Things people say to you when you’re Pregnant with a Chronic Illness

People love to give advice & impart their wisdom as soon as they know that you are pregnant. Even when you don’t ask for their advice, they give it anyway & the same goes for their opinion. It’s not just your family or friends hitting you with their fountain of knowledge but strangers also like to pipe in & get their voice heard.

There’s been some strong opinions on my Vegan/Vegetarian lifestyle & suddenly people are concerned about my protein in take & the lack of meat in my diet. Will that not affect the babies bones? Will the baby grow OK without meat? Just some of the opinions that have been shared with me on the matter of diet.

The most challenging views are from people who think that having a chronic illness means that I have lost the right to have a baby. Some of the following views were expressed at Chronic Pain group, needless to say I never returned after that session.

 

1- How have you managed your pregnancy when your in constant pain?

2- How will you manage when the Baby is here?

3- If you’re struggling just now with fatigue, just wait until the baby is here!

4- What if your Baby has the same health conditions as you? Do you really want that for your child?

Firstly, having a chronic illness I’m aware of what I can & can’t manage & I have great support from my Husband. I can’t look into the future, so I’ll have to wait until the baby is here until I know how I’ll manage. Fatigue is a big part of my Fibromyalgia & Arthritis so I’m well aware of the impact it has on me & the things I need to do to manage. And last but not least, of course every Mother wants their baby to be healthy & we don’t know if our Little One will have any conditions, let alone any of my conditions.

I never blamed my own parents for my diagnosis of Arthritis & Fibromyalgia & never been hung up on “why me”. I’m a stronger person for living with a chronic illness, I’m proud that I’ve overcame barriers & I hope to bring my own child up as strong & resilient, regardless of their health.

People just love to share their opinion. I’m glad I’m not easily offended.

The Puppy that changed our lives

This time last year my husband & I drove to Perthshire to collect our little fluffy bundle of joy. When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely family who welcomed us into their home to meet 3 gorgeous Border Collie Puppies. They were the cutest yet tiniest little things I have ever seen. As soon as I seen them, I knew it was a Border Collie I wanted & we were lucky enough to get one of the pups.

You couldn’t take the smile off my face as I cuddled our precious little puppy that we named Chewie. I was bursting with happiness & couldn’t wait to get him home & settled into his new home.

Chewie has brought so much love & happiness into both our lives & I couldn’t imagine life without him. My anxiety had a grip of me last year & I was constantly anxious, experiencing panic attacks & having night terrors. Chewie brought a happiness & comfort into my life that eased my anxiety immediately. On my worst days, he comforts me with cuddles & knows when I’m having an off day. There’s no better feeling than Chewie welcoming us home with sheer excitement & cuddles.

I am so grateful, thankful & happy to have Chewie in my life.

Planning to have a baby when you have a Chronic illness

I have Arthritis & Fibromyalgia & thankfully my Rheumatologist has been supportive with helping me plan for a baby. I first spoke with her 3 years ago & at the time I was on methotrexate, painkillers, anti-inflammatories & steroids. In order to start trying for a baby I had to come off methotrexate for at least 3 months but to be on the safe side I gave it 6 months.

Coming off medication wasn’t an easy decision but I knew it was necessary if I wanted to start a family. Methotrexate was a little easier to come off, it made me feel sick for days after taking it & I couldn’t wait to come off it. I didn’t realise at the time how much I needed it & failed to grasp that it was stopping my Arthritis from progressing. Having said that, I coped well with coming off it but I did depend on painkillers & steroids.

I have a love hate relationship with steroids. I love that they give me relief but I hate that I gain weight & my anxiety increases. Unfortunately for me, the steroids suppressed my pituitary gland which set my periods off & in turn it was difficult to monitor if I ovulated. I understood the risks of steroids & being on & off them for so long I knew it would have some sort of impact on my body.

I’m now 2 years free from methotrexate, 18 months from steroids & only 4 months free from painkillers. Has it been easy? Certainly not. It’s been challenging & I have been tested both physically, mentally & emotionally. However, it has been worth it.

