I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, in fact I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things lately but it seems I never have the time nor the energy. I guess being 35 weeks pregnant does that to you.
Now that I’m on maternity leave I have made myself sit down and start writing ideas for my blog as well as a list of shoots that need blogging over on my photography website so fingers crossed I can manage my time slightly better.
This post came about due to the number of people who asked me early on in my pregnancy about my medication and whether or not I was going to stop taking it. It’s one of those taboo subjects that make me feel a little uncomfortable as some people disagreed with me continuing to take medication whilst being pregnant.
So let’s talk a little about my meds and why I’ve chosen to take them throughout.
As you may already know I have Crohn’s disease and it means I need to be on medication for life to keep it under control. People with crohns can experience periods of remission and also flare ups where the affected area of the bowels become inflamed.
Unfortunately for me I conceived during a flare up, which I was advised not to do. This is because the mother needs to be healthy in order to make sure pregnancy runs as smoothly as possible. If you read my pregnancy announcement blog you’ll know we weren’t really trying to get pregnant but we weren’t preventing it so obviously knew there was a chance it would happen. And this flare had been going on for well over a year so y’know, it kinda became the norm for me.
Anyway pregnancy made my crohns worse, which it can do, although some women experience a period of remission whilst pregnant. I got to the point where I couldn’t leave the house without worrying about where the nearest toilet was or we’d leave to take the dog out and then I’d have to come rushing back to use the toilet. There’s no warning with crohns, you just all of a sudden HAVE to get to a toilet and it can be really life consuming.
I was told from day one not to come off my medication. I take mercaptopurine which is a drug they give to leukaemia patients and if you read about this drug during pregnancy you will get a lot of mixed responses. Some scared the shit out of me I won’t lie and I wanted to stop taking these tablets to do what was best for my baby. But I also knew there would be a higher risk of miscarriage if my flare got worse.
As you can imagine I felt terrible for taking this medication but I also have to listen to what my doctor advises, after all, that is their job. After waiting it out and seeing my symptoms get worse I finally decided that I needed something else other than my current medication but because I’m pregnant they could not change my meds, they could only offer me steroids. Since being diagnosed I’ve tried to avoid taking steroids as I hate what they do to me physically, which is ridiculous really and shouldn’t even cross my mind, especially as I knew I was going to gain a lot of weight from being pregnant. But nobody likes the ‘moonface’ that comes with taking steroids.
I took them for 3 months and it was the best decision I made. I’d forgotten how amazing steroids can make you feel and how they completely clear up my crohns altogether.
It’s been a few months since I came off them and I’m still in remission but continuing to take mercaptopurine. Initially, after the steroids had done their job, I stopped taking this medication because it clearly doesn’t work anyway but my consultant wasn’t happy with this and so I started them again.
How does this make me feel knowing that I take a medication which has been linked to birth defects?
Pretty shit to be honest.
And when people ask me about it and whether or not it’s good for the baby, I feel so guilty. I know I’m being judged for this decision but unless you’ve lived with something like crohns, you really have no idea what you would do in the same situation. I couldn’t go through 9 months the way I was and I would never have forgiven myself if I’d miscarried due to not keeping this disease under control.
It does keep me awake at night, I won’t lie, and even though we are having extra scans due to this pregnancy being high risk I still worry about birth defects in my unborn child.
Once he is born they want to start me on anti TNF therapy, which is given via a tube in the arm. It’s kinda like having chemo as you have to go in to hospital every 6-8 weeks to have it done. If I choose to have this treatment I will not be able to breast feed, another sore subject for some people. Of course I want to give my baby the best start in life and I will try to give breast-feeding a go initially but if I have to stop I’m not going to beat myself up about it. There are plenty of perfectly healthy children out there who were formulae fed from day one so I really don’t think it’s the be all and end all. And if it means I can finally live for a few years in total remission, then of course I will grab that with both hands.
I only have 5 weeks to go till my baby is born and we have our last growth scan just after Christmas to check all is ok. I have to admit, this is the one benefit of having a high risk pregnancy– extra scans. Getting to see him every 4 weeks is amazing and knowing that his development is being monitored really helps to keep the guilt of taking such strong medication at bay.
Roll on January is all I can say!
I would love to hear from others who have been through the same thing. Has anyone else taken this medication during their pregnancy? Leave a comment below!
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