1. It’s important to find a good OBGYN. And by good, I don’t necessarily mean Lyme literate. As long as he or she is Lyme “friendly,” (open to listening and learning about the disease), and are able to communicate with your LLMD, you’re in good shape. We went through three different doctors before we found a match for us.
2. Just because a doctor is Lyme literate, it doesn’t mean he or she will be a good fit for your family. I was lucky enough to find a Lyme literate OBGYN relatively close to home, which I’ve heard was impossible*. He turned out to be an evil monster and caused an immeasurable amount of stress and tears. Go with your gut instinct and stick with someone that makes you feel comfortable. *LLOBGYN recommended by my LLMD. I’m not sure where else you’d go to find one.
3. There’s no need to panic. Yes, you have Lyme. Yes, it can be transmitted congenitally. No, your baby probably won’t get it if you’ve been treated in the past, and especially if you are being treated now. The internet can be a dangerous thing. The truth is, you’re not going to read many scientific based articles and statistics on Lyme pregnancy, because there simply aren’t many out there and it’s hard to weed through the junk to find good sources. Proper treatment is crucial, but pregnancy doesn’t have to mean automatic Lyme transmission.
4. Along the same line, many moms being treated for Lyme have healthy babies, but they aren’t online writing about how wonderful their lives are. Sadly, people write about health issues only when there are, well, issues. I’m in no way undermining those who have had to live with with congenital Lyme. It’s serious, it’s scary, and my heart hurts for those who have to care for sick babies. (I appreciate this even more now that I have my own baby, as I get upset when Wyatt has something as benign as diaper rash.) Just remember that there are more healthy Lyme pregnancies than you might think. We just don’t often hear the success stories.
5. Be optimistic, but expect the worst. Lyme symptoms suck. Pregnancy symptoms suck. You might experience both at once, and that is double suck. I’ve heard that some women’s Lyme symptoms disappear during pregnancy due to an increase in hormones. This wasn’t the case for me, but I hope it is for you! Just know that it might be uncomfortable, and downright tear inducing at times, but you will get through it. I would not lie to you, the second you see your baby for the first time, you won’t care about those past nine months. I wish I had more words to explain that beautiful moment. Bottom line is that it’s all worth it.
6. Don’t be afraid to say, “I can’t do it.” By the time I realized that I needed to throw in the towel, actually let my husband and family help around the house, and just submit to the T.V. or writing, or internet surfing, I was in my third trimester. And the only reason I settled down was because my feet swelled up to elephant man proportions, I was too big to really move around, and my tics set in big time. I have promised myself that when I’m pregnant again (yes, there will be another!) I will allow myself to take it EXTRA easy from day one.
7. Diet is important. I learned this by eating healthy foods in the beginning and then giving in to sugary cravings later on in pregnancy. When I was eating my super healthy Lyme friendly diet (no sugar, bread, or fruit), my symptoms were mild. When I indulged in my Pop Tart and Ring Ding cravings (gross I know--I don’t even normally like that stuff!) my health declined rapidly. Again, next pregnancy I will try hard to not give in to the sugar. I believe it makes all the difference.
8. Pregnancy = a nine month waiting period for hard treatment. Regardless of how crappy you’re feeling, most doctors will take the less is more approach when treating during pregnancy. This is for obvious reasons--there aren’t many pregnancy-safe drugs out there, and most people want to stay as chemical free as possible, as everything we take goes to the baby as well. Plus, doctors want to cover their butts. If anything happens to that baby during treatment, they don’t want to be blamed for it. The key word is maintenance during this period. After you have your baby, you can treat aggressively again.
9. You are your own advocate, and even more so, you are your baby’s. Don’t be afraid to call your doctor with any questions or concerns. At first I was timid and felt bad for bothering the office staff. After the first couple of months I realized that if I wanted any help or answers, I had to be assertive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and demand answers if you’re not getting them. If you get resistance from anyone, switch doctors--there are countless others out there, and many are actually in the business to help.
10. It all goes by faster than you think. I swear. Before you know it, you’ll have a little one in your arms, and for a brief moment, you’ll be so happy that you won’t even remember Lyme exists.
I am a mother and writer with Chronic Lyme, on the road to acceptance and recovery. I was bitten in 1996, diagnosed 2008. I am living proof that it is possible to live meaningfully and have happy, healthy children while battling this terrible disease.