More than one doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to have kids because of my lupus antibodies. But this week, my first baby turned two! It’s been a wild ride to get to this point, but I couldn’t be more thrilled. Brooklyn has been such a gift and we love her so much.
Back on that first day I was diagnosed, I was told that I had anti-SSA antibodies and I would probably not be able to bear children. These antibodies would attack the development of the fetal heart (specifically the SA node). Zach and I were understandably devastated and immediately started working through what this would mean for our family - we still wanted children so maybe this meant adoption? (I think that adoption is such a beautiful thing, really. I see how God has adopted us as his sons and daughters and I would love to model that for a child.)
Not long after that initial bombshell, my first Rheumatologist wanted to put me on medication that he said had a 90% chance of making me infertile. Umm, what?! I asked “Would you have given me this medication if you knew that I had lupus when I went to the hospital with heart failure?” “Maybe” he replied. “Then why would I start taking this now when I’m stable?!” I couldn’t believe it. So then he offered a second medication option saying “this one will only make you sort of infertile”. If only you saw my face in that moment, you would’ve helped me pick up my jaw. Needless to say, I sought out a new Rheumatologist. This time, one that specialized in the anti-SSA antibodies and would help me toward my goal of a ‘healthy’ (as healthy as can be expected with lupus) pregnancy.
The first task list I had was to a) end the heart medications that were not compliant with pregnancy, b) wean off the prednisone and imuran, and c) give my body at least 6 months flare free before trying to conceive. I could stay on my synthroid and plaquenil for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
I’ve found that doctors prefer to keep you on meds. It might be a bit of a money thing, and I think it also gives them peace of mind that you wont flare. You could say that I like to live dangerously because I really pushed to work toward my goal. Every appointment I made it clear what I was wanting and asked what we could do to take a step forward that day. I also did a ton of research so that I sort of knew what I was talking about and could ask more detailed questions. In the end, it was 11 months after my heart failure that I ended all of the meds that were not safe for pregnancy. Now all I had to do was wait 6 more months and pray that I didn’t have another flare!
Long story short, God blessed me with my lupus in remission and we were able to start getting excited for Brooklyn!
I saw a special high risk OB at Women’s Hospital and she made some recommendations and ordered some super detailed blood work. Because of my cardiolipin and anti-phospholipid antibodies (that cause blood clotting), I would need to take a low dose aspirin until about 37 weeks to help make sure blood passed through the placenta properly. I then started seeing a high risk OB that works out of St. Paul’s so that I could deliver there - this way they had all my history on file and my cardiologists down the hall just in case.
I saw my OB every week (EVERY WEEK) from 15 weeks gestation onwards so she could listen to the fetal heart with the doppler. This would give early detection if they suspected my antibodies were attacking the baby. I also had a special fetal echocardiogram at 20 weeks gestation and ultrasounds every 4 weeks from that point until delivery. There were a lot of appointments and it got really exhausting. Some days I was happy to see my baby or hear her heartbeat, but most of the time I sat marking my students’ science homework in the waiting room and driving home from the west end in the dark, rainy winter. There were lots of days I grieved how relaxed a normal pregnancy could’ve been, but then I remembered that I was thankful to be pregnant. Not going to lie though, our family plan became “2 is the new 4”.
Brooklyn’s birth day and the days surrounding it were not the greatest. She was born via emergency c-section and spent her first 48hours in the NICU. That first night, Zach and I had to leave her and go back to my room and as we sat there I said to him with tears streaming down my face “we’re parents now”; it felt so heartbreaking to be parents but to not have our baby with us.
The past two years with Brooklyn have been so fun! She loves to see people smile when she does something cute or funny, she’s recently gotten into telling jokes, and is super gentle with her baby brother. We’re so proud of how fast she learns and we love her relaxed and joyful attitude. Praying for God’s richest blessings on our little girl this year and many more to come!