By: Katie Cuozzo
I am so grateful to have gotten pregnant not only once, but now for the second time. Little did I know that with one of these pregnancies, I was also going to have an ostomy bag. Thankfully for me, pregnant life with and without an ostomy hasn’t been too different.
When I got pregnant for the first time three years ago, I was beyond thrilled. I could not wait to be a mom and lucky for me, it put my Crohn’s in complete remission for the first time in about 20 years!!
I had never felt better than I did with that pregnancy. I ate everything I wanted, only went to the bathroom once or twice a day, and actually lived my life like a “normal” person. When people would ask me how I was feeling I told them that I wanted to stay pregnant forever because it made me feel so good. I know that not everyone goes into remission with pregnancy; I was just one of the lucky ones.
After my daughter was born, I entered into a terrible flare that lasted about 15 months. Surgery was brought up a few times but I kept saying that I did not want it. I didn’t want my daughter to see my ostomy, I wanted to be a normal mom, but in all honesty, I wasn’t. I spent most of the days in the bathroom with my daughter propped in her bouncy chair next to me. Finally, after laying on the bathroom floor in pain and crying my eyes out, I finally told my husband that I was done with all this. I couldn’t do it any longer, and that’s when I made the decision to get my ostomy.
We had long discussions with my GI and my surgeon about what the best option was for surgery and we decided I would get a total colectomy. We did decide to leave my rectum in place as to not take any chances with interfering with my chances of fertility. After my surgery, I could not believe how much better I felt. I was finally able to be the mom I wanted to be.
After I had fully recovered from surgery, my husband and I decided that we wanted to try and expand our family. It took a few months of trying, but finally we got pregnant! I could not even believe it when I saw that positive sign on the test. I am now six months pregnant and I have to say that I am feeling so great again. I have had to adjust a few things with my growing belly, but overall it has not been that difficult.
The biggest difference that I am finding is how to dress with an ostomy and a pregnant belly. I don’t know why so many people like to touch a pregnant belly or comment on how big your growing belly is. Well, for me, usually that “growing belly” is just a full ostomy bag! I am also lucky to be pregnant in the winter time, so big bulky sweaters and leggings are totally in!
With my first pregnancy I delivered vaginally and now with my ostomy I am going to have a planned c-section. My vaginal delivery was traumatic and I had significant damage, including fistulas, that lead to my flare and ultimately my ostomy bag. For this delivery, I am completely on board with a c-section. They are going to use the same incision that I already have, so one less scar to worry about. Although I am not going to experience true labor with this pregnancy, I am just as happy to show up on my c-section day and have a baby shortly afterward, without all the hard work of labor.
I do not know what the future holds in terms of future babies, or what another pregnancy would be like. My husband and I have always wanted a big family, but we are open to whatever life has in store for us.