Arthritis, Pregnancy and the Path to Parenthood is more than the story of Suzie Edward May's quest to have a child, it's a book about how to have a baby while surviving with your health and sanity intact.
Written during Susie's second pregnancy, the book takes us through the journey of preparing to have a baby, the physical and emotional challenges of stopping medication, what you might face while pregnant, including low energy and a possible flare, and practical tips for parenting with RA in the first year of your child's life. Dotted throughout the book are quotes from mothers with RA sharing their stories and coping tools. The book also includes excerpts from Susie's diary written throughout this journey in which she openly shares her worries and feelings related to RA, her future, and the relationships in her life.
This is a terrific book that would be a tremendous help when preparing to have a baby - a time that can be nervewracking when you have RA, but the book helps you remember that it is also exciting, life-affirming and wonderfully normal.
I recently reached Suzie at her home in Perth, Australia.
What prompted you to write this book?
When we decided to start a family, I searched worldwide for information to guide me through the process of having a baby while managing my RA. To my surprise, I found nothing. I was determined to fill this gap by providing others with a resource that would alleviate some of the isolation and loneliness that I felt on my own path to parenthood.
Please tell us about your children
Oscar is 3 years old and is bright, happy and healthy. He has a cheeky smile, big blue eyes and long eye lashes that any woman would die for! Olive is 6 months old and is discovering the amazing world around her. She has an adorable laugh, a gentle nature and always has her eyes on her big brother. They are a blessing in our lives and bring us more love, laughter and joy than we ever anticipated.
What are some of the most difficult things about having RA? How do you deal with them?
- 1. A lack of understanding about what RA is results in either people not taking my illness seriously or discriminating against me because I don't look like I have a disability. Whenever I get the chance I try to educate people about RA and how it impacts on my life.
- 2. It's frustrating living with an illness that can be so uncertain. I can be well one day and unable to walk the next. I have learnt to be flexible and to take each day as it comes.
- 3. Pain has become part of my everyday life. I don't remember what it is like to not feel pain. My children motivate me to manage my pain so I can provide for them.
What are some of the considerations you have to think about when deciding if you're going to have a baby?
How will you cope with coming off medication and during pregnancy? How you will care for your baby when you are flaring? What is the opinion of your medical team? While you may want to consider the views of people you trust and respect, it is ultimately a decision for you and your partner (if you have one).