Category: Parenting

An Empty Womb And An Empty Heart

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I have been putting off writing this post for a while now. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to write this part of my story, but I could never actually bring myself to put my heartbreak into words. I have been very vulnerable in my writings in the past, but this, my inability to carry any more babies, this hurt too much to see it in print.

My husband and I had it easy with our first pregnancy. I literally got pregnant within a week of us deciding we wanted to start trying. I only had two weeks of morning sickness (which in all honesty wasn’t even that bad), and I was only in full labour for 2.5 hours. My daughter started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, she was, and still is, a very calm baby, and we were absolutely, 100% percent, head over heels, in love with her.

Then, when she was 3 months old, I ended up in the hospital with a herniated small bowel, which they had to remove 99.9% of, along with a third of my large intestine. Our perfect little fairy tale came crashing down.

One of the first questions I asked my surgeon was “Will I be able to have more children?” His short answer of “no” tore my heart apart. I was inconsolable. I crumbled. I could actually feel my heart shatter. My dream of having a large family was over. Every time I thought about it, I would break down in sobs all over again.

A month later, I figured I was doing better than they expected, and maybe, just maybe his answer would have changed. Again, my surgeon’s answer was no. This time he elaborated a bit more. I still have all my reproductive organs, however, my doctors don’t know how I would do being pregnant while on IV nutrition (TPN). There are some who have been able to get pregnant while on TPN, but I have so little bowel left that they don’t know if they’ll be able to keep up with my nutrition and hydration. Short answer, they don’t know if I or the baby would survive the pregnancy.

Sitting here writing this, my heart still aches. Every show I watch where a woman is pregnant and giving birth, I cry. Every time someone tells me they’re pregnant, I’m instantly envious. Every time I see a baby, my arms and heart feel empty. Every time I see a pregnant woman, that beautiful glow on her face, and her smile from ear to ear as she feels her baby moving, my soul is in anguish. Every time someone asks me if more children are in the cards, I try not to be angry with them for their ignorance in asking such a private question. Did you know how painful that question can be for so many women? How do you tell someone you barely know something so personal?

I am beyond blessed to have my daughter. I will never stop being grateful for having her in my life. But I loved being pregnant. I loved lying in bed and feeling her move around; seeing her little bum move from one side of my belly to the other. I love that I got to catch my own daughter, that I was the first person to ever hold her, that we have a bond that started 40 weeks earlier than anyone else got with her.

I’ll never feel that again. I’ll never feel a baby’s foot in my ribs again. I won’t feel him move from side to side. I won’t be able to feel her hiccups. I won’t ever get to carry another baby from the beginning, but I will get the opportunity (Lord willing) to be a mom to more babies. Although I know that there will be moments where it hurts to watch another woman carry my baby, we have found someone to join our family in an unconventional way. My husband and I, after months of discussing, praying, and seeking guidance from those around us, have decided to grow our family of three to a family of four via surrogacy.

This process is still going to be long, and let’s face it, probably not easy, but it is an adventure that our family is ready to partake in. Does my heart still ache that I won’t get to carry a baby on my own? Every single day. But my heart is also so full of joy that we have found someone to step in my place for 40 weeks and help our family grow. Hopefully, with time, the joy and the excitement of this new journey will completely take the place of the hurt that has been sitting there, taking up residency, in my heart for the last 2 years.

 

If you would like to follow our journey or to help us with the financial costs of the surrogacy process, please go to our GoFundMe page to find out more information.

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What I Post On Facebook vs My Reality

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We all know that what we see on Facebook isn’t always what exactly happens in real life. Everybody posts the good stuff. They want to show off, show the progress that’s happening in their lives, and boast the highlights of what’s happening in their life. Well, here’s the inside scoop of what my reality actually looks like vs what I like to show on Facebook.

