Brace yourself, this is going to be a longer post. I also want to preface that everything written in this post is MY experience and my opinion. I am not wishing to push for all women on birth control to get off of it, I am not saying that all women will react negatively to the IUD and I am purely sharing my experience. The first thing that I want to do is share the story of how and why I decided to go the copper IUD route. First off, Luca and Lennon are 19 months apart. Lennon was absolutely not a “surprise”, we knew we wanted our kids to be close together in age, but I will be honest, I didn’t think that I would conceive the first month of not preventing. I had my first period after having Luca when he was 9 months old (the first time he started consistently sleeping through the night– more on this in another post) and I conceived Lennon when Luca was 10 months old. As much as we know that we want our children close in age, I know that I want more time between Lennon and our third. I just need some time to not be pregnant and breastfeeding this time around. So, fast forward to my 6 week postpartum appt when my doctor asked “so, what are we planning to do for birth control?” to which I replied “I really don’t want another baby for at least 2 years, and I also don’t do well with hormonal birth control– what are my options?” she then said “the copper IUD has no hormones and can be removed at anytime when you decide that the time is right to conceive again.” MUSIC. TO. MY. EARS. No hormones means, no issues getting pregnant when I want to, no hair loss, no weight gain, no random breakouts, no mood swings… or, so I thought.
Next up, my seven week appt (because they can’t insert an IUD sooner than 7 weeks PP) to have my copper IUD inserted. I was so excited. I just knew that this was going to be the birth control answer for me at this point in my life. I want to go ahead and say this really quickly: my story would probably be different if I hadn’t already started my family/if I were in high school or college and 100000% not in the market for a baby anytime soon. But, that isn’t my story. Truth be told, if I were to find out that I was pregnant tomorrow I would be thrilled. Conception is a miracle and I am well aware at just how many women have to fight for this to be their reality. So, would I be kind of shocked? Yes. Would I be kind of upset knowing that I would have to give up things that I love again for 10 months? Yes. But, truth is, those are selfish reasons and if I am meant to have another baby before “I think” is the right time, I trust that and we will roll with it and welcome that third Allen baby with all of the excitement in the world. Having said all of this: my symptoms are things that I suppose I could’ve lived with, but I knew that I didn’t have to, and I also knew that something just wasn’t right.
Let’s talk about the insertion. I remember asking just moments before placing my feet in those stirrups “is this going to hurt?” to which my doctor said “you’ll feel a sensation and a little pinch.” Oh, okay, no big deal, considering I just had my entire abdomen sliced open seven weeks before– a sensation and a pinch, bring it on. Friends, HOLY HELL– it hurt. It felt like something sharp was going to come through my lower stomach. Sure, it didn’t last more than 2 minutes having it inserted, but I truly was shocked at just how uncomfortable this whole thing was. After the insertion, I felt totally fine. I didn’t cramp like they said I might, but I did bleed for about two weeks. The bleeding was similar to that of spotting just prior to your period beginning. It was annoying, but something that I could live with given the benefits of not having to worry about becoming pregnant before I was ready.
Let’s fast forward now to February. I had the IUD put in mid December, so February was roughly two months with the IUD. This is when things started to get weird. Lennon was sleeping through the night, going down at 730 and waking at 530 to nurse and then back to sleep until 730… yet, I was exhausted. Exhausted to the point of falling asleep at the dinner table. Rico and I would try to watch a movie once the kids went down and literally if my life depended on it, I couldn’t stay awake past 9pm. That was the first sign that something wasn’t right. Second sign was on our trip to Daytona Beach for Rico’s jersey retirement. We spent the day at the beach and pool, I covered myself in SPF and a sun hat and when we came in at the end of the day, I had developed dark spots all over my entire face. Granted, dark spots are something that happen to me towards the end of pregnancy- but, typically, they only appeared above my upper lip. This was strange for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t pregnant 2) the spots were surrounding my eyes, above my lip and my entire forehead. I remember in that moment knowing that something was up. I took a pregnancy test, just to be sure. I hadn’t even had my first period since delivering Leni, so I would’ve been shocked if I was pregnant given that I hadn’t ovulated and I had an IUD, but, it was the only thing that made sense. Obviously, the test was negative. My radar was high and I was evaluating all things. I hadn’t changed my diet, I was eating enough. I wasn’t sleeping less, if anything, I was sleeping the most that I had been since Leni was born. I just started to pay closer attention. The third sign hit me like a ton of bricks and caused me to start my own research as to what was happening with my body: my hair was legit falling out by the handfuls. It wasn’t breaking, it was coming out in full strands from the root of my head. Granted, a lot of people tried to tell me “this is normal, this happens after having a baby, don’t worry, it’ll slow down soon”… you name it, I heard it. The truth was, I know me, I know my body, I am highly in tune with myself and I knew in my soul something wasn’t right— not to mention, none of this ever happened post-partum with Luca. I started to save my hair. I know that may sound crazy, but I just had to see it for myself and I knew that seeing it over the course of a few days would confirm my feelings. Sure enough, I saved up a weeks worth of hair loss and took it in with me to my hair appt. I have been seeing Brooke for my hair for four years. I knew that she would be able to tell me if 1) I was crazy or 2) I was in fact, right. As much as Brooke wanted to lie to me (because I was legit in tears talking about this to her), she kindly said “Grace, your hair is still full and beautiful, but, yes, this is a massive increase in hair loss for you.” Bless her soul. I knew it. But, I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes when enough people tell you the same thing, you start to question if you’re crazy?? This was consolation that I wasn’t crazy and that I wasn’t imagining things. Finally, my skin was breaking out in cystic acne in places that it had never broken out before. Strange.
