Friday, December 2, 2011

Secret Post #5: Positive, Uplifting, Hopeful, and Useful Advice

NOTE: This post is part of a series that I wrote in secret during the months before I announced my pregnancy. The series chronicles my pregnancy journey: from weaning off my RA meds, to trying to conceive, to searching for helpful advice and information, to discovering I was pregnant, to the ups and downs of my first trimester. You can read all the posts in this series here.
 This Post Written June 25, 2011

TMI Warning: This post contains details about sex and trying to get pregnant that you may consider to be too much information. Don't say I didn't warn you!

For anyone who is trying to conceive, it is always in their best interest to get pregnant sooner rather than later. Sex is supposed to be fun, and getting pregnant sooner reduces the chances of "trying" becoming a horrible, stressful chore. 

But, since I have RA, there are many other reasons that sooner would be better than later. For one thing, the longer I am off my meds (i.e. living my life with RA that is not fully treated) the more pain and fatigue I am likely to experience. And, obviously, the more pain and fatigue I experience the more difficult it will become to even have sex in the first place. Also, the chance of permanent joint damage increases as the time between me and my last dose of methotrexate increases. And it's not like I will be able to get back on my RA meds anytime soon - even after I get pregnant it will be at least nine months before it is safe for me to start taking my meds again, and longer if I want to breastfeed my baby. So, yeah, sooner would be better.

This is obviously not a blog about how to get pregnant - this is a blog about living with RA. However, it seems to me that having RA creates really unique issues when trying to conceive. Unfortunately, these issues aren't really addressed by any of the literature out there (or at least not that I can find). There are plenty of depressing articles about how difficult your sex life is likely to be with RA, but these articles contain scant advice for making sex easier. There are a bunch of articles (and a great book) dealing with RA and pregnancy, but none of these seem to address the complicated issue of getting pregnant in the first place! And, as far as how easy it is to get pregnant when you have RA, I found this delightful new study called "Rheumatoid arthritis makes getting pregnant harder." None of this is very useful or hopeful!!

The only real advice that seems to be out there for women with RA who want to get pregnant is that they should stop taking meds that might cause birth defects before trying. But, at least to me, it just doesn't seem that simple.

While it's obvious that having RA makes pregnancy more complicated, I know that it does not make it impossible! Plenty of women out there with RA are also moms! It can totally be done!! So I really feel like someone ought to be handing out positive, uplifting, hopeful, and useful advice about how to make that dream come true - but I can't seem to find anyone who is.

I am not a doctor. I am not an expert. I'm just a girl with RA who would really, really, really like to be a mom with RA. And I know I'm not the only one out there! So I am going to track down whatever positive, uplifting, hopeful, and useful advice I can find about actually conceiving when you have RA and post on this blog. Because it's not impossible. And I think that should be made more obvious.


Stephanie Kay said...

I'm guessing after you wrote this you found my blog. :)

I read the link to the study. I think their sample 100+ women w/ RA was too small to be of much use. Fertility has SOOOO many variables! My personal experience goes against the study. My 1st took about 3 months. All the rest were "just not preventing." There's 20 months, 18 months and 26 months between my children. The 26 months would be less except I had a miscarriage at 8 weeks, but got pregnant again within 2 months.

I recommend everyone who's trying to get pregnant track their basal temperature, pay attention to your mucus discharge (can occur when ovulating), and understand that you don't have to "rock the world" every single time you make love. :)

~Mariah~ said...

STEPHANIE: I agree that some of these studies are too small to be of much use - and fertility does have a lot of variables! I think my main point is that if you are having trouble and you go looking for help/advice, most of the headlines and obvious stuff that you will find is not very uplifting. You really have to dig to find anything useful, and that can be frustrating when you are already fatigued and frustrated. Also, super good advice about not having to "rock the world" ~;o)