The RA Clock
Exciting news -- I'm an auntie again for the third time (my sister also has a three year-old daughter)! My twin nieces were born rather unexpectedly during the afternoon of August 27th. They were born seven weeks early so they have to spend some time in the NICU at the hospital, which is understandable. For privacy's sake I won't reveal their names, although I'm happy to find out that one of them shares the same middle name as me. I saw them for the first time the other night and they're both tiny, pretty little girls. Although luckily they were quite big for being so early -- Baby A was 5 lbs 7 oz and Baby B was 5 lbs. My sister wound up having a C-section which she was terrified of having, but she is recovering well now and happy the babies were born. I can't wait until I can see them again!
Performing parenting duties
Being an auntie and living close to my sister and her family, I've been inundated (and exhausted) with babysitting duties over the last few months of my sister's pregnancy, helping her take care of my niece. I love spending time with my niece, who is also my goddaughter, but she is certainly a handful and a lot of work. Especially now that she's just entered into "the terrible threes" (which are worse than the twos, I think), and two of her favorite and often-used words are "NO!" and "WAHHH!" -- taking care of her can be pretty stressful. Taking care of any children is a stressful, physically and mentally demanding job. And one of the most important jobs there is in life, in my opinion. Despite the stress and fatigue and frustration, I adore spending time with my hilarious, precious niece. I love watching her learn and discover new things, and seeing her innocence and wonder at the world. She's a sweetheart and I love her beyond words. Often when I'm with her and when I visited the twins the other day, I've wondered about if I'll ever have my own children. I always thought I would, sometime. But now as the years keep flying by, that "sometime" is getting dangerously close to passing me by.
Starting a family while having RA?
Being diagnosed with RA at age 18, getting married and having children was one of the questions (will/can it happen like "normal"?) on my long list of worries at the time. But being only 18 I had the luxury of putting off worrying about it until some later mysterious date far in the future. I don't have that luxury anymore, and I admit that with the passing of the last couple birthdays I'm getting increasingly anxious about it. Instead of worrying if I'd be able to handle having a family while living with a chronic disease, now I'm worrying if I'll even have a family. I don't want to settle for a partner just to get married and I don't want to rush into having children. However the reality is the clock is ticking (I hate that clock!), and I have to think hard about what certain aspects of the rest of my life are going to look like. Will I ever find my "soulmate" spouse who is caring and understanding of the demands of RA? Will I have kids? Will I be able to pick them up and carry them around and have the energy to play with them? Do I have the physical and emotional strength to do any of this? I don't know. It's still a very scary thought and I wish that things would just magically work out. I know there are many people out there who have RA and have loving, happy families and find a way to take care of kids. And take care of pets, and houses, and mortgages and other "adult" things I can't seem to get the hang of. I know it's not impossible and I keep trying to remind myself of that. RA has made me lose a lot of things in life, despite my desperate attempts and wishes to not let that happen. But looking at my newborn nieces for the first time made me think again that if I really want children, RA shouldn't make me lose out on that wonderful experience. I do still have hope that it will happen if it's meant to be.
Well, I think I better end this before I get too hormonal and start blubbering all over the keyboard. And I'm not even the one who just gave birth! Good grief, get a grip Angela.
Have you shared tips on how to manage RA with anyone before?