I was once told by doctors that I could never have children. Quite simply for whatever reason my body was not releasing eggs and it would take medical intervention to make it happen. At the time the arthritis was far from controlled, I was close to leaving school and the thought of having to look after someone else, when I was at the time reliant on others to do basic tasks, meant the thought of having kids was the furthest thing from my mind.
In 2008 I began working at Parap Tavern in Darwin, which is where I met Mick. We were friends first and began dating a few months later. The prospect of kids was never discussed as Mick and I were both working full time and because my shifts were all over the place, what little time we did spend together involved watching NRL, attending the races at Fannie Bay, or if the arthritis was making life uncomfortable, chilling out at home.
In August of 2009 I discovered I was pregnant. I thought that the nausea I was experiencing was a result of the arthritis becoming more active (I tend to throw up when the pain is excessive). I rang my doctor and described my symptoms and she straight away told me to take a pregnancy test and made me an appointment to see her that afternoon. I thought that she was crazy but went along with it. The test was positive and we attended the appointment that afternoon in shock.
We flew to Sydney to see a rheumatologist (the rheumatologist that I usually saw in darwin was away on an extended holiday). who panicked (this was the first time we had met, it was like “Hi, I’m Tara, this is my partner Mick, I was diagnosed with JIA when I was three, I’m taking Enbrel and Corticosteroids, oh and by the way I’m pregnant”). As I was taking Enbrel at the time and there was not a lot of research available outlining the effects of the medication on a foetus. At the time I was 8 weeks pregnant and we decided to stop the Enbrel and try to manage the arthritis with corticosteroids, exercise, heat packs and rest. Jake was born 6 weeks premature by C-section in March 2010. He spent one night in the special care nursery under lights for jaundice and came home with me 5 days later. Mick was stoked we arrived home 20 minutes before the Roosters played (I am a Cronulla Sharkes supporter and Mick has told Jake that his Roosters jersey is a Sharks jersey so he will wear it, but that’s another story for another day!).
Miss Lisa joined us in September 2012, I stayed on my biologic medication throughout my pregnancy with Lisa (with the exception of the last 6 weeks).
Both children are happy and healthy and, knock on wood, no signs of arthritis. Love them both and I wouldn’t be without them!