When my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, we wondered whether my MS would interfere in conceiving and delivering a healthy baby. Beyond that, I wondered if I would be the kind of mother I always wanted to be. My own mother was always loving and hardworking; but I wanted to be more than that. Modeling myself on “modern” motherhood, my child would be exposed to the arts, travel and love of community service. We would have open communication about subjects my family never discussed: feelings and thoughts, dating, sex, drugs/drinking, hopes and dreams – the list was endless. Yet all of these things included a certain physicality I might not be able to accomplish. Fatigue, cognitive difficulties, numbness and tingling – how could I possibly be all I wanted to be?
After consulting with a few so-called experts in MS and pregnancy, we were convinced that having children and having MS was not a problem. We plowed full-steam ahead. After two miscarriages (and two exacerbations), I finally conceived a baby. After an uneventful and joyous pregnancy I had a beautiful, healthy son.
As my son grew he was exposed to the typical child activities: Gymboree, Play-o-rena, music class, museums, theater, movies, nature hikes and travel. The difference between my child and others was that he was also exposed to my MS Center, patients in wheelchairs or canes, seeing Mommy attached to an IV with steroids, Mommy taking frequent naps, Daddy cooking because Mommy is too tired. Our son took this all in stride. To him this was “normal,” never asking why Mommy is different than other Mommies. We soon decided this is a new “normal” having children exposed to disability at a young age. They learn early on that people are the same on the inside no matter what is happening to them on the outside. It was a beautiful learning experience for us.
Our dream of being the kind of parents we saw on television (“Leave It To Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “The Cosby Show,” “Family Ties”) was possible, yet we went beyond anything those writers ever dreamt of. We brought a child into this world that understands his mother has a chronic illness called Multiple Sclerosis. He realizes every day is a battle for her, and in every single battle he has been my little soldier. It isn’t merely the fact that he knows I am different from other mothers. It’s that to him he doesn’t see any difference at all.
Published On: November 28, 2011