor to test me and I was again told no, dismissed and told to set up an appointment with my endocrinologist.
Finally at 5 months postpartum I got a Hashimoto’s diagnosis—the doctor who diagnosed me said, “I don’t know how you have been walking around, let alone caring for a baby.”
The news of a second auto-immune disease didn’t shock me. I knew in my heart that something was wrong and I am thankful I didn’t give up.
My diagnosis was only the beginning of the journey—I was started on medication which only made me worst for the next year and a half (more on that below).
It was emotional feeling so dismissed and belittled by doctors when I truly had a real issue—my encouragement to any women struggling is trust your instinct and do not give up on your health!
My thyroid numbers and weight were all over the place for about a year…the medication I was on only seemed to make things worse. My migraines continued, and even worsened. I was still breastfeeding, Remington’s only food source at that point, but my appetite dropped drastically. I remember having to really “force” myself to eat because food suddenly didn’t taste good.
I was nauseous, terribly fatigued, couldn’t sleep and didn’t really want to eat. The days felt foggy and confusing. I even took a pregnancy test at one point because I felt so sick 😂
I was so thankful for the miracle of our sweet (and healthy) daughter but so drained and was deteriorating all at the same time.
The hardest part was I didn’t recognize myself… an emotion I think we all experience at times postpartum, but this was heightened. I didn’t feel or look like myself at all and I struggled daily to truly enjoy life, despite putting on a good face. Plus I felt so dismissed by doctors, that only made me think more that something was wrong with me.
Thyroid weight gain causes your whole body to be very swollen and puffy…it’s often a more painful type of swollen as it was for me and that constant reminder only added more stress.
Although the doctor who diagnosed me ran frequent lab work, I could never get a full thyroid panel or really get to the root cause. It was always just “oh adjust your medication” and out the door. Conventional thyroid treatment typically only tests TSH which isn’t actually a thyroid hormone, it’s a pituitary hormone. UGH.
Breaking point + what helped
Due to my holistic nutrition training I know that hormones are all interconnected—thyroid and adrenals go hand in hand. I started tackling adrenal fatigue head on—when there is a thyroid issue there is almost always an adrenal imbalance too and I had just about every adrenal fatigue symptom in the books. It took months of very dedicated work but my energy finally started to come back and I started sleeping at night! Finally a major victory!
My migraines were still SO terrible and my weight was all over the place. I had made progress but still had a long way to go.
I hit a breaking point about a year after my diagnosis and almost a year and a half postpartum.
I still vividly remember the afternoon—we were living in Spain at the time. I just couldn’t take it any more so I started googling for natural clinics in Europe. I found one in London that looked like a good fit, called them and booked one of their last available appointments. I didn’t even know how I would get up there or any of the details but I was so desperate.
Jumping on a plane to London, despite the intense cost, was the best decision I ever made for my health! I started working with this amazing woman (loved her accent too) and she dove deep into my entire health history since birth. I felt so safe, confident and encouraged. The clinic ran extensive testing and I felt heard for the first time in years.
Nothing changed physically with my health the day of that appointment but everything changed for me—emotionally I felt valued and we finally had a plan and a team to really help me get back on my feet. It was the most encouraging feeling ever.
Testing I got done:
- Vitamin D markers
- Heavy metal testing
- Vitamin, mineral deficiencies
- Full thyroid pannel + antibodies
- Stool samples
^ These were all tests that the clinic wanted me to have done after a very extensive health history and my initial appointment. Testing was tailored specific to my symptoms. Everything was out of pocket for us but it was worth the expense!
My lab results came back and were a bit scary at first but honestly the results didn’t surprise me because they corresponded with SO many issues and symptoms that I was experiencing.
I had serious deficiencies in:
- Vitamin D
- B Vitamins
^^ All of which are crucial nutrients for thyroid health!
And I was off the charts with heavy metal toxicity. Yikes. < This one explains a lot of the severe migraine issues.
We also needed to address the thyroid medication I was on that seemed to make me worse. I was taking generic levothyroxine (I didn’t fully realize this at the time) which can often make things worse for some people as it did for me. I switched to an amazing desiccated porcine thyroid glandular (the one I was on was only available in Europe) and my migraines rapidly diminished as did most all my other symptoms. WOW 🙌🏻
Where I am at today + postpartum again!
Now as I write this (spring 2021) I am currently taking Synthroid and have for about a year and doing great on it!! But there is a huge difference between generic medications and name-brand medications I learned when it comes to thyroid health. Again, just something to keep in mind, everyone reacts so differently!
As I currently type this I am 2 months postpartum with our darling second child, a sweet boy. I have to say that previous trauma has really surfaced postpartum again. Seeing a therapist has really helped and my current endocrinologist is amazing! I feel very heard and she knows my fear of things going awry, so we are carefully watching my thyroid monthly during this initial postpartum phase.
Honestly, I am in a good spot now and I am so thankful for that. This journey has made me a bit softer, a bit more gracious and at the same time a bit more of a fighter—I’ve had to fight hard to search and find answers for my health. That has made me stronger. It’s taught me never to give up.
I have had so many women reach out to me with similar stories—feeling stuck or having their symptoms dismissed. I see you, I feel you. You aren’t alone! If you are experiencing fatigue, rapid weight gain, brain fog, or any of the other symptoms I mentioned, please do not give up until you get a clear answer regarding your thyroid health.