Journey to a Better Mental, Physical and Spiritual Me. Road to Cholestasis Recovery.
If I am being completely honest here, I wasn’t the healthiest person in the world before I got pregnant. It can be contributed to many things like two stressful jobs and lack of time to meal prep and cook healthy meals. Don’t get me wrong I love to cook, but I literally had zero extra time. The thing that took the biggest toll on my body was infertility treatments. If you or someone you know has gone through infertility treatments than you know exactly what I am talking about.
Now that my little princesses are 34 weeks old the excuses need to stop here. I am getting serious about my postpartum health and taking you with me on my journey. Sure, everyone that bumps into me at the grocery store tells me I look great for just having had twins. Sure, the people that surround me tell me that I am perfect just how I am. Sure, I can find a million excuses as a new mom to just let myself be. The fact of the matter is that I am unhappy that I am unhealthy.
I had an incredibly difficult pregnancy. I had something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum for the first two thirds of my pregnancy. If you have never heard of this condition it is severe nausea and vomiting. This is NOT your normal morning sickness. I could barely keep toast down, which was my food of choice for at least two months straight. Which is EXTRA terrible for me because I have a slight gluten intolerance. The vomiting caused “injury” to my esophagus so even drinking water “burned”. I was on TONS of medications for all of my issues and had regular visits to get IV’s from dehydration. When I could eat, I ate horribly. Just when I was feeling like I was “surviving” this pregnancy I got the flu. What? Yes! Not even joking. But wait…It gets worse! Literally as soon as I got over the flu (actually in the last day or so of it) I developed an intense itch on my hands and my feet. It gradually made its way to my belly and arms and legs. It felt like fire ants. When I would scratch it would itch worse. I initially thought that the itching was from all of my stretching skin.
My doctor sent me for testing after two weeks of this and determined that I had a condition called Cholestasis. Not only was I suffering physically at this time but mentally as well. My anxiety levels were through the roof. I had already worked so hard to get these babies in my belly and to this point. Cholestasis can increase the risk of fetal distress and stillbirth. I was prescribed a medication that would try to keep my bile levels down as much as they could. Women with cholestasis are told to give serious consideration in inducing labor as soon as the baby’s lungs are developed. Since my itching did not improve with the medication that meant that my levels were still very dangerous and I ended up being induced at 35 weeks.
I am extremely thankful to God that both babies came out extremely healthy and they didn’t need the NICU. We went home three days after my miracles arrived. It felt really good to get all of the weight off of my belly but I was still feeling “not myself” and still itching some. Let’s face it, the last thing on a brand-new mothers’ mind is their own health. Everything is all about their baby(ies) and loving them and keeping them safe!
I have been making baby steps since giving birth to improve my health. I was actually mentally ready to attack this whole “health” thing before my body was ready. I was told at my 10-week checkup that I could start some light exercising. Naturally I went home and went for a jog. I can’t even begin to tell you how much pain I felt after that. If there were any stitches left in my stomach, I was sure I had ripped one. When I called the next morning, the nurse laughed at me and said that light meant stretching and that running was not permitted until at least six months postpartum. So, what did I do? Not much of anything. I went on some walks here and there but nothing serious and not even really any stretching. I am finally at a point where I am READY to fully dive in.
I “need” to lose at least 20(if not more) pounds to be in the normal range for my height and body frame. This isn’t about weight though. I don’t want to make this about a number. I know that if I do things that promote healthy physical, mental and spiritual health that the rest of the things (like weight) will follow behind.
I feel sluggish. I am exhausted all the time. I can’t even blame this on my almost eight-month-old twins because they are incredible sleepers. They typically sleep anywhere from ten to twelve and a half hours straight at night. I also still itch. When I got blood work taken for another follow-up appointment, I was referred to a surgeon to have my gallbladder removed. Sorry folks, but God didn’t just give us extra organs for fun. Medical professionals will tell you to just go ahead and take it out because it serves no purpose. My goal is to keep all of my organs as long as I can so I set out to do some research. I learned that there are several foods that you should avoid to help heal our gallbladder and liver. I need to remove processed sugar, fats and processed foods from my diet. Sounds like all of the things that make you unhealthy in the first place, right? In total I am removing gluten (since I have an intolerance), processed sugar, unhealthy fats and processed foods as well as doing a gallbladder and liver cleanse. I will be running with my jogging stroller and the girls at least three times a week. They love going outside and getting fresh air. I am also going to be doing Pilates YouTube videos before I go to bed at night. I am going to focus on eating the right things and getting moving and everything else will happen in time. There may be a time where I can focus on strengthening and toning, but I am just not there yet. I have to remind myself that exercise and healthy eating aren’t punishments because we hate ourselves. It is something we should all be doing because we love ourselves.
I am doing better and better each day. I definitely, without a doubt, had the baby blues (which is completely normal). I was devastated about the thought of having to go back to work full time and be away from my babies. My husband is incredibly supportive and I was able to quit my full-time job and go to a more part time role with mortgages. I do sometimes give myself a hard time for not providing for our family like I used to, but I am so thankful and incredibly blessed to be able to spend every day but two with them. I am even more thankful that the two days that my princesses are not with me, they are with my mom. I am constantly having to remind myself of life’s blessings.
I have been enjoying my Doterra essential oils that help to calm and balance my mood. I tend to be a high stress person and my current favorite oil blend is past tense . In the morning I can wake up pretty stressed about all of the tasks that need to be completed and the Peace blend has been helping me feel more balanced. Diffusing lavender or chamomile at night also really helps me to wind down as well as doing my skincare routine and drinking some hot herbal team.
Through researching my symptoms with cholestasis, I have also learned that I have a major hormone imbalance. Of course, my hormones are already totally wacky from pregnancy and birth and that doesn’t help the situation. I had totally stopped taking prenatal and all other vitamins after I gave birth. I have recently started taking a plant-based woman’s multivitamin , probiotics and milk thistle.
Here Is a list of vitamins I wanted to make sure I am getting and why:
Iron- ENERGY (What twin mom doesn’t need energy?)
B-12- Healthy Brain Function and Energy
Boron- Hormone regulation
Vitamin D- Mood
Vitamin K- healthy bones
Magnesium- Relaxation (you guys…I need this and you probably do too).
Zinc- Healthy Immune System
I have to remember to be kind to myself. My body is incredible and grew two perfect little babies. Any time I talk down to myself I am only hurting myself and not helping myself. When I harm myself by talking down to myself, I am also hurting people around me. I don’t deserve that and neither do they. I just need to give myself more love and take care of myself.
Spiritual health is something that I constantly try to improve on. I can always pray more and read my bible more. My schedule is constantly changing with the different milestones my babies are hitting. Now that we have had a time change (yikes) I am trying to get the babies on new and later nighttime schedule. This who going to bed at 5:30 pm and waking up at 5:00 am is for the birds. My goals it to have the girls in bed by 7:00/7:30 pm so that I can get up at 5:00 am and have some “me” time. After I drink my big glass of water, I plan to enjoy my coffee while diving into God’s word. If I have time after this before the babies or wake up and can start a load of laundry and get a jump start to the day. I will also try and make more time during the day to just be in prayer. Before bed at night I have been enjoying a Wife after God devotional.
The healthier and happier we are the better we can take care of our babies and husbands. If you are suffering from something more than the “baby blues” you could be having postpartum depression. If this is your case please seek help for yourself and those around you! This is a completely normal thing to go through and sometimes we all need a little extra help. I want my babies to be able to look up to me and learn healthy habits from me. I hope you can all keep me accountable and maybe even join me in my efforts. Thank you all so much for taking the time to follow me on this journey.