August 14th, 2013
“You don’t look like you just had a baby!”
I hear that A LOT. It’s both flattering and annoying. It’s especially annoying whenever it’s seasoned with resentment. I often feel the need to explain my situation, but I’m not sure why. But I’ll explain anyway, for your sake.
My thyroid is screwed up.
**Edited to add this example: one lady (a stranger) stopped me when Lucy was about 4 or 5 months old and said “that baby isn’t yours, right?” and I said that she was and she commented on how I was so skinny and I mentioned my thyroid problems. And she gave me a lot of attitude and said, “oh don’t blame it on your thyroid” and got in her car. What was that about?
Thyroid problems are actually a common problem after you have a baby. I think the technical phrase is “postnatal thyroid disfunction.” This can mean that either your thyroid is overactive or underactive. In my case, it’s overactive…well, at least it was.
And in case you didn’t know, your thyroid controls everything. I knew for two reasons: 1) nursing school. I LOVED my section on the endocrinology system mainly because…2) my dad had thyroid cancer. I’ve seen what a monster the thyroid can be. It’s not pretty.
But I was sick. I spent a lot of time in bed or in the bathroom. I stopped running. I ate only plain gluten free bagels for two weeks and drank a lot of ginger ale. Thankfully Lucy was still small enough that I could prop her in the Boppy pillow next to me in bed and we’d nap. I cancelled so many plans with friends. It sucked. I thought is was my gallbladder, but a number of tests and a phone call from the doctor informed me that all of my digestive trouble was due to an extremely hyper(over)active thyroid. The sleepless nights? I blamed the baby…but I never really could explain why I wasn’t tired during the day or why I would have manic cleaning sessions. Oh, thyroid, that was you.
Goiter. Yuck. Ugly word, even uglier thing. Apparently my thyroid was so enlarged that the doctor could see it from across the room. Thankfully an ultrasound assuaged my fears that there was no tumor, just inflammation…destructive inflammation. So now I’m on hypothyroid watch, because my levels are normal, just on the low end of normal (or high-end if I’m referring to TSH… it’s confusing. I’ll shut up).
So, resentful women of the world who judge me for being skinny: I WAS SICK. And I’ve even had a few women, after sharing my story, tell me that they wish they could have a hyperactive thyroid too. (Granted, there are worse problems to have, but…) Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Is our culture so screwed up that we’d wish a disease upon ourselves just to lose the baby weight?! You don’t get it. Our bodies weren’t created to look good in a bikini, ok? If you’re having a baby, extra weight is part of the territory. If you think you can gain 8 lbs and then pop out a healthy, 8 lb baby, you’re nuts and probably shouldn’t be having a baby in the first place. Get your priorities straight.
But if you’re sincerely offering a compliment, thank you.
(but it was my thyroid)