For the first time in more than 11 years, I have a lot more than Crohn’s going on in my abdomen… I’M PREGNANT!! It’s amazing to finally be able to share these exciting words with you and offer insight into what it’s like to carry a child while living with a chronic autoimmune disease. I just surpassed the 13 week mark on Saturday and we found out Baby Hayden is a BOY! He is due on April Fools’ day.
Prior to getting married in June, I underwent a colonoscopy in May to see if I was in remission (with family planning in mind). While Crohn’s presents differently in every patient—the general rule of thumb for prospective mothers is to conceive only when you are in a remission state. If you’re flaring or have active disease present—oftentimes that can carry on throughout the pregnancy. For many—pregnancy hormones slow digestion and in turn the disease is silenced. This makes me want a family bigger than the Brady Bunch! (just kidding, Bobby!) Lucky for me, three weeks before the wedding—I was told I was in remission. I attribute my remission to the removal of 18 inches of diseased intestine in August 2015 and making the decision to go back on medication once I was healed, even though I dragged my feet at first.
While the news of being in remission was exciting to hear—I always take the results with a grain of salt. The year before I was told the same thing… and ended up hospitalized with a bowel obstruction 10 days later. All I could hope and pray for was to stay in remission long enough so that we could try to start our family after our wedding.
I described this time period as “racing my remission.” I was fearful –wondering whether we would get pregnant before the disease would strike again. On my wedding day (June 4) I was symptom free; despite all the hustle and bustle of the day…talk about a Crohn’s miracle!! Then, we were blessed to find out at the end of July that we had a baby on the way.
To say we feel elated and over the moon is an understatement, as any couple wanting a child feels when they find out they are going to be parents. It’s truly hard to put into words how fortunate we feel. Of course we won’t feel a true sense of relief until he is safe in our arms. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always worried about whether I would out-do my disease in time to and beat it to the punch when the time was right for me.
It was such an incredible sense of relief to see the positive sign on the pregnancy test and have it all confirmed at the OB a few weeks later. While there’s no telling if I’ll flare while pregnant (a constant fear that looms over me), so far things are going great. Since I’ve been pregnant there have only been six days where I felt symptoms of Crohn’s… it’s incredible not to feel the symptoms that have been a part of my life for so long. I can only hope and pray this continues until I deliver. I traded Crohn’s issues for pregnancy symptoms, but I consider those more than worth it—especially knowing they are temporary!
As a Crohn’s disease patient and mom-to-be, you’re considered high risk. I try to look at the bright side of it all—we have three specialists watching over baby and me…and we get to see our little one through more ultrasounds!
Over the years I’ve come to realize how little information there is about women who’ve been pregnant with Crohn’s disease… or any autoimmune disease for that matter. I started this blog with the hope that I’d be able to share this journey with the public and make a difference. (We found out the news of the baby two days after the blog went live, so you can imagine how anxious I’ve been to share this update!!) Through this journey of pregnancy and motherhood, I am going to offer a voice for the women out there who are going through the very same thing and have the very same questions. Whether it’s to stay on medication, deciding to breastfeed, if you should plan a vaginal or c-section delivery, etc…the list goes on and on, there is SO much to consider.
While I don’t have all the answers of course, I will explain to you what I’m learning along the way and the reasons for my decisions. The blog won’t focus solely on this—but, I feel my experience can help pave the way for those in my shoes. In the meantime, if you have questions or topics you want me to cover—don’t hesitate sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.