the post-hypothalamic amenorrhea saga continues; in this edition, we discuss consistent cycles, a miscarriage and a pregnancy.
I decided it’s about time to do another update on my journey-slash-life post-hypothalamic amenorrhea. If you’re reading this, you’re too late (jk jk) (drake reference) – seriously, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already read about how I ran myself into HA (literally) and my journey to recover from it – accepting the fact that I could no longer be that running-obsessed girl (a facet of myself I had grown to love), who was incidentally, super skinny because of it (I also loved this, ngl). To briefly recap in case you’re not up to speed (and also for the sake of myself, cause it’s been awhile lolol): I started running in 2017. I was slow and steady, and somehow kept up the habit, and got deeper and deeper into other forms of exercise and what I perceived to be healthy, such as intermittent fasting. I was also on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet during this time to manage my Crohn’s disease (I have since strayed a bit from the rigidness of the diet).
At some point in 2019, when I was still taking birth control, I actually stopped getting the fake bleed you get with the sugar pills, and so confused at the time, I saw my doctor. I went off the pill as well, because I figured it wasn’t doing anything anyways and I wanted to see if I would get my actual period (I did not). I share more about my experience with the Canadian healthcare system in this blog post, however, they were pretty dismissive and ultimately not very helpful – I have to say I pretty much self-diagnosed myself with HA (accurately). Anyways, just to create the timeline for you all: mid-2019, I get off the pill and have no period. As 2019 draws to a close, I still have no period, and having gone into the research rabbit hole, I realize/know I need to forgo exercise and eat more in order to regain my period. I take this plan of action in January 2020, although I wasn’t fully committed at first (of course I was looking for some sort of loophole where I could still get away with *some* exercise). I remember by the time the pandemic hit, March 2020, I was more serious about going “all in” as it’s called, and I felt comforted by the fact that I didn’t have to actually go anywhere because everything was closed! This actually helped me embrace my recovery as sad as it sounds, because at that point I wasn’t very comfortable in my skin.
A lot has happened since my last blog update, where I discussed how my period had returned, but wasn’t very consistent – that was April 2021. Well, I maintained my focus and my periods did get a bit more predictable following that post, settling into a more consistent 30-35 day cycle.
And then, in February 2022, I found out I was pregnant! When I first started my journey to regain my period, this was at the back of my mind, although not a direct goal at that time in my life – I just knew that, if I wanted it to be a goal in the future (as I was fairly certain it would be!), I would need my period to accomplish it (on top of knowing that, in general, it wasn’t healthy for my body to not ovulate). Anyways, once I got pregnant, my partner and I were super excited and happy – the due date would have been October 2022. However, during my first ultrasound appointment, which was in March of that same year, we found out that I was most likely having a missed miscarriage – an anembryonic pregnancy. This miscarriage was unrelated to having HA, there was no good reason for it, but it was heartbreaking and difficult to get over, not to mention it wasn’t until April that it was finally confirmed to be a missed miscarriage and I was able to proceed with “completing” the miscarriage as it were. It didn’t help that I chose to take pills (misoprostol) to in order to miscarry at home, and the pills were not fully effective, so I had to then go in for a D&C (a dilation and curettage, a procedure where they clear the uterine lining following a miscarriage) anyways. This dragged out the entire miscarriage process for weeks, making it even more difficult to “get over.” From initially finding out I was pregnant to the miscarriage being completely “finished,” it was a total of four months, if you can believe it – February until May.
I ended up in a really negative space mentally because of this, the length of time it took playing no small part, and started seeing a therapist– she encouraged me to take time off work which, on top of having someone to talk to (that wasn’t my partner/friends/family) really did help me. I took that summer off essentially, and I spent my spare time focusing on the basic things I loved doing, which included my recipe development and blog (hey!) and going for long walks with my dog. The miscarriage forced me to slow down even further following my HA recovery and I think it gave me a second reset in a way – exercise like I had previously been doing, and even the kind I had been trying to continue doing during my recovery process, was the last thing on my mind at this point (a life event like that also helps with perspective).
Once my periods came back following the D&C– which was essentially June 2022, I think I maybe had two or three cycles before I got pregnant again during the summer of 2022 (!). This was also during the time I had taken off work – at the beginning of my time off I was living in a place of anxiety and dread, but that time off truly helped me relax and regain my composure which in turn eased me into a much more stress-free pregnancy.
Fast forward to the present day, and my baby was born in May 2023: she’s a happy, healthy girl, and she means the world to me! She’s actually one of the chillest, easiest babies I know, and I honestly think a big part of that had to do with me *not* overly stressing during the pregnancy, even with my previous miscarriage (definitely hard to do, but daily affirmations and talking to someone helped!!). I am extremely grateful that this pregnancy was also a relatively easy one; there were no complications and my symptoms were quite bearable, the worst of it was actually the fatigue I experienced in the first trimester.
My cycle has yet to return postpartum, but I expect it’ll be smooth sailing once it does (*positive vibes only*). And! I’ve even started exercising postpartum– I’m not running, although it is a goal of mine, as, with this pregnancy reset and all the knowledge I’ve accrued since having HA, I’ll be able to run with a level of awareness I didn’t have before, ensuring I’m fueling myself properly and tracking my cycle and symptoms at the same time. That being said, in the meantime, I’ve started doing some bodyweight exercises when I have a chance (aka baby is napping), to work on my strength first and set a foundation for myself before I just start running. My workouts are no longer the hour-plus sessions I would have done in my heyday though, they are typically 25 minutes max (often less) (and this includes stretching)!
I think I’ll end this here on a positive note: there is a way back from HA, and once you’re in that place, there is also a way back to exercise. What’s more, I think it’s a much happier place.