Pregnant, NMO, and a Bad Winter
Pregnancy is a beautiful part of life. It's incredible to think about what our bodies can naturally do on their own. My husband and I were thrilled when I became pregnant with my second child. But before that, I was unknowingly experiencing symptoms of NMO.
Pregnancy and NMO - my complicated story
I was not formally diagnosed with NMO while pregnant with my second child. But, I was experiencing NMO symptoms before and after my pregnancy. At the time, I never imagined this was part of a bigger issue like NMO. Here is my pregnancy and NMO story.
My symptoms - was it NMO or pregnancy?
Before becoming pregnant with my second child, I had bladder I truly believed it was from my first natural childbirth, which is what my urologist told me. I went through a series of testing at the time, but everything came out fine regarding my kidneys and bladder.
I also had bowel incontinence, which was super embarrassing. I experienced two very embarrassing bowel incontinence episodes in public, resulting in rushing home to clean up.
Around this time, I was also getting reoccurring migraines and painful eyeball movement with blurred vision. I was taking over-the-counter medications for this and thought the eye pain must be from the migraines.
My leg, knee, and ankle would sometimes spasm so that I would fall in random places - also very embarrassing. But before my second pregnancy, I had no serious issues walking. Still, some parts of my leg would spontaneously tighten up on me, almost like a charley horse, which was very painful, by the way. This caused me to limp at times, but I never thought it would affect me greatly.
Not paying much mind to my light incontinence, migraines, and occasional tightness in my leg, my husband and I decided to try for another baby.
My second pregnancy
With my second pregnancy, my husband and I tried for eight months. It became really stressful, considering that our first pregnancy was a breeze, and getting pregnant a second time was a bit more difficult. When we were going to start searching for a fertility clinic, we became pregnant. It was such a blessing!
The confusing difficulties continued after we became pregnant
There was no real explanation as to why we were having difficulties. At the same time, I wasn’t working with a team of doctors. I was naturally going with the flow of life, seeing what would happen. During my pregnancy, I experienced the total opposite of my first pregnancy.
I experienced morning sickness and constant headaches, and I became very anemic. I wanted to smell paint and eat chalk, the weirdest but most satisfying craving! Although I didn’t eat chalk, I did have a prescription medication for my low iron.
The first time I fell - was it NMO?
I was pregnant with my second child during the winter of 2014 and 2015. One morning, at seven months pregnant, it had snowed over 110cm in New England. I dropped off my son at daycare. Walking down the rubber-covered stairs, I fell six steps down.
I believed at the time that this was a combination of the lack of cleanliness of the wet floors from all the snow and the rubber stairs. I couldn’t remember feeling the tightness in my legs. Everything happened so fast. I sat at the bottom of the stairs in shock at what had just happened.
I can’t remember if I slipped or if my leg gave out. Frankly, at the time, it didn’t matter. The safety of my unborn child was what mattered. Thankfully, there was a witness - a gentleman - who helped me get up, sat me down on a chair and offered to call an ambulance.
Driven by adrenaline
At that moment, I was in shock, and refused an ambulance. Another lady stepped forward and told me to go to the hospital immediately, and I thought, "I’m okay. I don’t need to." They walked me to my car and made sure I was OK to drive. While I repeatedly assured them I was fine, they insisted on taking me to the hospital.
Early onset contractions
As soon as the car door shut, I felt a pain, it was a contraction! I called my husband and drove to the hospital, fearing the worst and hoping for the best.
From the time I dropped off my son at 9 AM, I was in the hospital for 8 hours. My contractions were coming on slowly and painfully. The hospital staff did everything possible to stop my labor, and thankfully they did. I got an injection in my buttocks and was ordered bed rest for a week.
This fall was an incident I often question myself about. Was it NMO? Did NMO cause me to fall, or was it just the weather? I will never know or be able to remember because the safety of my unborn child at that moment was more important to me.
Diagnosed with NMO shortly after giving birth
I can happily say that in April 2015, I gave birth at 37 weeks to a healthy baby boy. In June 2015, I started having NMO flares that rocked my world. By May 2016, I was officially diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica.
Were you misdiagnosed, prior to being diagnosed with NMOSD?