Pregnancy and Chronic Illness

by Bex Wohlfert 2 years ago in pregnancy

My Journey with Crohn's

Pregnancy and Chronic Illness

Imagine finding out that you're pregnant with a surprise baby at 30-years-old, and being two years into a very painful diagnosis. For me, this was reality. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease after about a year of testing, poking, prodding, and scans. My life had just started to turn around, thanks to the immunosuppressive medications, daily pain management with opioids, use of medical marijuana, and some extreme lifestyle changes.

Enter two little pink lines...

Actually, that isn't completely accurate. The night I found out I was pregnant, I had gone to the hospital for a Crohn's flare that had been building over the course of a week. When the pain was unbearable, I went in. After being dosed with high levels of steroids and IV pain meds, I was waiting for my CT scan so we could see the damage done this time. The doctor came back into the room and informed me that I was unable to get the scan, and that I was pregnant.

I have never seen a more terrified look on a doctor's face, and I will never forget that look as long as I live. He told me that, with Crohn's, I shouldn't be able to get pregnant. He said that it was a mistake, and I need to take care of the issue.

I was terrified.

I did look into options and consider abortion, I won't lie. He wasn't wrong about it being hard. I was in desperate amounts of pain, constantly. I lost so much weight my first trimester, I thought I would lose the baby for sure. I was taken off of my pain medication... told I could no longer use medical marijuana, and essentially told I had to take it easy and wait it out for the duration of the year. It was horrid.

I also should mention that I already have a child—a spunky, spirited, brilliant 8-year-old daughter. My attention to her had lessened over the course of my illness developing as it was; medical visits, meds and side effects, pain that kept me in bed for days... and now there is one more factor—a new baby.

Some women are lucky enough to go into remission during pregnancy. I was, sadly, not one of the lucky ones. Instead, I have fought my body to be able to wash dishes. I have battled deep depression and feelings of complete and total uselessness as I lost my job due to an emergency surgery and have been unable to find work since. As it turns out, being chronically ill with a swollen belly isn't really a look that most employers jump on. So there have been financial struggles, pain management struggles, brain fog that has gotten me into trouble with doctors... and no options, essentially. I stopped fighting for help, because I realized there wasn't any help.

There are very few options available to pregnant women, because the goal is to keep the fetus safe. I do understand this, and I agree that it is highly important. HOWEVER, mom is just as important—moreso, in fact. The woman carrying and growing a human matters. The solutions being things like tea and deep breathing? Bullocks. We need options. I'm now 39 weeks pregnant, and this has by far been the hardest and most painful experience of my life. In the last few weeks, it has gotten increasingly more difficult and painful, and my Crohn's has had a huge effect on that.

My 8-year-old has had to learn to have understanding for not one, but two situations she couldn't possibly understand in any real capacity. She has watched her mom struggle, which is humbling, sure, but it also seems cruel and unfair.

As a pregnant woman who is also an spoonie, I will continue to argue with doctors and really any medical professional who will listen, because no woman should have to go through this amount of pain with nothing more than a Tylenol to assist.

Bex Wohlfert
Bex Wohlfert
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