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I Didn’t Know My IBD Would Impact My Fertility

I felt like the excitement and joy had been ripped away from me before I’d even decided I was ready for kids.

I sat in a small chair opposite my surgeon when he said three letters that forced me to break down and cry: “IVF.”

I hadn’t gone into the appointment ready to talk about my fertility. I wasn’t expecting it. I’d thought it was just going to be a routine checkup, months after I had my second major surgery.

I was 20 years old and just a few months out of my reversal surgery. For 10 months prior to this, I had lived with a stoma bag after ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), caused my colon to perforate.

After almost a year with the stoma bag, I decided it was time to try out a reversal, and I went under the knife once more to have my small intestine stitched to my rectum, which allowed me to go to the toilet “normally” again.

I knew my life wouldn’t be totally normal after that. I knew that I’d never have a formed bowel movement again. That I’d need to go a lot more than the average person and that I’d struggle with hydration and absorbing nutrients well.

But I didn’t expect the surgery to affect my fertility.

I didn’t know what to think, so I just cried. It was all such a shock for me. I was only 20 and I hadn’t even thought of having children until I was a lot older, and having gone through such life-changing surgery, I felt overwhelmed.

I felt upset for many reasons, but I also felt guilty for being upset. I felt like I had nothing to cry about. Some people aren’t able to have children at all. Some can’t afford IVF, whereas I would have been offered it for free.

How could I sit there and cry when I still had an opportunity to conceive, when some couldn’t at all? How was that fair?

Beyond the suffering that comes with any kind of IBD, I’d now undergone two major surgeries. Being told I would have struggles with my fertility felt like yet another hurdle to jump over.

Like many living with a chronic illness, I couldn’t help but dwell on how unfair it all felt. Why was this happening to me? What did I do so wrong that I deserved all of this?

I was also mourning for those exciting times when you try for a baby. I knew it was unlikely that I would ever have that. If I decided to try for a baby, I knew it would be a time filled with stress, upset, doubt, and disappointment.

I was never going to be one of those women who decided to try for a baby and had a great time doing so, just waiting for it to happen.

I’m still accepting and coming to terms with how my surgeries have affected my body and my fertility.I now believe that whatever happens will happen, and what’s not meant to be won’t be.

That way I can’t be too disappointed.

Read full story by Hattie Gladwell here.


Posted on: October 1 2019

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