Raising Children in this day and age is tough enough, but add chronic illness to the mix, and you have a whole of emotional and physical challenges to deal with in addition to what you already have to do. The hardest part for many mothers is that RA hits them in their childbearing years, and quite often, it does not affect fertility. Many women will go into remission while they are pregnant and this can last up to a month after giving birth.
Taking care of an infant or toddler when you have RA is physically challenging and the lifting and moving can cause extra strain on your joints. There are several sources for parents struggling with physical disabilities, including Parents With Disabilities Online, started by a mother with cerebral palsy. There, you can also section on assistive devices such as child safety locks made for people with dexterity problems. /
One of the most difficult things for me as I watch my children grow up is that I worry about my physical limitations and I often feel guilty about that. At some level I focus more on the things I cannot do and how imperfect I am and I often forget about the meaningful experiences I have with my children. Perhaps, being more involved in the day-to-day activities of family life teaches them responsibility and allows them to grow up into more capable and self-reliant people and those are skills that will benefit them when they go out into the real world.
The other thing worry how I have is how many disease affects my children and I worry because I know my son worries. He is almost ten and he has so many questions mostly about whether I will be around when he is older and whether he will have RA. I explain that the chances of him having RA are small and that the disease will most certainly not kill me. I have learned the best thing I do for him is be truthful. The baby will have his own questions when he is older, but for him, it will be different because he will have known me with RA, but my tween, he knew me when I was healthy and it is important for him to know that I will be all right and why is something that keeps him happy so I choose to be honest with him even about my difficulties.
Rheumatoid arthritis has taught me better parenting if anything. It has taught me that parenting is about unconditional love, patience, talking to my children and treating them like they are capable, and teaching them to be good, kind and responsible human beings. It has also taught me to be a better role model in showing them that the bad moments can easily be overcome with love and laughter.