I made a rule at some point as a woman that I would not have kids after I was 35. This came about mostly as a result of my own experiences with a mother that had her last child at 47. And I don’t think it should be a universal rule by any means, but it is a rule I made for myself, for whatever reason. (Truthfully, I have since discarded that rule and would have one more if there wasn’t the risk of Lyme-ing the kid all up.)
So, in January of 2010, I had decided to have one more baby. And I was 35 years old. I figured it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I bent my personal rule a little and became PREGNANT at 35. I would still deliver after 36, but I didn’t feel like I was cheating too much. So, with my birthday at the beginning of October, I needed to become pregnant in or before September. All year long I kept feeling the impression that I would conceive in August.
Now, in April I was becoming a little baby hungry or anxious or impatient, or all three. I started to worry that I wouldn’t get pregnant right away, so even though I knew August was my month, I figured we had better start trying a few months beforehand. What if it took awhile (it never had in the past, but still…)? And I told myself, “Hey, you are not getting any younger.”. So, we stopped using birth control in April. And I didn’t get pregnant in April, or May, or June. Very unusual for me.
Of course, I started wondering what was wrong, and why I wasn’t getting pregnant. But, I kept feeling the reassurance that it would happen in August. Just relax. It will happen in August.
Then in June, I was outside playing volleyball with my kids and I noticed I couldn’t run. My right leg was slow. Over the next few days, it started dragging more and more. While I was painting my girls’ bedroom, my right arm was so weak and shaky that I had to use two hands to steady myself while cutting in. Within a week, I was limping badly and my hand was too weak to use.
I started going back to doctors.
Someday I will write about going to a neurosurgeon’s office and being asked to fill out a giant stack of New Patient information with a right hand that no longer worked. Or being asked to walk back and forth in front of the doctor and a med student while the doctor pointed out all the things that were wrong with my gait. “See how her foot turns in there? That is due to the blah blah medical term.”. “See how her hand tremors when she opens it? That is from the something something.”. And then being told, while sitting alone in the exam room, in a matter-of-fact manner that I probably have ALS. Did he think I didn’t know what ALS was? Do doctors tell patients they are dying so nonchalantly? Like it isn’t a big deal? Like it isn’t the end?
I cry every time I think about that appointment. Leaving his office and limping down the sidewalk, sobbing so hard I could hardly breathe. I hate that doctor and at the same time, I owe him everything. Any diagnosis received after that has felt like a blessing.
The next morning, I was rushed in for MRIs of my brain and spine, was told I had MS, and the rest of July was a blur of tests and treatments. After talking to my doctor and getting the go ahead, we stuck with our plan to conceive in August. And conceive we did.
Halfway through my pregnancy, I was disappointed to learn that the midwife that had delivered Jane and Kitty was no longer doing deliveries. And despite never being interested in a home birth before, I kept feeling lead in that direction. There is only one midwife team that delivers in my town. At my first appointment with my new midwife, I asked her if it was safe for someone with MS to deliver at home. She said, (and you might think this is crazy because I did, too, at the time) “I don’t believe in MS. I think there is usually something else causing it, like Lyme disease. Have you been tested for Lyme?”
I think I have seen close to 10 different medical professionals trying to figure out what is happening with my body, and my new midwife, Kristin, was the only one that suggested it could be Lyme. Not only suggested, but pushed me to get more testing.
So, if I had become pregnant in April, my original midwife would have delivered my baby and I never would have met Kristin. If I had become pregnant in May or June, I might have met Kristin, but I wouldn’t have had my huge, mega-flare, and wouldn’t have been diagnosed with MS yet. And I never would have had a reason to discuss MS and Lyme disease with her. I became pregnant in August, when God had told me I would, after the realization that there was something very wrong with my body, after being diagnosed, and after my heart had broken. He helped me pick up the pieces and put someone in my path that could help me discover the real problem.
To me, the fact that this all fell into place so perfectly kind of blows my mind.
However, I didn’t immediately believe that Lyme was the problem. Tomorrow I will wrap this all up and tell you what changed my mind.