The Fashionista’s Life After Giving Birth: Dealing with Fibroids

Initially, the purpose of this blog was to chronicle my life after the birth of Mademoiselle, hence the name The Fashionista & Baby. I wanted to tell you about my struggles to maintain my identity and a sense of style while raising two boys (ages 13 and 7) and a new baby girl. But at the same time, I wanted to write about my first love – fashion and beauty. Since the conception of this blog, it seems as though I’ve mainly focused on the later. I tried, and still continue to search for some balance between the subjects where I can merge them all in an interesting way that will be appealing to you. So, what I will do is alternate each theme and sometimes incorporate them into one story. That said, though I do plan to eventually tell you about my crazy pregnancy and how fashion was my saving grace, I’m going to fast forward a little and talk about my current health issue.

As with my other two pregnancies, the nurse told me, since I was breastfeeding, that it would be awhile before I could start expecting a visit from aunt flow (some refer to her as Bertha) again. This news made me so happy, even though I had just been given a nine month break from her irritating, unwanted visits I wasn’t ready to deal with her. I wish that I could tell you this story had a wonderful ending, but I regret to inform you that my joy was short lived. Two weeks after the normal bleeding a woman experiences after giving birth, aunt flow magically appeared out of no where. And what’s worse is she decided to pay me a visit not once, but twice a month. The cycles were also extremely heavy. I didn’t think anything of it at first because I assumed it was normal. 

I grew concerned when it seemed as though the bleeding was not going to lighten up after a few months. Before I go on, let me just tell you that I’m unable to leave the house or sit on my furniture without a water proof pad when it’s that time of the month. I also have to change pads every 30 minutes to an hour. When I told my doctor of my symptoms, she quickly wrote a referral for a pelvic exam to determine what was causing the menorrhagia.

During the pelvic exam, the sonigraphers facial expressions read like a major headline story on the front page of a newspaper. It was at that point when I knew something was terribly wrong, but I would have to wait an agonizing 24 hours before finding out exactly what was going on because the sonigrapher, legally, was not allowed to give me any information.

The next morning as I’m rushing to get the boys off to school on time, the phone rings. It’s my doctor’s soft voice with a serious tone, informing me that I had a tiny fibroid tumor. “Since the tumor is small,” she said. “Surgery is optional. I’ll evaluate you every six months,” she added. “To make sure it isn’t growing.”

I can’t recall for you my exact emotions, but I felt like crying and I blamed myself for allowing my eating habits to get out of control. I kept thinking about all of my aunts and grandmother who have had hysterectomies due to fibroid tumors. Though I have no plans to bare any more children, I don’t want to share the same fate. I also thought about the fact that I didn’t have the tumor prior to becoming pregnant. Studies show that high levels of estrogen during pregnancy contributes to the development and growth of fibroids.

Let me clarify, I don’t regret having Mademoiselle. I love her with all my heart. I see this as another obstacle I have to get over to move to the next level. I’m taking it day by day, hoping to find holistic alternatives and I plan to get back to my old healthy eating habits. I know this won’t shrink the fibroid, but it may help in preventing it from growing.

I would love to hear your comments on this subject. 

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21 Comments on “The Fashionista’s Life After Giving Birth: Dealing with Fibroids”

  1. tlove says:

    Sorry to hear about your fibroids. My best friend, both sister-in-laws, and several cousins on my husband’s side have fibroids. I really wouldn’t be too upset since it is a small tumor and can be removed or with medication it can actually shrink in size. One sister-in-laws fibroid was the size of a melon and the other one was a small basketball. Consider yourself lucky that you have three children. The people in my family have none. BTW: what does eating habits have to do with fibroids? I’ve never heard of a connection.

  2. Nerd Girl says:

    I have a number of smallish fibroids that I wasn’t aware of until the one sonogram I had during my 20th week of pregnancy. My sonographer just kind of blurted out “wow, look at all those fibroids.” My husband panicked, asked what fibroids were, and the sonographer didn’t make it any better by replying “tumors.” I thought I was going to have to pick that man up off the floor. I explained they were benign, and it took another few minutes for him to register them as the “good” tumors.

