The Big News

Well, guys. It’s been a while! Please know that I have not forgotten about you. It’s just been kind of a weird year (am I lying?!)

I’ve been meaning to get you an update for some time now. With the initial quarantine in March I took some “me time” to hit pause. Re-center and all that. It was a very introspective period, and I wasn’t quite ready to put all that into words. Or give much of myself to the world, really. I needed that time to go inside and explore some things. Coming out of summer, I am ready to let in the world, the light, and start contributing back once again.

That is one excuse for my extended absence. The other big deal that has been on my mind every waking minute is that in May (or was it early June?) my husband and I found out that WE ARE PREGNANT! Well, I am. He helped make that happen.

We are first timers here. We are learning a lot along the way already. One such tid-bit that isn’t well publicized, probably because it doesn’t fall into the romantic nice little miracle baby package, is that miscarriages are really common. Like 1 in 4. A quarter of all pregnancies self terminate so to speak, and most miscarriages occur in the first trimester, or the first few months of pregnancy. So, although it was extremely difficult to keep the big secret, we did for a while, just in case. And now, 6 months in I am still hesitant to tell people! Like I am jinxing it or something. Needless to say, being that this major life change has been on my mind constantly, it has been hard to sit down and write about anything other than the mental and physical changes I am currently experiencing. We’ve gone pretty public with the info at this point, so I figured it’s time to let the internet in on the big news. My husband and I are terrified and excited to say the least. But so grateful that we get to do this. More about all that as this journey evolves, I’m sure.

As soon as they find out, most people are curious how this will affect my MS. The good news is, since a woman’s body naturally lowers it’s immune system so as to not attack the baby (if you have ever been pregnant you will understand why your body might want to do this. For all intents and purposes you are supporting a very efficient parasite, and it certainly feels like it), most women actually see some relief from MS and go into remission for a while.

The way my Neurologist explained it, the danger comes in the few weeks after birth. As he put it, if you think about when we were having babies back in the day out in the woods, we needed to have a surge in immunity as soon as that baby is out to protect us from infection.

Based on this sound reasoning, I’ve had to make some adjustments to my medication schedule. I had had my last Ocrevus infusion in February, waited a few months before attempting to get pregnant, which was the general recommendation, and then suspended my next dose which was supposed to be in August. I am currently still protected from my infusion in February, per my doctor, but it does mean that I will be due again as soon as baby is born. That means I will only be able to breastfeed for a few weeks at most and then switch to formula in order to get my next dose. Since Ocrevus stays in your system for so long, and is thought to pass through the placenta and breast milk (a lot is still unknown), most medical experts recommend not getting direct infusions while pregnant and say that babies born to mothers with the medication in their systems may have lower immunity at first. They should be making more B cells and reaching full immune system functioning as they grow outside the womb, though. It makes sense considering that our bodies are quite resilient and still continue to try and do what they do. Which is why I need repeated infusions over time and not just one. Breastfeeding my baby would continue to suppress their immune system, hence the switch to formula. And from everything I’ve read or head from the wonderful people at my OB’s office, really the most important time to be breast feeding are within the first few weeks, for a multitude of reasons. That is reassuring considering I tend to like to go the natural route when it comes to, well, just about anything. This little hippie is okay with embracing formula, though, if that is what is best for mamma and baby in the long run. One thing I think this parenting thing will teach me is to be educated about my options, but be flexible in how I have to adapt to certain situations. I think that will apply to a lot in life.

What I can report on MS symptoms lately is sometimes hard to tease out between MS, pregnancy and regular life. Hormones, global pandemics, family, friends, work, oh yeah, we bought a house and moved…it’s no wonder I’ve been slightly stressed and tired. But I could also attribute that to lack of sleep per my new found pregnancy insomnia. And don’t get me started on how much the first trimester sucked. I’ll come right out and say it. There were no cute overalls while painting a baby room like you see in the movies. It was more like a 24-7 hangover complete with extreme nausea. I didn’t make it too far past the couch all summer. Amy Shumer has a great bit about this in her Netfix stand up, Growing. And if you have HBO Go, her docuseries Expecting Amy is a refreshingly real take on pregnancy. I highly recommend to all, whether you can relate or not, it is pretty eye opening and has some great social commentary on what society expects from women. I laughed, I cried, I really loved it all and appreciate her sharing her experiences.

Other than all that, I can say as far as my experiences go, I’ve had some leg numbness brought on by walking the dogs, which is status quo for the past year at least. Based on the timeline of that recurring issue and the lack of increased/unexpected frequency or intensity, I think that is just old lesions, or scarring on my spine somewhere that gets irritated when I walk for extended periods of time. It could be just part of my ever evolving new normal. My doctors in the past have assured me that this is not worsening anything, and that the benefits of exercise are worth it if I am not too uncomfortable. So, walk on, I say. I will continue my mission to try and heal lesions or help my body work around them through my diet and lifestyle choices. I am also hoping to prevent new damage with the new medication I am on, combined with efforts to reduce triggers like stress and sleep deprivation. Having a kid should be fun 😉

My thoughts about said baby – I am not perfect. I will do my best, though, and more importantly promise to not leave it at that. To not just throw my hands up and say, “well, I tried with the hand I was dealt.” My commitment to you, little one, as I feel you wiggle around in my belly is that I will help you grow not only physically but give you as many tools as I can for you to grow emotionally and spiritually as well. As you grow, I promise that I will grow with you. I will not stop learning and adapting and making myself better in order to better assist you. There is a lot you will have to do on your own. Just know that I’ll equip you the best I can to deal with the ups and downs. The journey of life isn’t always easy but it’s oh so worth it.

And to my friends, family, and fellow humans out there, let’s all keep in mind that we are all figuring out this thing called life. We can’t judge others because we don’t know what they are going through. Right now I’m working out where my comfort level is at on a couple of different levels. For the most part, at first glance I look like a young, healthy person. But, I’m immune compromised and pregnant. I feel like it would be irresponsible to not take coronavirus seriously. That does not mean that I live my life in fear, terrified of this thing. Nor does it mean that ignoring it is the best idea. I need to remember that others have their reasons for being more nonchalant about this. They have been different places, seen different things, and have different experiences in other time periods. As we head into what may be a tough winter for many, just a gentle plea to remember to find that grey area, work through it all together, and be freakin’ nice to each other.

All my love,

Published by Aimee Straw

Diagnosed with MS at 29, my journey toward higher heart and soul really began to unfold and flourish a few years later when I started to accept, and embrace, who I really am. There are many lessons to learn along the way and I am excited to share my story in the hopes that I can connect with and inspire others.

4 thoughts on “The Big News

  1. Aimee, thanks for sharing. Although I’m sure they are both difficult but healing to write, I love reading these posts from you, they put things in perspective for me. Stay positive… -Rick

    Liked by 1 person

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