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Green12

Getting Pregnant With So Many Health Issues?

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I'm not quite ready to try but I have been thinking about it alot lately and I have some fears about getting pregnant while having so many health issues (severe food allergies/intolerances, auto-immune illnesses, etc.).

I was wondering if pregnancy made things worse as far as the mother's health, any chances of birth defects or harming the fetus development, and what if I pass my crap on to the baby?

I know that nothing in life is a guarantee, even if you have excellent health these things can happen, but all of this weighs so heavily in the back of my mind.

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Hi Julie!

Your fears are totally understandable. But remember, it's kinda like "I am going to wait for the right time to have a baby", well, the "right time" never comes. If you were going to wait until you have reached optimum health to have a baby, you'll never get there.

Through all my pregnancies, I was consuming gluten (in fact, I lived on Terryaki Chicken on a bun EVERY DAY and toast with about 1 1/2 inches of peanut butter on it!). It wasn't until after the boys were born that celiac was confirmed for me and I went gluten free. All my pregnancies progessed totally normally (well, except for the boys, they came early, but that was because Daniel broke his water. Connor kept on kicking him in the head so he said "I'm blowing this popsicle stand!") LOL!

Actually, I asked my GI specialist how come I felt so good during my pregnancies, and he said that celiac seems to be very kind to a pregnant woman. Personally, I think it has to do with our bodies going into "protection mode" to protect our cargo.......

I guess all my rambing is just me trying to tell you as long as you are taking vitamins, eating healthy, TAKING FOLIC ACID (ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!!!!!), you should not worry.......

Hugs!

Karen

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Hi, Julie.

I cannot speak from personal experience, but it's my understanding that many women with auto-immune conditions feel better :D during pregnancy because pregnancy suppresses the normal (or abnormal ;)) functioning of the immune system. That is, to allow the baby (a foreign creature) to develop, mom's immune response is attenuated. So hopefully this might be true in your case and improve your health, even if only temporarily.

I would guess that good nutrition and extra monitoring would also be good ideas. Good luck to you.

-- Alexandra

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Well, I was terribly sick with all my pregnancies, but that was because I didn't know I have celiac disease, and was eating gluten! So, my symptoms would just magnify during pregnancies. I guess it can go either way, it could make you feel better, or much worse.

Since you are eating gluten free, and are not eating the other things you're intolerant to, you should be fine! As Karen said, if you wait for optimum health, you'll never have a baby. Just do your best to eat well, take your vitamins (I second the absolute necessity of folic acid), stay off the foods you're intolerant to, especially gluten, and I don't believe your chances of having a defective baby are any higher than anybody elses.

And even though I was in terrible shape with each pregnancy, with heavy bleeding with each of them as well, all my kids are happy, healthy, smart, beautiful, normal people. So, you being gluten-free should make super babies! B)

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I ate gluten for my pregnancies. (wasn't diagnosed) I felt great! I gained weight better than a champ, without changing my diet very much. A woman's immune system goes into a lower gear during pregnancy, other wise it would kill the foreign body.

If I had made a decision not to have kids because of fear for their future health or mine, I would have missed possibly the greatest joys of my life. You have insight into how important diet and nutrition are, and can use your knowledge to ensure a healthier life for you and your family.

L.

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Autoimmune diseases have a genetic component, as we all know. If you want to risk passing that on is up to you. My grandmother has rheumatiod arthritis, and of her 3 daughters there's schizophrenia, severe depression/endometriosis, and graves/RA (my mom). I've got hashimoto's, celiac, and possibly PCOS or endometriosis (no one really knows what's wrong). Would I have kids? Hell No! A Ducati or Malinois are as expensive and needy as any child so I'll stay busy :lol: . Maybe your situation is different, but it's worth considering the consequences. If you are hypothyroid there's also a good chance of misscarraige or mental delay/disorders in the kid unless it is very well controlled.

What pisses me off is that even with all my problems and debilitating cramps, I can't get a doctor to do a hysterectomy until I've had kids. It's horrible to be denied treatment and told (more or less) that they don't give a poop about me trying to be normal because I'm nothing more than a kid factory as far as they are concerned. I've known guys that have had vasectomies at 25 and never had kids and not been given a problem, but I can't get treament for a medical condition :angry:

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Julie, your other autoimmune diseases are likely caused by undiagnosed celiac disease. It isn't the end of the world to pass celiac disease on to a kid. You would be very aware of that possibility, and wouldn't likely expose a child to gluten for quite a while, and then watch him/her closely for signs of it.

You REALLY shouldn't worry about passing anything on to a kid, it's not like you risk passing on a deadly disease.

