Battling Endometriosis while Suffering From Postpartum Depression

Endometriosis is a condition that plagues nearly 10% of women but is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.  Like postpartum depression, endometriosis is something that isn’t talked about enough.  It causes a considerable amount of pain but so many women learn to live with it and don’t seek the proper treatment.  And those who do seek help, are often told it’s nothing, because endometriosis doesn’t show up on ultrasounds or x-rays or ct scans.

While there is no link between endometriosis and postpartum depression, they do have a lot in common:
  • They are affected by hormones
  • They affect women in their childbearing years
  • They are under-diagnosed conditions
  • They are invisible diseases
  • They are stigmatized and need more awareness

Every women’s struggle with endometriosis is different, just like postpartum depression.  Here is MY story…

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


It was a mere coincidence that both my endometriosis and postpartum depression were diagnosed at the same time, because the two conditions are not exactly linked to each other.  But ever since that diagnosis, they have been intertwined throughout my journey of highs and lows.

It all began when my daughter was 5 months old.  Actually, the postpartum depression symptoms had been going on for a few months already but I was still in denial. 

We took a family trip to Disney World (both kids were still free to get in, so we thought we’d take advantage)!  Despite exclusively breastfeeding, I got my first postpartum period – right there in the Magic Kingdom.  

I was disappointed and annoyed but what else could I do, on this trip of a lifetime, but suck it up and waddle around in blood-soaked pants for the rest of the day?

The next day, we planned to go to Cocoa Beach.  When you’re from the Canadian Prairies, trips to the ocean are few and far between, so I was definitely NOT missing out on it.  I bought the biggest box of tampons I could find and tried my best to enjoy the day.

But the cramping was worse than labor pains and the bleeding was relentless.

I made it through that vacation but the following month was even worse.  I probably wouldn’t have said anything to my doctor, except that it happened to fall on the same day as my daughter’s 6 month checkup.

I was lucky enough to have a great doctor with whom I already had a close relationship, and it was in that appointment that I broke down crying – overcome by the pain of the menstrual cramps and the dark place my mind had been in for the last 6 months.

Based solely on my symptoms, he figured it was endometriosis that was causing the pain and heavy bleeding.  It was the first time I had ever heard the word.  When he told me that it can cause infertility, I actually felt relieved because I had zero desire to have another baby.  He gave me some samples of birth control pills and advised me to take them continuously in an effort to “skip” my periods.

Then we discussed the postpartum depression and came up with a treatment plan.

This is my postpartum depression story

I was supposed to follow up with him in a few months to see how things were going.  But by then, we had relocated for my husband’s job – a 9 hour drive away.

For a while, things were alright…

My mind was distracted by the move and I remembered to take my birth control pills everyday, avoiding the painful cramping that accompanied my periods.

Until I ran out of samples.

Trying to find a good doctor in a new town where I didn’t know anyone was tougher than I thought.  So I chose to suffer instead.  I loaded up on painkillers and wore adult diapers to soak up the extreme amounts of blood and just dealt with it.

With each month that passed, the pain got worse and worse.  The cramping started earlier and lasted longer until I was only pain-free for one week each month.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Chronic Pain
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The chronic pelvic pain exacerbated my postpartum depression symptoms.

I felt defeated by the pain.  I didn’t feel like being strong or fighting through the pain – I hoped and prayed it would just kill me.  I thought about how my daughter might someday experience this kind of pain, and I felt responsible for that.  I felt like all I did was inflict pain on those around me, because I was also in pain.  And I was certain that everyone would be happier, myself included, if I was just gone.

When my year of maternity leave was over, things got better.

I found a job that I loved and began to make friends.  The daycare we chose for the kids was wonderful and they settled into it without any problems.  I appreciated my children more because I cherished the short amount of time we had together each day instead of dreading the long hours of nothingness.

Finally, I was happy!  I pushed through the endometriosis pain every month because I didn’t want anything to destroy my happiness.

But after a year of being happy and ignoring the pain – the pain pushed back.

I couldn’t ignore it anymore and eventually wound up in the emergency room.  Much to everyone’s surprise – I was pregnant!  I guess endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility…

The anxiety began almost immediately.  I didn’t want to go through another HG pregnancy and I definitely worried about dealing with the postpartum depression all over again.  Plus we had just moved again, and hadn’t even bought a house yet.

How to prepare for another baby after postpartum depression
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Despite the exciting news, the pain was still there… worse even.

The doctors suspected a possible ectopic pregnancy and rushed me into emergency surgery.

When I woke up, I had mixed feelings about losing the baby.  Part of me was relieved to avoid another tough pregnancy, but another part of me felt disappointed that I didn’t get another chance to make things right.

The next day, I found out I was still pregnant.  The pregnancy was a healthy one, and there was nothing they could tell me about the endometriosis because they didn’t want to do anything to disturb the pregnancy.

And so I had my third child.  I suffered from the worst case of hyperemesis gravidarum of all three pregnancies, but for a while, I didn’t have to worry about the menstrual pain.  This time I did everything in my power to prepare myself for postpartum depression again but thankfully was spared from it.  I was given a second chance!  I immediately felt a bond with this baby and she made our family complete.

