I have no advice, only experience.
If you can learn from mine or if my suffering brings you comfort in feeling less alone, I am grateful. I feel purposeful when I've connected with another Lyme sufferer....and yet I also feel helpless because aside from camaraderie, we're all in the same boat of 'not knowing' in terms of our health.
I'm writing today as many emails have come in asking about the baby. And in such a timely manner! Massimo was born just two short weeks ago, perfectly healthy. While I don't have documentation or test results that tell me this, I've decided to take the approach that 'no news is good news' and completely rely on God to show us when to be worried and when to pursue tests and/or treatment. Instead, we will focus on celebrating his arrival and enjoying his presence. I thank God for him every single day. This baby, for me, is a sign of a new beginning. While I don't want to think of this as starting over, as I am never regretful of experiences I've had (even one as horrible as a chronic illness), I do love the chance God has given me to be a mommy once again.
As far as my last blog post mentioning feeling lonely and unsupported, I need to update that as well.
While I don't always feel like I have the support I want, God has given me the friends I need. I have a small number of supportive friends and family members that have shown me love in various ways: I am not alone. I am supported. This pregnancy has been a way for people to reach out and help in ways they know how. Unfortunately with Lyme, there's no 'protocol' in knowing how to help...with a new baby, there is. So, the path for support has been paved by years and years of tradition and understanding. And, you know what? I'll take it. Maybe that's part of God's redemptive gift to me as well.
The only hurdle I've had to deal with recently is showing folks my situation. As the postpartum time is usually typically, I've had to show them some understanding and insight into the fact that my postpartum time is NOT typical. I've had to say no A LOT. I've had to be protective of my physical and mental and emotional health A LOT. It's hard because I'm reaching out to people, telling them, "please help me". And while they are willing, I also have to tell them, "No, that's not helpful....THIS is." That's hard. It's hard to direct people into helping you properly because there's a part of you that feels like you come across ungrateful or particular.... beggars shouldn't be choosers, right? But honestly, this is a growing experience between ones I love and those who love me. We're working out the kinks and hopefully will come to a more fruitful relationship because of it.
So, practically, how has Lyme looked since I've been pregnant and beyond?
Well, during my pregnancy, I was T-I-R-E-D. In my life, I've experienced pregnancy tired and Lyme tired individually. This was like a combo of the two. Also, during my pregnancy, in the first trimester, I had joint pain. I also had a severe cold that I could not shake for about 6 weeks so I'm unsure if the joint pain would have persisted had I not been dealing with the early stages of pregnancy along with a lowered immune system with my cold. But those were my main ailments. I also dealt with many dips and spikes with my thyroid. I believe most of this was caused by my existing medication, Armour Thyroid, along with the fact that your TSH dips when you are in your first Trimester as it is working overtime for growing a baby. Before getting pregnant, I was taking a significant amount of Armour. By my 2nd trimester, I had dropped my dosage to 1/3 of what I was originally taking. This was actually counter-intuituve to my OB and the super-dumb Endocrinologist's thinking as they only want people taking Synthroid and never wanted me to take Armour. Through my own research, I learned that Armour increases your T3 which can lower your TSH reading. The OB was concerned about my near non-existent TSH was affecting the growth of the baby so I got referred to a high risk doc who bashed my Lyme treatment protocol and put me in the category of 'typical high risk'. This means, regardless of the info I was giving him, he was just going to 'go by the book' of his regular treatment of high risk mommas. So, to save myself the trouble, I dropped that guy and told my OB I'd rather just keep up with monthly ultrasounds in her office until she sees a reason to direct me back to him.
Believe me, folks, while I sound confident in my synopsis of this time, I assure you each step was filled with worry of if I was doing the right thing. Again, my experience with Lyme Disease has brought me closer to relying on reasoning, practical thought, prayer, and not always a doctor's "just because" protocol.
Because of the extreme fatigue, I never felt like I got that burst of energy that most people enjoy in their 2nd trimester. But aside from that, my 2nd trimester was pretty typical in terms of symptoms. My thyroid leveled out, I dropped that Endocrinologist, and moved on. Enjoying the kicks, the movement, and the growing and growing and growing of my baby belly. :)
By my 3rd trimester, I was DONE. I will assume this is from being pregnant before and nothing really to do with Lyme. When you've navigated the trail of pregnancy before, there's nothing magical about the ending weeks. You are just ready to not be pregnant, and more importantly, ready to hold your baby.
I stayed on my antibiotic the entire pregnancy and have continued with the same one postpartum. I believe I will need to switch soon but don't want to throw anything new into the mix until I have my bearings. Functioning on little sleep can rock me physically and I don't want to assume my meds aren't working just because I need a nap. :)
The best part of the ending weeks of my pregnancy was the confidence God gave me as new worries were presented to me. That sounds weird, right?
However, I believe that God used these new worries to show me how normal I'd become. How much my life was not covered in Lyme Disease issues but 'normal people' issues. This may be strange to comprehend, but please believe me friends, I know it is true:
During the final weeks, my OB was anxious to get my baby OUT. As I mentioned before, I was ready to be done too. However, I firmly believe that babies will come when they are ready. Especially in my case, as I don't have direct medical reason to induce or have a C-section. My doctor has a hard time being patient and the last few days approaching my due date we verbally wrestled where the baby rightly belonged, inside or outside my belly. She made strong efforts to push me into induction by having me undergo many ultrasounds and tests, hoping to indicate SOME sort of leverage that meant I would be wrong to turn down an induction.
So, in the end, regardless of her tactics, once again, I had to rely on reasoning, practical thought, and prayer. This brought me closer to God and gave me more confidence in myself. This confidence also came from the fact that I had to admit, I am doing 100 times better than I was when I was first diagnosed with Lyme.
YES 100 times better.
Lyme friends, let this be a hope for you.
Am I scared that my symptoms will come crashing back into my life? You betcha.
Especially since my first symptoms started at the END OF A PREGNANCY. Why wouldn't I think that it could happen again? Am I going to let the worry consume me? Absolutely not.
At this point in my Lyme Story, I've had many points of sadness and despair. I've also had so much growth and even happiness and restoration.
I've heard of people going through a relapse. And is seems so sad, especially when you read their account online and see the joy they are experiencing just to find that months or years later they feel like they are back at square one.
So, am I scared?
I can be scared of many things. I won't mention the other things we wrap ourselves in fear of. But we all have them. We all know that there's no guarantee what tomorrow brings, Lyme Disease or not.
I know that today I get to breathe in my newborn baby's wonderful sent. I know that I get to hold his tiny hands and cup both of his long buy miniature feet into my one hand. I know that my family is all filled with joy to have this new person bring joy to our lives. I know that I get to laugh, and love, and enjoy my family and friends.
Anything beyond that, I can't worry about it. I plug along, I take my precautions with taking care of my body, mind, and soul. I hop into this crazy life roller coaster, strap myself in, and enjoy the ride with my arms outstretched. I'll be thrilled during the highs and ride out the lows taking in each moment as a gift from God.