When I was diagnosed with MS last year, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about it. Placing words on a piece of paper is cathartic for me and I knew that the creative process would help me—and my family—heal. I also focus my journalism career on helping people share their stories so that their life experiences can assist others. It seemed only fitting that I would do what I’ve asked so many others to do: share my story.

Throughout May, I will update this page with additional materials, including why Colorado has a high rate of MS and explaining more about my workout sessions at Whole Body Pilates in Capitol Hill. In the meantime, read about my personal journey here and share your comments below.

From “Walking Scar(r)ed”:

The birth of my first child, as is often the case, wasn’t routine. On a Sunday night in October 2012, my husband, Chris, and I checked into the hospital to induce labor. We quickly learned that the jokes I’d been making about the size of my husband’s rather large head being passed on to my baby weren’t so funny: Our son was wedged sunny-side up. The Pitocin forced my body into contractions, but I wasn’t dilating fast enough. My son rocked back and forth with the spasms—bruising and cutting his head—and I clutched Chris’ hand when each movement slowed our baby’s heartbeat. Many times, I thought I was too exhausted to continue. Finally, 33 hours after we’d arrived, my doctor made a six-inch horizontal incision across my abdomen, cut another slit into my uterus, and pulled Oliver into our world.

The anesthesia rendered my arms useless, so Chris held our new baby to my chest and we all stared at one another with the amazed reactions that are unique to seeing your child born. Time slowed, as if to remind me to capture the moment like I would a fact in one of my reporting notebooks. I mentally tucked it away, laughing while tears of joy and exhaustion rolled down my cheeks onto Oliver’s wrinkly skin and Chris’ cradling hands.

It would be minutes before feeling returned to my fingers, weeks before I could walk without wincing at any movement involving my stomach, and three months before I returned to work. Every day, I’d examine my new scar, a bubbling, wavy pink line that stretches across my abdomen. I was amazed it was healing so quickly and that my son was already so strong.

But I couldn’t help but wonder why I was still so tired.

As a journalist, I frequently dig into the darker corners of life in an effort to extract not just facts, but also truths. At work, I’m meticulously—and among my colleagues, comically and notoriously—organized with spreadsheets, binders of notes, and boxes of documents. I tend to leave this orderliness at the office, so when it came time to have my first child, I never made a birth plan. I didn’t read books. I hadn’t even researched what could go wrong during labor. I figured women had been doing this for millennia, I had a good medical team, and my son and I shared a mutual interest in our mutual survival.

I’d soon learn how many varied and unexpected types of survival there can be.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.