As mothers, we sacrifice for nine months to ensure a healthy baby. We stop drinking, we change our eating habits, we deal with fatigue and restless nights, nausea, peeing every ten minutes, heartburn, swollen ankles (and swollen everything else), we lose our shape and, at times, our sanity waiting for those nine months to end.
But after those nine months, when we finally think everything is going to get easier, we are left to deal with the responsibilities of new life. The first few months are as trying as it gets. They test your ability in everything, take a toll on relationships, and turn life upside down. Then, just as we find our groove, as the little one sleeps a little more, and we can finally take a shower (almost) everyday, we notice something. No, I am not talking about how quickly our bodies bounce back (because they don’t), and I’m not talking about how well rested we are (because we’re not). I’m talking about postpartum hair loss. And it’s not a few strands shed here and there — for me it was falling out in clumps.
For months, the drain after every shower looked as though a bird had built its nest there. I could have knit a scarf or, better yet, a hat with the amount of hair lost. My beautiful, thick pregnancy hair was replaced by thinning strands and what appeared to be a receding hairline that strongly resembled the balding pattern of a middle-aged man. Getting showered, dressed, and ready for the day with little ones is hard enough. Seeing my reflection with progressively less hair and out-of-control unmanageable frizz made it that much more difficult. I’m not saying vanity is everything, but lets be honest — it’s definitely something.
Lost on what to do, and mourning each strand and clump that fell from my head, I immediately took to the internet. If a solution could be found, Google would provide it. I searched. I tried taking biotin… nothing. I spoke to my hair stylist… no luck. Maximum control hairspray… NO! In fact, the moment my shellacked hair was exposed to the elements, the hairspray had the complete opposite effect of taming my frizz and created an entire army of quarter-inch hair regrowth standing at full attention, saluting whatever evil entity created postpartum hair loss. I also tried a coconut oil hair mask. Anyone who has been on the internet knows coconut oil cures everything. So there I was, night after night, covering my head in coconut oil and wrapping it with a scarf. What seemed like a great idea backfired when the coconut oil made the dye on the scarf bleed all over my white cotton sheets, and I woke up with half my face looking like a navy blue Smurf. I was losing this battle, and as we packed up our car to move to the Cape for the summer I knew I was in for it.
The humidity on the Cape is thick, to say the least, and my hair didn’t stand a chance. By the time our annual trip to the Vineyard arrived I had grown accustomed to the frizzy halo that accompanied me everywhere I went. I knew the combination of wind, saltwater, and sweat wouldn’t do my ‘do any favors, but I had come up with a system of putting water on my head whenever the chance arose, to at least weigh down those little fellas for a moment or two.
We were leaving a restaurant after indulging in a delicious lunch, and I had just visited the restroom where I had done my regular mane maintenance. Walking hand in hand, my almost 4-year-old and I were having a rare peaceful moment when he pointed out our shadows. In those shadows I saw our hands together, our bodies next to each other with such a natural comfort. But as my eyes moved up my shadow I noticed a totally new look for me. Gone was the crown of regrowth I had become accustomed to, and in its place stood a famous movie star… Alfalfa. My hands immediately attempted to tame the craziness, but it was no use. Apparently, Alfalfa wanted a summer trip to the Vineyard as well.
Unfortunately, there is no magic remedy or pill, no secret concoction or instant hair regrowth formula (although I was tempted to try Rogaine). The only secret to postpartum hair loss is patience (sucks, I know). Summer humidity is here to stay, the wind isn’t going anywhere, and as hard as I try I cannot will my hair to grow any quicker. So I have become one with my crown of frizz. On particularly bad days I can be found wearing a hat, but more than likely you will see me walking around mirroring the static cling a balloon creates after being rubbed incessantly all over your head. As much as I mourned each strand that left my head, and as much as I cringe every time I look at my hairline in the mirror, I try to remind myself that there are many middle-aged men with their own receding hairlines who are thinking to themselves, “At least her hair is growing back!”