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You REALLY shouldn't worry about passing anything on to a kid, it's not like you risk passing on a deadly disease.

I gotta disagree with this one. If you've grown up with a parent with a chronic illness, you know it will affect your kid's quality of life as well. At an early age they have to learn that their mom can't do what others can. With celiac it's simple stuff like choosing a funky tasting birthday cake or leaving mom out, but whith thyroid problems it's hard for kids to understand that you're too tired to do something, instead of just using it as an excuse because you don't want to. The worst part of my childhood was when my dad made me sell a dog because my mother thought her arthritis was coming back. I just was never as close to them after that. My parents never understood why I was so serious as a child, but that's because I was always having to deal with my mother's limitations and wondering when I'd be the same way.

And if that's not bad enough, I can guarantee you that the kid will be wondering when this will all happen to them. I've always known I would have autoimmune problems, it was just a question of what and when. I'd never wish that on anyone. I've never made any life plans beyond 40 or been in a serious relationship because I wouldn't want to dump this poop on anyone. After seeing how my grandmother died, when I get to a certain point it's a long fast ride off of a steep cliff for me. I'd rather be dead than bedridden.

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The thing is, most genetic diseases (not all), are the sort that means "you have a higher than average risk", but does not mean "you will get this". I have a number of genetic conditions that run in my family, from RA, to mental issues (schizo/bi-polar), blood disorders, allergies (environmental/food), and so on. None of these things is a simple case of "you get the genese, you'll get it". There are environmental triggers, gene permutations, and lifestyle issues at play as well, and given that it is not as simple as something like "both my husband and I are cystic fibrosis carriers, hence our kids would have a 25% chance of getting CF", I would say that it's nothing like passing on a guaranteed deadly disease. (And I say that growing up with a single parent with RA and serious allergies who often couldn't go do things. Surprisingly enough, I have always known that RA is genetic, but I never lived in fear of "when would I get it", even though some of the activities I was allowed to participate in were limited because my dad was concerned about the eventuality. I'm still not living in fear of that, because I can only take the best care of my health that I can, and can't stop it from happening any more than that.)

To to OP, with these sorts of things in your background, known to you, and known to be genetically linked, having kids is a calculated risk. At least you know some of that risk, and are able to go in with your eyes more aware than others who don't know about those risks. For some, like seems to be the case for cultureslayer, the risk tradeoff is not worth it - and that is OK! Each situation is different, and you have thin about your own circumstances and your own feelings about the issue - the answer won't be the same for all of us. Yes, you run the risk of passing on any genetic flaw you have to your kids - including all the ones you don't know about. But the same is true for every other person on the face of the planet who has ever had or will have a child. (Myself, I'm on the fence, not for medical reasons - none of the conditions from my family are death sentences if handled properly - but for psychological reasons; I just don't know if I want kids.)

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I gotta disagree with this one. If you've grown up with a parent with a chronic illness, you know it will affect your kid's quality of life as well. At an early age they have to learn that their mom can't do what others can. With celiac it's simple stuff like choosing a funky tasting birthday cake or leaving mom out, but whith thyroid problems it's hard for kids to understand that you're too tired to do something, instead of just using it as an excuse because you don't want to. The worst part of my childhood was when my dad made me sell a dog because my mother thought her arthritis was coming back. I just was never as close to them after that. My parents never understood why I was so serious as a child, but that's because I was always having to deal with my mother's limitations and wondering when I'd be the same way.

And if that's not bad enough, I can guarantee you that the kid will be wondering when this will all happen to them. I've always known I would have autoimmune problems, it was just a question of what and when. I'd never wish that on anyone. I've never made any life plans beyond 40 or been in a serious relationship because I wouldn't want to dump this poop on anyone. After seeing how my grandmother died, when I get to a certain point it's a long fast ride off of a steep cliff for me. I'd rather be dead than bedridden.

It is your choice to look at life from a negative point of view, and to expect the worst. That doesn't mean the rest of us should do the same thing. The most important thing is love. If you manage to love your kids unconditionally, and they understand you do your best, they'll understand. Maybe not right away, but they will eventually.

My kids now understand why I have certain problems, and they will be able to avoid them. Just as my mother abused my siblings and me emotionally, but me more than the others, because her father did that to her, doesn't mean I have to do the same to my kids, like a lot of people do. I broke the cycle, because I was determined not to have my kids grow up feeling unloved and rejected like I did. I love my kids, and told them so every day when they were younger (and now I tell my grandchildren every time I talk to them or see them).

