After more than a year of doctor appointments, strategizing the best plan, endless guidance from Erin Miller (and other patients) and a whole lot of patience, my husband Mike and I are pleased to announce that in August 2012 we’ll be expecting an addition to our family.
Living with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) I’ve been really nervous how this will all work so I’ve hesitated sharing the news with everyone. But trust me, I’m super thrilled and really wanted to shout from the rooftops.
The process to get pregnant was lengthy but we got the end result we wanted so I’d do it again in a heart beat. Having NMO, it was obvious that we’d have to do in-vitro (IVF). At first it took some convincing to get all my doctors on board. With very limited information available on how NMO and pregnancy work together, we all had to assess the potential risks. I’ve been on Cellcept for over a year so we had to strategize how to get me off these immune suppression drugs, allow it to get out of my system while going back on Prednisone to provide me with some protection – then pray. Yes, I did a lot of praying that I wouldn’t suffer from another attack during the transition. While we did the drug transition we also had to do all the standard tests for IVF. Finally we started the IVF process in early November. Every day my poor husband had to inject 3 needles into my stomach. You’d think after all the needles I’ve received living with NMO that I’d be ok with them but I’m more terrified of needles now than before. Almost every morning I went for an ultrasound to check on how well my body was producing new eggs. When there were enough, we did the extraction and 3 days later, only 1 lonely egg survived that we implanted. It took 2 weeks sitting and waiting and thinking the entire time that I was potentially growing another human being inside of me. Stress is a major contributor to my NMO symptoms so I took walks, did a lot of reading and tried to cook new recipes (I’m no where close to being as talented in the kitchen as Christine Ha).
I am now 5 months pregnant and it’s everything everyone says it is – it’s magical, uncomfortable, surreal and life changing. I can’t help but worry like other new parents about normal stuff like technique, money, and lack of sleep but occasionally I’ll also allow myself to worry about my NMO. Will my symptoms come back with a vengeance after delivery? Will I suffer from another major attack? Will I be able to keep up with a toddler one day? I won’t be an advocate and tell other NMO patients that they can get pregnant if they want. Every case is different and you’ll have to work hard with your team of doctors to discover what’s best for you. What I will say is that if getting pregnant is something you want to do then definitely investigate it. I never like to say no to an opportunity and I’m sure glad I didn’t this time.