Arthritis Today interviewed Suzie May, who authored the book Arthritis, Pregnancy and the Path to Parenthood. Here are some words of wisdom, advice and encouragement from her book.
On deciding to become a parent:
I believe many factors should be considered when making the decision to bring a child into this world. While some considerations are purely feelings of the heart, others are clearly and importantly practicalities of the mind. There is no doubt that having a child is a big decision and its impact is life long, life changing and should not be entered into lightly. For some people, the desire to become a parent is an unshakable inner passion. For others, it is something that must be contemplated and carefully thought out based on personal, professional, financial and practical circumstances.
On surviving uncertainty and difficult days:
One of the many qualities that women (and men) with chronic health conditions generally possess is an incredible inner strength and determination. Remind yourself of the physical and emotional challenges you already deal with on a daily basis and trust that you will be able to cope with whatever pregnancy presents for you. Most importantly, stay focused on the magical gift you will receive at the end of this challenge – your new baby – who undoubtedly make it all worthwhile.
On coping with flares during pregnancy:
Remind yourself often that while your disease may still be active and cause you great pain and limitation, your body is busy creating life. While it maybe be easy (and understandable) to get upset with your body for causing you so much pain and frustration, remember to also acknowledge the amazing job it is doing. Try to focus on the beautiful and very special baby you are creating and how amazingly courageous and strong you are to be, despite your arthritis, achieving your goal of having your very own family.
On nurturing your relationship with your partner:
It is important to recognize the pressure and strains put on your intimate relationships. While partners are generally wonderfully supportive, the also have feelings. They may feel anger, frustration, sadness or helplessness and may need time out from thinking or talking about your health, just as you do from time to time. It is important to recognize your partner's needs and allow him or her opportunities to feel, talk and deal with them.
On accepting support from friends:
Some people support you by being at the end of the phone when you need a cry, others arrive on your doorstep with a hot meal and some magazines to take your mind off things, or offer to do your washing and take your baby for a walk to the park while you sleep. Try to establish a close network of people whom you can turn to. Put their phone numbers on your refrigerator and call them when you need help. Allow people who love you to help, even when you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about it – you would do it for them!
For more about Arthritis, Pregnancy and the Path to Parenthood, visit www.suzieedwardmay.com.