As a young adult who has been dealing with RA since I was five years old, it’s very important to me to be transparent and share with others about my journey. I want to raise awareness because RA is so frequently misunderstood: I’ve even had ER doctors tell me they thought only older people got arthritis! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be selected to appear on the Dr. Phil show to talk about my experience with RA.
Being on Dr. Phil was an incredible experience. The producers spent so much time talking with me in the days leading up to the taping. We discussed many different aspects of my life and how RA has impacted those areas. I surprised myself by sharing one issue I’ve been wrestling with for a while but haven’t spoken about publicly because I was and still am in the process of figuring it out: the desire to have a baby.
Until even ten years ago, RA patients were advised by their doctors not to get pregnant, and there are some rheumatologists who still stick with that line of thinking. I very much appreciate the caution of these doctors. After all, we RA patients have very real physical limitations that can’t always be predicted, and we’re asking to take care of someone else as well as ourselves!
At the same time, so much progress is being made for RA patients, with new medicines and an ever-better understanding of the condition. Many of us, myself included, have a deep-rooted longing for motherhood. I don’t want to be defined by my RA. I want to experience the hopes and dreams I have for myself and my husband even if my experience is a little different.
I’m fortunate because I’ve had the chance to see friends with RA go through pregnancy and become mothers. And I say fortunate because my friends have shared with me not only the joys, but also the very real things they’ve experienced when things didn’t go as hoped. Some of my family members call me a “dreamer” when I talk about kids, but in my mind, I am grounded in the reality of what could happen, and knowing all the risks, I still hold onto this hope.
It’s not an easy issue, and it’s one my husband and I go back and forth on constantly. He is so supportive, my number-one fan, and I know that he worries about me. I also know that he has to be on board for us to go forward because I can’t do this without him. At the same time, we share such a deep love that expanding our family seems like a natural step.
For right now, we’re in a holding pattern. We are discussing with my doctor what my treatment options are while I am trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and after giving birth.
I don’t know how things will go, and I don’t know what the future ultimately holds. But I do know that this is where Andres and I are now in our journey together. I believe that as patients, we are better walking together and understanding what each other are going through, than by keeping it to ourselves. That’s why I strive to be as open as possible about my RA journey and why I’m sharing this with you. I hope that you find peace as you navigate the pursuit of your dreams – whatever they may be – as a person who also has RA.