Juggling two under two while taking on Crohn’s disease

As the weeks go by and the days get closer for baby girl to arrive, I can’t help but feel anxious and nervous about what it’s going to be like having two kids under two, while managing my Crohn’s disease. Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve quickly come to realize how my needs and health oftentimes take a backseat as I take care of my little guy. IMG_3626While I feel incredibly blessed to be in this position, it comes with its own unique set of worries.

Prior to becoming a mom, my sole focus could be taking care of myself. While hospitalizations and flare ups were always dreadful, looking back, I had no idea how much “easier” it was to go through sickness, when all I had to worry about was me. I think many IBD women are hesitant to become moms because they are fearful of being able to juggle it all. That’s a valid concern, but personally motherhood has always been something I’ve dreamed of and wanted. I wasn’t about to allow my disease to hold me back from experiencing it.

That being said—you have to find patience within yourself and a trust in listening to your body’s symptoms to know when you’re doing too much and need to slow down. You need to be willing to wave the white flag at times and surrender to your illness. You have to be willing to ask for help. You need to be confident in the fact that your children will grow up differently than others. IMG_3802They will live within a home that talks about chronic illness and experiences it each day. Your little ones will learn compassion and perspective before they are even able to truly communicate. If you have a child and chronic illness, you know what I mean.

So far, I’ve been a mom for 19 months. I’m still a rookie. I’m still in the trenches of learning how to navigate this new life. But, I’m proud of how I’ve taken on the role of motherhood and balanced my illness along with it. I finally feel like I’m in sort of a cruise control with my son. In January, everything will start anew as we welcome our daughter into the world. Reid simply can’t wait for “sissy” …he constantly kisses my belly and tries to pull up my shirt, so he can “see” her.  While I can’t wait either, the fear of a postpartum flare once again weighs on my heart. There are so many what ifs as a chronic illness mom.

What if I’m hospitalized and have to leave TWO babies at home until I’m well? What if my disease spirals out of control and I’m home alone with nowhere to turn? What if the stress of taking care of two children with limited help sends me into a flare up? What if I’m not enough? I’m trying to be proactive now to prepare myself mentally for both the magical moments and the challenges that I’ll be presented with when we become a family of four. IMG_3723Whether it’s with motherhood or with living life with Crohn’s, it’s important to remind yourself that everything goes through stages. There are highs and lows, but each moment is fleeting.

One of the most amazing parts of pregnancy when you have chronic illness is witnessing your body create a miracle, right before your eyes, after years of letting you down. It’s a beautiful reminder that despite your illness and the parts of you internally that tend to malfunction, you are still able to carry a child and bring a life into this world. Pregnancy and motherhood have given me a renewed sense of self in my patient journey with Crohn’s. Motherhood has helped me love my body again, after years of damning it. It’s shown me that while IBD has shaken me to the core and blindsided me countless times, it hasn’t taken away one of the life’s most gracious gifts and experiences.

 

5 thoughts on “Juggling two under two while taking on Crohn’s disease

  1. Your Autoimmunity Connection says:

    Hi Natalie, thank you for sharing. We understand the struggle of having to deal with an autoimmune disease and recognize your strength. If you would like to learn more about autoimmune diseases and ways to improve your health through functional medicine (such as food therapy and movement therapy) check out our blog. We recently posted The Best Foods for Crohns (https://drbonnie360.com/2018/10/23/food-spotlight-on-crohns-disease/). We have lots of resources that you may be interested in 🙂 #spooniestrong

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  2. Kaitlyn Fitzjarrell says:

    Hi Natalie, I came across your blog after a google search for “Humira and pregnancy” as I am 15 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child, and currently taking Humira to keep my mild Ulcerative Colitis in remission. I was not diagnosed until after my first was born, so I did not have the same concerns then that I do now. Just wondering how things played out for you during pregnancy – i.e. how long did you keep taking the humira? I’ve read to stop for the 3rd trimester but got slightly conflicting info from my GI last week so I’ll have to follow up on that in a few months when I see him again. After your children were born, how did things go with the delayed immunization for the rota virus? Did that seem to be an issue at all, and immune system concerns while they were young and waiting for the Humira to leave their systems?

    Thank you!

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    • Natalie hayden says:

      Hi Kaitlyn, Thanks so much for checking out my blog. So glad we are able to connect. Congrats on your pregnancy! I have been on Humira for over a decade…I stayed on it throughout my ENTIRE first pregnancy (son is currently 20 months) and I’m doing the same this time around (currently 33 wks pregnant). I would highly recommend staying on your medication–as you don’t want to chance or put yourself at greater risk for a postpartum flare. My son has been a picture of health…he has thrived beautifully and rarely even gets a sniffle. The only vaccine your baby won’t get is rotavirus and that isn’t of concern. The Humira stays in the baby’s system the first six months…my son didn’t even have a cold until he was maybe 9-10 months . I kept a low profile–we did not go to Target (for instance) until he was 11 weeks. Feel free to contact me directly through my blog if you have further questions. Happy to help guide you! 🙂

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      • Kaitlyn Fitzjarrell says:

        Thanks so much! Encouraging to hear that all went well for your son and best wishes on finishing out another healthy pregnancy!

        As a mom my bigger concern is for my babies rather than myself, and since I work full time he or she will be starting daycare at about 16 weeks old. In a perfect world I’d like baby to have the humira out of their system and immune system building back up before daycare starts, so part of me wants to stop maybe around the 30 week mark to allow more time for that, but GI doc has concerns over a stop/start of Humira and it becoming less effective. I’m hoping that since my case is fairly mild that I would be OK and still avoid a post-partum flare; I do remember how awful it was when I had the flare that led to my diagnosis, and literally not being able to care for my son or even give him a bottle as I was running to the bathroom, so that does give me a little bit of pause. But still plenty of time to discuss with both doctors and make those choices.

        Just a little bit of thinking out loud there from me, but I am so glad I found your blog and will certainly continue to follow!!

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  3. Natalie hayden says:

    Those are valid concerns–the issue with going on an off Humira (or any biologic) is that you have a good chance of developing antibodies to the drug. I had to go off Humira for three months in 2015 when I had bowel resection surgery, and luckily did not develop antibodies, but many aren’t that fortunate. You have to do what you think is best–in my personal experience, despite being “immune suppressed” I haven’t felt like I’ve gotten more sick than the average person. By staying healthy yourself, you lower your chances of pre-term labor, low birth weight for baby, flaring while pregnant and postpartum flares. I would discuss further with a “regular” OB, high risk OB and GI.

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