That was worth more than being in perfect health. My kids are all extremely positive, happy, well adjusted and successful people, with no trace of the depression I suffered from all throughout my life. They are also all healthy physically (with some intolerances, but why should that stop anybody from being happy?).

I was bedridden last summer for a lot of the time, before I figured out about celiac disease. Now I am getting healthier all the time. I am not afraid I'll be ending up in a wheelchair any more, as I was before I was gluten free. My kids are aware of the risk of celiac disease for them, so I don't think I have to worry about them getting as sick as I was.

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The thing is, when doctors calculate risk they do so based on just one disease. With immune problems, they present with different diseases in every individual, so the genetic risk is greatly undercalculated. For example, no one in my family has been diagnosed with celiac, but it wasn't a big surprise to me because it's an immune disorder. family members might have a 10 to 15% risk of celiac, but when you consider all autoimmune disorders and allergies the chance of them having problems is much greater.

It's polygenic and environmentally triggered, but the threshold is low enough in some individuals that an inevitable event will trigger it (for me it was when my dog died). In dogs (especially show dogs, ethics there aren't what they should be and a lot of immune problems come up) it's known that you can breed dogs with unrelated immune symptoms and within a few generations it will bite you in the butt big time. Maybe one dog has a sensitive stomach, another has food allergies, and suddenly you've got some serious health issues. Similarly, in humans "unrelated" diseases in your family history can all increase you risk. Doctors are just too lazy and bad with math to do calculations of all immune abnormalities, otherwise you'd be amazed.

I'd considered going into immunology, but anyone with a field changing theory goes through 20 or 30 years of ridicule before their ideas are then accepted and someone else claims all the credit. Smarter people than me have already paved the way, but it's just not worth it to convince doctors of the obvious.

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Ursula, you are talking about emotional and not genetic issues. Apples and oranges. Behavior can be changed, but genes can't. In addition, I feel that it's impossible to avoid environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases without giving a kid some serious issues. No processed food, minimal chemicals, you'd have to raise a kid in a bubble and never let them out.

I enjoy life because I love risky activities and I'm certainly not as scared of taking the final fall as some, but that creates it's own stress and tensions with family. My parents haven't been too happy about the motorcycle (soon to be plural, hoping to get a sweet deal on something this winter) or bicycles, but just don't understand that death isn't the worst thing that can happen to me. They have clear instructions to pull the plug if I'm a veggie, but I can only hope they will follow them. There's a Latin saying that I like: Quem Di diligit adolescens moritur (spelled it wrong probably)

He whom the gods favor dies in youth.

You have to make the best of what you're given, but why start someone out playing with less than a full deck, especially when there are so many kids that could be adopted? Maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to adopt a 999 :P

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no one can calculate the risk of someone actually getting a disease that is only encouraged by genetics - the calculations that are done are for things that you will get one way or the other. it's 'fuzzy math' at best. I certainly wasn't talking about any doctor calculations, because there is absolutely no way to do any hard calculations on the sorts of things we're dealing with here, and no way to be certain that you've got things working together to make a situation better or worse - it's no so simple as to assume they always add up to the worst possible outcome.

(I should make it clear, however, that I'm not trying to change your mind on having kids - it's a personal decision, and if you don't want to take the risks, I can understand that, and I appreciate that you've put so much thought into the situation.)

(btw, for first degree relatives, odds of having celiac if another does is 5%)

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no one can calculate the risk of someone actually getting a disease that is only encouraged by genetics - the calculations that are done are for things that you will get one way or the other. it's 'fuzzy math' at best.

You obviously haven't taken any biostatistics! They can calculate anything :D

They can calculate an average risk. You can try to lower your risk, but it's so difficult that the stress would make up for any positive dietary and environmental changes. I think that a large cross correlation study that covered most autoimmune diseases would be extremely valuable, but sadly most aren't that ambitious. It's much more predictable that you think. You even admit to a strong family history of immune issues and then not surprisingly you developed immune problems as well. That's how it works, but doctors don't understand it because the symptoms are different but the cause is the same.

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You obviously haven't taken any biostatistics! They can calculate anything :D

Not a full semester, only a partial semester. :-) Physics ended up being my major, so I was calculating entirely different probabilities.

My whole point here is that it's not a closed system. The inputs are not entirely known, hence you can't actually calculate the full risk. You can get an idea, based on population studies, but even with the ones coming out in the past five years on celiac disease, we can see how poor those can be, as they rely upon proper diagnostics in the first place! The lact of independent factors makes it an intractable problem, in the end, particularly when it comes to intermingled immune problems. (I'm talking here about overall risk, amongst all of the particular conditions a person might be concerned about, not about any one in particular.)

