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Challenge: Digging Deep

For Multiple Reasons: Pregnancy with MS

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I have to correct something today.

The last ten months have been rough. The pregnancy was challenging and inconvenient for everyone, but for my wife it was excruciating. It took a toll on her, both physically and emotionally. She powered through, of course, because that’s what she does.

Unfortunately, lost in all the well-wishes for our new addition, forgotten amidst all the accolades about how adorable the new baby is, and how handsome he is, and how – apropos of nothing – he looks EXACTLY like me (score!), is a little recognition for Mom and Buried.

For multiple reasons.

The pregnancy is finally over, but the next ten to twenty months won’t exactly be a walk in the park either. Already, the Hammer has a little recurring case of the hiccups, a big recurring case of indigestion, and a totally backwards sleep cycle. It’s been rough going for all of us so far, even Detective Munch (it’s not so easy to climb into Mommy and Daddy’s bed when there’s a baby being fed in there!), but it’s been roughest on Mom and Buried.

She’s breastfeeding too, and newborns are always hungry, so while sleep is at a premium for everyone in the Buried household, it’s especially tough to come by for the baby’s primary food source. Yet again, still sore from pregnancy, sore from feeding, exhausted from everything, she powers through. As always.

Mom and Buried has the highest pain tolerance of anyone I know, the most stamina, the best endurance, the most grace under pressure. She grins and bears things that give me cold sweats. She powers through pain and discomfort. She powers through exhaustion and a five-year old, she powers through no alcohol and a husband. She powers though fear and stress and uncertainty. She powers through a ridiculous regimen of pills and a constant battery of tests and a thrice weekly injection to help stave off any relapses or remissions.

Because she also powers through multiple sclerosis.

A few weeks ago, I was panicking in a doctor’s lobby, waiting with anxiety for a tetanus shot that, when it finally came, was nothing more than a pin prick. My wife thinks I’m ridiculous, and she’s right. Not because it’s outrageous to be afraid of shots, but because she undergoes far worse on a regular basis without a second thought, and with barely a single gripe.

This is not something I talk about because, frankly, it’s not something she talks about very much. It’s not my place to talk about it, and I’m not going to belabor the issue. Educate yourselves; it’s a tricky disease for the afflicted and their doctors to get a handle on, and even trickier for the general public. Not only is it hard to describe, not only does it manifest differently for everyone, it’s also invisible.

Many of those diagnosed with MS (and other so-called “invisible” diseases) have to battle with the public’s lack of awareness and even their skepticism of something they can’t always see and can’t easily diagnose with their eyes. It’s not uncommon to “look fine,” or for people to even tell you that, without understanding how deceiving looks can be in this case. Psychologically that can be tough, especially for someone like my wife, who isn’t interested in making excuses or in being a martyr.

MS is something she lives with every day, something that is always on her mind, something that she powers through. Like everything else.

It added another wrinkle to the already overwhelming stress of the past year. Not only the short-term implications of managing a pregnancy, but the long-term implications of handling two kids. Of starting the baby phase all over again.

Her multiple sclerosis adds an extra layer of anxiety on top of life with a newborn and life with a five-year-old. She’s tired, as all new parents are, but for her, it’s more than that. It’s exhaustion mixed with pain. Basic mom stuff, like holding her baby to feed him, or to burp him, or to rock him to sleep, can be taxing. It’s exhaustion mixed with pain mixed with guilt at not always being able to do those things. It’s exhaustion mixed with pain mixed with guilt mixed with the fear and anxiety that she might have passed something on to her children. And the concern that many women with MS (and it’s mostly women) experience a relapse after giving birth.

I’m not writing this to get sympathy, not for her and certainly not for me. Being a parent is a hard job, being a woman is a hard job, having MS is a hard job. My wife deals with all of those things and with a husband who spends most of his time bitching online about dealing with only one of them.

I’m writing it to let my wife know that I know how much she deals with, and how much she does for me and for our kids on a daily basis, under extraordinary circumstances. I’m writing this today to let her know that while I know she feels alone in this sometimes, she isn’t. And that she never will be.

Seriously, she has two kids. She’ll never be alone again!

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