August 21st, 2016
I’m starting this blog because while I found a ton of info, articles, and blogs on whether or not I should conceive while chronically ill, I didn’t find a whole lot regarding the in-over-my-head feeling I have now that I am pregnant while chronically ill.
This really came to a boiling point this week, because on Monday, August 22nd, I’ll be twenty weeks pregnant (5 months)—the “half way point” of pregnancy—and I've felt the worst I’ve felt yet, while every pregnancy app out there says stuff like, “You’re probably feeling like you have much more energy now! Most women feel this way in the second trimester.” To top it off I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, headache, and cough, which will mark the fourth time sick while pregnant (I’ve already dealt with Shingles and Epstein Barr reactivations), because when you have a chronic illness, getting a cold is pretty darn easy.
I’m a writer and artist. It’s what I do. I suppose I need this in order to process the isolation at times, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized, If I feel this way, how many other women must too?
So I dedicate this to you, ladies. We are the “high risk” ladies. We are the knocked up chronically ill. We are the invisible illness ladies and the not so invisible illness ladies, working on making a human while trying to function basic tasks. I toast this start off message with a non-alcoholic beverage just for you.
My journey begins as a POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) patient, co-diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Insulin-Resistance, Hypothyroidism, and a couple of amino acid or vitamin deficiencies that are the first of their kind documented in the entire world. I was a research patient for about six years. I’ve had more tests done on me than I care to remember. I wanted to make a difference though for other POTS patients. Finally, this research paper was written and published about my cells. (See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25466896 ) Hopefully it will help others.
Just before I got pregnant I had the worst bout of Shingles in years and period that lasted a month (they found a polyp and presumed that was the cause). I didn’t anticipate my body was even well enough to conceive, let alone maintain a pregnancy beyond the first trimester. And we weren’t trying to conceive. I simply miscalculated my ovulation because of all the previous bleeding like a total moron and the lousy mathematician I am. My mother had asked, “How did this happen?” Well, Mom, the usual way combined with sheer stupidity, really.
In fact I had already decided I wasn’t well enough to try to have a pregnancy. I had set up an appointment with a fertility doctor to discuss getting my eggs taken out. I had filled out forms to receive information about adoption. My significant other hadn’t proposed yet, but I’m thirty-five. I figured it was high time I plan stuff. Frozen eggs and adoption info seemed logical. And terribly responsible. I would have children at forty via adoption or surrogacy if—and only IF—I was well enough then. I was pretty proud of my well-planned genius self.
But we got pregnant and I figured if out of all the miraculous things that had to come together in order for my body to even conceive, I would help this life the best I could. There are parents out there dying to conceive. Maybe, I thought, this is the lucky gift I get after so many years of suffering a serious chronic illness?