Can you still get pregnant with an ostomy?

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The short answer is yes. Yes, you can get pregnant after having surgery to get an ostomy …and I now can say this from personal experience.

If I haven’t already given it away: Yes, we are expecting! We’ve got a little peanut due July 2015.

pregnant baby conceive ostomies advice tips tricks stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon ileostomy colostomy urostomyIt has been a whirlwind the past few months of pregnancy tests, doctor’s appointment, telling our family and simply getting acclimated to the idea that there is a person growing inside of me… that I am going to be a mom in just a few months! Seriously, it’s mind-blowing.

It makes me very happy to say that it is still possible to get pregnant with an ostomy! However, at the same time, (and this is the long answer) I must stress that my experience is not necessarily typical and is not going to be the same as many others. I had been married for two years when I had my first surgery to removed my colon, so I knew that kids were something that my husband and I wanted in our future. I was scared of what having this surgery might mean for that. So of course, I discussed it at length with my surgeon both prior to and after my surgery. He told me that having the surgery should not affect my ability to carry a child, however, it could make it more difficult to conceive in the first place. I believe it has something to do with scar tissue from the surgery and also, just anytime you go moving things around in your stomach/gut-area it can affect the way your body functions. I was blessed to have had both of my surgeries done laparoscopically, so it was not nearly as invasive of a procedure as it is for many.

Now, I won’t get into the actual “getting pregnant” part, because I’m sure we’re all familiar with the process, but I did want to go over some of what it was like mentally trying to do so. I did my best to adhere to the advice that many of us have heard before: Hope for the best; plan for the worst.
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My best advice for new (and old) ostomates

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I have made an entire blog by talking about things to know and understand in the world of ostomies. But if I had to sum up the most important pieces of advice I have for those living with an ostomy, it would come down to these three things: 1. Have a positive attitude, 2. Build a support system, 3. Learn by trial and error.

what you need to know about ostomies advice tips tricks stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon ileostomy colostomy urostomyThe first two are pretty self-explanatory. Staying positive and making the most of the situation is crucial. Let’s be honest, if you’re faced with getting an ostomy, you’ve been dealt a bad hand. And no matter what you do, you can’t change that. So you have a choice: accept what you’ve got and make the decision to continue to live a happy and fulfilling life or not accept it and be miserable. Either way, at the end of the day, you still have the same hand to play, so might as well make the most of it.

Having support around you makes a big difference, as well. For those of you who have family and friends close by who are positive and understanding, consider yourselves blessed. Don’t ever take them for granted. Even though they may not understand everything you go through, having them in your life will help you continue on when times are tough. But regardless of whether you have that support or not, it is also important to have support from others who do understand what you have gone through. Whether these are friends you meet in person at some sort of support group, or others you find through online blogs or groups, their input and support will be invaluable. For years, I didn’t reach out to anyone about living with Crohn’s disease, and I found out later how much I had been missing out on. All of my ostomy and IBD friends hold a very special place in my heart and I would not give up my relationships with them for anything!

And finally… trial and error. Oh my gosh, this is so important! We all have a different story. We’ve all dealt with different symptoms, taken different medications, been through different procedures, and had different surgeries. No two ostomies are alike.
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A day in the life of an ostomate

5:00 a.m.: Wake up to very full bag. Hold it underneath for support to go to the bathroom and empty. (Empty #1)

5:10 a.m.: Bible time.

5:40 a.m.: Spend some time blogging. Drink 1/2 liter of water.

6:15 a.m.: Bag is ready for another empty, but I decide to wait until I’m closer to leaving for work.

6:45 a.m.: Empty bag before heading to work. (Empty #2)

The Stolen Colon ostomy ileostomy urostomy colostomy Crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd colon stephanie hughes blog work day in the life typical normal day ostomate7:30 a.m.: Arrive at work and finish liter of water.

7:40 a.m.: Have oatmeal and coffee as I start work.

7:45-10:20 a.m.: Run to the bathroom 3 times to pee.

10:25 a.m.: Notice bag filling up again.

11:20 a.m.: Go to bathroom to pee (again) so decide to empty bag while I’m there. (Empty #3)
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Fighting the fight

Andrew’s story

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2007, I wasn’t worried. Maybe it was the “always fight for what you want” mentality I was raised with. Maybe I felt like I had an advantage as I was dating a really cool nurse at the time (my now-wife, by the way). Maybe it was ignorance. In hindsight, “all of the above” would be the best answer. Regardless, I would fight.

My diagnosis came during my freshman year. I was a Music Education major and a member of the ECU Drum Line. I was taking more classes than I could manage and spending every waking moment occupied with music, sports and having fun. Life was a bit stressful, but extremely enjoyable. I was able to maintain my symptoms for a few years. I fought.

Things suddenly changed in the summer of 2011. I had a sharp pain in my abdomen that caused me to miss a week of work. I had lost 20 pounds within 2 weeks and I had no idea why. My medicines didn’t change, my diet wasn’t altered, I was still inconsistently active. My now-wife and I couldn’t afford the expensive biologic treatments that were recommended, so I started on a combination of Tramadol and Dicyclomine. This helped for a short amount of time, but I knew taking painkillers just to get through a normal day was in no way a long-term fix. I adjusted to what would be my new “normal” and continued the fight.

Fast-forward 18 months – I had graduated and gotten married. Everything seemed like it had changed, except for the hell I was going through with my disease. At this point, I had already failed Cimzia and decided to switch doctors. I began Remicade treatments and felt better for a few months, until I slipped back to reality. Next it was Humira, paired with Mercaptopurine. Again, I felt great for a few months until I fell back to “normal”. I was still fighting.

Andrew-Boyd-hospital-ostomyI learned at that time that everyone has a breaking point. Just like in battle, you get to a point where you are tired of the status quo for fear of losing. Up until this point, I didn’t think I could lose. I was fed up and tired of just maintaining the current symptoms. I wanted better. I wanted the pain to be over.

I still remember the day I decided to go through with the surgery. It was January 2014. If I wasn’t firmly planted in the real world before, I definitely was at that point. I had obtained licenses for work as a Financial Advisor, had purchased a new home and truck the previous summer, and had a new puppy. I was tired of what I thought was my “normal”. I was tired of having to know where every single restroom was in every place we would go. I was tired of being limited as to what I could eat and having it dictate where I could eat. I was literally tired of being malnourished and watching family and friends be able to enjoy activities that would leave me exhausted.
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Reflections and resolutions

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This is the time of year where we always look back at the preceding 365 days to think about all that we accomplished (or perhaps didn’t) and look ahead at all of the potential there is for the next 365 days. I probably say this every year, but I love New Year’s! I love any opportunity that I am given to start over, refresh, reinvent myself. I am a big believer in new beginnings and second chances.

I also tend to be fairly quiet around this time of year, as I come off the high of holiday craziness and spend some time thinking about what this past year held, the accomplishments and the disappointments, and about where I want to go next.

I took a look back at my goals for this past year that I set out on January 1, 2014. My 5 main goals included: Implement changes for The Stolen Colon, Get organized/save money/stay on budget, Stay focused on another semester of grad school, Run my third half-marathon, and Plan an amazing vacation. I am very pleased to say that I accomplished every one of these goals in the past year. Maybe not as fully as I would have liked at times, but I’m glad to be able to read through this and know that I did follow through on some things. What I’m disappointed about is that I really didn’t stay focused on these things. Some of them were things that just naturally happened, but I really wish that I had continued to remind myself of these goals and not just hoped that they would happen at one point or another.
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