    Anyhoo, mine have never bothered me, and for that I’m grateful. I don’t know if we’ll have any more children – the fibroids are not a deciding factor. I’ve decided to just see what happens. My hope is, of course, that they will continue to be exist only on sonograms. If we do ever choose to go around again with another child, I’ll have a sonogram done first to see if they’ve grown, how much they’ve grown, etc.

    I know that fibroids affect black women disproportionately, but I’m not sure that researchers know why. I’ve always followed a pretty low fat, high fiber diet and maintained a regular exercise routine, so I know that a sedentary lifestyle didn’t contribute to my particular case. Not really sure of family history. No one has mentioned them, guess I need to do some asking around . . .

    Best of luck with your situation – please keep us updated. Sorry to be a comment “hog.”

  3. Years ago, when the women in my family were being diagnosed with fibroids I did some research on ways to prevent it from happening to me. What I discovered is: Fibroids are caused by excessive amounts of estrogen; as a result, women should consume wholefoods such as grains, veggies, fruit and fiber rich foods because they help remove excessive amounts of estrogen from the body. Women should avoid dairy products, red meat, fried fatty foods, sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. I used follow a very strict diet that eliminated these foods, but I allowed a terrible situation at a church I once attended to cause me delve into a state of depression where I turned to these foods for comfort. Also, during my second pregnancy I lived at McDonald’s since I was unable to eat anything else besides a filet of fish sandwich. The list of foods to avoid seems to be a mainstay in the black family, which may explain why black women are more likely to get fibroids than white women.

  4. Nerd girl: You’re not a comment hog. I love to hear what you have to say. I just wrote the comment above about how diet is believed to be a factor in the development of fibroids, but you have shed some light on the issue. I never heard someone say they followed a strict diet and still developed fibroids. Thanks, I don’t feel so bad now. Only one of my kids was planned, the others were surprise blessings, but I’m done giving birth. I will be 37 next month, and I don’t think my body can handle another one. I’m glad you are determined not to allow your fibroids dictate whether or not you should have another baby.

  5. Paula D. says:

    Fashionista, I’m sure everything will be fine. I’m glad you went to the doctor! It is a shame to say, but I know people that would have put off going completely.

    I have a friend that has suffered with fibroids for over 10 years. After going through years of painful invitro procedures & surgeries, she & hubby were finally able to have a baby.

    Keep your head up & let us know how everything turns out 🙂

  6. jj says:

    wow! i know several people (friends and family) who’ve struggled with fibroids and all have ended up fine and healthy (with surgery tho). I pray all will go well with you as well. i believe you’ll be okay.

    for e-solidarity, i’ll join you in eating healthy grains, fruit and veggies. today’s filet o fish will be my last! 🙂

  7. 'rah says:

    Hi. I’m 34 yrs old, Black, with 2 girls aged 4 and 21 months and I love your blog 🙂 Here’s my story:
    I first found that I had two “tiny” fibroids during a pelvic exam about 3 years before I had my first (age 27). During the pregnancy one of them grew to about the size of a tennis ball. After a scary bit when there was a possibility that it would prevent the baby’s head from descending into the birth canal, everything went smoothly and I had a normal vaginal delivery. Some time after that the fibroid calcified (hardened), so I didn’t have to worry about it growing any larger. Then I got pregnant again. This time there was no worry because of the location of the foetus in relation to the fibroid. Pregnancy and delivery were problem free.
    Thus far the fibroid has been asymptomatic – I haven’t experienced any heavy bleeding or pain other than a few days three months into my first pregnancy when I had excruciating abdominal pain.
    My doctor says so far surgery is unnecessary but I have to take contraception that does not contain estrogen. So far so good. I hope everything stays as is and I never need surgery. But thankfully gone are the days when the immediate recommendation by a doctor would be a hysterectomy. Thank God we do have options.

