How to Fit Work, Rest, MS Into Your New Baby ‘Time Zone’

Are you fighting ‘normal’ fatigue or a flare-up?

Dion's baby

There’s a new time zone in Dion W.’s household.

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“My husband calls it Kailynne Standard Time,” says Dion, 35, of Northeast Ohio. “She wakes up maybe once a night now, but we’re still on Kailynne’s schedule. … She likes to utilize the diaper when we’re getting ready to go somewhere.”

Ah, the adventures of new parenthood. Kailynne, born in June at Hillcrest Hospital, is the first child for Dion and her husband, Anthoni.

Add to the mix a multiple sclerosis relapse and you have a recipe for one tired momma. Dion was diagnosed with MS in 1999.

“I’m a homebody right now,” she says of her “free” time. “I get out when needed, but for the most part, I’m home. We go visit family, but that’s it.”

The importance of getting that R & R

Along with a recent flare-up — treated with corticosteroids — Dion is fighting some major fatigue, which she suspects is also MS-related.

Despite a work schedule that allows Anthoni to help during the day, Dion still struggles to get enough rest.

“When I wake up, I’m still tired,” she says. “Some people can go on a few hours of sleep. Not me.”

Her neurologist, Lael Stone, MD, says her advice for Dion would apply to any woman postpartum.

“Moms are always told, ‘Sleep when the baby sleeps,’ ” Dr. Stone says. “Few do. Everybody wants to use their time to do something else, but these are folks who really need to rest.

“They need to be a little more aware of taking care of themselves. The other thing is, let people help you.”

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Know the difference between ‘normal’ fatigue and relapse

Dr. Stone notes that not all fatigue can be blamed on the disease.

“If you have a colicky baby and aren’t able to sleep much, it’s tough to tell what is exhaustion and what’s truly neurologically struggling,” she says.

So how do you know the difference between “normal” fatigue and something that might require MS treatment?

[Tweet “Find out how to tell the difference between “normal” new-mom #fatigue & possible #MS relapse”]Dr. Stone suggests watching for these symptoms, indicating a possible relapse:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty talking
  • Vision impairment
  • Loss of hand function

Bringing up baby, together

Dion says Anthoni is loving fatherhood and has been a big help, as have her parents.

“My husband does the majority of the helping around the house,” she says.

Really? Cooking, too?

“No, that’s a negative, but he can go get some food,” says Dion, who is back to work full-time at her human resources job. On a recent day, her father brought her lunch.

In spite of all the busyness and demands of raising their new daughter, she and Anthoni try to remember to invest in their own relationship.

“It doesn’t really change it,” Dion says of the effect of parenthood on her marriage. “We just have to make more time for each other. We have to say we’re going to do this at this time or it won’t happen.”

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To hear more of Dion’s story, please go to this post.


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