Cerebral Palsy: Game Changer?

Yesterday, I wrote about going to the hospital for our appointment. Thank goodness Richie could go with me, sometimes he just can’t get away from work due to all the world saving that he does :). We went over to the “new” hospital (It’s only been open since March and I swear it reminds me of a hotel-very posh) and met with the maternal fetal specialist who specializes in you guessed it… mamas and babies. We had an interview to discuss my  own journey with cerebral palsy and the circumstances of my own birth.

I was born very prematurely at 29 weeks. For those of you not familiar with pregnancy, babies usually come between 36 and 40 weeks. I must have been eager to start my life because my mom hadn’t even had her baby shower yet  when I decided to come into the world. The doctors tried to stop labor, but I was determined to be born. I spent two to three months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) growing and incubating. Maybe one day I’ll share the article I wrote when I interviewed my mom…if I can find it. Anyway, around two years of age after a horrific surgery on my tiny baby legs I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a disorder, often being considered a birth defect, that affects your muscles, motor function and more. I was born with the condition, even though doctors did not diagnose it until my later years. So what does this have to do with Sophie bug?

My primary care OB was concerned because she didn’t know the effect my CP would have on labor and delivery and if I was an at risk patient for any pregnancy complications. When she mentioned this to me, I was shocked. CP is a part of my daily life that I don’t think about. It almost never crosses my mind. It surprised me that it after all these years it could still have an effect on my life. After meeting with the specialist, it was decided that my mom’s care was pre-term labor and that currently I’m not at any risk for pre-term labor or complications (Yes!). As for labor and delivery, I may have to work a little harder than other people because I may not have as much physical stamina, but I am doing prenatal yoga every day and doing my best to keep fit. So long story short, we decided I would have a normal pregnancy and be seen by the regular doctor since my blood pressure, weight and all my other levels are in average range. As for my anxiety, maybe it’s all in my head (ha ha ha, pun intended).

Truthfully, I was relieved. I never wanted to be treated any differently because of my CP. Physically, it is noticeable….I walk with a limp most days, but in all other ways you wouldn’t know. I don’t have a speech issue or a motor skills problem, I attended all regular schools, enjoyed schoolwork, good grades, extracurricular activities…the works. So I never wanted to any special treatment or pity or anything, I just wanted to be “normal”. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve noticed anyone responding differently to me because of my CP, maybe that’s because I choose to surround myself with intelligent people instead of ignorant or judgmental people. Do others notice my slightly awkward gait? or the fact that it may seem that I’m limping? Probably, but I don’t. And for once,  I’m glad to just be considered ordinary. I don’t want to be back in physical therapy and I don’t want to have to go through anything extra to have my baby.

The appointment ended on a high note, we got to see our little girl on the ultrasound again :)….I swear I have had more ultrasounds than I can count! Not only is she beautiful, she has perfect little feet and she is a mover and a shaker. As much as I complain that pregnancy is making me anxious/crazy feeling, I know for once I’m not just doing this for myself. All the other tough things, the CP, the surgeries, the casts and crutches….were all for my benefit to make me “better.” Getting through my pregnancy healthy and happy….has the greatest reward I could ever imagine.


Things I take for granted

Yesterday, after a long day of work…I was trudging up the stairs, feeling tired and grumpy and I stopped and thought “It’s amazing that I can walk up these stairs without holding the railing.” This is not as random a thought as it may seem. The other day I got a call from my doctor who said she wants me to consult with the maternal fetal specialist here regarding my cerebral palsy. She was just unsure if it would cause me issues in delivery or labor since it affects my muscles/nerves in some ways. Well, of course that sent me into a tail spin of anxiety. So I do what I do best…I began to research. Most of the articles regarding pregnancy and CP talked about a baby born with this condition, but one article was written by a mother of two who had mild spastic diplegia (fancy way of saying it affected only two of her limbs-her legs-and not really her whole body). That’s what I have, my condition affects mostly my hips/legs and in a very mild way. Anyway, as I was reading her article I noticed that she said she was unable to walk up and down stairs without holding a hand rail. And I was humbled.

My whole life I have known that things were more difficult for me physically due to CP, but here is a woman in almost the exact same position as I am, but she has trouble walking up stairs. I take that for granted, I take for granted the fact that I can run, that I can exercise without pain, that I can function on a daily  basis without aid and help from medical professionals. All of these things I take for granted, even more so than the average person because I remember what it is like to need help walking, surgeries, pain but most of that was while I was a young child and teen….these days you may not even realize there is anything different about me except for a small limp. When I complain about being pregnant and hot and tired, I forget to stop and thank God that I could even become pregnant and that I can get out of bed in the morning, walk to my shower, drive to my job, work a full day, type on the computer, hold a pen and then at the end of the day walk to my car and get in to drive home again. I can walk my dog, hug and kiss my husband effortlessly, cook dinner….so many things….that I truly can’t imagine a life in which I couldn’t do any of these things.

I’m not saying I’ll ever be perfect or that I will never complain again, but I’m going to try to be more thankful, more grateful that I am alive and breathing, that I can walk, run, dance and that I am able to carry and give life to this little bug who one day soon will actually be here with me and I can hold her in my arms without difficulty and pain. After speaking with the specialist, it was determined I won’t need to be seen by her at this time and that I shouldn’t have any difficulty with my pregnancy regarding my CP.

It’s just one of those things I take for granted that I haven’t seen a surgeon in 7 years and that I haven’t been to physical therapy in just as long. I’m grateful that when my daughter arrives I will be able to carry her and play with her and run around with her.  

I can’t wait until she gets here <3.