  8. Shanessence says:

    Hey Traci! Sorry for the hiatus…I’ve been traveling and researching and haven’t even written a new posting for my own blog. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad to know that according to medical opinion (which I have a lot of issues with, btw) I’m in the clear because as a vegetarian I don’t eat red meat, fatty fried foods or a lot of dairy, and as far as alcohol and caffeine go, I don’t drink either. My salt intake is very limited and I try to control my intake of sugar. Above all of the diet-watching though, I think that the key is to trust in God WHILE we strike a balance in our lives. I like to hold the positive, uplifting view that that black women do not have to be plagued with fibroids or any other genetic diseases for that matter.

    Staying close to God and believing in the healing power of God is SO important for me, and personally I believe that God does not punish his/her children for anything. I have experienced many healings in this way and I’m very grateful for that. Black women (and everyone else), we do not have to be cursed by heredity, genetics, medical opinion, or anything else. We were born FREE and we’re meant to LIVE that way! Just my 2 cents. :O)

  9. Sylvie says:

    SOrry to hear you have to go through this. I have heard from many women who had great results with change of diet, I am sure things will work out for you.

  10. kia says:

    hey traci… girl how i’ve completely come to your blog and missed this post is a mystery, as this very issue has been my battle recently too.

    i found out about my huge and not so huge fibroids when confirming my pregnancy with babyYum. frightened, knowing that my mom had to have a hysterectomy etc. i didn’t know where this would lead me or my pregnancy. i was straight up denied care by one doc because in DC, the rate of mal practice suits are through the roof and “high-risk” pregnancies are very undesirable for doctors , which she deemed i was one.

    i found a specialist who monitored me closely and yes they grew more while i was pregnant, wreaking havoc on my bladder and liver but over all i had a decent pregnancy and great labor and delivery. fast forward a few, babyYum is 2 and i’m in excruciating pain half of every month and I’m afraid i will eventually lose my job to constant sick calls in, etc. I’m wearing depends, drugged up on motrin , can’t go many places, resort to raggedy clothes in fear of ruining my ‘good’ clothes… horrible…… i was told that i didn’t qualify for the laporoscopy surgery/out patient procedures.. the new technological advances that give you hope. i had to go under the full knife to remove these debilitating growths. i was extremely upset, afraid, i had done so much to eat right with babyYum, so as to decrease my risks for an emergency c-section and here i am having to have this surgery because of fibroids. before my surgery i experienced a few cycles that felt like labor and delivery all over (and all the side events that come along with it….releasing recently eaten foods,etc.) terrible! i had the surgery… i couldn’t take 6 weeks off to recover, but 3-4…. most of the women that got operated on the day i had my surgery were there for ‘proud hysterectomies!’ my roommate in the hospital was there for complications for her fibroids that had grown back!!! *sigh* i found out i had endometriosis in addition to the fibroids. i had to start treatment for the situation which was scary because you are injecting chemicals into your body to alter natural processes and you aren’t sure of the long term effects etc. so now i’m off of the injections and i’m on a birth control to control the endo and it’s effects. i have a new lease on life. i have a freedom that i’m unsure how to deal with…. it gets me misty eyed when i think about the pain i was in and how much better i feel…and what i can do now…. i think of going swimming..i only worry about my hair lol… i think of spending the nights in hotels with no worries, my possibilities are endless!

    you on the other hand have more control because yours are smaller. regarding the direct link with food, my aunt who has been a strict vegan for over 20 years has two small fibroids herself. this processed food that we eat now does effect this condition directly, but being african american we are predisposed to the disease. you have to do research on your options and what you feel comfortable with. talk it over with your doc, get second opinions… i went ahead with my one doc because i generally felt comfortable with his decisions, how he talked to me, comparing what i was learning and what he was saying. i was also comfortable with him because he delivered babyYum.

