19 days…that’s how long it’s been since my son Reid made his grand entrance into this world. Unfortunately, this past weekend my Crohn’s started acting up again and I needed to take pain pills not for my incisional pain from my C-section, but rather for my unbearable abdominal pain. Since we’ve been home from the hospital with our little bundle of joy I’ve slowly started to feel the symptoms creep up. Whether it’s running to the bathroom in the middle of a feeding or feeling the gnawing pain when I hear Reid cry…I’ve been reminded multiple times that I’m not in the clear from the dreaded postpartum flare.
I laid in bed after taking a Tylenol with codeine staring at the ceiling—taking in the silence of the early morning hours as my mind raced. The only sound I could hear was my eyelashes brushing across my pillowcase… tears rolling down…knowing that while I’ve been strong since the diagnosis…now I had to be even stronger. It’s not about me and my pain anymore, life is about my son and my family. I miss Reid when I run to the grocery store or head out on a quick errand, I can’t even begin to think how my heart would ache if I had to be hospitalized and kept away from him for days.
Is it discouraging and worrisome? Yes. Am I grateful for the timing? Yes. Throughout my pregnancy I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t go through a flare up that would harm my baby. I was blessed with nine months of freedom from the disease that’s been a part of me for nearly 12 years. While pregnancy had its fair share of discomforts, they paled in comparison to what a day of Crohn’s pain feels like. It was amazing to drink a little coffee and have a bowl of ice cream and not face any repercussions. I would go through a stressful day waiting for my stomach to carry the burden, and feel nothing. Now that my little Reid is in my arms and out of my belly, that whimsical feeling of being disease-free has disappeared before my eyes. The symptoms slowly started to return about a week after we got home from the hospital. It’s emotional and scary, but I’m so glad I was able to stay healthy when it mattered most.
My mom has been staying with us since Reid was born—taking the brunt of the night feedings and doing so much to help us get acclimated to our new life. When I’ve been experiencing stomach pains or had to run to the bathroom she’s been right there to swoop Reid into her arms and take care of him like I would. My mom heads back to Chicago tomorrow and my husband is back at work. I’m losing my safety net and the knowingness that if I’m sick they can step in and allow me to take care of myself. What’s a mom to do when her baby is screaming and she can’t even stand up straight to walk across the room? What’s a mom to do when she has to run to the bathroom and her baby needs to eat? What’s a mom to do when the fatigue from the illness is coupled with the exhaustion of sleep deprivation?
If you’ve followed my story or know me as a person, I pride myself on being positive and not focusing on the negative. Like many who battle a chronic illness so many days are spent with a smile on the outside while you’re suffering on the inside. Being a new mom is an adjustment in itself. Being a new mom, while healing from childbirth as your body morphs back to “normalcy” coupled with Crohn’s making a vengeance is a challenge. A challenge that I know I’m not alone in facing. If there’s one distraction or one reason to get up each day with a will to fight and be brave…it’s looking into the eyes of my son and knowing he counts on me for his existence. One day he’ll know how much I count on him, too.