Pregnant with Migraines: Month 1

I’m pregnant and I suffer from migraines. Many of you already know of me, I am the PR Manager for Cefaly in the United States and before I found this FDA-approved migraine prevention device I had chronic daily migraines for more than 10 years. What you don’t know is that I’ve spent the past year trying to get pregnant and worried about what pregnancy would do to my head. It is now early December and I am about 3.5 months pregnant.

Let me rewind for a moment and start with the leg work I did in advance – before I even really started my efforts – then I’ll go month-by-month.

I tried many different prescription migraine medications over the years, some preventive and some abortive. You can read more about my story here. My last preventive (candesartan) was meant to be a medium-term solution, my neurologist said, like a year or two for me, max. About 8-months in, with a baby on the mind, I talked with my neurologist who weaned me off the medication since she said I should not take it while trying to conceive. I relied heavily on Cefaly to make it through the withdrawal. I didn’t take too many rescue medications since my migraines had already drastically reduced from daily to 3-5 migraine days a month. In fact, my prescriptions were piling up. Like many of you that I’ve interviewed for this very blog, I kept filling them “just in case” because my insurance would only allow so many a month. Still, when I needed medication to abort a migraine, I used to turn to my all-time favorite go-to drug, which is a popular over-the-counter medication that’s basically a mix of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine. In training my body for a possible baby, I stopped taking this too.

Next I hired a nutritionist. I’m a terrible eater; the pickiest of the bunch. Together we worked on ways that I could incorporate healthier foods into my diet. I also bought a cookbook that teaches you how to cook meals with hidden vegetables so that you won’t actually taste them. I decreased my Coke intake to one can a day – I used to drink about three daily. I’d rather not drink soda during pregnancy but if I don’t drink one can right when I wake up, I will get a migraine that will last all day. It’s probably the caffeine I need but I don’t drink coffee and honestly (you’ll see why in a bit), I never want to drink tea again. Lastly, I began taking folic acid. A few months into this, my husband and I began trying to conceive.

Once we hit 10 months without a positive pregnancy test I decided to visit a fertility doctor. I already knew that IVF wasn’t something that I wanted, or could afford, to do, but I wanted the doctor to run any necessary tests and help me learn if there was a diagnosable issue preventing me from conceiving. He couldn’t find anything wrong but after dizzying me with acronyms and feeling utterly overwhelmed, he basically told me I had a very slim chance of ever getting pregnant on my own. He told me I was ‘infertile’ because I was over 35 years of age and had been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for 6-months. I sat there, 40, stunned, and deflated.

I must’ve cried all day, which surely triggered a huge migraine. Usually when I have a migraine I stay away from computer screens but this time I relied on my back up plan – I put on some rose-colored glasses, dimmed my screen as low as it would go, and went online and found an article about a Chinese doctor living in England with a stellar track record helping women in similar (or much worse) circumstances to have a baby. I decided to look for someone locally who was also grounded in Eastern medicine but that incorporated Western approaches into her (or his) treatments. I found an acupuncturist that specialized in women’s fertility issues and began seeing her twice a week; drinking terrible tasting teas twice a day, tracking my body temperature, and continued using an ovulation predictor kit. I also signed up for a 4-part series of fertility stress reduction classes. I didn’t know if my anxiety was interfering with our goal but I thought either way it couldn’t hurt. A month and a half later I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it!

I mean I really couldn’t believe it! I bought two cheap pregnancy tests and I was intending to take only one, feel yet again betrayed and disappointed, and save the other for next time… but the first one came back positive. I thought it was a mistake or maybe the cheap “ink” wasn’t really indicating I was pregnant. It must be a mistake. I paced around my apartment and after deliberating for a good 30-minutes decided to take the second test. That test said I was pregnant too. (If you take a good look at the image above the bottom test was the first one — see the faint line. Questionable right? Well, that’s why I did it again.) I can’t tell you how many times I re-read the sticks and the directions on the box. The next day a blood test confirmed the results. I learned that not only was I pregnant but I was right around 6 weeks pregnant.

Click here to go on to Month 2 of Pregnant with Migraines. Also, are you a migraineur who is pregnant or trying to conceive? Want to share your story? Please email Maria at m.coder [at] cefaly.us.

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