woman playing with small child

Has IBD Taken Away my Chances of Becoming a Parent?

First, it’s important for me to say this:

For the majority of patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis having IBD will not affect your ability to conceive or have a normal pregnancy and delivery, especially if you are in remission. In fact your chances of becoming pregnant are pretty similar to the general public; with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are active disease or having had bowel surgeries. Particularly the J-pouch surgery or removal of the rectum is known to reduce fertility because of scar tissue.

Before I continued with this post I wanted to share that information above to set minds at ease before I went on and on about why I personally feel like my chances of becoming pregnant may be minimal.

So here is the part where I admit to you my feelings of sadness and emptiness because I don’t have kids yet and I’m afraid that I never will. In the past year or so I’ve found myself crying, like bawling my eyes out, when I watch a YouTube video, movie, TV show, scroll through Facebook, etc., and see people having children. It surprised me the first time it happened because it was totally unexpected. I was watching a Netflix documentary on doctors who deliver babies and I found myself sobbing watching women become moms for the first time. I want to become a parent so badly and when I watch such a happy moment happen to another couple I can’t help but yearn to bring my own baby into this world and experience that kind of joy. I cannot picture my life in 5 or 10 years (really 1 or 2 years) without children.

It’s taken me a long time to accept certain circumstances about my life. I grew up with severe Crohn’s since I was a child and spent my time in elementary school in the hospital each year, my time in middle school finally being diagnosed, and then my time in college and afterward with multiple emergency surgeries, long hospitalizations, and many complications. I feel as though I missed out on precious years of my life that I will never get back. I couldn’t enjoy my youth and perhaps if I wasn’t sick I would already be married, have children, and a career that I love. I resented the fact that my life went down a different path that I had no control over for a long time.

Now that I am in my early 30′s I have this panic feeling in me that time is running out or that time has already ran out. I keep thinking that if I don’t have children now then I’m going to miss my opportunity and I just don’t think I can handle that. On the other hand I also feel very content right now about a lot in my life. I have the man of my dreams who makes me so happy and I would have never found him if I hadn’t been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. He is the person that I want to start a family with and now that I have my partner in life I am anxious to start our family before it becomes impossible.

I’m scared because of:

  • My surgeries. I’ve had J-pouch surgery which is known to reduce fertility in women. I’m afraid that my surgeries alone will affect my ability to conceive. Not only that but I’ve had more abdominal surgeries and all of them were high risk emergency surgeries. My insides are a hot mess. What if my body is too full of scar tissue and I can’t conceive?
  • I have a rare disease called Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction in addition to having Crohn’s disease. I don’t have my large intestine anymore so the only intestine I have left, my small one, is affected by CIPO along with my stomach. My bowel is so dilated that I constantly live with the signs and symptoms of an intestinal blockage. What if I can’t conceive because of this or what if it causes a high risk pregnancy?
  • My age. I am in my early 30′s and would have liked to have already started my family by now. I never wanted to be an older mom. Healthy women over 35 may have a harder time becoming pregnant than younger women. So my age, surgeries, and complicated chronic illnesses may all make it a real challenge to conceive.
  • Money.  People always say there is always IVF or adoption, but those things cost money. Money that I do not have.

This is something on my mind often. As my age approaches 35 I keep feeling like time is running out. I sometimes can’t even think about having kids without crying. I want a family so badly and it’s even more on my mind now that I have the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. We are perfect together and together I want to be able to create a family.

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