I’ve known for years that life isn’t all cookie recipes and sunshine, that there are difficult eras in everyone’s life, that each of us is living with our own demons and may be fighting personal, private battles. For some time now, I have, or rather we, my husband and I have, been fighting an uphill battle against infertility issues. This has been a very private process for us, choosing to keep the details and our progress solely between us and our doctors. Every now and again a piece of news, be it good or bad, will get discussed with our mothers or close friends, but the agonising heartache has been kept very private. I’ll even go as far as saying that much of the pain hasn’t even been shared with each other, as we continue to blame ourselves, both of us so angry at the situation and lack of progress we’ve made. As this journey enters it’s 3rd year, and as we begin a series of trial and error procedures to get pregnant, I’ll be documenting my thoughts as well as reviewing some of the products that have helped us along the way.
Purple. Neon pink. Pillar box red. Bleach blonde. Several failed attempts to get back to mousy brown. These are just some of the many hair colours I have had. There was also a “difficult” time during my late teens where nothing but the blackest of black would do, much to my mother’s disappointment. So it’s not at all surprising that my hair is what stylists called “damaged”. I do my best to keep regular trim appointments which always end with me smiling and nodding at the stylist as they suggest I buy the ludicrously expensive shampoo/conditioner combos they used, which is, without fail, met with a whispered “maybe next time”. I’ll leave the salon with my shiny locks blowing in the breeze, snapping selfies all the way to the car, before zooming home pretending I’m in a music video as I sing along to happy songs. Within days of a salon visit, my hair will be looking dull and limp, and I begin kicking myself for not investing in that $45 shampoo.
Until last December dull hair was one of my only issues. My hair has always been slow to grow, and falls precisely between straight and wavy, with a parting that never knows where exactly to place itself, but I’ve dealt with those issues just fine. Until last December, I thought my hair would always be “OK” at best. That was until, after a full hormonal review, it was discovered that I have hypothyroidism. As soon as I heard, everything clicked. The endless fatigue. Feeling and looking “puffy”. Sensitivity to cold. Aching, tender muscles. Though not the main cause of our inability to conceive (more on that later), my under active thyroid wasn’t helping. I dutifully started a course of Levothyroxine not thinking to consider the side effects, because all I could think about was getting my TSH levels sorted which in turn would help us get that much desired BFP (big fat positive). My family doctor welcomed the diagnosis, a bit upset that he hadn’t considered testing me for a under active thyroid when I kept seeing him for reoccurring depression and relentless tiredness. He reviewed my new prescription, was happy with the dosage and nonchalantly asked me if I’d started experiencing any hair loss. “Umm no. Should I be?” I exclaimed. “Yes, your hair will thin, especially on the dose you’ve been put on.” GULP. I must have turned white or my eyes must have glazed over because he quickly blurted out that I shouldn’t worry, it is the end goal that is important and the reason I am on Levothyroxine “vastly outweighs the frustrating side effects”.
Within days of seeing him, I noticed it. Around the temples at first, and then my parting started to thin out. I wasn’t sure if I was losing any more than usual in the shower or when brushing, because all eyes were on my now noticeably thin hair. I was bereft. It sounds vain and so self centered of me. It’s just hair! But it aged me and depressed me in equal measure. I was freaking out, and I could see through Justin’s well meaning lies of “oh it isn’t that bad” when we stood in front of the bathroom mirror, under the unforgiving lights, flipping my hair into different styles trying to cover up the bald patches and receding hair lines. I felt stupid for letting such a trivial thing upset me. I am conscious of my luck, wealth and social standing- I want for nothing save for a three day weekend every now and then. I have my health, my home, my husband. But just like one of those god awful Magic Eye posters, the longer I stared, the more frustrated I got, unable to see the bigger picture.
Biotin pills were my first purchase, followed by a biotin shampoo/conditioner combo. Desperate to find a quick fix, I googled reviews for Rogaine, and soon after I was seeing ads for Toppik hair spray. Neither sounded good if I’m honest. If I can just about find time to do my make up each morning, adding a hair dye spray to my roots would really disrupt my hectic routine. The biotin pills I liked the sound of most, and the ones I ended up buying, were made by the same company that produces our B12 and echinacea vitamins. I often forget to take my vitamins (and sometimes even my bipolar medication), so adding another pill to the mix wasn’t going to work out. A gummie sounded fun, and vastly more delicious than any of the chalky tablets I considered. The Nature Made berry flavoured gummies have 3000mg of much needed biotin, that will help support not only healthy, stronger hair, but it should sort out my brittle, flaky nails and my dry and itchy skin. A triple threat if ever there was one! OGX’s Thick & Full Biotin and Collagen Shampoo and Conditioner has improved the quality of my hair like no other shampoo ever has. The shampoo has a great lather, and leaves my hair squeaky clean. The conditioner is rich enough to provide that much needed hydration and it doesn’t weight my hair down at all. When combined with their Argan Oil, my hair is left beautifully light and soft, as well as thick and bouncy at the roots. It won’t magic away my receding hair line, but it goes some way in making my hair look and feel healthy again.
How I styled my hair had to change too. No more pulling brushes through towel dried hair as soon as I stepped out of the shower, it was time to use wide tooth combs both with my conditioner and when drying my hair. I changed my dryer settings too, from high and hot, to medium and low, making sure I never started styling my hair until it had almost dried naturally. This change has helped reduce breakages and split ends, and it’s gone some way in bringing my hair half way back to what is what.
Tomorrow I’m meeting with my fertility doctor for the first time this year. I’ve been on Levothyroxine for nearly 3 months, which should be enough time to sort my wonky hormones out. Tomorrow he should be able to look at my blood work taken earlier this week, and my weight loss (10lbs/4.5kg since the start of the year) and usher me on the next chapter of our journey. I so desperately want to be ready for this next step, and I want to be off this ghastly medicine too, but as with every part of this journey, I am not the one calling the shots.