My Family is Not Complete

My Family Is Not Complete

This post was created as part of my partnership with the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA); however, all opinions and personal experiences expressed are my own.

In 2011, I became a single mother. In 2012, I lost my colon due to complications from living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I was suddenly a new mother with a major physical change to my body. I was overwhelmed with questions and concerns, foremost: “How would this surgery affect my fertility in the future?” In a panicked effort to push me into having the lifesaving surgery, my mother reassured me that I didn’t need to worry about my fertility because I was no longer in a committed partnership. I needed to focus on what was important —my health.

Single mothers are often pushed into the idea that because they are single, growing their family isn’t or shouldn’t be a priority. It’s assumed that they are or should be happy with the size of their family as it stands. I entered motherhood with a plan of having at least two children, and although my first partnership didn’t work out, that shouldn’t prevent my plans to have more children. When you add on my chronic condition, the opinions of people who love me the most believe that I am spending my energy on something that is unnecessary. However, my family is not complete in my eyes. Although my status as a single woman has not prevented me from exploring my options, my status as a patient living with IBD has given me pause. For the past few years, there just hasn’t been a lot of information out there for me to feel comfortable to begin planning. There was also no guidance on how to begin the conversations with my gastroenterologist (GI) and obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN). Until recently…

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) heard women loud and clear and decided to take action. In partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Girls with Guts, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, AGA created the IBD Parenthood Project. The IBD Parenthood Project includes a website that brings fact-based answers to patients straight from the medical community. It’s an easy-to-navigate website that not only helps you locate a local GI specialist and a maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) subspecialist, but also has printable documents that serve as conversation starters and sharable facts, taking the IBD patient from preconception planning to postpartum care.

The IBD Parenthood Project offers tools that help provide ways on how to expand a family with ease and comfort. Navigating my disease and exploring the possibility of being a mother of two, has allowed me to feel a little more control over my disease and life. When the website launched, I was at a critical point in my treatment plan. My current therapy wasn’t working, and we were shopping around for a new therapy. My anxiety came from not knowing what was safe for my future fertility. Being able to have an open conversation with my GI, rheumatologist and OB/GYN about my options put me on a healthy path for a potential future pregnancy. My choices are open now, and I am grateful.

Being an empowered mother begins when you become an empowered patient. Having the proper information and education helps to combat all the fears, anxiety and confusion that comes with being a mother living with a chronic condition.

For more information about AGA’s IBD Parenthood Project, please visit: http://bit.ly/30p9Znf

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