At 31, Suzie Edward May was ready to start a family. She had a happy marriage, a fulfilling law career and a longing for children to love. She also had rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

For the previous four years, RA had intervened in almost every area of her life, but she was determined it was not going to take away her chance to be a mother. "My determination to create a family of my own was too strong to be shaken by RA," she says.

Her determination paid off. Today she is the happy, if sometimes weary, mother of 5-year-old Oscar and 2-year-old Olive.

But the path to parenthood was far from smooth – even from the start. Deciding to become pregnant meant giving up the medications that had controlled her disease and made her pain more bearable. While she had steeled herself for the toll that would take on her body, she says she was not prepared for the emotional effects of coming off her medications. "I did not anticipate the emotional pain that I would also feel and which, at times, was more difficult to deal with than the physical pain."

When a search for books to guide her through the process of having a baby while managing RA proved futile, she decided to write her own. The result: Arthritis, Pregnancy and the Path to Parenthood (2010 Vivid Publishing;, a resource that she hopes will alleviate for others some of the isolation and loneliness she felt on her own path to parenthood.  In the book she shares her struggles, joys and advice from the painful days prior to her RA diagnosis though her two – very different in terms of RA – pregnancies. Interspersed are experiences and words of wisdom from other mothers and mothers-to-be with arthritis.

Arthritis Today had the opportunity to speak with May, of Perth, Western Australia, about becoming and being a mother with RA. Here is what she told us.

Was there ever a time that you considered not having children?

I had always wanted children (as did my husband).  It was always part of my life plan and something I never considered giving up.  We were fortunate that neither arthritis nor any other issue prevented us creating our beautiful family.

What was your greatest fear when you decided to begin your family?

Coming off medication in order to safely fall pregnant was a frightening proposition for me.  I had become reliant on my arthritis medications to allow me to function and taking them away felt like I was removing a safety net from under me.  I felt vulnerable and guaranteed to fall.