Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Pregnancy and M.E

(After, read how I Parent with Chronic Pain

I'd been housebound and mostly bed bound for a couple of years when we made the decision to have a baby. It wasn't an easy decision by far, but I'd always wanted kids and really didn't want to put my life on hold if I didn't have to. 

We couldn't know what having a baby entailed or how pregnancy would affect me, no matter how much research we did. But we discussed it a lot and consulted our close family members.
The M.E specialists didn't say much in regards to having a baby, they felt the same as I did that I shouldn't put my life on hold. Although I have debilitating symptoms they are inexplicable and I come up healthy on all the tests doctors do. 

I fell pregnant rather easily and apart from being low in iron I had a very straight forward pregnancy. We had heard that the hormones can cure M.E, but it wasn't so in my case. I experienced first trimester nausea, sickness and fatigue on top of my other symptoms, and it was very hard to cope with, but once the sickness had passed I did enter the 'blooming' second trimester. Although I wasn't able to do much more I did feel better and my M.E symptoms eased a little, which lasted till my son was 4 months old. 

My baby was small and because I had M.E they wanted me to have my baby in in the maternity ward where I could have access to any help I, or baby, might need in labour. I was not well enough to attend any ante natal classes and had only had a five minute breathing practise with a midwife prior to labour so when contractions started I was ill prepared. The deep breathing helped more than any other things the midwife suggested (paracetamol and a warm bath!), but because labour was long I tired quickly and lost strength. I asked for an epidural but was met with hesitancy because the midwife wasn't aware of M.E until I stressed the point mid contraction and she conceded and got the anaesthetist. The epidural helped a lot and I was able to rest to gain strength ready for pushing my baby out. I was extremely fortunate that he came out in two pushes. 

Post birth, once my husband had gone, I was left to my own devices. I was a brand new mum and unsure of how best to look after my baby. I was also in desperate need of resting after the exertion of labour, but a maternity ward is no place for quality resting! Once I got home it was a lot easier because my husband, family and friends were all around to help. A good support network is CRUCIAL. 

My second and third pregnancies were very similar to the first. The only differences were that I knew what to expect, so the sickness didn't seem as bad as the first time. Having other kids can make pregnancy more tiring. I didn't feel the benefits of the second trimester bloom like I did in my first because the energy boost was used on doing what I could for my child, which I considered a positive. 

The second birth wasn't as plain sailing though. I had remembered what contractions felt like and so when they started again I panicked and quickly my body could not cope with the contractions. I shook uncontrollably with each one and was left extremely weakened inbetween. Again the midwives were hesitant to help me because I wasn't far enough along, but my husband fought my corner and told them I had M.E and they allowed me an epidural. Although this enabled me to rest it slowed down labour and my baby was in danger of becoming stuck. They monitored us closely and said if nothing progressed we would need forceps or a Caesarian. Fortunately, after breaking my waters, it quickened pace and they asked me to push him down. Because I had rested I felt like I could do this so I pushed, and pushed, and pushed! It wasn't a long time by some birth standards, but for me it was too much. Once my baby was born I was violently sick, so much that they had to inject me. They weren't happy with my blood pressure either so continued to monitor me. I knew I just need proper rest. Fortunately my baby slept a very long time and the ward was quieter and so I was able to feel a bit better before I went home.  

My third birth was the best. I had practised hypnobirthing to try and avoid the pitfalls of the last birth which I was convinced were caused by my anxieties. When labour started I relaxed through each contraction so my body wasnt exerting as much energy. By doing this I was able to labour at home till my waters broke. We made it to hospital just in time for me to give birth, which I did naturally, continuing to breathe and remain calm. Although I could feel the pain I wasn't afraid of it and it did not use energy like it had done with my previous births. Once again I was fortunate that she took only three pushes. I wasn't in such need of recovery like the previous births because I had not expended as much thanks to the hypno birthing. 

One thing I've forgotten to mention is that in all three pregnancies I had SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction). It felt like intense pain in my pelvis, so walking became even harder. It was the pain when lying down that affected me the most. I had to switch sides every now  and then so resting wasnt as good quality as it should have been or needed to be. However, I invested in a special belt and wore it nearly 24/7, which worked a treat in easing symptoms.  

I couldn't say whether having children is a good idea or not for anyone else, but what I will say is it's the best thing I've ever done. When I saw the prognosis  for M.E didn't have an end date I thought my life was over, but my kids have given me a new one. My husband, family and friends make it possible for me to be a mum to my kids and I'm grateful for every minute of it. 

Have you taken the plunge into parenthood? I'd love to hear your experiences, leave a comment below.