The RA Pregnancy Chronicles: Sometimes Being Pregnant With Arthritis Is Hard
The RA Pregnancy Chronicles is a series of posts that share my experiences being pregnant while living with RA. This post was written during Week 23 of my second pregnancy.
Sometimes there’s just no way around it: being pregnant while living with arthritis can be really hard.
I am really having a hard time right now. First of all, I have an almost two-year-old son who is running me absolutely ragged, both with his enthusiasm and energy as well as tantrums and crankiness. He has way more energy than I know what to do with most of the time, and lately he has also been so extremely grumpy that I am beginning to suspect he is working on his two-year molars right now.
I am also having a rough second pregnancy. I have been nauseous and vomiting since basically the moment we found out I was pregnant this time around, and though I am well into my second trimester the “morning sickness” hasn’t really let up. I even found myself gagging over the kitchen sink yet again this morning (after which my son announced, “bless you, mommy!” so at least he’s a polite grumpy little dude!)
But honestly the most difficult part everything that is going on right now is my arthritis. Although I did experience some remission during the second trimester of my first pregnancy, I haven’t been that lucky this time around. I’ve been trying to ignore it and deny it for weeks, but unfortunately I don’t think it can be denied any longer: my RA is officially flaring.
Finger joints. Wrists. Elbows. Shoulders. Neck. Hips. Knees. Ankles. Toes. All swollen and stiff and painful to move or touch or use. Not to mention how sore all the muscles between those joints are. I am also waking up with the most extreme morning stiffness I have ever experienced – it feels like I have been run over with a steamroller. And the fatigue (combined from the RA flare, difficult pregnancy, and chasing a toddler) is beyond soul crushing.
I have to admit that I am scared. I’m scared because there aren’t very many pregnancy-safe options to help me deal with all this pain. I’m scared because I am barely halfway through this pregnancy and I’m honestly not sure how I will survive the second half. But I am also terrified that once I do manage to make it to the end of this pregnancy I am going to be in no fit shape to take care of two little boys.
And it is really hard. I feel isolated. Alone. Lonely. Lost. Because I just can’t figure out how to explain what I am going through to anyone else. I have many wonderful mama friends who certainly understand the frustration and exhaustion of caring for a toddler. Some of my friends are even pregnant with their second babies too, so they understand the difficult of dealing with pregnancy symptoms while chasing a toddler. But though I know they love me and want to support me, I don’t feel like they truly understand the frustrating and somewhat terrifying added stress of living with arthritis at the same time.
Because even when I do manage to reach out and ask for help I find that I don’t really know what I expect my friends to say. I know they are doing their very best to support me and make me feel better, but I just don’t think they truly understand. When they say things like “hope you feel better soon” and “this too shall pass” I honestly don’t know how to react. I mean, of course I want to feel better soon. But I am also realistic enough to know that probably isn’t in the cards for me for a good long while. And I do know that things will eventually get better, but that won’t be until I am finished nursing my second baby and able to go back on my meds to get my arthritis under control. What am I supposed to do in the meantime?
I know I am not the only woman in the world to deal with arthritis and pregnancy at the same time, there are so few stories and resources and ways for us to get connected to each other that I still end up feeling very alone. That’s the main reason I feel it is so important to be honest with my RA pregnancy story. Like I said at the beginning of this pregnancy, I can’t promise that my story will always be uplifting. The truth is that sometimes being pregnant with arthritis is downright hard. But I still want to share my story because hopefully someday I will reach someone in my pregnant, achy, miserable shoes – and help them feel less alone.