Motherhood + Hypothyroidism
Written by: Violet Jauregui
Every Motherhood is different. Every Motherhood is special and unique to your family life. So when something new is thrown into the mix it can make life even more challenging. My new challenge began during my postpartum recovery with my youngest babe. I had two older children when I went through that pregnancy and I remember thinking to myself, “OMG, this is so much harder than I remember”. About 5-ish months into my recovery I knew that something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel right, I was anxious all the time, I was becoming forgetful, and I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing when it came to my new baby. I was having anxiety attacks, which were new to me, and there was a different kind of depression that I was going through. These were just a few new symptoms I was feeling. This went on for almost a year.
I have been blessed with kids who love to sleep, so by the time my youngest was 3 months old he was sleeping 5-6 hours at a time. As a newborn momma that’s an amazing night of sleep! Yet, for me I would wake up even more exhausted, my brain fog was getting worse, and in a matter of 2-3 months I gained 40+ lbs. These were some of the signs that finally made me see a doctor and I got my official diagnosis:
Motherhood + Hypothyroidism.
I felt a little bit of relief that I could finally put a name to how I had been feeling for so long. At the same time, I was overwhelmed and scared. I had no idea what it meant to be hypothyroid, I didn’t fully understand how my thyroid worked and how it affected my body and mind the way it had. I had no idea how important my thyroid was and I didn’t even know where it was located on my body until I was diagnosed. It’s this tiny butterfly-shaped gland at the front base of your neck that produces the thyroid hormone and is pretty much needed in almost every cell of your body. With hypothyroidism; also called an underactive thyroid; everything slows down and causes some serious disruption in your body. There are so many symptoms linked to hypothyroidism and each body has its own mix of symptoms. The treatment from my doctor was a general synthetic thyroid hormone replacement medication that I took without question. I tried functioning on the medication for over a year hoping everything would go back to “normal” but there wasn’t a big change for me. There’s no way knowing exactly when I became hypothyroid but I believe it happened during my postpartum recovery with my youngest son. My thyroid just didn’t start back up again.
I think some of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with since my diagnosis is with people who make assumptions about me based on what they see on the surface. Some would say I’m just pretending to be sick because they didn’t believe all my symptoms are connected to my thyroid. At times some would make comments of how they didn’t believe me because they know of someone with the same illness that have done well on the same medication. Others would make comments about my weight gain calling me a lazy mom. Since when is your size an indication of your mothering skills?
What a lot of people don’t know is that my illness debilitated me to where I felt like I was just a shell of who I was before. I lost some pregnancy weight but it’s the hypothyroid weight that I gained and struggle to lose to this day. It’s easy to look at someone and make assumptions not knowing the internal battles that are being fought. I’ve been in survival mode for a few years and most people have no clue. Only my loved ones knew at the beginning because I was ashamed of my illness. I let it bring me down and I had legit mom guilt over it.
It has taken me years to understand that making myself a priority doesn’t take away from my kids and husband being a priority. Trying to get through each day running on empty or fumes wasn’t attainable for very long even though I kept pushing it. It wasn’t until I literally couldn’t get out of bed to take my kids to school that I realized that I needed to put myself and my health first so that I would be able to take care of my family. I had to learn how to take care of myself. We moms take care of everyone else and put ourselves last. I had to learn to give myself a whole lot of grace so that I could get through the day, even if it was slower than what I was used to. I was growing in my motherhood and learning new ways to accomplish even the smallest tasks at home and with my kids.
I started giving myself permission to not have to do everything on my internal chore chart for the day. I gave myself permission to cry if I felt overwhelmed over nothing or over everything. I gave myself permission to know that it’s ok to not always be ok. I gave myself permission to feel and work through my anxiety and depression. And I gave myself permission to not feel guilty about any of it. I have let go of the things that aren’t doing me any good, surrounded myself with the things and people who uplift me and love me for who I am inside. Simple things like listening to my favorite playlist, gym time, texting my best friend or a movie night with my kids and husband make me FEEL better. I still have dozens of symptoms daily but I’ve learned how to take care of myself and I now know certain triggers to avoid so that I can get through my day in the best way I’ve learned how. I am embracing this season of my motherhood + hypothyroidism, through my good days and my bad ones, with a touch of grace, acceptance, understanding, cuddles and lots of love.