The day I found out I was pregnant

Autistic and Pregnant, First Trimester, Finding Out I Was PregnantI have been pregnant twice. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 6 weeks. My second pregnancy has so far been successful. On both occasions the baby was very much planned and I was expecting a positive test, though that didn't prevent me from being surprised, shocked and a little fearful.

As we had agreed to try for a family I had been my usual logical self and had bought a pack of HCG pregnancy tests from Amazon. These were an affordable way for me to quell the constant 'am I pregnant?' anxiety. I was very aware that I was trying to get pregnant, to the point where it affected my everyday thought processes and certainly my attitude towards sex (more about that to follow).

From week three of every cycle I began testing every other day. I knew that the results would be unlikely to be accurate so early before a missed period but I was so concerned with the 'do's and don't s' of being pregnant that I needed to know if I were pregnant as soon as physically possible. I needed to be prepared, despite the anxiety it caused me.

In my first pregnancy I found out very early on at around five days before my period was due. The tests I had bought worked by showing a second pink line if the pregnancy hormone HCG was found in my urine. I knew that for a second line to appear there MUST be HCG in my system so when I got a very faint second line I interpreted it as a positive test. My partner did not, possibly due to his own fears around becoming a dad. He insisted that because the tests were cheap that they must be faulty. Even a second positive test a few days later did not convince him. This was a particularly distressing time for me as I knew I was pregnant but felt very alone and overwhelmed as he did not believe me. The news sunk in for him when I missed my first period and confirmed the pregnancy with a Clear Blue digital test that literally spelt out the word 'PREGNANT'.

Finding out we were pregnant after our miscarriage went the same way. I tested, saw a faint positive line and shared the news with my partner. He debated the validity of the test and the visibility of the line and so we bought a more expensive test and got a positive result that he was happy to accept.

The moment itself wasn't how I imagined it to be. There weren't any tears of joy, jumping on the spot or wild embraces. In actual fact he high-fived me and said 'congratulations you're pregnant'. Not the romanticised version that is portrayed in the media but a fitting moment for us and one we laugh about now. We can look back and laugh at the fact that on both occasions he didn't believe I was pregnant, despite all the evidence!

A Few Things I Learnt On The Day I Found Out I Was Pregnant...

  • Even if it's expected and planned you may still feel shocked, emotional and overwhelmed. It is possible to feel absolute joy and sheer terror simultaneously.
  • Allow yourself to feel whatever comes to the surface. After our miscarriage I thought I would feel an overwhelming joy at being pregnant again but it was a moment of sadness and mourning for the little life that had been before it. I was happy and overjoyed at the thought of being a mum but in that moment I was reminded of what we had lost and the pain and fear of having to go through something similar again. 
  • Your partner may not react how you expect them to. Throughout all our discussions about getting pregnant my partner was loving, supportive and made me feel reassured and safe.This changed when we actually got pregnant and I initially felt shocked and let down. I now understand that he was also going through a range of emotions and his distance from me and lack of excitement was due to his own fears and anxieties. I often forget that he has emotions too!

Why I decided to stay on medication despite the risk to my unborn child

Autistic and Pregnant, First Trimester, Medication, Anti Depressants Use In Pregnancy, SertralineA bold title for a blog post but it's the truth. I'm not writing this post to cause controversy and I know that some people will not agree with the decision I made but for many people with a wide variety of health conditions it's a decision that needs to be made. As explained by my doctor, a lot of medication is not tested on pregnant women purely because of the ethics involved and because of that it's very difficult for medical professionals to know which medication is safe. Tests are performed on pregnant animals, something which doesn't sit well with me but I do understand the need for it. So often the best a doctor can tell you is how the medication affects animal fetuses and then it's down to you to decide if it's a risk worth taking.

