By 10am this morning I had cried over the following:
1. I couldn’t get my shirt to cover my belly
2. I couldn’t get the seat adjusted on my recumbent bike at Physical Therapy
3. I forgot to do my son’s 100 days of school project with him
4. I needed a hug
5. I heard the lyrics to “You are my Sunshine.”
6. I remembered there were Cannolis in the fridge and I was so happy
Jax’s Dad is under the belief that whenever Jax feels like it, he dons a white robe and carries a staff and yells “REALEASE THE HORMONES!” (in a British accent of course). At any given time, I feel like I’m on the verge of losing my mind and EVERYTHING MAKES ME CRY. I’m so super thankful that Drew (Jax’s Daddy) is so patient, sweet, and understanding of my absolute roller-coaster of emotions. This was one of those days I was VERY thankful to just pull the covers back over my head and take a mental-health day.
Albeit frustrating, these little emotional outbursts are, of course, normal during pregnancy. Maybe someone ate the last banana you wanted. Maybe your cat sat on your husbands lap instead of yours. Perhaps you got overwhelmed by looking at tiny diapers. Whatever it is that’s got your waterworks going, it’s OK. We get it; I promise.
I have no “tips” for you. You’re going to cry, I’m going to cry, we’re all going to cry. Welcome to the Hormone Games…May the odds be ever in your favor. If you have an overwhelming day of Ugly Crying, just lock yourself in the bathroom for a bit, take a hot bath, and take nice, deep breaths. Maybe your little fetus will put away his staff and robe tomorrow ❤
10 little fingers and 10 little toes with a sweet little face and the cutest button nose.
My nerves were racked before this Ultrasound. Even though all of our blood work has come out normal, I feared what the affects of Transverse Myelitis would have on our baby. While I discontinued as many medications as I possibly could for this pregnancy, there was just simply no way for me to eradicate them all without putting my body in severe distress. So, you can imagine my absolute relief at seeing our healthy baby boy floating around happily in his temporary home.
Although this pregnancy has been quite difficult on my body, there is still something quite empowering about realizing that this broken body of mine can still produce something so healthy, so beautiful. Maybe you are in that boat right now too. Perhaps the weight of the pain that this pregnancy has put you through is almost too much to bear. Just remember this, of all of the bad that your body has done, it is still capable of doing so much good.
A little perspective for you today:
- My body is a nuisance on so many levels…but it’s also still capable
- There is no room for guilt. Having a baby when you have a chronic illness is not selfish. It is beautiful.
- You were already a warrior of your illness to being with, now you fight for two. Be proud of yourself and your body, no matter how much your body gives you backlash!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a “Yes-(Wo)Man.” Social event? I’m there. Kid’s friend’s B-Day party? Wouldn’t miss it. Volunteer opportunity? Count me in! After being diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in 2014, I had to really learn to, not only say “No”, but also to ask for help. The same applies even more so for being pregnant with a chronic illness. My maternal instincts are on high alert and I want my house clean, my baby’s room finished, and to attend all the “New Mommies groups” in our local area. (Yes this is kiddo #5 for me but it’s been 8 years and this is the first time I’m actually at home so I’m trying to plug in to all of the things I’ve never gotten to do before)
The difficult aspect of the whole thing is that my mind is always saying, “YES!!” but often times, my body is begging me, “No”. Although I’ve gotten better about listening to my body since being diagnosed with TM, I still sometimes push myself too far and then I dearly pay for it. When I’m pregnant that can be dangerous for both me and the baby. With that being said, I’m learning to say, “No”, a lot more these days.
Here are a few tips about saying, “No” that I’m learning:
- I don’t have to feel guilty about saying No. No is OK! Most people really do actually have understanding for me not being able to do activities.
- It’s OK for me to say No to me. The other day I was in the middle of doing the dishes (One of my biggest Peeves is leaving dishes in the sink and I had a double sink-full) My legs started to get weak and I knew that my body needed to stop right away. I’d though for a split second about forging through but didn’t. I told myself “No Lisa, It’s time to stop and rest.”
- Saying No can actually be quite liberating! Not being a slave to my chores or to activities definitely gives me a sense of control, and often time brings peace of mind.
Do you find yourself spending the day in your sweatpants? Are you rocking a messy bun, bunny slippers, and can’t remember the last time you put on lip gloss? I get it. Not only are we trying to deal with this chronic disorder, but now we have pregnancy on top of that. We feel accomplished just for waking up before noon! It’s definitely ok to have the occasional “Lazy Day”, but I don’t recommend making a habit of it.
What happens when you get dressed, fix your hair, put a little shadow and gloss on? You feel more confident, more motivated, and refreshed. These are important feelings for us to experience, and experiencing them daily can greatly improve how we feel about ourselves. You don’t have to get super fancy! Leggings, a cute shirt, your favorite sandals paired with a bracelet, some lip gloss, and a headband is easy! Try it and see what happens.
