Dear New Mama,

Did you just take a test and see those two little lines? Are you looking forward to your very first ultrasound? Are you already thinking about how you’ll decorate your nursery? Are you worried if you’ll be enough? Are you scared that your Rheumatoid Arthritis will keep you from being the mother you want to be?

Don’t worry, we all deal with the doubts and the “what if’s” of motherhood.

Pregnancy can be scary, and you’re dealing with more than the average mother. They say motherhood is the next great adventure, but how do they expect you to get there when your body is literally attacking itself? When does it feel like it’s tearing itself apart and taking you with it? How will you continue on when it’s not just for yourself anymore, but it’s for another tiny human who relies on you? It sounds scary, but I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone. I’ve been in your shoes.

You can do it.

When I was pregnant, I absolutely loved it. Shocking right? I wasn’t on any medication, and yet the aches and pains and misery of RA left my body. I was at peace with my pregnancy, and I felt like I was invincible. The weekly ultrasounds kept me going because I knew I would get to see my baby every single week. And when that wasn’t enough? I bought my own handheld doppler and ultrasound gel, so I could hear the baby’s heartbeat on demand. Oh yes, I was that mom.

You are enough.

Yet, when there inevitably comes a time when you feel like your body is against you, know that you are enough, and you will get through this. You are not your symptoms of RA. You existed before they existed, and your desire for motherhood should persevere through them. Coming to terms with your reality might not be easy, but it will help you get to the next step and love yourself for where you are in life.

You aren’t the guilt you feel.

New moms feel notoriously guilty for everything. Why is their baby crying? Why can’t they keep their baby happy, their house clean, put dinner on the table, and have the rest of their lives together like they used to? Why don’t they feel happy and fulfilled like they thought they might? As a mom with RA, I’m here to tell you that you aren’t your fatigue or your aches and pains or the guilt that you feel that you can’t do it all. Being a new mother is hard. It’s hard for everyone. It’s hard for the woman without Rheumatoid Arthritis, and that nearly makes you superwoman. Your body did something incredible, and it’s continuing to fight itself. I’m here to tell you that you can do this, and that parenthood is so worth it even if it’s really tough sometimes.

Don’t forget to reach out.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed – by motherhood and by your symptoms – don’t ever forget to reach out. RA is isolating. Motherhood is isolating. If you’re feeling lonely and forgotten, you’re not the only one. You’re among thousands of other moms who are fighting similar battles. Find the people who can support you through the worst moments and never hesitate to reach out to them. They’ll be the ones you lean on when your baby is up in the middle of the night, and your body is so fatigued you can’t see straight. Reach out for help when you need it. It’s one of the most important things you can remember as a new mom.

Motherhood is what you make of it.

Maybe you’re doing great right now. And perhaps you’re doing terrible. RA has its ups and downs, and so does parenthood. When there are days that you don’t feel like you can get out of bed, remember there’s a little one you brought into this world who thinks you are the world. Never forget that. You are loved and valued despite a disease you didn’t ask for. You are superwoman to your baby, and that’s what matters.

Much love, A fellow RA Mom