To My Unborn Son, From Your Mom With Rheumatoid Arthritis
As it gets closer to the time when you will make your appearance in the world, there are some things I would like you to know.
I want you to know what a miracle you are. The doctors keep telling me that you should be impossible. That the chemo and meds should have left me infertile. That once my autoimmunity began to rise, we were told we would lose you. I want you to know that even though your dad and I had to have a difficult conversation around medical termination, we decided to fight for you for as long as you fought for yourself. We placed our trust in you rather than the doctors.
I want you to know how beautiful it has been to see you on every scan, to hear your heartbeat and to feel you kick and grow. I hope you never have to understand how frightening it has been. How difficult it was when they couldn’t see your left foot on a 12-week scan, and I spent the night looking at pictures of child prostheses and tried to prepare myself. Or what it felt like to be told far too often to anticipate your loss or to accept you would probably be born severely disabled.
I want you to know I cried during the 20-week scan and your dad nearly passed out. Not because any of the dire predictions made about you were true, but because you proved absolutely how right we were to fight for you.
I hope you understand the decision I had to make to restart medication that would leave me unable to breastfeed you. I would happily take any pain or damage my body in order to keep you safe, but ultimately, my body began to turn against you and put my health at serious risk. The best chance for both of us to survive was to take the meds. I want you to know how sorry I am that my autoimmunity had to affect you even before you are born.
I want you to know I will do what I can to protect you from the realities of my rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, I know I can’t fully protect you. You’ll see your mom in pain and I hate that. I’m frightened it will make it hard for me to hold you or to run around with you as you grow. I dread someone will ask what’s wrong with your mom. I do believe you’ll grow up with an extra level of tolerance and compassion because of what you will witness. I know you’ll have a great role model for coping with adversity, and that is one of the few gifts my health issues can give you.
I want you to know you’re so completely loved even before you’re born. I want you to know how proud I am of your fighting spirit. I promise I will always love you and fight for you my son.
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