Long Cycles. Painful Periods. Mood Swings.

Sound familiar? Today, and in a few posts to follow, I'm going to be talking about postpartum hormones and periods; shedding light on something that I definitely was not expecting to experience at 2 years postpartum with my third pregnancy.

When I first went off birth control in 2009 for us to try to conceive, I experienced annovulatory cycles. I'm talking the ones that go on for 53-60 days and the doctor concludes that you just skipped your period. Until a wonderful group of women on The Bump encouraged me to start charting my Basal Body Temperature, I had no idea that I am a late ovulator (cd18-21) and that a normal cycle for me is about 33-37 days.

Fast forward to January 2015. I was 6 months postpartum with our second baby/third pregnancy, had been on birth control for a few months and saw my weight creeping up and up, regardless of a rigorous running and training schedule. I figured it was just how my body was, ignored it and just went along my merry way.

 6 Months Postpartum - Just before my first 10km at Disney

6 Months Postpartum - Just before my first 10km at Disney

Jump ahead again to January 2017 and my weight had plateued for almost a year, though my body was incredibly stronger from a solid weight lifting schedule at the gym and eating relatively well. My mood swings were....something to be desired. It wasn't uncommon for me to completely lose my temper over the smallest thing, and I was starting to really feel like I didn't recognize myself emotionally anymore.

 January 2017 - post tibia stress fracture rahab, post car accident rehab...feeling not at all like myself

January 2017 - post tibia stress fracture rahab, post car accident rehab...feeling not at all like myself

Instead of dealing with it then, I let it go. I again faced long cycles. What was 34 days in January extended to 37 days, then 42 days, and even one cycle that was 54 days. Many false pregnancy tests were taken and in July, I decided that I was done feeling this way. There was something going on, and I needed to listen to my body.

Off to the doctor I went, and without so much as doing a test or taking much time at all, an IUD was recommended. It was pretty clear that my hormones were out of whack, but which ones? How much? Was there anything else going on? My doctor ordered blood work, and I considered my options.

While an IUD certainly is a great thing for many women out there, I wasn't confident that it was the right course of action for me. Getting pregnant wasn't a concern, and I didn't feel comfortable having something in my body that prevents my body from doing what it naturally should. I just wanted my body to work!

So, I made an appointment with Dr. Lindsay Martens, a naturopath in London, ON who specializes in fertility. After a quick phone consultation, I felt confident that seeing her would get my questions answered and me on a path of health and wellness.

At my initial appointment (cd28), we went over a copy of my blood work from cd42 of my previous cycle, talked about stress, work, life, motherhood. She was incredibly personable and put my mind to ease that I was in fact not going into early menopause, and that I did, indeed, have a hormonal imbalance issue. To be more specific, adrenal fatigue, liver fatigue and estrogen dominance.

 Left: August 2017 after seeing Dr. Martens       Right: July 2017 at the height of hormonal issues

Left: August 2017 after seeing Dr. Martens       Right: July 2017 at the height of hormonal issues

With supplements prescribed, I hopped up on her treatment table for acupuncture. It was incredibly soothing and healing, and within 3 days of the initial treatment, a painless period came. It was something that I hadn't experienced in a very long time. I had gotten used to a brutal 2 day period of heavy bleeding, nausea and severe abdominal cramping to the point of tears sometimes. This time, it was painless and stretched over the course of 4 days, and was only ever a medium flow at worst.

Since that first appointment, I've seen Dr. Martens twice. There have been some challenges along the way, unexpected stress, but I'm getting to know what my body needs to be healthy and that my weight (whether stagnant or not) isn't a true marker of my health.

Stay tuned for more posts on how I'm taking control of my postpartum health!