Tips for not feeling like a Mom-Zombie
- Treat yourself to a nice bath. Pour your favorite bubbles, light a few candles, sip on your favorite non-alcoholic drink (but drink it in a wine glass so you feel fancy).
- Shave your legs. I know, I know, you can’t even see your toes right now, or your legs, but shaving makes you feel like a whole new woman!
- Go get your toenails painted. It costs about $12, lasts for about a month, and makes us feel pretty! (Many of us with auto/neuro disorders have neuropathy and can’t stand having our feet touched. When I get my nails painted, I don’t get an actual pedicure. I let them know about my sensitive feet and opt out of foot massage, and nail filing)
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, people can be quite judgmental over the idea that I decided to have a baby when I already have a laundry list of health issues. Sometimes it is out of their genuine concern. Often times it’s because they think it was selfish of me to have another child when I already struggle with many daily living activities. While this can be unnerving at times, I don’t let it get to me to deeply. Yes, this pregnancy has been challenging. Yes, being high risk is a scary feeling at times. Yes, many of my symptoms are exacerbated due to pregnancy. I still have no regrets, and if I don’t have any regrets, neither should anyone else, because it’s not their life to have regrets over….it’s mine.
I am proud of my body for still being capable of creating life. I do not take this immense Blessing for granted. Despite my body’s greatest efforts to break me down, there is still this miracle that grows from within me. I may not be in the best health, but my baby is. He is growing strong, doesn’t have any defects that we are aware of, and I’m expected to have a very healthy pregnancy and baby.
A few things I’ve learned to help me deflect judgment:
- I’ve been asked, “Why would you do that to yourself and to your unborn child?” My answer is this; “If my body wasn’t capable of creating life, then it wouldn’t, but it is. Also, I’m already a Mom. My kids think I’m a pretty great mom despite my condition. This baby will share the same love I have for my other children, and that they have for me.”
- Take it with a grain of salt. People that haven’t walked (or tripped, or stumbled) in your shoes can’t possibly know what it’s like to be brave enough to face pregnancy with a chronic illness. I did not have a moment of weakness, I had a vision of strength.
- Snip those bad apples from your tree. I’ve had to distance myself from a few people in my life. Negativity is toxic for my mind, body, and spirit. I have the choice not to receive it and so do you.
I’ve started to feel Baby Jax moving around in there and it’s such a wonderful feeling! What’s not a wonderful feeling is the horrible back pain I’ve been having. When I say horrible I mean feels like my spine is in a vice grip, lightning bolts are coursing through my legs, and forget about trying to get up on my own if I dare to bend at the waist or sit on the floor. ( I literally had to text Jax’s Daddy to come help me off the floor the other day. The struggle is real, yal’ll) I expected this during my third trimester but not in my second! I have increased spasticity which is definitely not helping. I’ve also noticed changes in my mobility as I’m less steady on my feet and have had some gait issues. While keep my pain under control has been difficult, here are a few things I’m doing to try to soften the intensity of the pain that really seem to be beneficial for me.
- Epsom Salt Baths- I like to dim the lights, burn a few candles, and just make my atmosphere highly relaxing and I allow the water to take some of the pressure off of my back and the heat and Epsom salts sooth my aching muscles and nerves.
- The wide wall squats are definitely not happening for me, but the other stretches in the photo above have been of great help! The cat and camel probably give me the most relief.
- Sleep with a pillow between your legs. This has been my saving grace for getting any sleep. I have a nice long body pillow so I can rest my legs and my growing belly on it.
Ok, before you get all up in arms about my photo, it’s just mint tea people! Saving those double shot espressos until after BabyJax makes his arrival! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s chat about neuropathy. I’ve started to notice that the neuropathy in my feet is increasing, as well as some of the nerve pain in both of my legs and back. This is a bit alarming to me because I’m barely into my second trimester and I really cannot take any preggo-safe medications to help the symptoms. I did bring this up to my OB and have a neuro consult scheduled so I’ll keep you posted! The last thing I want is to be a fall risk while I’m pregnant…I’m ungraceful enough as it is.
A few things I’m doing that have helped to alleviate some of the neuro symptoms include:
- Not sitting too long. I sit for work/writing/because I’m tired and feel like it, etc. I try to get up and stretch every 15-20 minutes. I march in place or go for a quick walk.
- Sleep with a pillow between my legs. This has seemed to help alleviate some of the back discomfort, and I have a nice long one to rest the belly on which is nice!
- Wear comfortable shoes. Most of the time I’m pretty consciences about my fashion sense… Right now I just want to be comfortable and not fall on my face. Wear shoes that are supportive and roomy. Our feet don’t need any more excuses to hate us.
- If you’re experiencing increased nerve pain or neuropathy, be sure to bring it up with both your OB doc and your neurologist! Pregnancy is no time to be stubborn because you don’t want to be a complainer. You’re creating new life all while battling a weird and scary disease! You’re already tough 😉