Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Getting Back Up From Getting Knocked Down

I have a new item to add to the list of "Things That Happen Postpartum That No One Ever Talks About". Seriously, people, there is an entire list of things that happen postpartum that simply do not get discussed by most people, most of the time. Since these things do not get discussed, they take you completely by surprise when they happen and some of them are even intense enough to knock you on your fanny for a couple of days.

How do I know this? I know this because I am currently working my way through one of them, and I am just beginning to understand it. Oh, how I wish that someone had given me the lowdown on postpartum periods at some point before mine snuck up on me ninja - style and knocked me on my fanny. Hard. Shouldn't I have known about postpartum menstrual cycles already? I mean, come on, I have more than one kid - this is not my first postpartum period rodeo. All I can say to that is that after my first son was born, it took about fifteen months for my period to return. When it came back, all that I really noticed was that it was extremely irregular. In fact, I distinctly remember that I felt less PMS when my period came back after D was born than I had experienced prior to becoming pregnant.

Because of my previous experience with an uneventful return of menstrual periods after my first son was born, I was blissfully unaware of the possibility that this time around, things could be much, much different. Not in a good way, either. It basically snuck up on me and since I did not know that it was coming (i.e. that I was experiencing extreme PMS), I thought that I was losing my sanity. Seriously. I thought that I was hitting rock bottom emotionally, that I had been trying to do too much for too long, and that I had finally cracked.

It started last Thursday, when I discovered that our septic system had backed up into our basement. I was able to keep my wits about me for much of the day, taking the kids to the park as promised and mopping up the water in the basement later that afternoon as the kids played nearby. The madness started when I realized that it was time to start making dinner. The very thought of cooking yet another nutritious, home - cooked meal sent me over the edge. I thought that perhaps I was simply overwhelmed, you know, with cleaning up a basement flooded with poopy water, taking care of two little guys 24/7, and keeping to a very strict Paleo diet.

I finished mopping the basement and went upstairs to the kitchen, with the kids following close behind. As I caught sight of my kitchen sink, which was overflowing with dirty dishes that I could not wash without flooding the basement again, I started to cry. I was in agony. I wanted so badly to cook the simple and nutritious meal that I had planned for that evening, but I could not bear to dirty another dish that I could not wash. Then, it occurred to me that I could order a pizza. A local pizzeria just started offering delivery, and I could take care of dinner without making any dishes. I started going round and round in my head and making myself crazier by debating Whole30 compliant dinner vs Al's Pizza for almost a half hour. In the depths of my despair, I dialed the phone and ordered a pizza.

As I ate that pizza, thirteen days of Whole30 compliant eating went out the window. The pizza tasted good, but I felt so disappointed with myself for eating it. I was an emotional wreck for the rest of the night, and I could not even bring myself to think about restarting my Whole30 the next day. The next day, I ate a few more things that were not Whole30 compliant. I felt okay, but not as good as I had been feeling while eating Whole30 - compliant. My moods went up and down and all over the place. I thought that I was just going through a rough patch, that I was just overloaded with stress. I had no idea that I was in the throes of extreme PMS.

On Saturday, I felt horribly grumpy all day long for no real reason. Again, I thought that it was just from too much stress and not enough sleep. I continued to eat whatever I pleased. That night, I felt as if I had hit rock bottom. I cried and cried and cried. I felt like a horrible mother and a horrible person. I felt the worst that I had felt in a long, long time. I even went to bed early. Sunday was okay, and then Monday I woke up and realized that my period had returned. It makes sense - B is now 15 months old, and even though he is still nursing, he eats a lot of solid food, too. I breathed a sigh of relief - perhaps I am not losing my sanity, after all. Perhaps that is the reason that I was a wreck since the middle of last week. Since my period is back, the PMS should go away, right?

Wrong. Monday, Tuesday, and today were awful, mood - wise, and just as awful with food cravings and with indulging those food cravings. Today, I decided to read what little information I could find online about postpartum menstrual cycles. Guess what I learned? One thing that I learned is that there's not much information out there about the topic. Another thing that I learned is that they can be AWFUL. I really wish I had known about that so I could have anticipated it in advance and maybe even avoided the mood swings by taking preventative action. Supposedly, things like eating plenty of leafy green vegetables and cutting out caffeine and sugar can help women to avoid the extreme PMS symptoms that can accompany the return of the menstrual cycle postpartum. That's right - if I had been able to tough it out and stay Whole30 Strong instead of caving in and ordering a pizza, I may have been able to manage my moods more effectively as my period returned. Since the Whole30 way of eating promotes a healthy hormonal balance, I think that it's time to restart my Whole30, and see whether I can avoid nearly thinking myself into a nervous breakdown next month!

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