Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Hugs, kisses and empathy

A while back, just after I had Charlotte, I was interviewed for parenting website Parentdish. It's a wonderfully informative site and I was delighted to be asked to talk about my decision to have children following my diagnosis.
I think the only way to educate people about MS is to talk about it. It's what I do here and it's something I don't hide from many people. If anything, I'm probably too open, but that's just my nature.
One of the comments on that post was from someone who obviously has no idea what having MS entails because she wrote that I was insensitive and selfish to have children when I knew that I had MS.
At the time I was incensed, disgusted and annoyed that someone who didn't know me, or anything about MS, would cast such a judgement.
After all, there are plenty of parents out there that face illness and much more, after giving birth to their offspring.
For us, it was never really an issue. Both Joe and I have always wanted to be parents and we took the attitude that MS is NOT the worst thing that could happen to me.
More than that, I personally feel that my children will grow up with a more rounded view of the world. They will see that not everything in life is easy.
And I can already see in Charlotte, who just turned two in November, a sense of empathy, caring and love that can only come from having a 'sick' mummy.
Last week my heart nearly melted when I said I was going to bed for a quick lie down (my legs have been playing up and rest, however small, helps) and she was straight over giving me a hug, saying 'Aww, mummy's not feeling well. I kiss it better mummy'.
I was quick to say I wasn't really sick, just a bit tired, because of course I have that maternal instinct where I want to protect her from the harsh realities of what MS means, but I am also incredibly proud of the fact she is so sympathetic.
She's a hugs kind of girl, who squeezes so tight sometimes I can hardly breathe. And I think that's what matters. She knows love. I must kiss her wee cheeks about thirty times a day.
And when I am well, we bake buns until we can eat no more, we dance around the kitchen like eejits, we play in the garden even when it's cold.
I make sure that she sees that life can be good, and it's the little things that count.
That, for me, is enough.
I am proud to be a mum with Multiple Sclerosis and until you live a day in my life, or walk a mile in my shoes, don't judge me or question my choices.

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Almost halfway there!

Ten days late but here's month four! I'll try harder to be on time this month.

Month four

One of the most annoying symptoms of MS that I have is one that's not exactly 'sexy'. Basically my bladder doesn't operate like anybody else's, if I need to go, I need to go and that happens a lot. In medical terms they call it 'urgency and frequency'. See, not very sexy.
It was one of the symptoms that presented itself WAY before I was diagnosed and the one that I was most thankful to have an answer for once I the diagnosis of MS was given. And I know that sounds a bit mad but honestly, I thought I was going mad before the diagnosis. In fact, I even had hypnotherapy because so many people had told me that my need to 'go' was in my head. 
And it wasn't. Well, not like everyone thought.
Because essentially it was my head, but it was just the MS lesions. My bladder wasn't behaving because the signals from my brain are all out of sync.
And once I got the diagnosis I was finally given medication to help.
Once a day I take a little blue tablet and in the time that I have been given it, my bladder mostly behaves. At least 98% of the time.
Now, in pregnancy, I have stopped taking the little blue tablets and while I know it's incredibly important for the baby, I cannot say that stopping the medication was something I looked forward to.
It gave me my life back and I don't say that lightly. 
However, as anyone who has been pregnant knows, your bladder is something that plays up and without my medication it has been doubly-hard to deal with. 
But thankfully, in month four, the symptoms seem to be easing.
For weeks I was getting no proper sleep because I was up every two to three hours and combined with the normal tiredness I was starting to get down about it.
So, it's great to finally be past that stage.
Otherwise, month four has been quiet. The baby is growing but my normal clothes mostly fit, bar my trousers which need an elastic in the buttonhole to make them stretch a but more! 
Cravings are minimal but I am eating more often. Smaller meals, but more often, because if I don't my tummy rumbles and I can't think straight. 
But generally this pregnancy is going well and for that I am incredibly thankful.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

We're having another baby! Months 1-3

It's so ridiculously late but I am hoping to blog every month about my second pregnancy so it makes sense to talk about the first three months before I catch up and post month four!
As regards planning this second baby, me having MS was definitely a huge consideration. First of all my husband and I had to decide how we would manage and when the time would be right.
In the 18 months following Charlotte's birth I was convinced that we would wait until she was at least at nursery before having any more. Kids are hard work and I had a tough year last year with two relapses hitting me hard in a six month period.
But as we reached the end of 2012 it became clear that health-wise I was doing the best I had for a long, long time.
I had already stopped taking any disease-modifying drugs, after feeling that the side effects were too difficult to manage, so when the discussion of a second baby arose I have to say we were both positive about taking the leap sooner rather than later.
MS is so unpredictable that it seemed silly for us to try and map out the future perfectly. Instead, we took my good fortune and relatively good health as a sign and decided that there was no better time than to have baby two.
When I fell pregnant with Charlotte I have to say I wasn't counting the days until I could take a pregnancy test, I just felt if it happened then great but with this one, I went through five tests, all coming up negative, before number six showed the faint red line we were hoping for. It was a strange feeling because I knew I was testing too early with the first five but I was so convinced that I was pregnant that I couldn't help myself! And when we found out it was an amazing feeling.
It felt, once again, that we had made the right decision, that falling pregnant so easily was a sure-fire sign that this baby was coming at the right time.
The following weeks were pretty tough. I suffered from morning sickness with Charlotte but this time I was nauseous morning, noon and night. I could hardly eat and even now, at week 20, I weigh less than when I first fell pregnant.
My body seems to do that though, as I lost quite a bit in my first pregnancy too.
The tiredness was also really tough but I think everyone gets that and I always take it and the sickness as a good sign that the baby is growing well! My husband was really good and let me spend quite a bit of the first 13 weeks in bed when I needed to rest.
We also kept the pregnancy much quieter this time, not really telling anyone outside of our close family until the 13 week scan and it was really hard.
But it was lovely to have the scan the week before Christmas and let everyone know at Christmas gatherings - and everyone has been so excited for us.
Cravings wise I haven't had many but in the early days I was eating whatever I could manage and unbelievably, for about two weeks, all I wanted was fast food.
I rarely eat at the chip shop or at McDonalds and the like, but I ate about six bags of chips over those two weeks, absolutely covered in salt. Very strange.
Then the week before Christmas we were at my husband's parents' for a lunch and I was suddenly hungry. I think my mother-in-law couldn't believe her eyes as usually I'm a small enough eater, but on this occasion I had about three helpings of potatoes.
My appetite was back with a vengeance ......