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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Interview with Janice Dean the Weather Machine from the Fox News Channel

A couple years ago Janice Dean, meteorologist on the Fox News Channel, did an interview for me regarding her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. (I will post that original interview on a future post.) Last year she did a follow-up interview about her adventure of becoming pregnant and her experience as a first time mother. Here is that interview:

Well, Janice, it’s been a little over a year since you did your first interview with me. In your answer to one of my previous questions you made a comment about possibly starting a family. By my calculations, it must have been shortly after that interview that you received some joyous news, wasn’t it?

Yes! It was Memorial Day weekend last year when I found out I was pregnant. I wrote about that day on my blog so I would remember how special the feeling was when I got the news! I recently went back and re-read the “finding out” blog and remembered what it was like, and all the feelings that you go through after you “wake up” and realize the amazing journey you are about to embark on.

I’m sure finding out that you’re pregnant is exciting for everyone, but what was going through your mind as you thought about the possible issues with your MS?

I did my homework before we started trying to get pregnant, and happily, women who get pregnant and have MS have less symptoms or exacerbations while carrying a child. My MS doctor actually recommended we get pregnant (since we were talking about starting a family) I was able to go off the drugs I was on while we’re were trying, and have been off the drugs since Matthew was born which has been very liberating. The medication was the one constant reminder that there is something not quite right with my nervous system.

How did your husband react to the news?

He was thrilled – once he woke up! I went in while he was sleeping to wake him up and tell him the good news…it took a while for it to “sink in”…but we were both grinning from ear to ear that weekend.

How did your pregnancy impact your MS treatment and did you have any complications during your pregnancy?

As I mentioned earlier, I went off the injection I was on when we were trying, and have not been on the drug since. I am currently breast feeding so that’s why I’m still not using the MS drugs. I so far haven’t had any indication that the disease is progressing or getting worse. There is actually new research that says breast feeding also helps suppress symptoms of the disease. This is very exciting news for women who struggle with the illness.

While you were pregnant, did you seek advice and support from other women with MS who went through a healthy pregnancy?

My doctor was very supportive, and I’m close with my MS nurse Jennifer who kept in close touch with me throughout the pregnancy. I also have a good friend who also suffers from the disease who had a successful pregnancy who I talked to often…but we didn’t talk very much about the disease – mainly about being pregnant, and all the fun stuff that comes during those 9 months! She’s actually trying for her second child now with her husband.

I know this will be hard to put into words, but what was it like when you first laid eyes on that precious little Matthew?

Amazement and awe. It truly is an unbelievable experience when you see that your body helped make “life” It’s a love that I never knew I could feel for another human being. My heart grew bigger that day.

Since Matthew was born back in January, have you had any MS flare ups and if so, how have you handled them? Are you taking any medications now?

Nope. There have been a few little ‘aches and pains” that I will have to address once I go back on the MS drugs after I stop breast feeding. I will have to get MRI’s done to see if there have been any new lesions on my brain or spine.

Now that you are adjusting to being a mother for the first time, would you like to have more children someday?

I would. We’ll probably start trying in the New Year, but if it doesn’t happen, we’re ok with that too. Matthew is a miracle and a blessing for us.

Now for a fun question—are you hoping Matthew will become a meteorologist like you or a firefighter like your husband? (Or maybe president, an astronaut, or…)

Matthew can be anything he wants to be – sky’s the limit! …we will support any career decision he makes! But I will say I can’t wait for him to see his dad for the first time in his firefighter uniform at the firehouse. I think he will be proud of his father.

Would you like to share any parting words of encouragement for women with MS who may be thinking about pregnancy or anyone who is dealing with MS?

Pregnancy has proven to be very beneficial in women living with MS in terms of lessening of symptoms and exacerbations of the disease. You can’t stop living your life when you have a diagnosis of MS. It actually changed the way I live, and go about my life when I learned I had MS. I think in a way it made me realize I have more love to give, and perhaps even helped me make the decision to have a family. My priorities changed when living with a disease – for the better. My family is the most important thing in my life.

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