When I’m Put Together vs My Everyday “Sick” Look

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Anytime I go out in public or have people come over, I make sure I look good and 9 times out of 10, I post a selfie from that day because I feel good. I feel like garbage 99% of the time, no point in giving people a visual of what I’m actually feeling on my down days. I’ve heard “but you don’t look sick” so many times. Trust me, if you could sneak a peek at me while I’m at home alone, you wouldn’t be saying that! And there’s a reason for that – I use a lot of my energy to look good because it helps me feel good. So why use up that energy on days that I’m A. not feeling well and B. sticking around home anyway. I’ve limited the audience to a very select few who get to see me on my terrible days. It’s not how I want people to see me.

To get ready for a day out or for a visit takes an insane amount of energy. Any of you who deal with a chronic illness or pain totally feel me on this one. I can’t simply jump in and out of the shower and get ready quickly. My routine takes a long time as I really need to pace myself. Simply standing in the shower for more than 5 minutes winds me – forget the days I need to actually shave my legs! I’ve needed to put a chair in the bathroom to do my hair and makeup. I even get tired holding my arm up as I dry my hair. My outfits are carefully chosen, making sure I wear something that flatters me as my surgeries have left me with many lumps and bumps. I always need to rest whether that be just sitting down or sometimes even laying down, as this entire process exhausts me.

Some of you may say “well why waste so much energy?” I’ve come to discover, for myself anyway, that if I’m always in my pyjamas and not put together, I feel sicker. I do try to at least get dressed on days that I stay in, it doesn’t always happen, but even just putting jeans on helps to change my mindset from being ill to just really tired.

Going All Out For Projects vs How I Pay For It The Next Day

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I’ve always loved projects. I love learning new skills. And although I’ve had to put many on the wayside because of my energy levels, I still need to indulge in them from time to time for my own sanity, even though I know that it’ll cost me greatly in energy.

Just the other day, I decided to try my hand at making marinara sauce. I got the recipe from an Italian, so it’s got to be the real deal, right? The amount I made came out to about 35 litres which was way more than I anticipated, but we’ll be stocked for pasta and pizza sauce for a while now. It was a delicious success! Thing is, three days later and I’m still exhausted from it. I loved making it though, even if it means I’m out for the count for the next week. I love the aftermath of a finished project – is there anything better than seeing a task be completed?

I knew that this would tire me out, but it still surprises me when I get knocked out for so long from something that in the past a good night’s sleep would’ve cured.

Going Outside With My Daughter vs The Rest Of My Day With Her

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I like to share a lot of pictures of my days with my daughter. Although the plan was to go back to work once my maternity leave was up but plans changed when I was diagnosed with Ultra Short Bowel Syndrome. I am very much enjoying the extra time I’m getting to spend with her, but any of you who have spent any amount of time with a toddler knows that they never stop. Like ever. I wish I could do more with her. I wish we could spend more time outside and on the play structure. But after 20 minutes max of playing outside, I’m tapped out. I physically am unable to continue. The rest of the day is spent watching her play from the comfort of my couch.

I’ve tried play groups, but chasing after her for 2 hours is impossible. I’ve looked into swimming lessons, but I can’t go in public swimming pools as it could cause me to get an infection. We have most of our play dates here as I know the environment and I can more or less control it.

Thankfully our living room closes off from the rest of the house, so we spend our day in there. Me on the couch and my daughter playing with her toys. She is a very independent child and is perfectly content playing on her own. I really wish I could keep up with her, but it’s just not possible.

Events I Go To vs How I Prepare Leading Up To The Event

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I love sharing pictures of events I get to go to. It gives the illusion that I do have a life sometimes. What you don’t see however is how exhausting the smallest event can be for me. Each incapacitating me for at least a couple days afterward.

Being chronically ill has changed pretty well everything in my life, but I still do my best to make it to events such as concerts, weddings, trips, etc. I do however have to plan ahead for them differently than I would have previously. I went to a concert back in July and literally stayed in bed until supper time so that I would have the energy to stay at the concert as long as possible. At weddings. I unfortunately don’t have the energy to dance anymore, and I miss it, but I stay as long as I can and at least try to enjoy the dinner. And my trips so far are planned around leaving the hotel mid-morning, napping for 3 hours in the afternoon, and returning by 8pm for the night. None of these are ideal, but if it means I get to enjoy these moments, then it’s what I need to do.

