I’d come off the pill to regulate my body and to see if my periods could be ‘normal’ after being on it since I was 15.
My partner and I had been to a wedding and were drinking and celebrating so things progressed to having sex. I’d decided to have a go at using an app to track my periods which also worked as a fertility tracker. I checked the app to make sure we weren’t within a fertile day, it didn’t flag anything so we went for it.
When I found I was pregnant I felt like it was the worst thing that ever happened to me, which is crazy as a person who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I felt foolish because it seemed so obvious that having unprotected sex could lead to pregnancy. I was 28 years old and I’d been with my boyfriend for a long time so I was frustrated that we’d had this momentary lapse of judgement.
I’d finished the second cycle of Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) which gave me a bit more freedom to think about the future and worry less about relapsing. Since diagnosis I’ve never had a chance to really think ahead about my future, I didn’t even know where I wanted to be in the next year because I didn’t know how I was going to feel health wise. I was frustrated that this had happened when I had finished my treatment and was finally going to be able to stop worrying about having an infusion, or a relapse.
The thought of progressing with the pregnancy was never an option for me. I always thought “Oh God no” which was strange because I always anticipated that if it did happen with my partner, we’d make it work. Honestly, we could have made it work, but we just both felt it wasn’t the right time. Yes, it was ultimately my decision but I’m very lucky that I have a supportive partner and we were on the same page.
The MS made me view the pregnancy slightly differently. I told my MS nurse just so she knew or in case it showed up on the blood tests. She told me I didn’t need to worry because it wouldn’t impact the effectiveness of my treatment. But that hadn’t even crossed my mind, it was more that I didn’t want to have to worry about relapsing.
There are always stories you hear about women with MS having a severe relapse after they’ve given birth. I panicked. I felt way too young and I was still pretty early into my career. I had only just started my new job and was only 5 months in so it didn’t really sit with where I expected to be in terms of my living situation and my career.
You want things to be as perfect as they can be. We wanted our own place, I wanted to be earning a certain wage, I wanted to be at a company where I could feel I could take that time out. It just felt completely thrown on me.
We all know that in life there are certain things that you aren’t able to control, and MS is one of them. Unfortunately I have MS and when I looked into my family history there weren't any previous cases of MS. Unfortunately we get MS because we’re just unlucky.
Having something thrust on me that I wasn’t in control of made me really angry. Because I didn’t want this. I didn’t control this. It wasn’t on my terms - which is perhaps why I was so emotionally detached from the situation and it reinforced my ultimate decision.
For me the termination was the only option because I didn’t choose this. It was about control and not having the control in this instance contributed to the decision I made.
If you find out you're pregnant and you’re not sure how you feel, I would speak to your MS nurse and team or someone who you trust in your medical network that you can get advice from. That person will help you feel at ease and will explain things to you. That’s hugely important.
Speak to someone you can trust. No one should be alone in a situation where they are pregnant and have MS because you are going to have more concerns to think about than most people. Respect yourself and respect what's happening to know there are people out who are looking out for you. They will give you the advice that is best for you which will help you with your decision making.
This is what I did and even though I had already made my mind up, everyone respected that. Throughout the process I was treated with the utmost respect and dignity. No one was judging my decision, or making any comments, they were just letting me make my decision and go through the process.
The nurse from Marie Stopes told me that having an abortion at my agewhile in a serious relationship was more common than most people realise which is why I am so keen to share this story. It’s not just down to MS, there will be people out there who get pregnant and aren’t ready. I struggled to find information online about other people’s stories and advice with how to deal with it. I didn’t really talk to friends about it because I felt ashamed. We have told friends since who have been really understanding about it but it’s not something I walk around with a badge of honour about. I’m certainly not proud of it but I am open to sharing my story just so that other people can feel like they're not alone and it’s okay to step back and think about what you want to happen.
Sometimes things happen but it’s not your fate. Shit happens but you can do something about it.
This MSer has chosen to publish their story anonymously so as to be able speak freely and without fear of retribution on this sensitive topic.