A mother's tale
Sandy Winters shares her doubly delightful story with NRAS
My consultant kept reassuring me that once I was pregnant there was a good chance my RA would calm down and I would feel a lot better – I had been suffering extensive and extremely painful flare ups whilst trying to become pregnant. I found out at my 12 week scan that I was expecting twins and he said that probably explained why my previously ferocious RA had gone into remission so quickly.
My pregnancy went well and apart from feeling huge and uncomfortable towards the end I managed pretty well in terms of RA. But having two delightful baby girls came with a few extra issues I hadn’t really considered:
The first one was physically lifting them up for feeding. Babies are actually quite heavy when you have to hang on to them all the time! I was breastfeeding to begin with and my wrists and arms were stiff and sore, and because of my actual physical size (I am quite petite with small hands) I had logistical problems getting them up to feeding height. I used every pillow in the house – or asked someone else to lift a baby up for me. I never did quite master the feat of double-feeding: where you feed both babies at the same time. One or the other would always stop and then I had no spare arm to move them. It was also fairly undignified if anyone came into the room!
I had been warned about the ‘very likely’ RA flare my body would experience after birth and I managed 8 weeks exactly before I gave in and started back on methotrexate. My GP had been able to give me steroid injections during the two months to tide me over as I really wanted to continue some level of breastfeeding for as long as possible.
For the first year we didn’t have a dining table, it was re-designated as a large baby changing table. Two babies required double the space, double the mats, double the nappies... I had to do all the changes at table height as my knees would not bend and getting down onto the floor was (and still is) a bit of a drama and something easier not to have to do three times an hour.
Buggies – I needed something that a) was light and that I could push and b) would fit through our front door. So that immediately ruled out all the side-by-side buggies. In the end I had one with big air wheels that was light and easily turned. It was also the most expensive baby-related item we bought - but as it was also the only one we had, it turned out to be a good investment. I hardly ever folded it down as the catches were almost impossible for sore fingers. I also had big problems with carrying the baby car seats around as they were so heavy and unwieldy when my elbows and wrists were weak and painful. Fortunately at that time my feet and legs were not especially affected so I could manage to walk well pushing the girls in their buggy –
I would find this much more difficult now.
I would lift the girls out of the buggy using the crook of my elbows to bear the weight when my hands were simply too sore. They very soon learned to help climb in and out themselves although they still remember fighting about whose turn it was to sit in the front!
My daughters understood early on that I couldn’t always just lift and carry them as much as other parents could. ‘Mummy’s fragile’ was heard quite often when out and about (especially in the ice and snow – fused wrists are not designed for catching your body weight if you slip and knees that don’t bend are really not good for falls). However having two small toddlers balanced out nicely when we went off on walks as there was always one hanging off each hand!