My Family vs My Family

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I brag ALL THE TIME on Facebook about my family and it’s the same in reality. My husband is the most loving, caring and supportive man I could’ve ever asked for. Those pictures of my daughter always smiling, that’s pretty well how she always is. My family brings me so much joy and happiness. They keep me grounded and they give me hope for the future. There’s no point in showing it any differently on Facebook because they’re already pretty freakin’ great!

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Dealing with Guilt and Fears as a Chronically Ill Mom

I love being a mom. Love it. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I still remember watching Angels in the Outfield when I was young and saying afterwards that I wanted to be a foster or adoptive mom. Give me a whole slew of children and my life would be fulfilled.

Two weeks before I got sick, I randomly turned to my husband and asked him what his thoughts were on adoption. I told him that I’d love to have one or two more of our own, but there are so many kids in need of a home, and that I really wanted to adopt. Crazy thing is, we had no way of knowing that I was about to get sick and not be healthy enough to get pregnant again and that if we wanted to grow our family, our option would be to adopt. I really do believe that that was God’s way of preparing our hearts for what was to come.

Along with dreaming of how big our family would one day be, I also thought a lot about what type of mom I wanted to be, how we would raise our kids, and all that went with the soccer mom life. I looked forward to being the hockey mom, going to piano recitals, and being a Girl Guide leader so that I could go on weekend camping trips with my daughter(s). Call me old fashioned, but I loved the idea of having dinner on the table for my family, making lunches for them and carting my kiddos around with me in the minivan.

My life as a mom now looks significantly different. I won’t be able to do the super early hockey practices as I now barely function in the mornings. Everyone who knows me may giggle at this thinking it has to do with my severe coffee addiction (no really, can I hook it up to my Hickman??)

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I start my day slinging my TPN backpack over my shoulder, grabbing Maddie (some days with my forearms if my arthritis is flaring up), I hobble down the stairs, change her and get her to her highchair quickly before I get too woozy. I get extremely light headed and have a hard time breathing first thing in the morning, what I assume is a consequence to having my lungs filled with fluid and then drained while at the hospital. The long days of piano recitals is a dream of the past as leaving the house for more than a couple hours at a time leaves me incapacitated for at least the rest of the day. And going camping would mean not being able to find a sterile location to be able to get my TPN going.

Our daily routine at home really depends on how I feel. Hopefully we make it outside for half an hour – but never longer as it completely wipes me out. I can’t be that fun mom that plays with my daughter and chases her around. Even just helping her go down the slide a couple times takes everything out of me.

I don’t want to come off full of myself, but I know I’m a good mom. I’m not even close to perfect, but I love my daughter more than words could ever say and I do the best that I can. I’ve really had to learn how to deal with my fears and guilt surrounding being a chronically ill mom. Guilt that she won’t get all the experiences I want her to because I can’t keep up. Guilt that she’ll get more TV time that I’d like because I don’t feel well enough to entertain her myself. Guilt that she doesn’t have the mom that she would have had if I hadn’t gotten sick. Fear that I’ll fall sick again and won’t be here to see her grow up. Fear that she will one day resent me because of all of this.

You can say all the encouraging words you want after reading this, hoping to uplift my spirits. But all you chronically ill parents out there 100% understand what I’m saying and I know I’m not alone in this. There’s so much fear of being judged for our parenting choices, the amount of parent shaming out there is horrendous, but we’re all doing the best we can.

I feel like this post has been a little all over the place, very up and down emotionally. Welcome to my head space when it comes to parenting! I am my own worst critic. I am doing everything I am able to do, and sometimes more than I am capable (which I pay for for days to come). For those who are in the same boat – know you are not alone. I still struggle with my guilt and fears every day, I don’t know if they’ll ever go away, but I do know that at least I’m not the only one going through it. You do what you have to do in the moment, and as long as it’s your best, really, who cares what others think. People who aren’t in our situation will never completely understand how hard this truly is.

I pray for my daughter every day, I thank God for her, and hope she turns out okay in spite of the obstacles we will have to face together. She’s the reason I’m here.

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