First off, it's my birthday today and I am celebrating with my family and some friends in Bend, OR.
Every year on my birthday, I do a little reflecting on what happened over the past 12 months and all the things I am grateful for.
Obviously this little chubby cheeked munchkin has been my biggest gift :) -->
But beyond that I am also so immensely grateful for my health and all the support I have received during my pregnancy and particularly the surprise appendectomy at 34 weeks as well as the support I am receiving right now that I am almost 5 weeks postpartum.
The postpartum months (sometimes years) are a particularly vulnerable time in women's lives: so many changes, sleepless nights, huge adjustments, an opening of the heart, a shift in your personal identity, a shift in your relationship... the list is endless, which brings me to the topic of my email to you today:
Today's Motherhood Spotlight shines on a former client of mine: It's my pleasure to introduce you to Orly Levy.
How I know Orly:
Orly and I met a few years ago when she contacted me for life coaching. I always ask my former clients to keep me posted on how they are doing and how their lives are unfolding after we terminate our work together. I am curious (and caring;)) that way and love cheering on the women who have entered my life way beyond our coaching time together.
I am so happy that Orly has kept in touch over the years because she has truly become a bright light in this world who has not only started her own business as a Soul Mentor, but she has also birthed a beautiful baby girl who she will introduce you to in her post below.
I am deeply honored that Orly has offered to share her story with us about her postpartum experience specifically, because the challenges that come with new motherhood AND the recovery challenges that our bodies go through in the year following birth (& sometimes beyond) are REAL and often not talked about openly enough.
As you will read in more detail below, Orly learned that a piece of her placenta had remained in her uterus for weeks after she delivered her daughter and, in addition, she was diagnosed Hashimoto's (an autoimmune disease affecting your thyroid gland.
*Postpartum Thyroiditis happens in approximately 5-10% of new moms, so if you suspect that something might be off, I highly suggest to get a full thyroid panel test from your doctor. I talk more about postpartum thyroiditis and what to tests to specially ask for in Well Mama.
When I read Orly's story I was so amazed by her strength and vulnerability that allowed her to navigate these challenges so gracefully and without losing herself; in fact, she used these challenges to find herself even more.
I know you will feel as inspired by Orly and her strength, honesty and transparency as a woman and as a mama as I did when she sent me her article.
In the comments below, I'd love to hear about your postpartum experience and/or what inspired you about Orly's story.
Birthing a truer me
by Orly Levy
Each of us has a story to share when it comes to motherhood. Our own unique experience that teaches us about ourselves. There is something beautiful and magical in the unknown, in the surprises and the present experience.
That being said, challenges aren’t exactly a walk in the park! They test you and push you past your limited view of comfort and safety.
I share my post-partum story with you in the hopes that it will serve you in remembering that you are not alone. Most women experience ups, downs and ultimately expansion during their delivery and post-partum journey.
Our beautiful daughter, Aria was born last September. I can honestly say that it has been the most challenging AND the happiest 9 months of my life. My pregnancy was amazing. I took care of myself both physically and mentally. My plan was to have a smooth delivery followed by 4 months off work to heal.
A few weeks after my delivery, right when I was sure that I was feeling better; I learned that a piece of placenta remained in my uterus. It was attached to the uterine wall and I would need an immediate D & C procedure to remove it. That meant being put under and being away from my 6-week-old baby.
When I heard the news, I was alone; I was so sure everything was fine that I told my husband he didn’t need to come. I wrote off all my symptoms as normal even though I didn’t feel well. So, I sat in the room by myself taking it all in and feeling scared, angry and confused. It was a darker type of emotion. One that is hard to describe.
I cried the entire drive to the procedure up until I fell asleep. I remember feeling more vulnerable than I had during my delivery. I was always afraid of surgery before and this was a raw time for me to be experiencing my first one. I would be glad when it was over and I could get back to healing.
Though, after I awoke the doctor shared that he couldn’t remove it all and that there may have been more damage to the uterus and fallopian tube. This started a waiting game to see if the tissue would come out on its own and also receive serious biopsy details.
I choose to stop breast feeding in order to start my period and cleanse my uterus. That was not an easy choice to make. Nor was it advised by my doctors but I felt unwell and knew that I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be without taking care of myself. I followed my intuition.
My hormones felt totally imbalanced and after doing blood work I learned I had Hashimoto’s. Though, I wondered if I had Post-partum Depression, Hashimoto’s, or post-partum Thyroiditis. I wanted to feel good for myself and for my family. It felt like one blow after another.
I got lost in the sea of information online trying to analyze my symptoms. My train of thought went something like this:
Is it normal to be this emotional? Today, I felt fine. Maybe, it’s nothing. My body is so tired. Should I trust what the doctors are saying? I wish someone would just tell me what is best for me. Will it be harder to conceive in the future? What about work? It was a mistake to stop breast feeding, I am not a good mom. What if this was it, my only chance to conceive naturally? When will I start to feel like myself again? How is all this impacting Aria? Why don’t I know more about my own body?
My anxiety and stress levels peaked, my perceived levels of control faltered and my heart grew tenfold for my daughter and for myself.
One night while researching online, I found an article by Andrea Beaman, she wrote, “this thyroid condition might be the best thing that ever happened to you.” This simple yet powerful sentence changed everything for me because ultimately…
It was the best thing that ever happened to me – all of it. I began to see my post-partum surprises as an introduction to motherhood and the beautiful woman that was ME. I stopped blaming and started learning more about what my body was telling me.
I empowered myself by learning more about my body. I changed my diet, found an amazing doctor, and let go of my plans. I connected with new moms but mostly, I spent time with Aria and alone. I rested and allowed myself to feel the rainbow of emotions that arose within me. The last part was the most difficult.
As I painfully mourned my younger self, I began to remember a grounded woman. She is courageous, trusting and wise beyond her years. It would be great if she simply emerged naturally in calm waters of awareness and patience. Instead, it was through a tough delivery and challenging post-partum time.
I learned that not only are obstacles opportunities for growth, they are perfectly placed reminders of our own greatness and divinity.
My hormones are coming back into balance and I am confident that I will be able to conceive again the future. I am continuing to get to know myself as a woman, mother and mentor. I see myself as more whole than ever before because I met different pieces of myself through these challenges.
I am stronger and more powerful than I ever realized and you dear reader, are too!
***If you may be suffering from post-partum depression seek support***
Orly Levy is a Soul Mentor specializing in healing and managing stress. She uses a whole person approach by shining light on physical, spiritual and mental healing. She guides others to connect with their own internal wisdom and discover peace. Currently she is expanding her practice to include hormonal health support. Her writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, Purpose Fairy, and Over The Moon Magazine. Find out more about Orly at www.orlyslight.com.