Anybody who has known me for a while knows that I always had a great head of hair. I don’t mean to sound conceited or vain, but it’s the truth. I always had long, thick hair and every hair stylist I went to would grab fistfuls of it and excitedly comment on how they can do so much with it. But I always stuck with the same boring hairstyle all my life: long. That’s pretty much it. I never experimented, I just wanted something safe and low-maintenance. My heart would race and I would literally break out into a cold sweat if I saw that hairstylist snipping a little too high.
Imagine the horror when I realized I would lose all my hair while pregnant with my son.
Halfway through the pregnancy, my scalp started to itch like crazy. I mean raking your head until it bleeds itchy. I thought I was going insane. I would smack and scratch my head so much that my daughter started to model my behavior and smack her own head (that almost made me stop, I still couldn’t help myself). The itching was followed with severe hair loss. I was pulling out chunks of hair every day, multiple times a day. It seemed as if hair covered every surface of our home. My daughter would play and run back with my hair stuck on her fingers and lips. Every time I showered, I created wild, imaginative art murals with my hair on the shower wall, and afterwards collected hair balls the size of my whole palm.
This is me at 5 months pregnant. Believe it or not, I was losing hair at this point already but not enough for anybody else to notice.
This is me at 6 months pregnant. You can see how much my hair had thinned out on top in just a month.
My OB doctor referred me to a dermatologist. I spent over $600 on blood tests trying to figure out what was happening to me and I was actually disappointed when all of my results came back healthy and normal. I wanted something to be wrong with me, just so I could have an answer, and therefore, a cure. Every week, my hair thinned drastically. My hairline was receding and the part in my hair was splitting wide like the Red Sea. I bought all kinds of expensive steroid treatments, wigs, special shampoos, and hair products, praying that my hair would stop falling out.
7 months pregnant
It was then that I realized how much value I had placed on my looks, and especially on my hair. It’s funny how a woman’s hair can become her security blanket, relying on it to feel any sort of confidence in public. As long as I had my hair, I felt ready to face the world. When that was taken away, I didn’t know how to love myself. I spent a lot of nights crying. Every time I walked past a mirror, I felt ugly and ashamed. Every night, I would look at myself and think “You’re disgusting. You look hideous. How can anyone love you when you look like that?” It took a long time before I realized that it had been the devil whispering that in my ear every night.
I was depressed and miserable, and really angry with God. Why was this happening to me? I didn’t want to talk to Him or have a relationship with Him until my hair came back. My husband encouraged me to use my hair loss as a prayer and said, “You’re going through this so you can pray and intercede for people. Who do you want to pray for?” But I didn’t want to pray for anyone. I only wanted to pray for myself. It got to a point where I had such little hair, I looked like Gollum from Lord of the Rings (that’s the second time I’ve compared myself to that character, by the way) and I mustered up the courage to shave my head. I cried and laughed in the bathtub while my husband went at it with the clippers. I felt scared, liberated, horrified, and relieved all at once. I had a flurry of emotions that night and I think I finally understood Britney’s meltdown in 2007.
I realize there are women who suffer much greater trials during pregnancy and that people have far worse reasons for losing their hair. I always knew that looks aren’t everything and that beauty goes beyond the physical. But I didn’t truly believe it for myself until I was forced to find the beauty in my balding head. Talk about a lesson in humility. It was the cause of many spiritual attacks and it was a daily fight to keep from hating myself. As I struggled to keep my appearance from dictating my worth as a person, God used the people in my life to show me that I am still beautiful. My husband would rub my head and kiss me even though I didn’t want him to look at me. My daughter didn’t see me any differently; I was still her mommy who loved and provided for her. My friends reassured me that I could pull off this new look, and my family reminded me of how brave I was to sacrifice my hair for my son. Through these people, I realized that I am loved beyond measure. They helped me to see that I am wanted most of all by Jesus. That He delights in me and who I am, despite how I look and my imperfections.
I had to ask myself, “What is beauty?” We see plenty of beautiful people everyday in public, on the television, magazines, and computer. But when you strip away the big hair, the makeup, the toned bodies, and pretty clothes, you realize those are not the things that make one beautiful. It may be harder to recognize but there is beauty in each of us. I realized that beauty is joy. It’s about not taking yourself too seriously and finding humor in your life everyday. It’s about believing that you are good and that you are loved. Beauty is kindness and sacrifice. It’s about the way you treat people and make them feel important and cared for. It’s about the big and little sacrifices you make that may or may not go unnoticed. Beauty is confidence. It’s about knowing and believing you make a difference. It’s about being kind to yourself, and being YOU in all of your uniqueness, knowing that there is no one else in the world like you. Beauty is understanding your gifts and talents, and using them to become the best possible version of yourself while lifting up others to do the same.
During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my hair started growing back slowly but surely. Now my son has entered the world (with a full head of hair, ironically) and the second he was placed into my arms, I knew it was all worth it. I still stare longingly at women with long, luscious hair (I apologize if I’ve done that to you recently) and I get a little sad when I look at pictures of myself with my old hair. I never thought I’d have such a drastic look when it comes to my appearance, but I’m learning to like it with every passing day (no tangles and 5 minute showers are game changers). Most of all, I’m learning to love myself and see myself the way God sees me: full of dignity and beauty, worthy of his love in all of my imperfections, which are made perfect through Him. The pursuit of loving oneself is a daily journey and I pray that you will read this and know that whether you are a woman or man, young or old, with hair or no hair, you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are loved. And Aiden, my dear son, if one day you are reading this, know that you owe me big time. But for now, here’s a picture of us with matching haircuts.