And I disagree that lowering risk by any significant amount puts too much environmental stress on you. But that depends on what you're adjusting from, of course. (I didn't find the gluten-free diet placed a large stress on my eating habits because I already did a lot of cooking from scratch anyway, so it wasn't a very big change, for instance.)

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Ursula, you are talking about emotional and not genetic issues. Apples and oranges. Behavior can be changed, but genes can't. In addition, I feel that it's impossible to avoid environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases without giving a kid some serious issues. No processed food, minimal chemicals, you'd have to raise a kid in a bubble and never let them out.

I am aware that I was talking about emotional issues here. What I was trying to convey is simply, that when a mother is less than well, lots of love can make up for it. My mother had the same health issues as me, unfortunately, she was never diagnosed with celiac disease and never figured it out. She was miserable, and wanted to make everone around her miserable as well.

I was just as sick as her, but chose to love my kids and teach them to love others, rather than trying to make them as unhappy as I was. We had the same physical health issues. But while all her kids ended up damaged emotionally as a result, because of her choice of perpetuating the negative, my kids are all healthy not just in body but soul as well, because of my choice of making the best of it, and showing them love and wanting to make them happy, instead of wanting to make them miserable, too.

Being unloved and depressed can trigger autoimmune diseases as well, I believe. Because even though the genes for certain diseases are inherited, they don't necessarily become active until triggered. Severe emotional stress is enough to trigger a lot of things. I was extremely unwell as a child already. None of my five kids has had any of the problems I have had all my life.

And sure you can avoid certain environmental triggers. My kids never had pop other than at the occasional birthday party, I've never had candies in the house, rarely any cookies, I don't allow anything white (as in white sugar, flour, rice, pasta), and haven't in the past 26 years. They had plenty of fruits and vegetables, and drank filtered water instead of juices and pop. While all the neighbours kids would constantly run around with runny noses, because they'd have one cold after another, my kids rarely had a sniffle, because their immune systems were actually functioning! I also didn't allow them to be poisoned with fluoride, and my youngest didn't have vaccinations (and is the healthiest of the bunch).

So, even though you obviously can't eliminate all environmental triggers, as you're right, you'd have to have them live under a bubble, you can certainly limit those triggers as much as possible.

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But they still have the genes, and you can't protect them from stress forever. Sooner or later, they will be stressed and if they have the genes an autoimune disease will pop up. It's also possible that your husband has exceptionally good genes in this regard, so you won't see the bad ones pop up until there are grand kids and they start getting sick. It's just something that I'd personally rather avoid.

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I didn't mean to cause a heated discussion with my original post, I guess I never thought that there were two very opposite sides. I am very comforted by the first few posts- thank you Canadian Karen, Alexandra, Ursula, Mommida for sharing your experiences and information- you really did set my mind at ease and made me realize that I just have to LIVE and not to expect the worst.

I'm very encouraged!!

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I didn't mean to cause a heated discussion with my original post, I guess I never thought that there were two very opposite sides. I am very comforted by the first few posts- thank you Canadian Karen, Alexandra, Ursula, Mommida for sharing your experiences and information- you really did set my mind at ease and made me realize that I just have to LIVE and not to expect the worst.

I'm very encouraged!!

I am glad we were able to encourage you.

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I didn't mean to cause a heated discussion with my original post, I guess I never thought that there were two very opposite sides. I am very comforted by the first few posts- thank you Canadian Karen, Alexandra, Ursula, Mommida for sharing your experiences and information- you really did set my mind at ease and made me realize that I just have to LIVE and not to expect the worst.

I'm very encouraged!!

Juliem:

I am glad you have gotten encouragement from our experiences. We've lived through it, in fact, it sounds like there's a whole bunch of us that were still not diagnosed while we were bearing our children. You're already ahead of the game by being gluten free!

If I let all of the imperfections of my genes worry me too much to the point where I wouldn't want to pass them on, well, let's just say, I wouldn't be blessed with the four beautiful, healthy, wonderful Gifts from God that I have now...... God didn't make ANYBODY perfect gene-wise, so that kind of philosophy would have resulted in the human race becoming extinct. So we're not perfect, but that's what makes us individual.....

Take your vitamins (and especially folic acid), sit back, relax, don't fret about it and it will happen!

Hugs!

