In my experience, it's hard to deny that living with cystic fibrosis makes things pretty tough every once in a while. But, I also know that there are moments that feel so much sweeter and more rewarding because of the influence of this disease. Finding out my husband and I are pregnant with our first baby this past winter is an example of one of those wonderful, amplified events. I still can't believe it -- we are truly pregnant and awaiting the arrival of our little joy due in September!
The minute that test turned positive, the questions that we had addressed before I was pregnant suddenly became much more pressing. Questions like: Will pregnancy cause me to decline? How will I manage the demands of being a mom while also caring for myself? Will my coughing bother the baby? Will I ever stop smiling? Will we find the right home to purchase? Am I eating enough calories? Can I eat sushi? Oh man, I really want sushi! The constant stream of inquiries was endless and, admittedly, sometimes ridiculous, but we got the hang of it eventually.
I had prepared myself mentally for feeling quite rubbish during pregnancy -- especially during that dreaded first trimester. Much to my surprise, however, I felt energized, gained an appropriate amount of weight, and even increased my lung function during those first 13 weeks and beyond. There did come a point where I wanted to throw my glucometer against the wall after days of wacky, uncontrolled blood sugars, but with a little patience and adjusting my insulin dosage, everything fell back on track. Thankfully, I started to gain confidence in my ability to be a healthy mom-to-be with CF, while knowing that I still have a long road ahead of me.
To keep myself calm and sensible during this exciting time (all new moms know every little twinge is filled with anxiety), I try to remember the following advice:
- My priority is to take care of my CF and -- in return -- my body will take care of the baby.
- Celebrate every week of gestation and take lots of pictures to remember this stage of life.
- Goodbye CF belly, and hello real baby belly; my body WILL change.
- It's OK to ask for help or forgo making dinner and ordering takeout -- rest is doubly important now.
- Finally, when the time comes for IVs to treat an exacerbation, I will be closely monitored and the baby will be kept safe.
Although not every pregnancy with CF will be similar, some women have a harder time than others. I am deeply encouraged that mine has gone smoothly so far. I am grateful for the time I devoted to preparing my body and ensuring stability because I believe those efforts played a role in our success and our immense joy right now.
We are excited for all the change and love that's coming our way. Only four more months to go before we meet our sweet reward and he or she joins us in this crazy life with cystic fibrosis!