Crohn's Disease & Motherhood: Who Takes Care of Your Baby When You Don't Feel Well?

In May, I became a first-time mom.

I also have Crohn’s disease.

I’ve written some articles over the last year on my journey with IVF, my pregnancy, a birth plan, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and how I’ve realized over time that my IBD is actually just like an infant. Today, I want to share something that has been weighing on my heart this whole time - before, during and after pregnancy, and during my first several months postpartum.

Who can help take care of my baby when I don’t feel well?

I am incredibly lucky that my Crohn’s disease stayed in remission during my pregnancy, and outside of nine months of the morning (all day) sickness, I felt really good while I was growing a tiny human. However, since my daughter arrived, I’ve had some days and even weeks that I have felt less than ideal. Extra bathroom trips, abdominal discomfort, and Crohn’s disease fatigue have plagued me on more than one occasion, and I’ve found myself thinking mainly about one thing: my baby.

I have taken some small precautions - like keeping a bouncer seat in my bathroom for those longer trips and the times that my daughter needs me in eyesight, and trying hard to power nap when the baby is asleep rather than catching up on dishes or laundry when fatigue is overwhelming. But the other day, I was laying on the couch with my heating pad, nursing some pain, and my daughter was full of energy. My husband was at work and I was her sole caretaker. I am still breastfeeding, so my medication options are limited, which means there is no quick or easy sense of relief.

Planning for sick days with a new baby

This made me think about how it’s probably time we update our plan for “sick days.” If you’re a parent, you know that this particular job doesn’t come with any time off, and there’s usually not much of an option to call out sick unless your spouse or another adult can take over in caring for the baby. However, IBD is not a cold or the flu, and its frequency is also not predictable.

At this time, we don’t live nearby to as many friends and family members as I wish we did, so we had to really think about a few things in developing a plan for these occasions. Our first phone calls needed to be to someone who had a flexible schedule, who might be able to come over during the day during the week, and someone we trusted with our daughter. Unfortunately, our list isn’t super long. She has one grandparent that lives fairly close, but he still works full time. She doesn’t yet have a babysitter or nanny, so that’s not an option either. We used a postpartum doula for support in the early days, and it’s possible we could reach out to them, but that’s usually a service scheduled in advance and not impromptu. This means we don’t have an immediate solution.

Planning and communication for the hard days with Crohn's

This means, that my husband and I need to talk about this in-depth. To determine if his work schedule might allow for last-minute flexibility on the days that I am struggling. This might mean that we need to start using a babysitting service or a nanny agency to have available caregivers on speed-dial.

If this sounds like your story, I’d love to hear what has worked for your family, and what your IBD sick day plan is for your younger children.

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