It’s something I’ve done nearly 250 times, iced my thigh to help numb the area prior to giving myself a Humira injection. It’s a process that’s become part of life, nothing feels foreign about it. My last shot was different though. When I placed the ice pack on my leg it hit my pregnant belly for the first time. Immediately I started to get emotional. Then, my baby boy started kicking…over and over and over. The injection laid next to me on the coffee table, in its usual spot. My mind began to race—since I started administering the injection in 2008, I always stare at a photo of a family member or friend who inspires me or say their name out loud for strength as the needle needs to stay in 10 seconds to ensure all the medication is transferred. It’s been the perfect distraction from the pain up until now.
This time—I said my baby boy’s name. Sorry, not sharing it until he’s born…but, I said his name and it literally took away my pain. So many people in the Crohn’s community and anyone who depends on a biologic drug for relief can relate to not only what it’s like using this type of medication but also how big of a role it plays in family planning.
Humira belongs to a class of biologic medications. Biologics are genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes. They are designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling inflammation. Crohn’s disease is linked to an overproduction of certain proteins, including one called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is produced naturally by your body’s immune system. Humira targets and helps block TNF by blocking its action in the body to help diminish inflammation that can lead to symptoms. Other biologics that may ring a bell: Remicade, Cimzia, Tysabri and Stelera.
I attribute Humira to helping me maintain a remission state, it’s been a miracle drug for me. That being said—as my baby and my belly continue to grow, I find myself counting down the number of injections I need to do (7 more!) before he’s here…as the medication does pass through the placenta. Humira is a category B drug. Category B drugs are considered “likely to be safe for pregnant women.” The category ranking means that studies of Humira in pregnant animals haven’t shown any risk to the fetus.
My regular OB, high-risk OB and gastroenterologist all have the same advice—stay on Humira throughout pregnancy, as the mother’s health needs to come first in order to stay ‘flare up free’ until baby arrives. Even though they’ve told me that multiple times, I find myself repeatedly double checking at every appointment.
Each woman and couple needs to do what they are most comfortable with. It’s all about looking at the benefits vs. the risks. It’s such a delicate balance. While not ideal, the injection provides me with the peace of mind that I’m doing all I can to keep my disease in check so my baby has the best chance for reaching a full-term birth. At 28 weeks and a few days pregnant, my Crohn’s has been nearly non-existent since my positive pregnancy test. (knock on wood!) I feel I owe the calmness of my disease to my unborn son and the injections that have helped me get to this place.