Would I ever have the chance to complain about being unable to see my own feet?
Part 1: Chronic illness + pregnancy. Can it be done? If so, what am I in for?
These are the questions that started whirling around my head when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia just over 2 1/2 years ago now. Actually, if I’m being 100% truthful, when I was first diagnosed I thought my dream of one day being a mum was going to remain just that, a dream. You see I was single at the time and could not imagine finding a partner who would willingly sign up to the chronic life. Actually, I couldn’t imagine being well enough to one day throw myself back into the dating world again, let alone explain my condition, let alone find a partner, let alone ….you get the picture.
My pain specialist tells me I tend to catastrophise, look way past the present into the future and see catastrophe ahead rather than focusing on what is actually happening in the here and now. What can I say, the man knows me well. But in this instance, I know my fears were not irrational as they were also held by my parents and friends (or so they told me much later down the track, at the time they made some very convincing “you have nothing to worry about” speeches).
As it turns out, I did have nothing to worry about. Only 8 months after being diagnosed and starting treatment, I met my now fiance. A wonderful man who went into our relationship with his eyes wide open to the realities of my condition. So, babies.
When I was first diagnosed my GP put me in contact with another of his patients who has fibromyalgia. Although I felt odd phoning her up, “so, you’ve got this odd illness no one’s ever heard of, I might have it too, what can you tell me?” I am so glad I did. She was a lovely, open woman who shared a little of her journey with me, assured me that, with the correct treatment, things can and do get better and explained what her day to day life is like now. One thing I never expected to learn was that, since her diagnoses, she had gone on to have a child. Even more interesting was the fact that her symptoms had gone into a kind of remission while she was pregnant.
My GP was quick to remind me that everyone is different and just because one person had a great experience with pregnancy did not mean every woman with the same condition would. In some cases, the symptoms would stay the same or, worse case scenario, increase. As the idea of pregnancy was, at this stage, just that, a very far away idea, I put it aside for the time being.
A little while down the track and pregnancy was no longer a far away dream, it was becoming a potential reality. Would I be like my GP’s patient? Would my body decide to play nice for once? I tentatively started Googling ‘fibromyalia and pregnancy’ but, as I did not want to completely scare myself out of the idea, I read only a few articles. From what I did read it seemed like my GP was right. Some women spoke of feeling the best they ever have, some felt their fibro symptoms remained the same while others mentioned phrases like “pure hell”. (Okay, maybe not that exact phrase but that’s the gist I took away).
What to do when Google Doctor fails? Visit an actual real life doctor. Armed with very little knowledge, I visited my pain specialist and an obstetrician hoping to become more informed about what I might be in for. As it turns out however, Google Doctor had not failed me. Both specialists explained that very little is known about the interaction between fibro and pregnancy although they had seen women whose symptoms got better, those whose symptoms stayed the same and others whose symptoms increased during pregnancy. Hmm…
So, there I was. Armed with the most up to date medical information (it’s a guessing game!), it was time to make a decision. But, let’s face it, my fiance and I wanted a baby, we were going to make it happen, we just had to be prepared to deal with whatever my body was going to throw at us.
Part 2, the realities of being 33 weeks pregnant with fibro – coming soon.