The Story None Of Us Tell (but many want to hear!)

The stories I would LOVE to read take place in that timeline but never are told. They're not sad. Not exciting. Maybe mentioned in passing to the closest of friends for very specific reasons. Never told in detail and compared to other's experiences. But sometimes... Sometimes women like me scour the internet searching and searching for the stories to compare with our own experiences. What are those stories about?  In a word, "Menstruation." But more specifically, that first cycle after childbirth.

Women love to tell their stories

Every woman who has ever given birth has a variety of stories to tell. Stories from before pregnancy about what led to the decision to get pregnant or the discovery of that pregnancy. Events that took place during the pregnancy, whether happy, scary or sad... And then of course we are familiar with birth stories! How did the little one make its grand appearance? Was it planned and encouraged to come early, or long past due?

We then go on to stories of the early days with a newborn, stories about them growing up, and possibly returning full circle to welcome a sibling into the same family. Wonderful stories, all of them! And we skip right over that very mysterious return of fertility without a mention or a note (except perhaps recorded in our fertility tracking app online.)

The return of menstruation

someone sitting on the toilet using tampon for menstrual cycleAfter the birth of every baby will be the eventual return of fertility (ovulation and menstruation) for pretty much every mother. What do we even call that? I there a specific term for it? Perhaps the "ppaf" term is the best out there "postpartum aunt flo." Though I wish there were a simpler or more universal term. It took me a while to figure out the acronym. Ha!

For the rest of us, our baby is born, life takes on a new normal, hormones change with the days and weeks, and eventually we will have that first menstrual cycle after the birth. And there the similarities cease and the variations begin. Will it be 3 weeks postpartum, or 9 months, or 2 years? Have you breastfed exclusively and still got your cycle back at 6 weeks? Or did you wean all the way down to nursing 1 time a day at 30 months and only after completely weaning were able to get your cycle back? Everyone has a story, and there are so many elements to those stories that may or not impact a woman's return to fertility.

THE STORY NONE OF US TELL (BUT MANY WANT TO HEAR!)

Can we learn from one another?

Nothing is as frustrating to me, when I'm searching for clues to a puzzle, as hearing the non-answer "Well, every women is different." And the trail goes cold right there. Yes, I agree! We all have different stories, and different elements that affect us. But could it be that if enough women shared their "cycle return story" we would find clues that were helpful?

Right now I am 9 months postpartum after my third child. With each of my other two babies I got my cycle back at 9.5 months and 9 months respectively. Since we want to have more children, I approach my cycle's return with anticipation and excitement. Knowing that we can begin trying for another baby is the best part of having my fertility return.

And yet... Even on the third time I find myself confused and a bit puzzled.

"Well, is it coming?? I feel like I have symptoms that my bleed is just around the corner, and yet I've felt that way for weeks now, possibly months. What was it like last time? I can't remember."

You see, I didn't take good notes for myself because I didn't realize I would care in the years to come.

What are the normal cycle return symptoms?

Wouldn't it be nice if our memories alone were sharp enough to recall the small details of our prior experiences? I've been having very mild menstrual like cramping every morning for a week now, and I had some a few weeks ago. Could that be it? Did I have this last time? My mood was *very* volatile two weeks ago, and I felt like my period would come any minute, or at the very latest the next morning!  Nope. Still waiting. I've also been taking my basal body temperature, but my temperatures are much higher than they were last time, in the post-ovulation or even "pregnant" range. Yet my tests come back white as snow, not pregnant.

The limited information I can find online is not in the form of personal stories from women. It is simply a broad sweeping generalization of the possible experiences, "You might have a heavier period the first time. Then again, it might be light for a few cycles. And it may come back like clockwork if you aren't breastfeeding, but if you then expect it after 6 months, and possibly not until after a year or two." Either that, or it's in the form of a statistical analysis. "Seventy-four percent of women will get their cycle back before one year." But that doesn't help either. I'm in one camp or the other. It doesn't tell me whether those women have a similar life to mine at all.

Let's help one another

Perhaps we don't tell the story of our returning and returned fertility because it is a private matter. Yes, that could be the reason. But perhaps it is more than we haven't thought of this special time in our lives as being "story worthy." No one else is writing their story, so it's hard to imagine what details would be interesting or worth telling? That could also be the reason we don't tell our stories.

Ladies, let's help one another. If you have found yourself searching the internet for information on "How to know your fertility is returning" or "What to expect your first period after baby?" or anything of the sort, then you know this *is* information women are desperately curious over!  Please, share your story. Write it as a comment to this post. Put the story on your own blog. Send me an e-mail with your story and I'll post it here. Let's help each other and learn from each other.

My memory is far too foggy for my previous two experiences to remember and recount. But once this first cycle *does* come, I'll write my own "cycle return story" to share here. And I hope it helps YOU as you are waiting for your own fertility to return.

Update:

Here is one story I found online about "catching the first egg" and not even getting a cycle between pregnancies -- It's a good example of helpful information in story form that the rest of us might benefit from knowing! (Whether you are trying to get pregnant right away, or avoid pregnancy) I especially appreciate her story includes even small details like having sore nipples during ovulation.

Hannah S.

I do not mean to see

[/caption]I do not mean to sweep away the experience of any woman who does not return to fertility after her baby. She has a unique, possibly painful, but very special and delicate story to tell. If there is a woman out there reading this post who did not return to fertility after her baby and wants to share her story, please write to me. I'd love to include your perspective for readers to consider.

10 thoughts on “The Story None Of Us Tell (but many want to hear!)”

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I have not had children yet (still enjoying marriage for the meantime) but this was very informative. Forgive me for being immature but I didn’t even know it could take that long for a menstrual to return! Although that just goes to show how often (or not) we talk about these things. Hopefully more people can share stories like these so it eventually does not become taboo. It’s worthwhile to know and share.

  2. I’m not a mother yet’ but hopefully soon I will. Yes I agree with you’ women love to tell their stories. Before, I’m not usually keen in listening but now, yes I’am.. I’m ready! and no matter how scary it is, I will embrace it gladly.

  3. I’m not a momma and not any where close to it, but reading your blog was very informative! A lot of women don’t talk about their fertility or infertility and I know it’s so important to talk about everything so they don’t feel alone! Congrats on all your success and your three beautiful children!

    1. Thank you dear. It is always great to know the information before hand then after you needed it. Knowledge is power!

  4. My husband and I are starting down the adoption path since I have not gotten pregnant or given birth. However when/if the time comes that I do, then these are definitely useful things to know.

  5. I didn’t see my cycle for a year after having my son and I breastfeed him for 2 1/2 years. It’s interesting how so many people have different experiences but these are things that no one typically talks about.

  6. What a great read, This shows how strong the women are. This must spread to others and let us all support each other.

  7. I didn’t get my period for at least 6 month (maybe longer because I kept breastfeeding) and when it finally did, it was more painful than before I had kids. It was not a fun day.

    Sheree

  8. I love this post because you’re right, there are sooo many stories and things women who have given birth don’t talk about. As someone who’s never given birth, these are the things I want to know for the future. I’m so glad the internet and blogs exist for this reason.

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