Parenthood with arthritis: Katy's story

Written by Katy Pieris, 24 December

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs one ever does and if you have arthritis, you may feel overwhelmed by this challenge. Katy Pieris writes about the challenges she faced on her journey to motherhood, with arthritis

Will I ever be a Mum?

This is what I worried about when I was first diagnosed. Before beginning my medication, one of the first questions I was asked by my rheumatologist at 28; 'do you want children' and most importantly 'do you want them now?' How do you answer that? Marc and I hadn't had that discussion. What if he said no? For us, it was yes, but, not right now.

Reading and ‘googling’, I was shocked and horrified when I read about methotrexate and was always worried that it would lead to infertility (which I now understand to be highly unlikely).

Everyone talks about the journey to parenthood. For some it is quick, for others it takes years and for us, it was somewhere in the middle. Diagnosed with unexplained infertility, which I now think may have been a timing issue on our part and also a consequence of an unpredictable disease making it hard to plan and make time to do the deed. In the month we received IVF funding, I had started a new biologic drug, we also finally had the positive pregnancy test we had been longing for.

After what felt like a lifetime, 6 years post diagnosis, Aeon came into the world at a tiny 5 pounds 7. Now having just passed his fourth Christmas, here is what I have learnt - how living with rheumatoid arthritis can give you the strength to get through those hard and sleepless first few years of parenthood.


Exhaustion

  • Yes, motherhood exhaustion is very different to fatigue, but I believe the way to cope with it is very similar. My experience of fatigue really allowed me to get through those early months and my return to work.


Pain

  • When RA is not well controlled many people have chronic pain and it’s pain that lingers - my wrists always felt like they could shatter
  • As a new mum it’s either your boobs, nipples or your other private places, where you are in pain for weeks after. Therefore I feel you can handle this better as you can use the coping strategies you have built up from the disease.


Medical appointments

  • With RA in the early days for me all the appointments made me anxious because of the time I’d need to take off work and the fact I knew the majority would run late.
  • With a new-born baby - the weigh ins, the health visitors etc. Having been used to regularly being in a medical setting, I didn't feel as intimidated.

I am not going to lie, parenting with RA is tough and it has been a great learning experience. My advise to any new parent, is to ask for help when they need it.

- Katy Pieries

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