parenting

Having a Baby and RA: Questions to Consider

Carrie Beth Brown Health Guide January 30, 2013
  • Having a baby is a difficult decision to make when you're healthy, but when you are chronically ill, it takes a lot of thought and planning to figure out if it's even possible.   When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) it changed everything...my career, my health, my goals, and my ab...

11 Comments
  • Lene  Andersen
    Health Guide
    Feb. 01, 2013

    I still remember where I was the moment I decided not to have children. I was 17, coming out of my rheumatologist's office who'd told me that the kind of RA I had was genetic (despite no one else in my family having it, except for a distant aunt). That was 30 years ago and I've since found out that the chances of a first-degree relative (sibling or child) having...

    RHMLucky777

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    I still remember where I was the moment I decided not to have children. I was 17, coming out of my rheumatologist's office who'd told me that the kind of RA I had was genetic (despite no one else in my family having it, except for a distant aunt). That was 30 years ago and I've since found out that the chances of a first-degree relative (sibling or child) having RA is 5%. Which means that there is a 95% chance that your child won't have it. However, I didn't find that out until it was too late to have kids. For a long time, I thought about adoption, but given my physical disability, I very obviously needed to have a willing partner and co-parent and that never quite happened. I have found other ways to include children in my life — I am a devoted aunt to my friends' kids and my niece and nephew and I spoil my furry child-substitute (aka cat) to bits. I have made it be enough, but sometimes I think about the me that exists in a parallel reality. She has two beautiful girls.

     

    thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic, Carrie Beth.

     

     

    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Feb. 01, 2013
      Thank you for sharing your story Lene. I suppose my story is much longer and even more complicated than it seems from this article, because my days of thinking about having a family go back to when I was in my early 20's and fighting Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease and not knowing much about it, only that it was affecting my entire life and my health....
      RHMLucky777
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      Thank you for sharing your story Lene. I suppose my story is much longer and even more complicated than it seems from this article, because my days of thinking about having a family go back to when I was in my early 20's and fighting Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease and not knowing much about it, only that it was affecting my entire life and my health. As much as I wanted children back then it didn't seem possible because of health problems, bad first marriage, etc. and I always figured I would have more time. But, much like you, over the years I found myself single and again, despite wanting kids it just didn't seem like there was the support system needed to make it happen. Now as I watch the clock running down on my fertility, I have a whole new set of problems to think about, despite having a loving husband and the desire to have children. I haven't given up hope...we never know what the future holds for us. It's just for now we're playing the "wait and see" game. :)
  • Anonymous
    hmiceli
    Feb. 01, 2013

    I am currently just over 12 weeks pregnant with my first child (due in August), and I will say my journey has not been an easy one. I knew when I was diagnosed with RA in March of 2011 (at 27) that my husband and I were planning on starting that summer to try for a family. My rhuematologist was supportive, even finding the smallest bone erosions in my toes...

    RHMLucky777

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    I am currently just over 12 weeks pregnant with my first child (due in August), and I will say my journey has not been an easy one. I knew when I was diagnosed with RA in March of 2011 (at 27) that my husband and I were planning on starting that summer to try for a family. My rhuematologist was supportive, even finding the smallest bone erosions in my toes to allow me to be put on Enbrel that June, skipping over the no-no drug methotrexate. Despite recommendations from my OB-GYN to come off my Enbrel and all other drugs (I was taking diclofenac and plaquenil) while starting, I stayed on all of them at the recommendation of my rhuemy because I hadn't felt so good in a long time. We tried for 7 months with no success, and then I stumbled on an article discussing the effects of NSAIDs on ovulation - turns out even just taking an asprin on the day you are supposed to ovulate can cause it to be delayed. I had no clue what taking them twice a day every day was doing to my ovulation. So I dropped the diclofenac and two months later I was pregnant. Unfortunately, I miscarried at 10 weeks. The baby never developed past 6 weeks, which coicided with when I was crazy ill with some kind of infection. This infection, I believe, was caused by doubly suppressing my immune system by taking Enbrel up to the positive test and by being pregnant (my doctor's aren't as convinced). As soon as I miscarried, my RA came back with a vengance, but I had made the decision to not go back on Enbrel (or anything). That lasted for about 2 months, when I was prescribed prednisone. I suffered through taking prednisone for 3 months - but I found out that prednisone is often prescribed to patients going through IVF to decrease the amount of swelling in the uterus and encourage implantation. I timed one of my tapers around ovulation and it worked. I had given myself 3 more months to get pregnant before going back on Enbrel, but I needed a week! We heard the heartbeat this week, and couldn't be happier - I still have a bit of stiffness in my hand and feet, and the fatigue is killer, but the way I looked at it - it will all be worth it in the end for my family. I would be devestated if RA took away my ability to have a child.

    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Feb. 01, 2013
      Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for all the heartbreak and pain that you've had to go through, with the miscarriage and complications from medications, living with the pain from RA, etc. But I'm thrilled to hear that you're pregnant again and that everything is looking up for you as well. I wish you many happy and healthy days ahead and maybe...
      RHMLucky777
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      Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for all the heartbreak and pain that you've had to go through, with the miscarriage and complications from medications, living with the pain from RA, etc. But I'm thrilled to hear that you're pregnant again and that everything is looking up for you as well. I wish you many happy and healthy days ahead and maybe you can share your success story with our community when you have your baby. I know we all like stories with happy endings, so I hope you'll share yours with us as well. :)
  • amw170
    Jan. 31, 2013

    Well I have had RA since I was 19. I am now 38 and just had my 2nd child 8 wks ago. I also have a two year old. I once thought I couldn't have kids, but it wasn't because of RA. It was because I have endometriosis. I was taking Remicaid when I got pregnant with both kids.  When I got pregnant I stopped taking my meds and it went into remission.  I...

