Migraines and Motherhood

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In my 20’s, I would get headaches. Mostly around 2 am after a long night out at a club, living my best, carefree, alcohol-infused life. In my 30’s, I’d get headaches after a long day at the office, overworking myself at the computer, trying to become successful, not taking a break to eat. With my newfound, grown-up health insurance, I went on a headache prevention medication. Headache issue solved.

At 35 I wanted to get pregnant, so I went off the pill and my headache meds. Fast forward three years and two beautiful babies later and I’m hit with vestibular migraine (VM). As if being a new mom and working outside of the home full-time wasn’t enough, add in a cycle of unexplained dizziness, coupled with nausea, light sensitivity, and sometimes, but not always, a severe headache.

Before my diagnosis, I was told I had vertigo, labyrinthitis, or was just too stressed out and needed to relax (cue my angry face). So there it was, I had migraines. Okay, back on meds I go. But meds didn’t seem to work for me anymore- thanks pregnancy hormones and ever-changing female body!

woman with migraine holding her head while working at computerMan, that first year of VM was a special kind of hell. Migraines are an invisible illness. You look fine on the outside, sometimes even beautiful, but you are suffering profoundly on the inside. My husband, family, and coworkers were so supportive, even driving me to work when I couldn’t drive. The hardest part though was wondering if I was letting my children down. They were just one and three at the time, but I felt a deep sense of sadness for the things I couldn’t do with them when my migraines would kick in, like dancing in the living room or reading a story at bedtime.

After several months learning how to live with VM I realized that my only option was to just move forward. The brain has magnificent ability to heal itself, but it takes a lot of work and focus. That’s not so easy to do when the issue is the brain itself and you are trying to focus on raising good humans. When my self-pity-party had gone on for long enough (or so my mother told me), I decided that I had to adjust to my new normal. I’m a mom who has migraines. Some days I’m fine, some days I’m not. I have to take it easy on myself. On the days that I’m fine, I dance with my girls as much as I can with the music on blast. On days when I’m not fine, we chill out and watch TV and snuggle. My girls love me just as much on the TV days as they do during our dance parties.

If you are struggling with chronic headaches, vestibular issues or migraines consult your primary doctor. Visit https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/ or https://vestibular.org/ for helpful resources.

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