Man. As if dating isn’t hard enough. Dating with late stage Lyme disease? It’s proving a bit disastrous as of late. I mean, it’s not hard in the ways you might expect. I come up with plenty of alcohol-free date ideas. Most people are pretty darn empathetic about the whole Lyme thing. And for the most part, I’m accepted just how I am by potential suitors. With one exception: Babies.
I suppose it’s because I’m 33 now… and the guys I’m dating are mid to late 30s. But it seems like the main thing on everyone’s mind is procreation. And even though I tell fellas in the FIRST COUPLE DATES, that I feel I am reproductively challenged… they still manage to dump me for that exact reason THAT THEY ALREADY KNEW months later. It is THE most frustrating thing.
It’s been frustrating enough that I’ve gone back to the drawing board on my stance on having biological kids. I mean, when I first realized that my multiple sclerosis diagnosis was a mistake, and that I had hope of achieving lasting wellness with Lyme disease, the FIRST thing I thought was, “maybe I can have a family”. Later into my fight with Lyme, I became aware of all the risks involved with biological babies, and once again shut down that particular part of the “have family” dream. But the landscape on Lyme disease understanding is changing SO rapidly, I think I owe it to myself to keep abreast of all the current research before I marry any single idea about how I might build a family.
Of course, opinions vary WILDLY here, so I’m just going to add this disclaimer: I am speaking in this blog about only my stance and the thoughts in my brain about my personal comfort level with the notion of having biological kids. I cannot tell you what is right for everyone. And I don’t blame any Lymie who makes a different decision than I do.
For me, when I think about having biological kids, I worry about several things:
- Passing Lyme disease & coinfections to the unborn child
- Passing Lyme disease & coinfections to my baby daddy
- Relapsing due to the stress of pregnancy
- Having a difficult pregnancy due to my sort of more fragile body
- The higher risk of autism, miscarriage and other complications.
Honestly, #3 and #4 is what scares me the most. They’re all super valid, but there are comforting facts about 1 and 2 at least (and 5 by extension).
The protocol for preventing transmission of Lyme, at least, to unborn babies seems to be getting better. Articles and video (58:25) by Dr. Marty Ross has been my main source of information on this subject. According to him, small studies and one old Lyme disease database suggest that Lyme transmits about 25-50% of the time from infected mother to unborn baby. But, when the mother is treated with an antibiotic during pregnancy, that risk drops to “nearly 0%”. Nearly 0% sounds pretty good to me.
I would also assume that this reduced transmission of Lyme to unborn baby would also reduce the risk of #5 on my list, as Lyme infection in the fetus is what’s thought to cause the higher risks of autism and miscarriage. Now, this isn’t perfect, obviously. Coinfections are still a problem. But I guess I hope that if the baby doesn’t have Lyme, it may be easier for them to fight off a coinfection. After all, it’s my perspective that Lyme infection alone isn’t what makes us so sick, it’s a combination of factors that includes our overall infectious load status. The fewer infections I can pass to my baby, the better. But if they don’t get Lyme, which seems to bog patients down the most, I think they’re better equipped to handle what I DO pass.
I am slightly less worried about item #2. Not because it’s not a risk… it is. Lyme disease has been shown to exist in sexual fluids of both men and women. This doesn’t 100% mean it’s transmitting this way, but it’s likely. And anecdotal reports sure seem to suggest this is happening. But, I worry less about this because A) my would be baby daddy is a consenting adult who can assess the risk and make his own decisions, B) I believe Lyme can be treated pretty darn effectively when it’s JUST been transmitted, C) I think putting dad on his own antibiotics while we are “trying” might be an option, and D) I don’t think everyone who contracts Lyme disease is devastated by the illness – this post about MSIDS explains my perspective on that a little more. In short, I think dad could be totally ok.
So that leaves us with #3 and #4, which are my biggest unalleviated concerns. You see, getting well from late stage Lyme has been sooooo challenging for me… and I’m single, childless, and financially able to afford most of what I want to try from at treatment perspective. This means I have been able to sleep as much as I want, sit in detox baths for hours every evening, cook and eat healthy food as I needed to, and throw every bit of excess cash I make at getting well. That is NOT how I imagine things would be if I had a newborn.
If I relapse during pregnancy, or shortly after, I think it’d be REALLY difficult to have the finances, the rest, the diet and the routine needed to get well. And I come from a family where there isn’t much help. I’m not physically or emotionally close to most of my siblings, and my parents, despite how much they love me, aren’t set up to be the type of grandparents that play an active, daily role in my kids’ lives. And in most the relationships I’ve been in, I’ve been the main income earner… which I imagine predicts I’m likely to be a working mama. NONE of this sounds like the right combination for having the amount of help I’d need to get well.
After losing a couple of guys I was pretty wild about building a life with over this, I recently posed this question to myself: “Under what conditions would I feel comfortable having a biological child?”
And after a little soul searching, I was surprised to find that the answer wasn’t “none”. In fact, if conditions are JUST right, I might actually go for it. But I would want the following:
- To be damn near symptom free before even thinking of trying (check)
- A seriously emotionally supportive and empathetic baby daddy who is down for all these risks
- A joint income or collective wealth that would make it very easy for me to take a lot of time off after the baby was born
- A network of multiple people (ideally his family) willing to play a for reals, active, daily role in helping us with all of life’s demands post baby
- A doctor willing to treat me with antibiotics during pregnancy and test the little tyke shortly after he or she is born
- The willingness to stop after 1 baby if things are complicated or difficult
- The willingness to stop trying if I am unable to support a healthy pregnancy
So that’s where I’m at on this! I spoke to a doctor last month about getting my tubes tied, and I’ve decided not to do that. I’ll get an IUD instead. I realize that the likelihood of me ending up in the situation described above with enough time on ye olde biological clock left to court one another, get hitched and still have time to make a baby is PRETTY FUCKING SLIM. I mean, I’ve been on about 100 bad dates this year alone… if Prince Charming with all these incredible resources is out there, he’s taking his sweet ass time finding me. BUT, if he somehow does, well… I’ll keep the hardware around to give it a whirl.
The truth is… whether the kids are biological or adopted… the opportunity to build a big crazy family with a partner I really loved and felt safe with, well that’d be an incredible blessing.
Comment below with your thoughts on this trying subject! I’m curious to hear.
Wishing everyone happy healing.