    RHMLucky777

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    Well I have had RA since I was 19. I am now 38 and just had my 2nd child 8 wks ago. I also have a two year old. I once thought I couldn't have kids, but it wasn't because of RA. It was because I have endometriosis. I was taking Remicaid when I got pregnant with both kids.  When I got pregnant I stopped taking my meds and it went into remission.  I stayed off of my Remicaid until he was 5 months old. After I went back on I was still able to continue to BF him and I BF him until he was 13 months old. Remicaid is completely safe when you are BFing. Prednisone is also safe to take if you are pregnant or BF.  I found that being pregnant actually helped my fatigue. My husband helps me out a lot with the kids. Also exercise helps.  Don't give up wanting to have a baby if that is your dream. If it's meant to be God will bless you with children. Keep your head up and stay positive.

    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Feb. 01, 2013
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. I'm always happy to hear stories where in spite of everything children were possible. Like you, I also have other diseases which complicate the issue even more than the Rheumatoid Arthritis. And while our decision right now was to not have children, I know in my heart it may still be possible in the future,...
      RHMLucky777
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      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. I'm always happy to hear stories where in spite of everything children were possible. Like you, I also have other diseases which complicate the issue even more than the Rheumatoid Arthritis. And while our decision right now was to not have children, I know in my heart it may still be possible in the future, even if only by adoption. I wish you and your family all the best. :)
  • pmedrano
    Jan. 31, 2013

    My son will be a year old in two weeks. My RA completely went away while I was pregnant, so I got to go off meds completely. I got off about 3 months before trying to get pregnant, and I waited till I hadnt had any symptoms for about a year. Then I got pregers and was completely off drugs for almost two years now. RA started flaring up about 6 months post partum,...

    RHMLucky777

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    My son will be a year old in two weeks. My RA completely went away while I was pregnant, so I got to go off meds completely. I got off about 3 months before trying to get pregnant, and I waited till I hadnt had any symptoms for about a year. Then I got pregers and was completely off drugs for almost two years now. RA started flaring up about 6 months post partum, and I got a few cordisone shots since then, and this last month (after baby was 10 months) I got on prednisone, which is okay during breastfeeding (Still breastfeeding btw). Anyhoot, I feel like 5mg prednisone is no longer working, but i plan to wait for another week or two, and start baby on cows milk at a year, and start back with plaquinil and meloxicam then. Point of story- -- no one thought i could get off drugs, but I did completely while pregnant and breastfeeding for almost a year!!! Ussually, when you get pregers arthritis goes away or gets a lot better. It happened for me, so dont think the worst. Try to stay postiive. GOod luck! If your RA is super bad, and you think there is no way to not take drugs, I would consider adopting!!! I think im gona adopt my second!

    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Feb. 01, 2013
      Thank you so much for your reply. It's always heart warming to hear success stories of people living with RA and successfully having children. Remission during pregnancy is often possible and my husband and I thought of that as well. For me, I haven't been able to find any control with meds or otherwise with this disease for two years now and I've seen myself...
      RHMLucky777
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      Thank you so much for your reply. It's always heart warming to hear success stories of people living with RA and successfully having children. Remission during pregnancy is often possible and my husband and I thought of that as well. For me, I haven't been able to find any control with meds or otherwise with this disease for two years now and I've seen myself go from someone who was living with RA to someone surviving in spite of RA. I still believe some relief is possible but at my age I'm quickly running out of time to find that relief so that I feel more comfortable with the idea of having a child. I haven't given up hope, like you said, it may just be that we decide to adopt instead of trying to have our own. If you do decide to adopt, I hope you will share your story as well. :)
    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Feb. 01, 2013
      Thank you so much for your reply. It's always heart warming to hear success stories of people living with RA and successfully having children. Remission during pregnancy is often possible and my husband and I thought of that as well. For me, I haven't been able to find any control with meds or otherwise with this disease for two years now and I've seen myself...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      Thank you so much for your reply. It's always heart warming to hear success stories of people living with RA and successfully having children. Remission during pregnancy is often possible and my husband and I thought of that as well. For me, I haven't been able to find any control with meds or otherwise with this disease for two years now and I've seen myself go from someone who was living with RA to someone surviving in spite of RA. I still believe some relief is possible but at my age I'm quickly running out of time to find that relief so that I feel more comfortable with the idea of having a child. I haven't given up hope, like you said, it may just be that we decide to adopt instead of trying to have our own. If you do decide to adopt, I hope you will share your story as well. :)
  • Anonymous
    D.B.
    Jan. 31, 2013

    This is a beautiful piece, poignant and a little sad, but it does address the crux of the issues when dealing with chronic illness and the desire for children.  Thank you for the respectful way you handled the topic.  It says everything that my wife and I have thought about ourselves.

    • Carrie Beth Brown
      Health Guide
      Feb. 01, 2013
      Thank you so much. It's definitely a difficult discussion to have when you live with someone who is chronically ill. You want the best for everyone involved and sometimes it's hard to find the right answer with so many complications and risks involved. I wish you both the best. <3