Gabriel is three months old now. He's a nice, plump, pleasant, chunky-monkey of a baby. I'm so thankful that he's healthy. Although there was some stress associated with my pregnancy with him, there were never any direct worries about his health. He checked out great at every stage of prenatal care.
I do have Hashimoto's Disease, and have been diagnosed with it for at least 5 years, which means that my last three pregnancies have come to term while having thyroid problems. I thought I'd write a little about it in this post. I never did find too much information regarding Hashimoto's and pregnancy (other than to say that sometimes thyroid problems can cause infertility...not my problem, obviously,) when I needed it. Maybe this will interest some other woman who finds herself in the same situation someday.
Since this wasn't my first dance around the pregnancy/Hashimoto's block, I decided to try some new things with Gabriel's pregnancy. First, I guess that I should tell you some of the discomforts of Hashimoto's Disease. You can read the standard symptoms by clicking on the link, but for me, specifically, the issues were extreme fatigue, random joint pain and swelling, dry skin, dry hair, frequent headaches, and weight gain on a diet of lettuce. (I'm kidding about the lettuce part, but only slightly.)
Since I'm a grand-multi-para (that means that I've had lotsa kids,) I have had plenty of time to observe myself while pregnant. (Don't let my brilliance dazzle you.) I figured out that my metabolism worked more normally while pregnant than it did while un-pregnant. Maybe my body decided that being pregnant was more normal for me than to not be pregnant. (Which stands to reason seeing that I've been pregnant for 81 months out of the last 18 years. I've also been nursing a baby for over 9 years, total, thus far. Wowzers!) Whatever reason, my metabolism just works better while gestating. :)
Early on in the pregnancy, I spoke to my doctor about the possibility of trying to not gain too much weight. I told her that in the long run, I weighed about 20 pounds more than I wanted to. She agreed with me, that due to the Hashimoto's I could try to keep my weight gain low. I recognize that there is a lot of controversy over how much pregnant women should gain, and whether or not women should be given guidelines at all, and how dogmatic obstetricians should be regarding weight gain. (I'm up on all of the pregnancy/childbirth/breastfeeding controversies. :) I feel that by now I should have gained my Ph.D in pregnancy, if that were possible.) My doctor and I avoided all controversies, looked at my situation as an individual with a proven track record and thyroid problems, and treated me as such. That's one thing I appreciate about my doctor - she treats me as an individual. She's also the doctor for our entire family, which I really like.
I usually gain about 10 pounds in the first trimester due to grazing to keep the nausea at bay. With Gabriel's first trimester I didn't feel too bad at all - just a little queasy. I kept pretty strict guidelines over what went into my mouth, making sure to eat non-greasy protein and green veggies (spinach, kale, chard) and very little junk food. I didn't gain anything, but felt great. The baby was growing well, too.
I had been exercising for at least six months prior to pregnancy with a video program called T-Tapp. T-Tapp is many things and has several strengths, but it is designed particularly to help with auto-immune diseases and lymphatic pumping and spinal alignment and the left brain/right brain connection and even hormonal management. I kept up with the T-Tapp throughout the entire pregnancy, up until the last month. My work-out routine was only 15 minutes a day, and I did it 3 times a week.
Our lives fell apart around the first part of May, when my husband was in the hospital. I couldn't be as careful with what I ate at that point, and exercising was rather hit and miss. I realized that I was not nearly as stiff or sore if I exercised, and I was able to function so much better when I did. We told people that we were expecting around the middle of May. I hadn't gained any weight by then (16 weeks?) but the baby was becoming obvious.
In total, by the end of pregnancy I had gained 11 pounds. I ate well. I did not starve myself. I did not eat much sweets or much junk. It's not that I'm virtuous, I just didn't want it. (I also had gestational diabetes, and it would not have been good to do so.) Gabriel weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz out of that 11.
Since Gabe's birth, I have been extremely careful. In previous pregnancies, I have tended to slide into a Hashimoto's crisis following delivery. Hormones go crazy with sleep deprivation and milk production. Metabolism is boosted for a time, but then tends to crash and enter a phase of extreme sluggishness. I am afraid to crash. I have too many responsibilities.
Although I have eaten too much junk food, I have been careful to try to get the sleep I need (by sleeping in later in the mornings if he sleeps) and I started the T-Tapp gently at two weeks post-partum. The 15 minute T-Tapp routine is gentle stretching and lymphatic pumping - it's not weight-lifting and high repetition. At six weeks, I stepped it up a little and added in the full 25 minute program, 3 days a week. Eventually, I have moved it to 5 days a week, with two days off on Sundays and Mondays. Just this week, I switched out the regular T-Tapp program for what is called the "Ladybug" routine, which is designed especially for hormonal management. I'm never going to look 20 again, but that's not my purpose. I desperately need to be in shape for and have the energy and endurance for 9 children, a husband, and 2 elderly parents. I have to work to feel good, and these are my tactics. I tell people that I don't "do" anything, but when I think it thru that's not exactly true. I do work hard to keep the Hashimoto's in line, and when the Hashimoto's is subdued I'm better able to function in all areas of life. When I miss more than two days of exercise, I am feeling it.
There are times when I feel a thyroid crash coming. I feel headachey, tense, jittery, panicky, and my heart starts to thump a little faster. So far, I have been able to head off the crisis by fitting in the work-out and by trying to get good sleep. I weigh 15 pounds less than I did when I was first pregnant with Gabriel, and I notice that I have more energy and I feel a lot stronger. I don't mind getting on the floor to help the little ones get their snowsuits and boots on. I don't avoid digging for a specific pan in my lower cupboards. When my joints or hips ache, I make sure to do at least the 15 minute stretching and spinal alignment exercises. They really help.
I have not figured out all of the components of managing Hashimoto's and pregnancy. What I have tried might not work for everyone. It might not even work for me every time, but it has been interesting to try and figure it out. I am not on any thyroid medications at this time. For me, it seems difficult to try to regulate medications while pregnant or breastfeeding. Endocrinologists are not exactly a dime a dozen these days. They are difficult to get into, and not all agree on the treatment of Hashimoto's, particularly during pregnancy.
The above are just the things that I have tried, and over all, I would have to say that they worked remarkably well for this particular pregnancy and early post-partum period.