I will be 40-weeks pregnant tomorrow, April 8, 2019 which is also my official due date. I will soon be giving birth to my first child, a sweet baby girl who we will call Cecilia Evelyn. As I reflect on the last 9-months of my life, I realize so many things have changed already, but not in comparison to the changes that will soon take place as my husband and I transition to the other side; parenthood. I thought I’d share so many things throughout my pregnancy journey with my readers on this blog, but writing takes time and I haven’t given myself the time to do it. The following is a piece that I wrote back in November when I was just 17-weeks pregnant. I promise to update y’all sooner than later with the next post. 🙂
I’m currently on the most exciting physical and emotional journey of my life… The journey to motherhood with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My husband and I met and then married later in life after a relatively short courtship – I was 36 and he was 39 when we married St. Patrick’s Day weekend, exactly two years after we first met. If you didn’t already know this, anyone over the age of 35 is considered geriatric and is at higher than normal prenatal risk in the OBGYN world. That said, we knew we wanted to try for a child right away. Having an autoimmune disease seemed like a double negative notch in my already geriatric belt.
I started pregnancy conversations with my Rheumatologist well before we conceived. We modified my treatment plan to cultivate the healthiest space possible for our sweet little baby to be. Since I was diagnosed with RA at the age of 23, I’ve taken more combinations of drugs than most people can imagine. And over these past 14 years, Xeljanz has been the only drug that worked over an extended period of time, helping limit and sometimes even eliminate flares altogether for months at a time. Plus, Xeljanz allowed me freedom from methotrexate which is (basically a form of chemotherapy) and needles (no more self injections). I just had to swallow a daily Xeljanz pill… ah it was the dream. But unfortunately, there is not enough research to prove that Xeljanz is safe during pregnancy which meant I had to revert back to a drug that was safe for the baby but less effective in managing my pain, inflammation and flare ups. Because having a child has been a lifelong goal, I was 100% willing to sacrifice my own health, comfort and sanity for that of my child’s. Still, I have to admit that weaning myself off of Xeljanz after 5 years of success was scary. Especially since I was replacing it with Enbrel, a drug that stopped working for me twice, several years back. Not only did Enbrel stop working for me previously, but I had experienced some of the worst flares of my life on Enbrel. However, the hopes of creating a family with my husband didn’t discourage me from moving forward.
My Rheumatologist recommended I stop taking Xeljanz altogether, let my body detox and then start Enbrel after some time had passed. The simple thought of not being medicated was terrifying, but the positive outweighed the negative, so my journey to motherhood began. Three months into Enbrel, I started seeing my old friend inflammation again. But I also quickly became PREGNANT!!
As I write this, I am 17 weeks pregnant and have to say that the joy of my road trip to motherhood has overshadowed almost every symptom and flare caused by my RA. It helps me stay positive and power through the pain, the sleepless nights and the inflammation that would otherwise bring me down like it has most of my last 14 years since I was diagnosed. I cannot wait to hold my baby girl in my arms for the first time in April.