Most of you know me as “KatKat” or even the “resident topper expert” as I frequently give advice on toppers and how to wear them. I developed diffuse alopecia and chronic telogen effluvim four years ago and started wearing hair in my previous career as a pharmaceutical representative where I was judged by my appearance on a regular basis. I have worn hair through dating adventures and then under a veil on my wedding day. My topper and I have been through airports and dental surgeries, in wind storms and downpours, and on a cruise. But of all of the adventures I have ever had in my “hair,” none could prepare me for the events of my life this year.
On March 7, 2011, I gave birth to my wonderful son. After nine long months, I was so excited to meet my baby! Yes, my hair grew fuller while I was pregnant. However, what grew was just more bad, miniaturized hair — not “usable” hair. I discovered that I was so comfortable in supplemental hair that I would rather continue to wear it than resort to trying to fix my old, flyaway hair. I won’t lie, it was nice to see more hair when I took my topper off each night but that was the extent of celebrating seeing my hair come back.
Throughout my pregnancy I wondered about the day my son would be born. Would I have my topper secure enough? Should I just tell my nurses about my hair since we would be up close and personal? Would I have time to wash it when I went into labor? Should I wear a headband or a ponytail? So many scenarios played through my head. Deep down I longed not to care about any of it; but I did.
So, on the Saturday night when my water broke, I did what any hair wearer would do. I quickly washed my own hair and made sure I had an old topper to wear, and then another packed just in case I had to stay a day or two. Little did I know that I would be in the hospital for six whole days because of a very long labor ending in a C–section.
I have worn toppers overnight on several occasions, but to wear it through six days of pain, joy, and everything in between was something else! I labored in it, slept in it, and covered it with a surgical bonnet as I was wheeled into surgery. As I held my beautiful new son in my arms in my hospital room, one of the nurses commented, “How on earth does your hair still look so good?”
In the months to follow I had a new hair issues. I started to wonder if my son would recognize me with and without my hair on? I could swear he initially looked at me trying to figure it out, but I can safely say he now knows his Mom with and without her hair. He looks at me with the same great love in his eyes no matter how my hair looks and that’s all that matters. I know the day will come when I will have to explain it to him and I wonder what I will tell him. I really wish I didn’t have to maintain a topper as I am adjusting to the busy pace of motherhood. I also wish I didn’t have to worry about a baby pulling my topper hair or spitting up in it, but that’s just the way it is.
Probably the most shocking thing in this pregnancy hair journey has been the postpartum shedding I have experienced. Never have I been more grateful to have supplemental hair to compensate for what I have now lost. In addition, the uncomfortable burning and tingling scalp sensations have returned. In some ways, living through all of this has re-energized my passion to continue helping women to wear hair; especially because it has been a very long time since I have had to deal with major shedding and the emotions that come with seeing handfuls of hair slide down the shower drain. At almost eight months postpartum, my hair continues to fall out. My husband is wonderfully supportive and tells me my hair (or lack thereof) does not change how he sees me. Thank God I made the decision to wear a topper so that I would never have to rely on my own hair ever again. As dramatic as it may sound, had I waited or done nothing it may have changed the course of my life. I would be lamenting my hair loss instead of enjoying each day with my precious son.