Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Pregnancies Then and Now: A Comparison
I've had several people ask me what the secret has been to my (thus-far) successful Lupus pregnancy. While I feel very fortunate that it has been complication-free, I can attribute my good fortune to a couple of things in particular. I can do this primarily because I went through the first 8 weeks of an unsuccessful pregnancy about five years ago - and I know exactly what I've done differently this time around.
This time, I was...
1) 100% healthy before becoming pregnant:
This time around, I made sure I was healthy and stable for months (actually years!) before getting pregnant. That doesn't mean I wasn't on medication. To the contrary, up until last summer I was on CellCept, and then switched to Plaquenil, which I'm still on, in addition to a daily baby aspirin. And since being pregnant, I've added Lovenox and Chromagen. The last pregnancy, though, required me to go off two antihistamines (for my angioedema) and an anti-inflammatory (which I desperately needed). I was still on prednisone, but went down on the dosage to the point where it wasn't curtailing my pain. If I had been smart, I would have realized my body wasn't ready for pregnancy. But you know - that was then, and this is now. I've come a long way!
2) Willing to listen to and follow doctors instructions:
I've always listened to what my doctors have told me, and rarely strayed from their medical advice, particularly when it came to medicines, tests, and procedures. However, when it came to taking time off to allow my body to heal after a miscarriage, I wasn't so attentive. One doctor in my perinatal practice told me after that miscarriage that the most important thing I could do was to get my disease under control, and then I could start trying to get pregnant again. Well, I heard the second part of the sentence, but didn't really listen to the first part.
This time - though - I am all ears - eager to heed their advice and admonishments. And what a difference it's made!
3) Excited to try and have a baby, but not reliant on the idea to improve my health or adhere to a time line:
When I tried to get pregnant years ago, I did so primarily because I was ready to have a baby. But I must admit that I'd also heard that during pregnancy, one's Lupus symptoms often fall by the wayside, and you feel better than you've ever felt before. Well, since I was feeling fairly crummy (sans the medications I needed to ward off the pain), I thought pregnancy would be a great way to feel good. What a backwards way to look at the whole thing! I also thought that since we'd been married two years and I was 28 years old, it was time to have a baby. I gave little thought to what my body was capable of at the time, or how circumstances might have changed since I'd first drafted my life's agenda. It didn't matter, back then.
This time, I go back to the #1 item on my list - I made sure I was 100% healthy (in mind and body) before becoming pregnant, to hopefully ensure that I would feel good (about whatever transpired) during the pregnancy.
4) Willing to sacrifice for the benefit of my own well-being and that of my baby's:
The first time around, I had no intention of slowing down, skipping out on activities, or owning up to the fact that I didn't have to be a superworman during pregnancy. This time, though, I jump at the chance to stop and relax. I'm perfectly happy taking it extra easy...it's brought me to 30 weeks and counting, so I'm clearly doing something right.
Months ago, Johnny agreed to venture into this pregnancy thing ONLY if I was willing to do what needed to be done to take care of myself, which in most cases, meant NOT doing what I thought needed to get done. He's been great about helping out when the pug hair on the stairs was too thick for me to stomach (b/c I'm not supposed to vacuum), or when the laundry was piling up (b/c the baskets are too heavy for me to carry), but I, too, have done my part by letting things go when normally I might not have.
We've been willing to sacrifice time, too, to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. Each of my bi-weekly sonograms is about a 4-hour venture (including travel time, wait time, etc.), but neither of us has missed even one. I'm used to sitting in the doctor's office, but this is a new thing for Johnny. We've both learned the hard way that doctor's office reading material cannot be relied upon (the Woman's Days and Real Simples aren't doing it for him), but I think at this point, we have the appointment thing down to a science.
Lastly, and I won't harp on this too much, we've been willing to sacrifice money in order to ensure Bun's safe keeping. I know I've mentioned it before and fully realize that most patients with a chronic illness face the exact same thing at one time or another, but I can't tell you how happy we are to have paid our final monthly installment of $850 for the Lovenox medication (only 34 pinpricks to go!) In addition, each appointment runs us at least $100 because of the extra blood tests or exams that need to be run but aren't covered by insurance. All in all, we've had a big chunk of change to pay every month since April, but we haven't regretted one dollar of it. And Bun will thank us for it in October, I'm sure.
There it is - my take on what makes a successful Lupus pregnancy. Have I forgotten anything?