It was early December 2018. I was 13 weeks pregnant and in the Hospital Emergency Department after suddenly losing the feeling and strength in the right side of my body.
I was supposed to play tennis that evening and interclub on Saturday. I had always been an active and sporty person, but I was struggling to play tennis due to strength and coordination issues. I ended up having to switch tennis for swimming in January. Swimming turned out to be a perfect exercise for my pregnancy and meant I could keep my fitness up as the weeks rolled on by. I was also going to the gym, doing pregnancy yoga classes and seeing a movement teacher.
After further tests I was diagnosed with MS in April 2019 at 31 weeks pregnant. I was devastated, but at the same time relieved, as now I could make a plan for how to manage my symptoms and also get used to my ‘new body’.
My diagnosis came one week after my boyfriend and I bought a house for our little family. It was 100 years old and needed quite a bit of work before we could move in with a baby. I was working full time up until when I went on parental leave in May 2019. I had a really good pregnancy, despite the MS symptoms, and enjoyed being pregnant.
I was very fortunate to have a midwife who kept a close eye on me to make sureboth bubs and I had the best care. The MS Nurse at the hospital connected me with the Wellington MS Society who provided me with resources and contacts for other people with MS. Luckily, I was eligible for a Disease Modifying Treatment (DMT) that I could start once I gave birth to my baby.
In June, I gave birth naturally to a healthy baby boy. Five days later I had my first DMT infusion. It was initially hard being away from my newborn so early into his life, but I am lucky to have family who can look after him when I get my infusions. My family have also been amazing at helping with our house renovation.
MS does give me extra challenges to overcome as a new mum, but with any problem there is a solution and me and bubs are working through it really well, one day at a time.
Being an active mum helps keep me fit and having a house renovation project on at the same time keeps my mind sharp. I have been working hard on my physical strength and coordination and was able to play social tennis in September, which was another milestone to celebrate.
I feel very grateful for the treatment available in NZ for MS, compared to what was available 10 or 20 years ago. My main focus is being a mum to my baby boy, and I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m doing ok at being his mummy.
I hope that by sharing my story, it may help other new mums with MS, as well as help others to understand the strength of people with MS as they problem-solve their way through the challenges they face on a daily basis.
To read more stories see My Story. My Strength. My MS.