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Personal Reflections...
The Pregnancy

Having a baby after Parkinson's...
something I posted to another woman:

In the years since I was diagnosed, I've met several women on Parkinson's boards who have been concerned about having children after Parkinson's; many wondering if they can, many wondering if it's even possible.  I found out that answer. I had a child after Parkinson's, only I didn't know it was Parkinson's at the time.

After my initial symptoms of Parkinson's, I was so reluctant to see a neurologist. I really thought ignorance would be bliss. I promised my doctor that as soon as I began to notice more symptoms, I would make an appointment with a neuro immediately. In July of 2000, 7 months after my tremor began, I found out I was pregnant. It was a real shock. Although I had noticed a few more symptoms of "something" being wrong, I figured that since I was now pregnant there wasn't much they could do anyway and maybe those symptoms were just part of the pregnancy. I would find out later that those new symptoms were also related to my Parkinson's and the dystonia.

I had a great pregnancy even though I had 9 months of the worst morning sickness ever. It was completely WORTH IT. Two weeks before my due date Joey was born. As I stated above, the only complication I had was with the Epidural. Two year after my diagnosis, I participated in a PD study at NIH and one thing they told me was that certain People With Parkinson's have trouble with Anethesia for some reason. Those that do can experience negative reactions or it just doesn't even seem to work quite right. The Neuro I saw specifically said "never do any elective surgery" (I guess I won't be getting that plastic surgery, LOL)....but seriously, the reason I mention this is because the only real complication I had having a child after parkinson's was with the epidural during delivery. I had an epidural with all of my children and didn't think twice about having it again when I delivered my fourth child. Had I known then what I learned at NIH 2 years later I would've delivered him Naturally. Maybe it wasn't because of the PD...who knows.

As for my labor with Joey, he was born almost 24 hours after my water broke, but I was slow to dilate until the end. The actual delivery itself was wonderful (4cm to Joey in my arms in LESS THAN 20 minutes), but I had the negative reaction to the epidural to deal with right before and for a while after his delivery. Those negative reactions were the epidural getting into my central nervous system and I couldn't open my eyes without a severe case of vertigo. I could also still feel contractions on my right side, yet I was numb everywhere else from the neck down (even for several hours after delivery). As a result, my first few weeks of nursing were affected, but we overcame those obstacles and I'm still nursing 29 months later.

My Parkinson's symptoms did get a bit worse after Joey was born. Stress can really bring out our symptoms and it was a stressful time. I finally made an appointment with a neurologist and then another and then another. I eventually found a neurologist who did not think the medication would be harmful to a nursing child and after lots of tests and several successful weeks on Sinemet, I got my diagnosis. I continued on the medication. I didn't expect to nurse for more than a year, but after his first birthday neither of us were ready for weaning, but I wanted to limit his exposure to my medication. Since no double-blind study exists for nursing moms on this medication, my husband was adament that I choose between medication or nursing. He wanted me on medication...I chose nursing.

There are days when I really crave the relief I know medication would provide, but extended nursing has been such a rewarding experience. Joey is a healthy, happy 2 year old and I feel so blessed that even with Parkinson's I was able to bring him into this world! When I saw my neuro recently he said "it frustrates me, as a neurologist, to watch your PD symptoms from across my desk and know that with one simple prescription I could make you feel 10 years younger, but I understand that what you share with your son at this moment is something you won't ever be able to replace" After all, I've got a lifetime for medication!

Lauren Sue

Joey on his birthday, March 10, 2001

UPDATE: In September of 2003, I returned to medication, even though Joey is not yet weaned.  We anticipate he'll be weaning soon, but I was hoping to have him self-wean. If he still doesn't show signs of stopping I will have to wean him myself, so I can get to a more theraputic level of medication.