The Woman’s IBD Battle

During that first year after your IBD diagnosis, you spend most of your time wrapping your head around what it all really means. Whether your disease is severe or mild, it still means a lot of changes to your daily life. And like most IBD patients, you were probably diagnosed young, single and childless. It was probably around high school or college…mid to late twenties, during a highly stressful period in your life. Which is odd because after you have children you wonder, what the heck were you so stressed out about before having to make sure the little person in the next room was clean, fed and breathing all day, everyday.

Nevertheless, you have very stressful periods in your youth and this is when you were probably diagnosed. Mine was after college at the very launch of my career. And when he said that there would be days, without warning that my body would not let me endure a 15 hour day on set, my world shifted. And although I’m sure he added somethings about fertility issues in there, I missed it. Because at that time in my life, at 24 years old, I had no husband…no real boyfriend, actually. All I had in my life that meant anything was the upcoming shooting schedule for the talk show I was producing. I was a year and a half out of college, children were never a thought. But a year later, lying in a hospital bed  watching the nurse stuff my blood soaked pants in a bag for disposal, I wished I could recall what Dr. Lee said about babies.

I had suffered a miscarriage. I’ve had a total of three. I can’t believe I just typed that. It’s normally not something I just come out and say, “Hi, I’m Brooke. I’m a mom with IBD who’s had 3 miscarriages! How are you?” People are actually very uncomfortable with the word miscarriage. Even trying to talk about it with your closest friends or family members, you get a hastened response and a change of subject. I think people think if you don’t talk about it, then it won’t hurt. Actually its the complete opposite. When it’s silent, that’s when it eats away at you. The thought of your body rejecting the very thing you are suppose to protect is a bit overwhelming. Especially when you have an autoimmune disease.

My goodness, I’m actually shaking writing this! LOL! I’m nervous! This is NOT easy to talk about. Fertility is so immensely personal. So personal in fact that I couldn’t find any information or personal accounts about Colitis & Fertility. Not only did I feel alone and uneducated about colitis, but now I felt completely alone in this as well. That was until I moved to Texas and met with the new gastrointerologist there. He was the first person to ask me what my plans were for a family. He started talking about Colitis was really going to and could affect me, my partner and the future of our family. I was told to have more pregnancies than births because of the way my disease invaded my body. Not only does IBD control and affect the digestive system, but other disease and issues come with it. Dehydration, joint pain, malnutrition, depression and insomnia to name a few. All these things are not good ingredients for a healthy pregnancy recipe. He said he didn’t want me to go into each pregnancy expecting to lose it, but he also didn’t want me to expect to keep it.  Some would say, what a crummy doctor! I disagree. I actually liked that he gave me some sort of idea what I was dealing with so I could have the strength to soldier through it. And that’s what you do, you hold your breath and soldier through it. And you cry. You cry it out and

Does it get easier? No. It gets different. Especially if out of those disappointments, you do get one miracle. That miracle can be the driving force to keep trying as long as your body can. You’re gonna have people around you scared for you and encouraging you to give up for yourself. But you know your body and as long as your doctor is in agreement, don’t stop trying. I can’t lie, it’s a total crapshoot.  I mean how do you family plan in a shroud of disappointment? But look at me, I’ve got one really great miracle sandwiched between some really hard moments. A friend with IBD once told me  she wished it was just harder for her to get pregnant. She said she didn’t know why, but she thought that it would be easier if you never had the hope that pregnancy brings. I’m not sure if I completely agree with that… I think both bring different kind of heartache. But at the end of the day, no matter what the fertility issue is, you still feel broken. It’s still very unfair.

What happens now? Well, I’m single now so the pressure is off for a bit. I have time to heal and regroup. Will I try again? Absolutely! I’ve got Hippo over here demanding a new brother by Christmas (that’s a post of a different color!) and I absolutely want more children. Do I have better chances with this J-Pouch? Who knows! I know these painful periods better do something. From a logical stand point with my colitis symptoms all but gone and feeling better overall, it should be okay. But only God knows if and when I will have more children. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it just isn’t up to me. And that is okay.

Why am I talking about this? Because…because there is a woman out there surfing the internet right now looking for comfort. She feels alone and broken and mad at a disease and circumstance she can do nothing about. She has heard all the reasons and solutions, but right now she just wants to know, she is not alone. Well, you are not alone.