Before we decided to try for a baby I spoke to a few doctors about the implications of staying on my medication and I got a very wide range of responses. I have been taking 100mg Sertraline daily for many years now and have found that it has greatly assisted me in keeping my mood stable, my emotions under control and my obsessive compulsive tendacies at a manageble level.  The first doctor I spoke to was very understanding of why I take Sertraline and said that sometimes the risk to baby is small in comparison to the risk to the mother if they come off medication. At the time I was relieved to hear this, it was reassuring to know that I had some support if I decided to stay on the tablets. The next doctor I spoke to had the complete opposite opinion and almost demanded that I stop taking my medication immediately. This was very daunting for me. This doctor also said that having autism didn't have an effect on pregnancy and vice versa. This is not the case, autism is a factor in everything I do and pregnancy is sadly no exception. I am self aware enough to know that pregnancy would have a huge effect on my body, my mental stability, my 'rules' and that it could be a potential trigger for a bout of serious mental illness. I found her lack of understanding very upsetting. The last doctor I saw offered a more balanced viewpoint and fully explained the research behind what she said. She informed me that animal studies have shown a slight increase in the chances of a heart defect. She also said that there is no human research to compare that to. I was also informed that I could switch to an older antidepressant for the first 12 weeks and then back to Sertraline for the rest of the pregnancy. I left this appointment feeling like i'd been given a full explanation of my options though the difficult decision was still to be made.

My partner and I spoke at length about our options and I talked it through with a close friend and my mum. Ultimately though the decision lay with me. Only I know what my mind and body can endure and I had made my decision which thankfully was supported by those around me. I had decided that the risk to myself was greater than the risk to my baby. I knew that changing medication temporarily wouldn't work for me. The older drugs offered had caused me many side effects before and as I had settled so well on the Sertraline withdrawing from it altogether wasn't a viable option for me, I feared my mental health would decline to a point where I was at risk. As explained by that first doctor 'an unhealthy mum can't grow a healthy baby' and she was right. Pregnancy is difficult enough without adding antidepressant withdrawal and medication upheaval to the mix. In order to do the best for my baby I had to do what was best for myself. It wasn't an easy decision and I know that if anything is wrong with my child then I will blame myself as I carried on taking the tablets. My only defence is that I did what I thought was right and I tried my best which is all any mum ever strives to do.

Welcome to Autistic and Pregnant

Autistic and Pregnant. Supporting Autistic Women Through Pregnancy and Beyond.Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

This site has been set up to provide information and relate-able experiences for pregnant women that are also on the autistic spectrum.

My name is Katrina and I was diagnosed with Autism when I was 21 years old. My life had been a constant struggle prior to my diagnosis. I couldn't understand my behaviour and I couldn't understand why, despite all the therapy and counselling, I couldn't 'get better'. Receiving a diagnosis allowed me to accept who I am and enabled me to understand myself and this in turn led to better understanding of the world around me and the people that occupied it. For me diagnosis was the starting point of a journey of understanding that would enable me to learn to love and respect myself. By understanding myself, I could help others to understand me and by doing this I have managed to build and maintain strong and healthy relationships after many years of trying and failing. Information and understanding has been the key to my success. 

In 2016 my partner and I decided to try for a baby. We knew it would be a big commitment and we talked at length about the implications of being Autistic and being a mother. We knew it would be a challenge but someone, somewhere must have done it? We couldn't be the only couple having this discussion. I naturally had a look at some of the resources I had used to understand my initial diagnosis in the hope of finding some experiences from other autistic mums. Sadly I found very little information for mums with autism. There is a wealth of information about being a mother to a child with autism but very little information available to autistic women who want to become parents. So I decided to set up my own website to share my experiences of pregnancy and beyond to hopefully help women through the transition into motherhood. 

I can't promise that all the information on this site will be uplifting but I can promise that it will be honest and truthful. I will endeavour to capture my journey as best I can to hopefully provide you with a resource that you can relate to. When we first discussed the idea of pregnancy and I searched 'autistic and pregnant' all I got was articles on 'how to avoid autism in pregnancy'. That was hurtful. All I wanted was to find something that said 'yes, autistic women do have babies'. So here it is. I'm autistic, I'm a woman and i'm pregnant! You are not alone, there are autistic women going through pregnancy and motherhood but we're just not talked about enough.

Let's end that now.