As a kid I always envisioned my grown-up self as a successful, independent woman. I knew that I wanted a career that I was proud of and I worked hard to make that happen. Even though kids and a husband were never really part of that early vision, I knew that they most certainly would be one day. What I didn’t know was how difficult it would be once I finally decided that I was ready for one day.
Deciding to have a baby is a giant, scary thing for anyone but for someone living with MS, it’s a coordinated effort that can sometimes take years of preparation. There are medications and treatment plans to consider as well as disease course and control, physical disabilities, not to mention financial stability and job security. What once seemed so simple is now a major endeavor with so many variables that I’m scared it might never come to fruition.
I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of my diagnosis and last major relapse and because my disease has been what my neurologist refers to as “under control” since then (i.e. no new relapses), she gave me the go-ahead to start the process. I eagerly switched to Copaxone, an injection-style med that has been used safely during pregnancy and breastfeeding for many years now (although not FDA approved for use during pregnancy), just a few weeks ago and the 2 month flush-out of the old meds finally began. I was so excited to actually be doing more than just talking about pregnancy that I barely noticed the heart palpitations and shortness of breath at first. Was it my anxiety again or the meds? I have become so used to the constant symptoms of anxiety that this disease causes for me that I sometimes fail to recognize it as anything abnormal.
When I went into full panic attack mode a few nights later after I realized that my husband was asleep and I was all alone for the night, I decided that something had to be done. It was either an allergic reaction to the meds or it was my anxiety. The symptoms of each were nearly identical, which caused anxiety in and of itself. Long story short, it turns out that I’m just a ball of constant anxiety and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my heart (whew), so my doctor prescribed me a low dose of Prozac. While I’m not happy about needing Prozac to function, it has been fantastic. Most of the anxiety and all of the heart palpitations and chest heaviness are gone. I started the shots back up about a week ago and am thankful for such an understanding neurologist who sought to solve my problem, not just explain my symptoms away.
In that one week where I was in limbo, I can’t even wrap my head around the mixture of emotions that I experienced. I felt apprehension that my body might not tolerate the new meds, happiness that I was finally given the chance to try, excitement at the prospect of being a parent, concern that I would have another relapse, sadness that I might not ever get to be a mother, anger that it was so easy for so many others, frustration with the fact that I seemed to be carrying this burden by myself, and last but not least, fear that I might not be ready. What kind of mother could I be if I relapsed and could no longer walk or carry my baby? What if my fatigue came back with a vengeance and I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed in the morning, let alone care for a baby? What if I discovered that working full time and being a mother wasn’t something I could handle? These thoughts and a thousand others were playing on repeat in my brain all day long and they still are, but somehow I’m managing to keep it all together this time because where there once was only room for worry and fear, there is a new thought running through my head.
You’re as ready as you’ll ever be.
Either that or the Prozac is finally working…
Something my counselor has recently helped me work through is the fact that no one is ever really ready to have a child or to be a parent. There is always a reason to delay and I’ve come to realize how true that is just over the last few weeks as I’ve reflected on it. I’ve always had reasons to delay it before and I only seem to be discovering new reasons every single day. Here’s the kicker though, the thought of missing my chance at being a mother is much scarier than my fear of actually being one. You can’t ever know what something will be like or whether you’ll be good at it if you don’t at least try so I’ve decided to put my faith in myself and in my body and embrace the unknown (maybe just this once). Maybe I’ll be a mother. Maybe I won’t. One thing I know for sure though is that I won’t ever regret not trying to be one.