    i pray that these fibroids don’t grow and effect you the way they effected me…. keep us posted if you wish…

    if you want to read about my journey, i chronicle it on my myspace blog:
    http://www.myspace.com/buttergem click on the blog entries!

    you’ll be fine =) email me if you want to talk outside of the novel i wrote on your post. =p

  11. tanyetta says:

    In 2000 i was diagnosed with fibroids and they were HUGE. the first doc suggested a hysterectomy (spelling?) i declined and stated i wished to keep my baby making tools just in case. we had NO plans to have another baby right away but, dang, we’re still young! well, i left his office and never went back. I found a new doctor who not only saved my baby making tools but, encouraged us to get pregnant right away. Ummmm NO thanks on that making a baby right away doc but, thanks for saving my tools. Needless to say, 4 years later we were blessed with the birth of our son DJ! And every year, I send the doc (we’ve sinced moved) a pic of DJ on his birthday along with a thank you card! The nurses say they LOOK forward to the cards. Awwwwwwww………..

    I hope your situation doesn’t worsen. I remember dealing with fibroids, the heavy bleeding, messing up all my clothes, being paranoid if i leaked thru my clothes, just feeling like crap! 😦

    sending you a hug 🙂

  12. Kia: Thanks so much for sharing your story. I was moved by your experience. Every women, except my mother, in my family has had a hysterectomy. I scared because I don’t want that to be my fate. The doctor said I could have it removed if I wanted, but felt it wasn’t necessary because it is so small. I definitely need to wear depends. The bleeding is that heavy. I will definitely be shooting you an email tomorrow.

    Tanyetta: Aww…thanks for the heart felt hug. By the way, you spelled hysterectomy right. lol. I’m so glad you got a second opinion and now have DJ. Did you have the fibroid removed? Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Marvina says:

    I had a number of fibroids removed when I was 29. I am 37 now and get checked by my doctor on a regular basis. I was told that it is more common for women of color to have fibroids and we are also the ones who seem to have more hysterectomies because of it. After the surgery my doctor told me she removed the fibroids that were large and some smaller ones. The ones that were not in danger of giving me any problems were not taken out and every year I go for my dr. visit we see if they are growing or not. A few things I have done to keep these things at bay are: Cut back on caffine (chocolate, a girl’s best friend is loaded with it), exercise, avoid any soy products, watch my diet, cleanse, and vitamins.

    Since I do not have a child yet, I am constantly worried about Fibroids and when I was having the surgery to remove them the dreaded “H” word was brought up. Luckily, my test show that I am still in the clear. I am also lucky that my doctor is not opposed to recommending her patients to try whatever they see fit to help in reducing existing fibroids, be holistic or not.

  14. Marvina: R has been telling me to stop drinking soy milk, but I won’t listen. I had no idea there was a link between the two. And, I love me some chocolate. I really need to cut back or eliminate it all together.

  15. The Beautiful One says:

    I just came across your blog and I must say that I’m really enjoying myself! Like Afrobella I plan to check your blog as much as I can. I now live and work in Seoul, Korea. God is great and He continues to bless me all over the world!
    I had to comment on your fibroid issue. The number one thing to do is not panic, do not worry and please do not stress yourself out for this will only aggravate the situation. I had a large fibroid removed back in November 2006. I too had heavy bleeding, was severely anemic, etc. I was put on a drug that significantly shrank the fibroid, thus reducing the size of incision, etc. My doctor was the best and most thoughtful medical professional that I had ever met in my life. He gave me a sense of calm and relief about the procedure.

    You must sit down with yourself and quiet your mind, and pray (if you believe in God) to give you strength and peace of mind to endure whatever it will take to make sure that your body and mind are whole again.
    Whether you must have surgery or not, know that this is not life threatening, stop blaming yourself for poor eating habits. Now that you know that there are certain foods that may contribute to producing fibroids, stop eating them.
    Love and respect your body inside and out. I am quite tall and thin, work out and live in a city where I really don’t have to go to the gym because everyone walks everywhere (which is anywhere outside the States, ha!) and am loving my flat stomach (sans the fibroid) and perfect health and the new lease on life that God and my wonderful doctor have given me.

