It was the longest three minutes of my entire life. Tik, tok, tik, tok. I looked at the timer on my phone like I couldn’t peel my eyes off it. My nerves were an all-time high, as I took a deep breath and looked over at the nightstand where the pregnancy test lies. I saw the words “pregnant” on the stick. I have never felt so much joy and excitement while being downright terrified at the same time. I immediately called my husband and told him the news. In all fairness, he told me to wait until he was home from a business trip in California, but I had to take the test that day. We were both ecstatic.
Not long after the excitement had time to die down, did these other feelings come rushing in and I began to think about my health. As I sat there in my bed pondering how beautiful this moment and chapter in our lives was going to be, I could not stop thinking about my health. Was I going to be, okay? I knew I couldn’t be on my disease-modifying treatment while being pregnant, so what was I going to do? My mind kept bringing me back to 2021 when I had gone off my medication for 2 months and lost all ability to walk, speak, drive, or even spell my name. I could not keep my brain from thinking “What did we do?”
My next thought was “how do I tell my child I have MS?” and will my disease let me be the mother I want to be. I quickly kept those thoughts from ever entering my brain again. The next step was talking to my neurologist about possible treatments I could take while being pregnant. With the help of my husband and my doctor, we decided on one medication that would be effective at keeping this disease at bay during my pregnancy. I had to give myself a shot once a day, every single day.
I did the shots every day, until my body started rejecting the medication and giving me a horrible allergic reaction. I had to stop. I was now left with no choice but to be treatment-free for the remainder of my pregnancy. The days were long, my fatigue was at an all-time high. I was well, miserable. I was also terrified that I was going to relapse, and no amount of rehab or steroids would be able to bring me back this time and I would be left not able to care for my newborn.
It was a daunting nine months. When I was 38 weeks, both my neurologist and my OB/GYN decided to induce me, so I was able to get my original medication as soon as possible, to negate the chance of a major relapse. After 23 hours of labor, we welcomed our beautiful little girl into the world. We could not be happier in this moment. We did it. I did it. She was perfect.
As I laid there in the hospital thinking about what I wanted to teach my daughter most, the one thing that came to my mind first was to never EVER doubt yourself. For us who live with chronic illness, we tend to do this a lot. I doubted the fact that my body was able to do what a “healthy” body was able to do. I doubted that I would be able to have a healthy body and mind during my pregnancy. I will never again doubt myself, and you shouldn’t either. Negative thoughts are normal, but living in those thoughts is a recipe for disaster. You owe it to yourself to be your biggest fan and biggest advocate. You have it in you. I believe in you. I think it’s time we all start believing in ourselves a little more.