11 effects hyperemesis gravidarum has on a pregnant body
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I had a good, solid 8 months of bliss with my happy baby before my first postpartum period arrived.

And, in true dream-crushing fashion, it came back on Christmas Eve so I spent most of that night hopped up on painkillers and hovering around the bathroom door in order to change my tampon every 30 minutes.

After another steady 8 months of pill popping, I missed another period.  Oh no, not another pregnancy.  It can’t be.  I can’t do it again.  But the tests were all negative…



My menstrual cycle finally had a nervous breakdown.

It would skip months for no reason and then come every other week.  The pelvic pain got worse and it was no longer limited to my menstrual cycle – it was there 24/7.  I ended up in the emergency room regularly looking for something to help with the pain.  Nothing ever showed up on any of the tests, and I’m certain everyone thought I was a hypochondriac.  Even though I was in an intense amount of pain, I started to wonder if they were right.

The pain triggered the postpartum depression again.

It didn’t help that I was now a stay-at-home-mom, living in a city with no friends or relatives to help me out.  Between the darkness of postpartum depression and the pain of endometriosis, life was very bleak for nearly a full year.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Living with Endometriosis
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I finally met with a specialist.

He instantly validated everything I was feeling and scheduled me for a diagnostic laparoscopy to find out what was going on inside of me.  Since he wasn’t sure what he would find, he asked me to sign a form that stated he could perform a hysterectomy if he deemed it medically necessary.  This way, I wouldn’t have to undergo two separate surgeries if I did need one.

We discussed the fact that a hysterectomy would be the worst-case scenario, and I signed the form without hesitation.

In the 6 weeks leading up to my surgery date, I bled continuously.  I should have known then, that more was wrong under the surface than I wanted to admit.  If I had, perhaps I would have been more prepared for what was ahead.

The surgery was supposed to be a laparoscopic day surgery on a Friday.  My husband, kids and I made the 2 hour drive into the city, expecting to stay with family for the weekend and be back home by Monday.

But when I woke up from the surgery, I was told I would not be going home that day.

My doctor came in to see me, head hung, disappointment in his eyes.  He rested his hand on mine and told me that this was the first time he’s ever had to convert from a laparoscopic surgery to an abdominal incision (minimally invasive surgery was his specialty).

And then he filled me in on what happened in surgery.

He had to remove my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and left ovary.  He left the right ovary so that I would not go into menopause but everything else was stuck together with adhesions and needed to go.  My reproductive organs were attached to the pelvic wall, bladder and bowels which he successfully separated, but there would be scar tissue remaining.  The adhesions had re-routed my blood vessels and so he cut into one while attempting to perform the hysterectomy, causing me to lose nearly 4 units of blood and require a transfusion.

It was the “worst case scenario,” and I felt completely blindsided by what had just happened.  

I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days.  Losing so much blood left me feeling weak and dizzy and moving around was almost impossible.  Once I did get home to my own bed, I couldn’t leave.  Walking up and down stairs was difficult and living in a 4 level split meant I was practically bedridden.  Long after the scar healed, the pain inside my pelvis was excruciating.  I was told to expect to be out of commission for a full 6 weeks but it took more like 8.

Dealing with the sudden loss of my uterus was difficult.  Although I knew I didn’t want to have more children, I liked knowing that it was an option.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my pregnancies and how the place where I grew my children and felt them move and kick was no longer there.

But once I recovered from the surgery, the constant pelvic pain that plagued me for years was finally gone.  It was hard to believe that it was no longer there, I kept poking at it to see if it hurt but no – no more pain!  And I never had to wear another giant tampon or adult diaper ever again.

Most days I forget that I no longer have a uterus.  I still get some symptoms of PMS when my lonely ovary ovulates but it’s nearly impossible to track it without a menstrual cycle.  The fluctuating hormones do still affect my postpartum depression symptoms and I have to take extra care of myself on those days, but otherwise, it’s no longer triggered by constant pain.

Postpartum Depression Gift Guide

I’ve been told that a hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis and there is still a chance that the endometrial tissue could grow back.

So while my battle with endometriosis, as well as my battle with postpartum depression, is over for now – they have changed who I am as a person.

They have both taken things away from me that I can never get back.  They have killed a part of me inside and remain there, dormant, waiting for another opportunity to strike. I will do my best to take care of myself,  to help others who are suffering, and to raise awareness about these two important issues, so that if and when they ever do decide to rear their ugly heads again – I will be ready to fight back.


Endometriosis Resources

Endometriosis.org
WebMD Endometriosis Health Center
Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education Facebook Group
Endometriosis Support Group on Facebook
Hystersisters.com

9 Reasons why Mothers Don’t Speak Up about Chronic Pain

You wouldn’t know by looking at me, but I have suffered from chronic pain for over 5 years.

I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition called endometriosis It took over a year, five different doctors, several ER visits, countless tests and a long list of medications to finally get an answer.  In the end, it was too late anyway and I lost the majority of my reproductive organs.

