My Journey to Motherhood

My fairytale journey into motherhood began in fall 2005 when I gave my husband the greatest birthday present ever—a healthy baby boy. My son’s birth was picture perfect, like a scene from a Disney movie. But unlike Disney movies, real life is messy. It’s not only filled with joy and excitement, but disappointment, heartache, and many unexpected twists and turns.

Nevertheless, becoming a mother was one of the greatest events of my entire life. Like most young moms, I had a newfound appreciation for my mom and her infinite wisdom that guided me through those difficult first months as a parent. Although challenging and exhausting, it was an awesome experience.

My husband and I were so in love with our baby boy and life seemed to be perfect until one humid day in June, my feet started to tingle. The annoying sensation lasted for almost a week before I decided that I shouldn’t ignore it any longer. I called my family doctor, and he sent me for an MRI.

When the results came back indicating multiple sclerosis, I was shocked to stay the least but agreed to meet with a local neurologist. That appointment couldn’t have gone any worse. The doctor treated me as a medical diagnosis—not a young mom with a very mild tingling in her feet that had already subsided. He crushed my dreams of having a future child. After that appointment, I felt hopeless and afraid.

I believe that you should be able to trust your physician and feel confident that he has your best interest in the forefront of his treatment plan. Choosing my current doctor was the best decision that I ever made in my MS treatment.

When I met my current doctor for the first time, the appointment was the polar opposite of my previous experience. He made me laugh, gave me hope and told me that having another baby wasn’t out of the question. He talked to me about how a different disease-modifying therapy (DMT) might halt the progression of MS without such severe side effects. He suggested making an appointment with a maternal/fetal physician prior to starting the treatment to discuss the risks of having a baby while on DMT.

The following April I had a healthy, beautiful baby girl.

Shortly after I was diagnosed, my mother told me she had faith I’d be ok and lead a normal life. Over a decade later, I can say I have the same complete confidence that I’m going to be fine.

I’ve learned that fear doesn’t have to accompany MS. I am more than a diagnosis and have been able to live the life I’ve always dreamed of without being controlled by this disease. Instead, MS has taught me many valuable lessons. It has helped me to learn to avoid stress and be thankful for the moments in life that most people take for granted.

Although MS added an unexpected twist to the story of my life, it has made me a stronger and more resilient mother. I can instill in my children that through faith and optimism, they can conquer anything in life that comes their way and see the happily ever after in any situation they face.

Tell us about your journey to motherhood while living with MS.

Feature photo credit: Cassidy Tom 
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Nicole Sitler

Nicole is a high school media teacher and devoted hockey mom. She lives with her husband and two wonderful children in Pennsylvania.

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  • Jennifer Julien Gaskin   May 15, 2017 11:22 AM
    Nicole, thank you for your story. I was diagnosed after giving birth to my daughter. I too had an odd sensation in my foot. It felt like pins and needles but was constant. I knew I didn't want anymore children after my daughter and luckily my MS doctor was supportive and like yours gave hope.
  • Viviane   May 15, 2017 11:30 AM
    Thank you for sharing this and showing the "other side" of being diagnosed with MS. I have to say, I, like you, have been extremely lucky to have been diagnosed early, and quickly, and with the help of my disease-modifying drugs, I've been doing really well. Yet, when I look at most of the other people out there that haven't been as lucky as me (and as you, from what it sounds like), I feel guilty. My life hasn't changed much, except for the weekly injections, and I continue to do as I did before.
  • Earis Kaplan   May 15, 2017 12:55 PM
    My middle daughter (28) who is a Physical Therapist in hospital in NYC was diagnozed w MS almost 4 yrs ago. Your motherhood experience gave me hope, but I still feel I would rather she doesn't have to deal w MS rebound symptoms after pregnancy. Do you agree? Thank you for your insights.
  • Nicole Sitler   May 16, 2017 12:12 PM
    I totally understand where you're coming from and for almost a decade I kept my MS a huge secret for almost everyone outside of my immediate family. It was actually my physician who encouraged me to share my story to give hope to others, since most of us who are doing well tend to stay silent. Best wishes to you!
  • Ramona   May 28, 2017 2:43 PM
    Hi Nicole, did you start any DMT while you were pregnant? What did they recommend for the time you were pregnant?

    Thank you for your insights!
  • Nicole Sitler   Jun 21, 2017 7:18 AM
    I did take my DMT throughout my pregnancy with no problems. It's the same one I still take today.

    Hope this helps!