If you have been following my journey with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, you'll know that I've had a lot of ups and down, a lot of struggles and a lot of self realizations the last year or so. This is, by far, the toughest thing I have ever had to go through - but I can wholeheartedly say that i'm coming out of it stronger and happier than I could have ever imagined.
So - lets jump back in time to last week; Tuesday, August 11th 2015. I'll paint the picture for you... I'm sitting, coloring in my 'Color Me Calm' book (get one, they are amazing), sipping my morning coffee, and feel slight cramping. Didn't think anything of it - waited a while, then went to the bathroom. Then - I see it. Blood. It may have been light pink at first... but there was blood. I started screaming...
"THERE IS BLOOD - THERE IS BLOOD!!!!"
My husband ran downstairs and said "Shut up the neighbors are going to think something is wrong.." (seriously, hysterical.. didn't think about that one!) - He then asked if I was sure, and I told him i was... in fact... bleeding. I cried, we hugged, then sat on the couch and relaxed for a bit together before I had to go to work. I also called my Mom to share the good news... again, we both cried.
Now, I wasn't sure what that bleeding meant; if it was going to continue, get stronger, stop, etc. But I ended up bleeding Tuesday-Thursday and spotted a bit on Friday. And yes, I was sad when it was over. I never was one to get cramps, when I had previously gotten my period, but I had a few twingey cramps throughout this week. Oh - and the stomach pain..... I remember this type of discomfort I used to get; it isn't cramps and it isn't a sick-type stomach ache; my stomach just hurt and felt 'off'. When that started happening, I knew this was for real. And call me a weirdo - but I loved feeling it... despite the discomfort, I loved having these side effects.
Speaking of side effects, I want to back up even more - to the last week in July through the first week in August. I started feeling 'different' - and new side effects were popping up left and right. Things I hadn't experienced at all this last year. I have learned to NOT get excited or think into any symptoms/side effects, so I just figured my hormones were trying to do something and that was it. Here is what I had happen to me the weeks leading up to my period returning:
- Raised BBT (I do not temp anymore, typically, but was feeling really warm and decided to take my temp for a while.. it was almost a full degree higher than where I sat last year)
- Extreme bloating; I felt super heavy and bloated. So I weighed in to see if anything had changed; I had shot up 3 pounds within days *I weigh in once a month on the 1st to ensure I am not losing*
- Last few days in July, I had clear stretchy CM (for all of you ladies TTC, you know what i'm talking about) ;) - This is the first time I had it throughout a few days
- My boobs.. OK - lets talk about that. OUCH. My boobs and nipples were KILLING ME. They felt tingly and the shower water hurt when it would hit them...
- Slight (uncontrollable) moodiness; So it is safe to say Joey has put up with A LOT this last year+. With my hormone imbalance, my moods can be one extreme to the next. But this time was different. Its like I would snap at the most minute things. Or find myself feeling grumpy, grouchy, moody, snippy, short tempered at random times.
- Increased acne; I started getting a few random zits on my face and back
If you have been keeping up to date on my 'workout' (or lack their of) regimen, you have probably noticed I have severely cut back. I would like to believe this was also a MAJOR role in helping my period return.
Exercise. As you know - I used to work out 7 days a weeks; running, Insanity, T25, etc. Anything high intensity was my JAM. LOVED IT. Boy have things changed. I now get excited to do a 10-15 minute Youtube clip or Barre3 video. I'm not sure how often I do these videos.. honestly, I just throw them into my morning when I feel like I want to move or stretch a bit more. I now park at the corner of my work parking lot and then take the stairs up to my floor; that is what I consider to be my 'workouts'. I don't stress about whether or not I can fit my workout into the day, heck - sometimes I forget about the concept of working out all together. I do these videos now because I want to, not because I feel like i HAVE TO.
Weight and size. I'm not going to get into this too much because our bodies are all SO DIFFERENT and what one person may weigh - could be 'too low' or 'too high' for Doctor's standards. Here is what i'll say, however: I am 5'4 and when I went off BC, I weighed 120 pounds (~20 BMI). Once I started working with my Reproductive Endocrinologist, he suggested I try to reach a BMI of 23 (first off, I thought he was crazy since that is getting close to the 'overweight' section on the BMI chart). Well, I gained ~10-12 pounds from May 2014-May 2015. Then I tried that Progesterone Challenge again and failed. At that point, I knew more had to change... that was the first week in June when I cut back on all workouts and just trusted that my body would do its thing and find its happy place. Side note - that 'happy place' is NOT FOR YOU TO DECIDE. It is for your BODY to decide. I ended up gaining a few additional pounds - I sit at somewhere around 135-137(ish) now and have never felt better.
Food. I eat what I want... when I want. I fuel my body with lots of delicious, yummy, nutritious, well rounded foods. I don't have any 'off limits' foods and eat what my body is craving. There is more that could go into this section, but i'll leave it 'short and sweet' for now!
Relaxation. I used to be a basket case (my husband may say "Used to!?"..) but I find myself being more at peace, taking more time for myself, resting, sleeping more, relaxing, finding new hobbies and enjoying life. I have learned to love myself and my body just the way it is. I learned to trust in this process and know (or hope) that my body would eventually bounce back. Once I was able to fully grasp that concept, only a few short months ago, things got so much better.
OK - so this about sums it up for now. I just wanted to share a little bit about what I did and a few of the main points that I truly believe helped in bringing my cycle back. Keep in mind, everyone's journey is so different.... sometimes women can regain their cycle in mere weeks... others, years. Remember to NOT compare yourselves to others who are battling HA. Focus on healing your body, healing your mind, loving yourself, trusting in the process, and focusing on the end goal; whatever that may be (ie. being all around healthier and happier, or becoming a mother).
I'm not sure what my future holds, or if my cycle will show its face again anytime soon. It may be a month, two months, or more, before it comes back again. But I am SO hopeful that this is a HUGE step (leap.. jump..) in the right direction. My body was able to produce this period on its own.. naturally... for that I am truly grateful. I am thankful my body decided to trust in me again. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical professional. This is all from personal experience and research I’ve looked into on my own - and through my appointments & discussions with my Reproductive Endocrinologist.