    Focus only on the healthy womb and body that you want and all will be and is already fine.

    Trust in God and be well!!!!

  16. The Beautiful One says:

    Another thought,

    Since I’m perfectly healthy again, I no longer have extremely heavy periods. I no longer worry about getting up from a chair and finding out that I’ve bled through my clothes.

    I wish you all the health and happiness in the world.

    Take care of yourself,

    The Beautiful One

  17. Beautiful One: I’m so glad you found me. Welcome! I appreciate you sharing your story of triumph over fibroids. Thanks so much. I am aware of the effects stress can have on the growth of fibroids. For the most part, I have a stress free life, but I do have my moments. I definitely need to pray more. I will say that sense I’ve been exercising the bleeding has returned to normal. I’m really happy about that. Thanks again for your encouraging words and well wishes.

    p.s. Living in Seoul! How exciting is that?! I’d like to hear of your experiences one day.

    Best

  18. The Beautiful One says:

    So glad to hear from you and that you’re feeling and doing better!
    I just went to a yoga center just 2 minutes away from my home and will sign up for Ashtanga yoga, very excited about this, as well as wearing my hair curly again. The monsoon season will start very soon and I really cannot be bothered with a flat iron every day. My students tell me that it will rain pretty everyday, and sometimes there will be downpours! Galoshes, anyone?
    Seoul is a wonderful city, twice the size of NYC, so much to do and see.
    I lived in Paris, France for 5 years, then in Gothenburg, Sweden for 4 years, and traveled all around the rest of Europe and now felt it was time to discover Asia, so here I am and I’m very happy.

    I love your blog and keep up the great work!!
    I am going to launch a blog about my time here in Seoul as well as work on creating a study abroad business.

    Let’s keep in touch! I like your style!

    Ciao!

  19. Ciao!

    Thank you, Beautiful One.

    I long for the day to come when I can again take a Bikram yoga class. I am also very interested Ashtanga. My hair will be twisted this friday. An easy hairdo for the summer. You life sounds so exciting. Thanks for sharing.

    Please let me know when you launch your blog. I would love to read it and add it to my list.

  20. The Beautiful One says:

    You are kind! Thank you!
    It’s funny that you should mention hair, I decided today, since it was so humid today, would be the day to try a some new products by Deva Curl. I first saw them on Afrobella. All of my students loved my curls and even some of the cute male teachers! The products kept my hair in curls all day and still counting. I literally had a wash and go day. I was thinking of twisting (two strand) my hair as well, but decided to see how curly these products would make my hair. I must say, I’m quite impressed. Believe me, I’m lazy when it comes to hair, have never been someone to have styles, etc., which drove my cousins crazy. I’d get it washed, blown out, trimmed and flat ironed. Done.
    I’ve met one other African-American woman here who pointed out some good Korean hairdressers here in case I ever want to have it flat-ironed again. She told me that although it took them a long time and two people worked on her head at once, they did a great job and the price was around 25 dollars. Not bad at all!
    I believe that you and I have the same type of hair: thick as all get out!

    Anyhoo! Gotta go to sleep now.
    Thank you again for keeping in touch and also for wanting to add my future blog to your list!

    Ciao!

  21. Judy Torres says:

    I am 45 yrs old. I just got married for my second time 2 years ago, and my husband has not had any children yet, we want to have and have been trying but I have lost 3 and I am pregnant now, I am 11 weeks, but I am concidered high risk not only because of the age, buat also because I have a fibroid the size of a grapefruit, one doctor told me that he would not take my case, I have a hard time finding someone that will take my case and dont know what to do. I am hoping you have some answers.
    Judy


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