This is something that many of us worry about in regard to our children, or ourselves. Thankfully, I wasn't diagnosed or on any of the strong meds I am now when I was pregnant. I should have been but that's a whole other story. You can follow Mariah on Facebook or on her personal blog, the link is at the bottom of her post.
My name is Mariah and I have arthritis. Unlike Jordan, I didn’t grow up with arthritis. Instead, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at the age of 25 while I was right in the middle of law school. The diagnosis brought with it a lot of fear. I was very scared about what arthritis meant for my life and my future. Would I be able to finish school? What about my career? Would I still be able to hike and snowboard and do all the active outdoor things that I loved?
But perhaps my deepest, darkest fear was whether I would still be able to start a family. I had a loving partner and though we weren’t yet married at the time of my diagnosis, we already knew we wanted to get married and have kids. It was very important to us. But would I be able to get pregnant with RA? And, even if I did, how would I manage to be a good mother with all of the pain and fatigue I was dealing with? I felt lost and alone. It seemed like almost no one was talking about the issue of pregnancy, motherhood, and arthritis.
But slowly I found and connected with other women in my situation. I read Stacey’s story. I read Lana’s story. I read Christina’s story. I read Suzie May’s story. And even though their stories confirmed my fears that pregnancy and motherhood would be even more difficult with arthritis, they also helped me feel less isolated and alone. They helped me find hope and determination as I started down the path to motherhood. They helped me find the courage to share my own story too.
I think pregnancy, motherhood, and arthritis is an extremely important topic that doesn’t get enough attention. Seventy percent of people with RA are women, and many of them, like me, are still of childbearing age and may still want to have families. And there are thousands upon thousands of little girls, like Jordan, growing up with JA who may also want to become mothers someday. Those of us who have already traveled the rocky path of motherhood with arthritis owe it to those girls to provide answers, support, and, perhaps most importantly, hope. And even if we never meet in person, we can still support each other through bravely sharing our stories on blogs like this one.
So thank you, Stacey, for your help on my own journey to motherhood. I hope maybe someday I can return the favor to Jordan.