Karen

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I share your concerns with having kids. I feel like I run the gammut of autoimmune diseases/disorders

(T1 diabetic since age 3, Celiac and underactive thyroid). I'm more concerned with my child getting Celiac than diabetes- perhaps it's because I've lived with diabetes nearly my whole life, and Celiac is so new (dx 6 months ago), but I do feel the Celiac is harder to manage and much more of a pain in the a$$ (when dxed I told my mother I only get P.I.A. diseases!) - although I also believe it'll come easier in time. I'm years away from having kids, but have expressed the fear to my boyfriend. Bi-polar runs the gammut in his family, so I almost feel that the child we may have almost doesn't have a shot at a regular life. BUT I haven't ruled it out yet. For years I said I didn't want kids - it's James that makes me think I could actually have one. We'll just have to see how this pans out. So, you are not alone in your fears!

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I share your concerns with having kids. I feel like I run the gammut of autoimmune diseases/disorders

(T1 diabetic since age 3, Celiac and underactive thyroid). I'm more concerned with my child getting Celiac than diabetes- perhaps it's because I've lived with diabetes nearly my whole life, and Celiac is so new (dx 6 months ago), but I do feel the Celiac is harder to manage and much more of a pain in the a$$ (when dxed I told my mother I only get P.I.A. diseases!) - although I also believe it'll come easier in time. I'm years away from having kids, but have expressed the fear to my boyfriend. Bi-polar runs the gammut in his family, so I almost feel that the child we may have almost doesn't have a shot at a regular life. BUT I haven't ruled it out yet. For years I said I didn't want kids - it's James that makes me think I could actually have one. We'll just have to see how this pans out. So, you are not alone in your fears!

Hi ehrin, thanks for sharing your fears too. It's nice to know I am not alone!

I have always wanted children, desperately, but I do worry about being sick and what that all might mean for my health, and a baby's health, and I have had all of these thoughts in the back of my mind that I have needed to sort out. It was helpful to hear the other's personal experiences here, even Ursula who had difficult pregnancies!! (Bless your heart Ursula!)

Having children is a personal decision, I fully respect that, but what really resonates with me is looking at these fears I have with a positive approach like Canadian Karen and Ursula and the other posters, with the glass half full rather than empty.

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Juliem,

I'm glad you are reassured. I think fears are normal but I personally am determined to become a mom one way or another. So far haven't managed to become pregnant (this reflects a host of issues in my case), so working on adopting.

And a note to those tempted to practice biostatistics...statistics apply to populations not invididuals. So accepting that (as someone posted) if you have celiac, one of your first degree relatives has a 5% chance of having celiac...well, yes and no. If you have 100 first-degree relatives, then odds are that 5 of them will have celiac disease...and similarly, if you had 20, then on average one would develop it (meaning...if we took 1,000 celiacs with 20 first-degree relatives...prolific group!...then on average each person would have one relative with celiac disease). But it is not true that each individual in the population of first-degree-relatives-of-people-with-celiac has a 5% chance of having celiac. That's not how it works.

Um. This may seem like a picky distinction but it's an important one in terms of getting the concept right. Unfortunately we as people trying to understand the world can't do much better, then, than think "OK, well, on average my relatives each have a 5% chance of having celiac disease." Sort of, but not exactly.

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If you were already set on spawning, you might as well have said that in the first post.

Ehrin, glad to see that I'm not the only logical one on here. It requires a careful risk/benefit analysis, that I've realizing most people are not capable of. There's much healthier kids in foster care and oprhanages than anything I could spawn, so why bother?

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If you were already set on spawning, you might as well have said that in the first post.

Ehrin, glad to see that I'm not the only logical one on here. It requires a careful risk/benefit analysis, that I've realizing most people are not capable of. There's much healthier kids in foster care and oprhanages than anything I could spawn, so why bother?

I'm not 100% on anything yet, however my sister said to me recently that as long as she could remember I never had that "mommy instinct" - didn't play with dolls, never played house...I still don't have that instinct, or at least I don't think I do. I've just never had a desire to have kids - so that, combined with my health issues, makes me think that children just weren't meant for me. I do believe that not everyone was meant to have kids. However, I have James to think of too. He has known for sometime now that I'm on the fence about kids - he recently asked me if I might be able to have just one. So he deifintely has me thinking about it. We're young (I'm 29, James is 23) so nothing is going to happen anytime soon. We wont even marry, if we do get married (another thing I was never particularly fond of) for another 5 years or so. If I do have kids it wont be until my late 30's, which is another added risk so...there are many things to think of.

Juliem - I wish you luck. This is probably a much harder decision for you since you already know you want kids. We are not freaks by any means, and I grew up a normal, healthy child, while having T1 diabetes - so it can be done, it's just a matter of personal choice.

I wish you luck!

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