If your thinking of trying for a baby with a chronic illness here’s some things to think about:

1. Speak to your GP or Consultant.

2. Make a plan for reducing & coming off medication with the supervision of Health Professionals.

3. Consider alternative ways to manage; physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, yoga or massages.

4. Reduce working hours to cope with pain management.

5. Referral to Fertility Specialists.

I’ve experienced mix opinions since starting this journey including Doctors trying to put me off starting a family. If you have a good supportive network with your partner & health professionals then it is certainly achievable.

There’s a little bit of hope at the end of the rainbow.

Arthritis & Online Support

When I was first diagnosed with Arthritis in 2013 I felt lost & pretty much left to it. After the first appointment with my Rheumatologist I was prescribed methotrexate, given a leaflet on the side effects & told to get regular blood tests. I was so unaware of the serious medication I had been put on & I went on a search to find some support online.

I found a great supportive community on Instagram & connected to people who shared their experience of Arthritis, chronic illness & medication. Suddenly I felt less lonely & was able to be open & honest about how I was coping & got great support from fellow Spoonies.

The Spoon Theory by Christine Meserandino was easy to relate to as she compared spoons to energy levels of that of someone with a chronic illness. Before I knew it, I was a Spoonie connecting with fellow spoonies & developing true friendships.

I’ve met some true friends on Instagram & in August this year I got the chance to meet a spoonie friend who has supported me since the start of this journey. We recently met up again in November in Edinburgh & it was so lovely to catch up in person.

Blessed to have a great support online & always open to sharing & connecting to new people.

Jen & I, Spoonie friends ❤️

Fibromyalgia Awareness Week

Today marks the start of Fibromyalgia awareness week and it runs until the 10th of September. It’s thought that 1 in 25 people suffer from Fibromyalgia (Arthritis Research UK) and I know all too well what it’s like living with it.

 
As I write this, I’m currently fighting a fibro flare-up which has caused headaches, widespread pain, IBS, fatigue and tingling sensations throughout my body. I can only describe the tingling as a shock wave running throughout my body.

 
I woke up yesterday morning feeling out of sorts and in agony. I lay in bed for a few minutes and tried not to panic as I lay there unable to move. I woke up feeling like a dark cloud was looming over my head and I knew a wave of depression was creeping in with my low mood.

 
In the past, I would have stayed in bed or at least stayed in the house but I know from experience that only makes me worse. I found the energy to get up and once I got moving I knew it was important to keep moving.
Keep moving, I remind myself. Push through it. You’ve got this.

 
It’s tough having to get up and get on with life when every part of your body hurts. It tests my strength daily living in constant pain but flare-ups knock me off my feet.

This week I hope to raise awareness of living with Fibromyalgia and shed some light on what it’s like living with an invisible illness.
Fibromyalgia Awareness UK:
http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/conditions/fibromyalgia.aspx
http://www.fmauk.org/

Loch Lomond

On Wednesday, my husband and I had a day off work together and we went a drive to Loch Lomond with our puppy Chewie. The drive down we listened to music and Chewie happily sat in the boot gazing out the back window.

Although it was cloudy the sun was breaking through but it was typical that when we arrived in Loch Lomond the rain came on. Typical Scottish weather!
We didn’t let the weather waste our day and we walked along the beach while Chewie was tempted by the cold waters and chasing ducks. He ruined plenty of tourist pictures that day, incoming Chewie!

It was so peaceful looking over the Loch to see the hills and Ben Lomond lurking somewhere amongst the clouds. It was the most chilled I have been in ages and my anxiety slowly slipped away and left me. We went to a café nearby and grabbed a sheltered seat outside and enjoyed a coffee and some peace and quiet.
Loch Lomond has a terrible mobile phone reception and from the moment we arrived I had no signal which was a good thing. It was good to be free from a phone, constant updates or from constantly checking my phone. If anything, checking my phone is a bad habit and even although I am aware of it, I still do it.

No phone. No Anxiety. No Worries. Just Scott & Chewie & the beautiful Scottish weather.

I’m going to plan more days like this as it has such a positive impact on my mental health.

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