The RA Pregnancy Chronicles: Morning Sickness and Other Unpleasantness
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 9 of my second pregnancy.
Life with RA can sometimes feel like a constant Catch-22, a paradoxical set of circumstances where you find yourself forced to make a decision where it feels like you lose no matter what option you choose. It can be a near-constant balancing act to choose medications that control your RA symptoms while keeping negative side effects to a minimum. You find yourself having to decide, over and over again, whether it will help or hurt to be honest with someone about the health challenges you face. And trying to maintain your health through exercise while also not making yourself overly fatigued is a fine line that can sometimes seem almost impossible to walk.
These Catch-22 situations pop up in my life over and over (and over and over) again. Sometimes they feel absolutely endless. And, unfortunately, it never actually gets any easier to make these decisions. It just gets … more commonplace. When lose-lose scenarios happen so often, it slowly becomes easier to accept that lots of times an ideal outcome just doesn’t exist. Sometimes there’s not even a good outcome and you have to choose the least bad outcome. You learn that you just have to do the best you can with the options that you have, even if they aren’t great. Weirdly (at least in my experience) these constant Catch-22s allow you to become adept at finding happiness – or at the very least finding the ability to move forward with your life – in situations that most other people would find completely miserable.
In a strange way, I think these experiences make women with RA uniquely qualified to deal with the completely bizarre things that happen to your body while you are pregnant. Most women, especially with their first pregnancies, are very surprised and frustrated to find their bodies suddenly doing all sorts of strange and unpleasant things that they can’t control. It must be weird for them to suddenly have to deal with aches and pains and other nasty symptoms. It must be frustrating for them to suddenly loose all their energy and be forced to deal with major fatigue. But, for those of us living with RA, it’s like an ordinary Tuesday.
Aside from fatigue, most early pregnancy symptoms – frequent urination, sore breasts, food aversions, morning sickness, etc. – are not actually things that those of us living with RA have to deal with on a regular basis. But, at least for me, because I have a lot of experience carrying on with my life when I feel super crummy, I find that it is not that hard to adjust to my body doing other crazy and unpleasant things.
For example, with this pregnancy I have experienced wicked morning sickness. It has been far worse than with my first pregnancy, which I honestly didn’t think was possible! I spent a week or two trying to ingest whatever nutrients I could keep down, which honestly wasn’t much. It really wasn’t pretty, but I managed to pretty much carry on with my daily life and take care of my son.
It wasn’t until our family vacation drew near (planned far before I got pregnant) that I finally called my doctor to find out if I had any other options. I was concerned that travel would be difficult if I had to be throwing up all day long! Thankfully, my doctor prescribed some anti-nausea medication that basically stopped me from throwing up all together! It felt like a miracle drug! But, of course, there was a catch. There’s always a catch! One of the side effects of the medication was constipation. So though I was able to stop throwing up and keep some food down, I then found myself dealing with another kind of upset stomach.
But you know what? I dealt with it. It was the best option I had so I took it. With this positive attitude I managed to very much enjoy our family vacation, despite not feeling very well on the trip. While I have seen the symptoms of early pregnancy make my ordinarily healthy friends absolutely miserable for months, I find that I am pretty much able to keep moving forward, accept the unpleasant compromises, and even find ways to enjoy myself in spite of it all. And for that I am very grateful.
Have you taken our Rheumatoid Arthritis In America survey?