Real mum speaks: Multiple Sclerosis and my motherhood journey
I wanted to share my story because I know that MS and pregnancy sound scary but it’s not.
Ten months ago I became a mother to a little baby boy. Every expectant mother will know that motherhood is an emotional and mesmerizing journey conjuncted with lots of learning and at times self-doubt.
In my case, it was a concoction of all of these and then a little more. I am a patient of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and the very question of whether I should be a mother was riddled by the possible repercussions of this disorder.
Yet, here I am today a proud mom thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, fabulous doctors, and family that stood by me. I would like to share my experience with other MS patients who would like to take up this journey and are not sure where to begin.
My MS Journey
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a nerve related disease which affects the nervous system. The sheath that covers the nerve, called the myelin sheath develops lesions and this disorder emerges.
It leads to weak muscles, trouble with sensation or coordination. A blurry eyesight that no specs could rectify (optical neuritis), led to the timely diagnosis of my MS in 2013. The disorder affected the right side of my body. My left eye vision was blurred, my body became weak and I couldn’t walk.
Timely diagnosis and medical help ensured that within six months I had almost my complete eyesight back and I started regaining some of my strength. I still have some of the symptoms hovering over me. My right side is still powerless but thankfully much better than before. I still have some trouble balancing and a slight trouble with my eyesight.
The doctors have assured me that with the right medication, I could go back to my normal life. However, given my medical history and the medicines, I am constantly consuming, I wasn’t sure if having a normal pregnancy was part of this normal life.
Planning my Pregnancy
I have known my husband for ten years and we are married for three. When my husband and I began contemplating having a baby we decided to meet my neurologist. As much as we both wanted a normal pregnancy, we wanted to ensure that it was safe for the baby to be born to an MS parent.
My neurologist assured me that with the proper precautions this pregnancy was possible. We went for a second opinion and also ratified this with my gynecologist. The first thing my doctors did was move me from my strong weekly injections to daily milder injections. These injections weren’t as strong as my previous ones but made my body safe for conceiving. Within a month my doctors ensured that my body was now free of the residue and it was safe to try and get pregnant.
Like any responsible expecting parents, we went through all kinds of literature on parenting in general, and specifically to MS patients. My case of MS is rare and there were a lot of uncertainties our way in terms of how my body would respond in case of labor etc. but the one thing we were sure of and the doctor emphasized was that this will be safe for the baby.
Look it’s positive!
The day I found out I was pregnant has to be one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I quit my job in my second month itself as I had no idea no idea how my body would respond to pregnancy and MS together. I still had the symptoms of MS that stayed with me but overall my pregnancy was an easy one. I suffered from no morning sickness or swelling.
I ensured that I always had a family member around to administer my injections on time. I was constantly in touch with my gynecologist and neurologist to ensure I was dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s.
Here are some of the websites that helped me through my pregnancy and gave me more insight on MS and MS with pregnancy.
We weren’t sure if I would be able to have a normal delivery considering MS patients have weak muscles which make pushing out difficult. Additionally, they can’t feel labor pains.
There was also a perennial debate in my head on whether I would want to take an epidural or experience motherhood in all its glory. However, throughout my pregnancy, my gynecologist insisted that as much as possible she would try for a normal delivery and that epidural can be administered if needed.
It’s a boy!
Finally, the delivery day arrived and we had to rely on induced pains to make this happen. My contractions started in the morning and there are absolutely no words I can summon to describe the pain it brought along. My contractions lasted 15-20 seconds which were shorter than the normal 50 seconds that regular women go through. I was sharing the room with another woman in labor.
While I saw my co-habitant in the room writher in pain I thought to myself there was no way I had the strength in me and requested the doctor for an epidural.
However, the epidural team got back to me saying, “We cannot administer epidural to you since you are an MS patient. Epidural needs to be administered in the nerve which is a risk in your case. We are sorry.' I was shocked as I can be when in labor for God knows how long and I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to bear the pain. I was already weak due to my MS and I felt exhausted quickly. So I requested for a C-section. However, the doctor decided to check me once more and exclaimed that I was ready for a normal delivery and she rushed me to the delivery room.
Before I could react, I was pushing an entire human out of me. I had spent nine months preparing for this moment and yet no amount of literature or watching videos can do justice to the actual moment. Somewhere between the unbearable pain and the nurse yelling at me with the words “you are just shouting and not pushing,” on my very third push, the baby was out.
Just the beginning
Post-delivery, I came at my mother's place and she left no stone unturned to ensure the wellbeing of my baby. The baby was healthy and to be able to breastfeed him, I continued my milder medicines.
However, around 5 months in, I had a small relapse where my symptoms started to show again effecting my eyesight and my ability to walk. The doctors felt that I had gone too long without my regular dosage and I slowly weaned my baby off breast milk and started with my regular injections again.
I am recuperating but I do know that I will continue to have some physical limitations due to MS. I get tired very fast and I can't pick him up for long periods. I am unable to take him for strolls because of my balance issues. However, I have a very strong support system in the form of my family and they have made motherhood easier for me.
I wanted to share my story because I know that MS sounds scary but it’s not. I wanted to experience every single aspect of pregnancy, the baby's movements inside my tummy, the feeling of breastfeeding and in spite of MS I was able to do that. I have to live with MS and I know it has its limitations but becoming a mother wasn’t one of them.
*Author's note:Sonal Korgaonkar is a Multiple Sclerosis patient and has a ten-month-old kid.
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