Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Post By Suzie Edward May: Renowned Author Of "Arthritis, Pregnancy And The Path To Parenthood"

Hi my wonderful readers,

A few weeks ago I posted an interview with my friend Jodi about being pregnant and chronically ill, and recently I shared my own poem entitled Considerations For My Unborn Child. Today's guest post fits right in. Although it appears otherwise, I promise you I'm not baby-obsessed (just yet).

Arthritis, pregnancy and the path to parenthood was written by esteemed Australian author Suzie Edward May. Suzie is a rheumatoid arthritis patient and a loving mother of two. As soon as I heard about this book, I wrote to Suzie asking if she'd be interested in guest posting. I was delighted when she took me up on the offer! I hope you enjoy her writing, and please don't hesitate to leave comments...
My story

I am 37 years old and live with my husband and two beautiful children Oscar (4 years) and Olive (19 months).  We live in Perth, Western Australia.  I am a lawyer, an author and an arthritis advocate.  I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 9 years ago at age 28.

My pain started in my feet and within 3 months of diagnosis it moved to every joint in my body and remains there today.  I have spent the last 9 years managing my illness with a cocktail of arthritis medications – methotrexate, plaquinel, cortisone, celebrex, humira, enbrel, remicade, simponi, cimzia – and by trying to find meaning in this path I have been presented with, through working to increase awareness of arthritis and its impact on individuals, families and communities.
When my husband and I decided to start a family, I searched worldwide for information to guide me through the process of having a baby while managing RA.  To my astonishment I found nothing.  The journey of coming off medication in order to safely conceive, carry my babies and nurse them was monumental for me.  

It was one of the hardest challenges I would face in my life both physically and emotionally.  It would test my inner strength and determination in ways I could not have imagined.  It would be hard – and without any written resource to guide me or inspire me, it would seem at times, insurmountable.  

Why did I write this book?

While achieving my goal of having my own children, I became fiercely determined to fill this gap in arthritis information.  I wanted to provide other women, their partners and support networks, with a resource that would alleviate some of the isolation and loneliness that I felt on my own path to parenthood.

I searched the globe for women who had been through this journey before me.  I wanted to connect with them, understand them and learn from their experiences.  What I found were women who felt exactly like me – who were scared, isolated and uncertain of whether they were going be able to be a mother.  I found women who had courageously achieved what I was striving for.  I found women who inspired me and who opened their heart to me, allowing me to share in their path to parenthood so I could share it with others alongside my own journey.

I started writing Arthritis, pregnancy and the path to parenthood when pregnant with my son, and the book went to print the day my daughter was born 4 years later.  I felt like I had given birth to twins that day!

What is the book about?

Arthritis, pregnancy and the path to parenthood is the first book its kind worldwide.  There are no other publications that discuss pre-conception, pregnancy, parenting to 12 months and arthritis.  This book is not only unique; it is an essential resource for anyone with arthritis contemplating a family; and it fills a significant gap in arthritis information.

The book covers the following: to parent or not to parent, reducing or ceasing medication, pregnancy, the post-birth flare, breastfeeding (nursing) or bottle feeding your baby, caring for you and your relationships with others, caring for your baby in the first 12 months, and preparing to do it all again.

While it makes me very proud to see my book published and on bookshelves all over the world; knowing that I have touched the lives of others in a positive way is the most fulfilling aspect of this process for me.  Every week I receive heartfelt emails from women and men who have read my book.  Whether from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand or Australia, every one of them tells me that my book has had an inspiring, emotional, positive impact on their life.  Some women say “I feel like you have crawled inside my head and written down my thoughts” while others share a deep appreciation that they were able to share the book with their loved ones, who could finally understand what they have been going through.  

It is these women (and men) that I am the most grateful to.  Every one of them inspires me and reinforces that I did the right thing by writing and publishing this book.  
Message to women thinking about starting a family

I believe that information is power; and with an illness like arthritis (and many other chronic conditions), power is something we often feel has been taken away.  I live with this sense of powerlessness everyday as I know I am slave to a cruel and debilitating disease that is unpredictable, incredibly painful and has no cure.  Educating myself about arthritis and about how I can live my life despite arthritis, gives me back some of my power.  

I always believed I would become a mother – it was never something I questioned.  So, when diagnosed with RA and asked “... you don’t want to have children do you?” I was determined to never let RA become a barrier to me achieving that which I hold so dear in my heart. 

This journey was hard for me.  For other women it will be easier, for some it will be more difficult or even unattainable.  But knowing there are other women out there who have been through the hard times and succeeded, motivated me to never give up.  Connecting with other women with arthritis, learning of their experiences and sharing our joys and sorrows, gives me back my power to fight.  

My children are my life.  They get me up every morning when my body screams for me to stay in bed.  They teach me every day the meaning of unconditional love, purity and living in the moment.  I would go through all the RA pain I have endured and more, just to hold them and care for them.  It is possible to have beautiful, healthy children while also managing a chronic illness.  The road may be tough at times, but with the support of others and your inner strength, you can achieve anything you desire.  

Suzie Edward May

You may visit Suzie’s website to order your copy of her book (payment via Paypal) -  www.suzieedwardmay.com
You may also contact Suzie by email at suzie@suzieedwardmay.com

1 comment:

  1. what a wonderful guest post! i remember how happy i was when i came across suzie's book a year or so ago. it helped me greatly in planning to have children. thanks to maya & suzie both!