I really went back and fourth about maternity photos of this pregnancy this year. In November, we had a family session where I was 20 weeks pregnant, and while my bump was little, it was still there and I was content knowing that I had those images with a little bump and my family. You can see that blog post here.
Since that session, my pregnancy got really hard…. Like REALLY hard… and as much as I debated on sharing what I have been going through in this blog, I realize that I can only say “it was a rough pregnancy” so many times… and really not many of you will understand, so, here is my story…
In the first trimester this time, I was exhausted, starving all the time and moody. I never experienced morning sickness with my first, or this one and I am grateful for that. I have heard many horror stories of those who do experienced it, and I am sorry. I also experienced anxiety in the first trimester along with other pregnancy related symptoms that are very common.
Once the second trimester came around, I started to develop a rash that started on my hands and ankles, which quickly spread up my legs. All my symptoms began around 20 weeks. At first, I thought it was PUPPS, but after doing lots of Googling (which doctors say, don’t Google symptoms) it didn’t make sense that this rash was PUPPS. It was something else… something horrible. Something I was not expecting. The ‘spots’ turned from what I thought was a simple rash, to painful plaques which blistered causing severe amounts of distress. They were incredibly itchy; keeping me up almost every night. My legs burned so bad that it was getting harder for me to carry out my daily tasks as a mom and wife. Mostly, I was embarrassed by the appearance of my legs. After suffering with this for just about a month, it was recommended by my sister to go to the dermatologist to have it looked at. I called around to 4 different dermatology offices in MA and the waitlists were insane! No one wanted to see me until May. Yes, I explained that I was 5 months pregnant and by May I would have already have had a baby and I needed to be seen ASAP. Finally, that last number I called got me in right away and I had an appointment that week.
During my first visit with the dermatologist, I was told that that the rash was scabies. However, I knew there was no way that was what I had! At this point it’s been over a month and my husband and son do not have anything like this on them. Scabies is very contagious. I KNEW it was pregnancy related! So anyway, I left there feeling very upset but I did the treatments as if that’s what I had… A week later it was getting worse. Still nothing on my son or husband… just me… my legs and my hands. I went back to the dermatologist after a week explaining that the rash is worse. They performed a biopsy on one of the lesions on my legs, and gave me a steroid ointment to use 2 times a day. It was confirmed that it was NOT scabies and when the biopsy came back 2 weeks later, I learned that I was diagnosed with an auto-inflammatory disease, Sweets Syndrome. ( Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sweets-syndrome/symptoms-causes/dxc-20165796)
Sweets Syndrome?! I have never heard of this… I cried to my husband not understanding why I would have this, my little boy near by asking me why I was sad. The support from my husband throughout this pregnancy has been indescribable! I don’t know how he put up with me. Those marriage vows, “in sickness and in health, till death do us part” really do mean something…. He made me look at it as if I finally had an answer and from now, we can get started on some form of treatment. We looked up what Sweets Syndrome really is and we saw that it is a VERY RARE disease, and it has occurred in only 2% of pregnancies…. Crazy right?? How am I in that 2%!?
After I cried in pain from a flair up that day once finding out the news, I knew he was right. I had doctor appointments after doctor appointments. Many in which, I was the first case the doctors have seen with Sweets Syndrome! I opted to meet with a few specialists who have seen Sweets Syndrome before just to help my nerves because at this point, I am not just worried about me…. I am growing a baby inside. My Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor at BID Boston/Plymouth has been AMAZING as well as the BMC Dermatologist in Boston. It was so nice to get to meet with them and hear what they had to say. They are hopeful for a healthy baby and for the rash to go away once the baby arrives.
We’ve learned that the way to treat this is via oral steroids. I started Prednisone in February as a low dose with a taper. Nothing was happening. I then went up to a high dose and have been on that for several weeks, slowly just starting to go down on that dose as there is some improvement. With this, I was also on an antibiotic for an infection as well as steroid creams. I recently stopped the antibiotic and creams which seemed to all help and I am finally just getting some relief in my legs from the itching and the pain this rash has caused me. Once I am in labor, I will be on a stress dose of a steroid via IV along with an antibiotic. This scares me, but I will have my husband with me and amazing midwives and doctors there to guide me through.
