TMI Warning: This post contains some details about pregnancy that you may consider to be too much information. I'm going to use some female anatomy words and everything!! Don't say I didn't warn you!
When I first found out that I was pregnant, 40 weeks seemed like an eternity. And there were some days before I hit week 13 (when my morning sickness finally died down) that I literally thought I would never survive this ordeal.
But now I've reached a point in my pregnancy where the weeks remaining number in the single digits. It turns out this baby thing is actually happening - and soon!! These days he kicks me vigorously enough that sometimes I expect that scene from Alien (or Spaceballs, preferably). They even gave me my hospital admission forms at my last prenatal appointment. It's really hard to believe.
There's good news and there's bad news about how I have been feeling lately.
The bad news is that my hands have not improved at all since they started hurting almost two weeks ago. In fact, I honestly think they may be getting worse. I have a couple of finger joints that are consistently visibly swollen, and it's getting increasingly difficult to get things done with my hands without a lot of pain. To make matters worse, my hips have really started acting up as well. And all the stretching, resting, soaking, and Tylenol in the world doesn't really seem to do anything to help either of these problems.
It actually isn't clear whether all this joint pain is RA-related or pregnancy-related (or both?) I mean, throughout this pregnancy I have discovered that just being pregnant does extremely weird things to your body. And, for example, another pregnant friend tells me she's having swelling in her hands too (though no pain). It also seems to make sense that my hips would hurt since the baby is growing so fast - and, consequently, so is my belly and the amount of weight my hips are being forced to support. (In fact, the OB told me on Thursday that he will grow half a pound per week from now on!!! What?!?!?).
But... I also have to admit that all this joint pain and soreness and stiffness is eerily familiar. If I could forget for a minute that I am pregnant I wouldn't hesitate to call this an RA flare. Sometimes it makes me wonder whether my "remission" is actually going to last through these last few weeks - maybe it's already over - and that thought can make even the few weeks remaining feel like an eternity. And, of course, the way I have been feeling lately makes me feel a little anxious about the potential severity of the inevitable post-birth flare. I mean, if I'm this achy while I'm still pregnant, what will happen when I don't have the "benefit" of pregnancy and I still haven't re-started my RA meds?
It can get a little overwhelming to think about, so I am honestly trying not to. If I'm going to have a bad RA flare now - or after the birth for that matter - there's literally nothing I can do to stop it, so there's no sense getting upset about it. I'm just trying to take it easy, go slow, and focus on the good things that are happening.
And there is good news too!! At our last prenatal appointment we discovered that, with the crazy growth spurt our little one has recently gone through, my placenta has moved far enough away from my cervix that there is no more risk of placenta previa! And this is great news! While it doesn't completely rule out the possibility of needing a C-section, it does really reduce the likelihood. And it also means that we won't have to rush the baby and bring him out early at 37 weeks - now he can take his sweet time and come out when he feels good and ready. And that makes me really happy.
So, while I wait out these last few weeks, I'll just do what I can to reduce my pain and/or distract myself. I'm planning to focus on taking care of myself - I even booked myself a prenatal massage for tomorrow - because I know that I won't have that luxury for very much longer!!
You have come such a long way so bravo to you! Coming from someone who experienced a post-birth flare, make sure you have a support plan in place and as soon as you get back to treating the RA, things will only go up from there. You can also consider natural alternatives to reduce inflammation if you are not ready to get back on the medicinal route. I am very excited for you and I cannot wait for your post telling us the baby is here. Good luck to you! -Lana
LANA: Thanks so much for your support. ~;o) I do have a support plan in place, but I am also hoping to be able to postpone going straight back on my meds so that I can try breastfeeding for a little while. We'll see how it goes!!
I'm so glad that the placenta previa is gone! That is great news.
I hope your hands and hips start feeling better soon. I am sending thoughts of good thoughts your way!
I am 29 and got got my dgn of RA after my baby was born eight months ago. Your blog been very helpful. I can tell you that RA with a baby is hard but the little one makes it worth it. My little one has got me up every morning. I am now on Embrel and it is really helping. I made it 5 months breastfeeding. My little one had an easier transition to formula than I thought. I am very happy I found your blog!!!
KELLY: We were pretty happy with that news too. Thanks for the good thoughts and all your support! ~;o)
UNKNOWN: I'm glad you found my blog too - sounds like we have a lot in common! I'm also glad to hear that the Enbrel is helping - and 5 months of breastfeeding certainly gives me hope! If you ever need someone to talk/vent to, I am always here. You can email me at FromThisPoint.Forward@gmail.com anytime!!
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