” A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” unknown
To my dear readers – first i want to thank everyone for making this journey more fun.. and for making this site one of your favorites.
As we near the month of May when we celebrate mother’s day both in this country and other countries around the world such as in my native Mexico, I thought i would write about being a mom with PD.
All of us who are moms know how wonderful and equally challenging is to be a mom; just when you think you have gotten the hang of a stage or phase – our children go on and change. Now imagine having a chronic illness like parkinson’s disease where although no objective fluctuations are noticed or documented we know for a FACT that fluctuations in our daily lives are a part of living with a chronic illness. Sometimes we just don’t know how we are going to feel the next minute much less the next day or month. As my daughter reminded me today when we were having a conversation in the car on way to school, “mom, I am glad you are feeling well these days but it wont last, is just a matter of time!” when i gave her a side ways look she replied: “you know is true. that’s what happens with your disease.”
As much as I protest this statement and try to reassure her (or rather) that this time will be different, i know that as long as i have PD i will have ups and downs which will interfere with my ability to perform my motherly duties. (secretly praying these deviations are few and far between).
However, these roller-coaster episodes has made me reevaluate my thinking and recommendations for women who have PD and want to be moms.
Motherhood as I said is a wonderful experience but is not for the faint of heart because each child comes with his/her own challenges and gifts to deal with; so having more or less is not necessarily the answer.
I was lucky I already had my daughter when I got diagnosed. Yet, because I was so young she has had to live with my illness practically her entire life. Plus, as a mom I have had to struggle much more than I would have should I had been a healthy mom in raising her and being a constant in her life. I was blessed to have friends and family to help me care for her especially during those times when the medication made me so ill i could not drive or the disease was so bad I could not stand to be touched much less cuddle her- something that broke my heart and still to this day feel guilty about.
So deciding to have a child once you are diagnosed with PD is not an easy think to decide and should not be taken lightly. Although, as far as me know fertility does not decrease with the disease and health of fetus is not affected by having PD, many of the medications currently used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s are contraindicated at least partially for lack of information on the short and long term effects of the fetus. Further, some of these medications also can be passed through the milk making breast feeding difficult after delivery.
Another thing, one must keep in mind is that PD symptoms can worsen during pregnancy. But, assuming that you are able to carry the pregnancy to full term there are many other issues to consider. Remember this is a progressive disease after all. You must consider not only the stage that you are in at the time of conception but be able to look ahead at the age you will be and the stage you might be at when your children reach certain milestones like going to elementary school, high school etc. you must also consider your support group – is there a reliable one? Does this include a supportive spouse/ partner? In my early stages of disease I would not have been able to care for my toddler had not been for my husband stepping up and being mom and dad something not every father can do or is willing to do.
We all think about the sleepless nights with infants but for me the hardest years are once they become independent. The problems are bigger, more serious, and require much more involvement from a parent in establishing appropriate boundaries and guidelines. No matter the age children need clear boundaries. If you are too sick to reinforce the rules will only create problems for them as adults in the future.
I do more running around now that my daughter is a teenager than i did when she was younger plus on top of my illness i have increased age which makes me have less stamina and less able or willing to multitask as I did 5 years ago.
However, if you do decide to be a mom with PD make sure you know that you are NOT alone! that you have other women like me to guide and support you and know that it will be the greatest adventure in your life as well as the most rewarding. Plus, for me my child has served as the driving force for wanting to keep fighting and moving and never give up. During my darkest hours, I have relied on her love and smile to give me strength to hang on for one more day till the storm passed. In life there are many substitutions for things, but there will never be a substitution for a mother’s love!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women out there..cherish your kids, they truly are a gift from GOD!
all rights reserved by Maria De Leon MD