Making the decision to have a baby when you are living with Multiple Sclerosis can be a challenge. Heck, making the decision to have a baby without MS isn’t easy. While my husband and I were discussing our plans, it seemed that “experienced parents” came out of the woodwork to bestow their knowledge on us. And everyone had a similar message. “Your life will change forever.” Okay.... thanks for that tidbit of wisdom... she says as she politely nods and walks away.
In retrospect, I think it might have been more appropriate to say– you will find a love you have never known. (I suppose know-it-all types like to be more foreboding!) Anyway, that was my experience. I just couldn’t believe that “this” is what so many people were doing... having my daughter was so profound it defied words.
With so many unknowns that exist in all pregnancies - How long will it take to get pregnant? How will it feel to be pregnant? How much will it hurt to get the baby out of me? - coupled with all the question marks that MS adds to the equation, it’s hard to think straight. Of course this inability to keep all the thoughts together is further preparation for parenting.
So, when my husband and I began to fine-tune our decision, we only did as much research as we had to in an effort to get by, not wanting to find any reason to be discouraged. “What to expect, when you are expecting” in the life of a person with MS would be more aptly titled “What you didn’t expect while you're expecting, and every other day for that matter.” Although I had researched specific concerns, when push came to shove, we knew we wanted a baby. And if having MS has done anything for me, it has taught me that I can endure whatever mystery lies around the corner. So here is my MS pregnancy story, or the start of it. I hope it is helpful and inspires further conversation.
8.5 months pregnant, 13 years with MS
Back in the year 2000, when my husband and I had time to talk to each other about our hopes and dreams, we decided that we would go for it and have a baby. Oh silly us, we forged ahead in spite of the ambiguous warnings and the many question marks. We wanted a baby, and no warning or reason would change our minds!
I had been on Copaxone for 7 years and feeling the benefits of it daily. Even though there was evidence at the time that I could stay on my drug of choice through the pregnancy, it didn’t feel “right” to me. I had learned from the “light reading” I had done, that while you are pregnant your immune system calms down to allow for the guest cells (the baby) to exist without rejection. So during those nine months MS wouldn’t likely be an issue. (Uh Honey, How many kids are you willing to have?) What did concern me, though, was the period of time after I stopped the Copaxone and before I became pregnant.