[You can read more about my battle with endometriosis here]

And while I want to blame the medical system for failing me, I can’t deny the fact that I ignored the pain for FOUR YEARS before deciding to do something about it.

As a mother, there are so many reasons why I didn’t feel my pain was a priority.  Prior to having children to take care of, I’m sure it would have been a major concern and perhaps I would have gotten a diagnosis sooner rather than later.   Here are some reasons why mothers don’t speak up about chronic pain.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Chronic Pain

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


1. We put others first

One of the most distinguishable characteristics of a mother is that they put others before themselves.  The more people we have to take care of, the more our own needs get bumped to the bottom of the list.  And some most days that list never gets completed.  So while we might have every intention of taking care of ourselves, there just aren’t enough hours left over at the end of the day after taking care of everyone else.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Living with Endometriosis
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2. We don’t want to scare our children

I will never forget the fear in my daughter’s eyes when she came to visit me in the hospital, hooked up to machines and IV’s and unable to move.  In an attempt to protect my children from seeing their mother in such a vulnerable state, I kept quiet about my pain around them.  When they think back on their childhood, I wouldn’t want them to remember me in constant pain and not able to do anything fun with them.


3. We hate to let people down

We want to be supermom, as unattainable as it might be.  We want to be there for our kids and our spouses, our families and friends.  We want to bake the perfect cupcakes for the bake sale and volunteer at every charitable event.  We want to cheer our kids on from the sidelines and chase after them at the playground.  Dealing with chronic pains means we probably won’t get to do all of those things and so we push through it just to avoid disappointing anyone.


4. Nothing compares to childbirth

Sure, you’re in pain, but it’s not as bad as childbirth.  It’s worse if you’ve given birth without any drugs because then you’re expected to be able to handle anything.  But chronic pain and labor pain are two entirely different things.

Labor pain is a right of passage with an amazing reward at the end.  All mothers have had a chance to experience it in some way or another, it’s just part of life.

Chronic pain means something is wrong.  It is not a welcome pain, and there is no end in sight.  Add in the psychological trauma that comes along with wondering WHY you’re in pain and it’s a whole different monster.

My labor experience

5. It’s hard to ask for help

This rings true for most people, not just mothers suffering from chronic pain.  To ask for help means putting aside our pride, which is something most mothers have a very difficult time doing.  We are proud of the home we’ve kept and the children we’ve raised.  We’ve got a system and routine and we can’t expect just anyone to come in and take over.  If we admit that we need help, then we’re no longer in the running for supermom.


6. No one knows how to to do what we do

I’m not even sure what I do all day.  All I know is that no one else knows how to do it.   So if my husband asks me what needs to be done, I couldn’t tell him.  I just get up in the morning and do what I do.  I see something that needs to be done and I do it.  There is no master list.  There is no “how-to guide” to being a stay at home mom.  And even if I wrote out a to-do list, it would probably need to be changed at least 12 times because… toddlers.


we keep quiet about a lot of things…

7. We’re afraid to miss out

These kids grow up so fast.  We’re afraid to blink for fear of missing out on something and so taking time off to deal with our chronic pain is out of the question.  As much as we want alone time, we also want to be there to experience it all.  We want to see that excited expression on their faces when experiencing something new.  We want to hear their hysterical laughs while playing at the park or watching a funny movie.  We don’t want to miss out on our children’s childhood because of chronic pain.


8. We’ve tried all the home remedies

We are lucky to live in a world where we have so many choices when it comes to our health.  If you want to know what all of those options are, then all you need to do is mention to someone that you suffer from chronic pain.  Product recommendations, home remedies, naturopathic solutions, essential oils, vitamins, etc., are all wonderful and often welcome suggestions… at first.  And we get that people want to help but, after a while, we’re tired of being targeted by those selling some type of miracle product that promises to cure all that ails us.

Chronic Pain: Cost Effective and Quick Fix Methods to End Your Pain: Innovative Solutions to a Pain Free Life by [Longstaff, Nicole]
Amazon.ca

9. We hate being labeled

Complainers.  Hypochondriacs.  Unhealthy.  Drug addicts.  There are many people who use pain as an excuse.  Those people make things much harder for the rest of us who are in actual pain.  We don’t speak up about chronic pain because there are so many people who don’t understand it.  It’s not just about what others think of us, it’s about how we are treated.  For five years I suffered from chronic pain but was still able to do anything and everything and I often wonder if things would have been different if I was more vocal about my pain.

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression
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The cause of chronic pain is less important than how it affects your life.  Many people have no choice but to speak up about their chronic pain and ask for help.  But for some mothers, myself included, we are afraid to show weakness.  We don’t want to be a burden.  And so we keep it inside and go it alone. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re reading this and felt like I was talking to you, maybe it’s time to let your guard down.  Seek help and let those in your life know that you are suffering.  If they truly love you, they won’t think any less of you and will want to do whatever they can to ease your pain.


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Chronic pain and endometriosis