Now, started the research. I know that you aren’t supposed to refer to Google or the internet for anything health related… but, friends, when enough doctors tell you “it’s postpartum hair loss, you’ll be back to normal soon” or “the levels of copper in the IUD aren’t enough to effect your body in the ways you’re stating”… you kind of have to take matters into your own hands. I was shocked. I have to mention something else here that may or may not play a roll– I was using a certain haircare line that is now getting a lot of publicity for causing hair loss in women– which is devastating, because I was an advocate and loved the results that I experienced for a short while. So, after discovering what I did about the IUD and the haircare, I knew that I had to stop both. I called my doctor immediately and made an appointment to have my IUD removed and stopped using that line. This is awkward and I never want to bash something (especially something that I once loved), which I am not doing– but, it is a part and factor in this story, and I promise you full disclosure and honesty, in all things that I share. Let’s move on.
Let’s talk removal, it wasn’t nearly as painful as insertion. It was the uncomfortable level of an annual pap test. The doctor that removed my IUD wasn’t the same doctor that inserted it, or delivered either of my babies. I think she thought that I was crazy when I listed off all of the reasons that I wanted this removed. She assured* me that none of my symptoms could be caused by this IUD and recommended that I have my thyroid tested. I appreciated that, but, I know my body and I knew that the ONLY thing that was different was having this IUD in. I want to be careful in how I write this because I know there are probably so many women out there that have had this in for years and love it. If that is you, I am so happy that you found a method of birth control that works for you. The mere fact is that it doesn’t work for me. Just like some people can eat peanut butter by the jar with no reaction and others can get a whif of peanut butter and breakout in hives and go into a severe allergic reaction–our bodies aren’t the same and what works for one, doesn’t necerssarily work for the next. Please don’t freak out if you have the IUD in. But, it wouldn’t be like me to not share my experience and the truth– and that is simply what I am doing here.
I have had the IUD out now for one month and I am happy to report that my hair shedding has drastically reduced, my energy levels are back to normal, my skin hasn’t had one flare up like it did when I had the IUD in (and I had a period– this is really saying something), I have spent days in the sun and I have developed zero dark spots, I am not mentally foggy like I was before and I generally just feel like myself again. Friends, I have a really hard time believing that this is a coincidence. The fact is this, my body just didn’t agree with the copper IUD. Not to mention, I had my first period in March (IUD was in) and it lasted ten days and I cramped horribly… sure, they warn you that periods with the copper IUD will last longer and be heavier, but TEN DAYS? Come TF on, nobody has time for that. I just had my second period (IUD out) and it lasted a normal five days– with only two heavy days of bleeding, and minimal cramping.
The truth is this: I really wish that the copper IUD worked for me. I truly thought that it was going to be the perfect solution for my family and I. No hormones, check. Removal and high rates of conception immediately following, check. But, the truth is that it didn’t. The side effects that I experienced in those short four months were enough for me to know that it wasn’t right. Do I want to become pregnant right now? No way. In a perfect world I want to wait another year, at least before getting pregnant again. Like I have mentioned above, if I were to become pregnant today, I would embrace it and know that it is exactly how it is meant to go. But, selfishly, I want to feel good this summer, I want to drink an IPA at Falcon games this season, I want to have wine with Thanksgiving dinner and I want to turn TF up when the Super Bowl is in our city, with our team in it, in February. Selfish and self serving reasons? Yes. But, that is okay. I am allowed to know what I prefer for myself and my body, when I am the one who will be most greatly affected–and you are too. I am thankful that I am in the season of life that I am in where becoming pregnant wouldn’t be a bad thing, but instead, a blessing. If I were in college, or if I wasn’t ready for a family anytime soon, it would’ve been a much harder decision to have this thing removed and to choose to take preventing pregnancy into my own hands and not that of a copper or hormonal birth control method. I plan to share how I am taking matters into my own hands using natural birth control methods in another post. I figure that I should test the method for at least two months before sharing it with you (because let’s be honest, if I become pregnant before then, we know that it doesn’t work and Lord knows, I don’t want to share my failing method with others trying to avoid pregnancy as well) lol. I also plan to share how I have been detoxing my body of heavy metals. Again, I want to live through this for a bit longer before sharing– just in case I discover things don’t work, or, if I find that they do.
Again, I really hesitated to share this post because it’s obviously controversial in a lot of ways. But, at the end of the day, this is my story, this was my experience and this is MY blog– where I am entitled to share whatever it is that I want.. and not to mention, I receieve messages daily asking me when I am going to share my story (which, in and of itself, just confirms that I am not the only one). So, here yah go–go easy on me, keep an open mind, and just use this as a point of reference and/or education, or, if you are experiencing the things that I did, use this as a giant “me too” and know that you aren’t alone, you aren’t crazy, and that four weeks from now, you can be you, again. I promise.
from one woman to another, we deserve to understand our bodies, we deserve to honor our bodies, and we owe it to one another to share truth (even if it’s a bit uncomfortable and controversial). xo, G