My experience with Pregnancy and Psoriatic Arthritis
There are two things in life that are guaranteed to exhaust you: Pregnancy and PsA. Pregnancy is a battle in its own right, everything in your body goes to producing, incubating and protecting a very small and valuable life. Hormones are at an all time high, weight is gained at a scary rate and sleep is a distant memory you hope to see again soon. PsA is a daily rear end kicking autoimmune disorder that leaves so much of your body inflammated, being tired is a full time job. Imagine having both. To say I am exhausted would be a huge understatement.
But here I am: 34 years old, 26 weeks pregnant and taking infusion treatments every 8 weeks. It sounds crazy to say it, but this is my life. Never in a million years would I have thought that my body could endure so much at one time. To get to the point I have in my PsA treatments, I have gone from topical, to orals, to self injected biologics and landed on infusions. I will say since starting my infusion treatments, life is great. No skin flares at all. I still deal with aches and pains from the arthritis part, especially right before my infusion but honestly, I love my treatments and am happy to finally have something that works for me. But I am getting ahead of myself-that is another topic for another day. After finding out I am pregnant, my husband and my main concern was if I would be able to continue my treatments and safely carry this baby. The answer is yes. But let me be frank now. This sucks. It does. I had my first son 8 years ago. The pregnancy was perfect and so was my labor and delivery. No hiccups, no epidural and an 8 pound 6 ounce perfect little man I named Avery and has been the light of my life ever since.
The light of my life also brought forward some darkness though. See I did not have psoriasis back then. I was diagnosed with PsO a few months after delivering my sweet baby boy. I was told that it happens and pregnancy can lead to the unveiling of autoimmune disorders. This was in 2009; in 2013 I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. My skin flares were so aggressive and progressively worse, I visibly had PsA. Only now do I realize my aching back and stiffs joints were caused by that. I thought I was just getting old I guess. So now, 8 years later and an entire medical journal of failed treatments and doctors appointments, I am expecting my second son in April.
Pregnancy causes some women’s psoriasis symptoms to stop. I am not one of those women. I have woken up stiff and unable to move more times than I can count. People keep telling me I am lucky to be pregnant in the winter but I disagree. That may be true for a woman without PsA but my fellow aches and flakes can tell you that the winter is not our friend. Cold weather makes things hurt and flare and there is little to nothing we can do to control this. I have abused my heating pad and the heated seats in my husband’s car are not for warmth but for comfort. So, in addition to the discomfort of normal pregnancy pains, I am having joint flares at the same time. Now since I am being 100% honest let me tell you this little secret. I can’t tell what pains are caused by pregnancy and what is caused by arthritis anymore. I know that some of this is pregnancy because I am currently 30 pounds heavier than usual and my bones and ligaments are stretching and shifting to make room for the baby. But my joints and cranky arthritic bones are not pleased with my womb mate. It is a double whammy of unreal discomfort. I am over the moon about my newest little man and cannot wait to meet him; all of the pain and bags under my eyes from lack of sleep, are totally worth bringing this little person into the world. I would not change that for the world. But I would be lying if I told you this was easy. My advice to anyone with PsO or PsA would be to educate yourself and know what you could be in for. It is not easy but nothing worth doing ever has been. Talk to your medical team and be prepared to have more staff added on because I now have a high risk OBGN that is the only one of my many medical advisors that has experience with pregnancy and the type of treatment I am on. Know your options, some medications you cannot take while pregnant or breastfeeding, others you can. You do not have to stop treatment unless you want to, if you want to continue treatments there are options for you out there so do not be afraid to ask. Mostly importantly be sure the people who are on this road with you are ready and understand what is in store. I am lucky to have the most amazing husband in the world and a son that is just as amazing. My boys take care of me. They get me blankets, snacks, hugs and love and they never complain. Without them I would be lost and I love them both more than I could ever express. Now I am waiting for my third special guy to join us and to get my body back top myself. I am tired of sharing and would like to sleep on my stomach please.