Jenny, a young woman living with MS, smiles as she holds her baby daughter Ivy

I had a difficult pregnancy - but I wouldn’t change being a mum

I want to start off by saying that I am now the proud mum to a beautiful 16 month old daughter. She is the most incredible thing that has ever happened to me.

Being a new mum isn’t a walk in the park but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Deciding to try for a baby

Before I found out I was pregnant I heard so many stories about women with MS falling pregnant and having the best symptom and relapse free time for 9 months.

I always knew I wanted children and in 2017 my husband and I decided to try for a baby. After speaking to my MS nurse and consultant I stopped taking my DMT three months beforehand.

I’d only been on the medication for about a year before I stopped and I hadn’t had a relapse in years.

Read more about taking medications and getting pregnant in our information pages

I had a relapse

I had a relapse in the summer and I assumed it was because the DMT had left my system.

This relapse displayed itself in a few different ways. First, my left arm became extremely sensitive to touch like it had been scalded. This was painful but at the same time a bit numb. (I know, MS doesn’t make any sense to me either.)

After a week or two, the pain dulled and it was just numb. I was able to cope with this, as I’m right handed. But the second symptom affected my left leg, which impacted me further and was more visible.

On top of this, I’ve had a flare up of existing damage in the top of my spinal cord. This has resulted in my right calf heating up when I look down. Then there’s my biggest MS battle that I constantly deal with - the crippling fatigue.

Finding out I was pregnant

A few weeks later things took a turn for the worse and I had another, more extreme relapse.

However, I also found out I was about 4 weeks pregnant! I’m pretty sure this is the definition of bittersweet.

Three weeks after my first relapse began, I finally started to feel better and I was delighted! On Friday I was looking forward to heading back to work the following Monday.

Having another relapse

But on Saturday I woke up and my right leg was completely dead and numb. This numbness gradually spread over both legs during the day, and to my stomach. It was completely numb all over, as if I’ve had anaesthetic.

I took an extra week off work to rest, keeping everything crossed that my symptoms started to get better.

That extra week of rest turn into seven weeks signed off work. During this time I struggled to do anything, literally anything.

Looking for women with the same experience

I looked online to see if anyone had been through anything similar. But I was faced with lots of positive MS and pregnancy experiences, with was fantastic for everyone else but made me feel worse and more alone than ever.

This is why I want to share my story now. So even if you have a similar experience to me then you can see that I did get through it and it did get better.

I was eventually put on steroids after my consultant did some research and assured me that they wouldn’t harm the baby. These didn’t really seem to help at first but I did start to get better a few weeks after taking them.

Read our information pages on pregnancy and MS

My happy ending: Baby Ivy was born

Jennie, a young woman living with MS, smiles as she sits with her husband and their baby daughter Ivy

I was worried about having another relapse after I gave birth (I had a c-section because my daughter was breech). But thankfully this never happened.

I breastfed for 6 months and then started back on medication as soon as I stopped. As soon as I stopped breast feeding I had another few different relapses over a few months but the drugs soon kicked in and I got better.

It’s now been two years since my relapses and both my hands are still partially numb and this might never get better. But I still feel like I’ve won the lottery each morning when I wake up and see my baby.

Photos by David Anderson