Today, I am 38 weeks pregnant. I have been working full time along with my business all while dealing with this horrible pregnancy related symptom. I’ve had many high and lows in my moods which can be contributed to the prednisone I am taking as well as being pregnant! With this, my blood sugars have been high and I have had to get weekly blood work done to monitor them. Along with blood work, I have also been having ultrasounds every 4 weeks since being diagnosed with Sweets. As of last week ( week 36) the baby is weighing in at 7 lb. 1 oz and the doctor is pleased with everything. She said the baby looks amazing, the fluid around he or she is perfect and she is very happy! This was AWESOME news! With my first baby, I was very cautious and didn’t take any medication other than vitamins. This one is a whole new story so it’s been very worrisome. Hearing her tell me this makes me so happy and I am counting down till we get to meet the newest little member of our family! The rash has not had a recent flair up, it is SLOWLY fading. Thank God it is still pant weather… I am not sure that I will ever wear shorts or a dress again… We will see how it looks once the baby arrives and if the scars go away.
For those close friends and family who have known about Sweets Syndrome since I found out about it, THANK YOU for being a huge support to me! Thank you for your positive words, check in’s on how I have been feeling, prayers and love! I appreciate you more than you know! Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart! Thank you!
Now, this brings me to the latest and greatest maternity session with Lindsay Connors Photography. Since being preoccupied with Sweets Syndrome, working full time, Ali B Photography and loving my little growing family I really had not had time to even think positively around this pregnancy and that made me feel really sad. Mom guilt chimed in and it made me want to take some time out for myself and capture this time because pregnancy, when you really think about it, is truly amazing.
I reached out to my Rising Tide Cape Cod Chapter and worked it out with Lindsay and set up a maternity session. ( Thank you to all my photographer friends who reached out to me!) Let me just tell you how AMAZING she is! Lindsay worked hard to make this day so special for me. She reached out for hair and make up artists in the area and while that did not work out the way we hoped, I am still so grateful for her for thinking about it and trying to set it up since I had not been able to take the time out to think about much else than how horrible, disgusting and embarrassed I personally have been feeling since 20 weeks!
Our session was set for the beginning of March when I turned 36 weeks, however the day we picked was FREEZING, so we postponed it to the following week. On March 18 my friends and family celebrated with me at my house for a baby sprinkle and then following day we had our maternity session. It was a great weekend celebrating BB2 and being able to focus for just a few days that I am still growing a human and doing all I do in a day, and it’s a wonderful thing!
This weekend was the first weekend in a long time I felt good!! I wore a dress for the first time in a LONG time. It was floor length so that my legs were not exposed. The feel I went with was spring time. I am having a spring baby, the first day of spring was upon us, and I have a feeling (we will see if I am right) that I am having a girl. Floral it was! I picked out a dress from Pink Blush Maternity and my goodness do I LOVE it! It photographed well and I definitely plan to wear it again once the baby is here. I am thinking it would be a perfect Easter and Baptism gown to wear coming up! My hair was curled and off to the side and my make up I wanted to be neutral. I didn’t want to not look like me, but I wanted to FEEL beautiful with my bump and forget that I have Sweets Syndrome for just a few hours.
Lindsay’s awesome personality made me feel so comfortable in front of the camera. As a photographer, its so weird to be on the other side! I totally get it when clients tell me, “ I hate getting my picture taken.” Its weird, but its necessary and it doesn’t last long! She captured a few images outside in my backyard with my son, soon to be Big Brother, Ethan. I absolutely LOVE them and I will cherish them forever! She talked to Ethan and made him feel comfortable too, he was such a good listener! After taking a few photos with Ethan at home, Lindsay and I headed to the Gristmill area downtown to get a few more photos. She talked to me behind the lens, explaining what she was looking for. Had me look up and down at her, play with the dress, hand on belly, etc. The session was quick as it was cold!
I am so obsessed with her style of photography! She made me feel like a person who didn’t have Sweets Syndrome Who could enjoy a few moments of being pregnant and I am so happy I made the choice to reach out and get these photos taken. She didn’t judge me when I showed her what my legs actually look like now. She was the sweetest person and I am so thankful for her!! It’s a long 40 weeks when growing a baby. You get that opportunity to take photos one time. I know that when my kids are older, they will see these photos and be happy that we have them! Thank you Lindsay for these moments! I am so happy to have met you through The Rising Tide Society and I am so excited to share these images with everyone! You were fantastic to work with and I can not wait to see you again! xoxo