Tag Archives: family

Potty training your kids when you have an ostomy

Potty training. This is definitely one of the things that did not cross my mind when I was making my decision to get an ostomy. But it goes to show that there are plenty of ways that having an ostomy will impact your life that you will not immediately imagine.

I currently have a 3 ½ year old and a 16 month old. We just went through the whole potty training experience with my son just before his third birthday. It was an interesting experience because, as I realized, I do not pee or poop like he does! How in the world was I supposed to teach him to how to transition from diaper to toilet?

I mean, seriously here, I have not “pooped” now in more than 6 years and I honestly don’t even remember when I last had a solid one, but it was quite a while before that! And wiping bottoms again?! I thought I was past that stage in my life!

But just as with so many ostomy-related things, it’s something that I was able to deal with by preparing and taking a little extra care. toilet potty training ostomy children IBD crohn's disease ulcerative colitisUltimately, I do not believe the ostomy really affected the potty training process to a large extent. We still both sit on the toilet (at least for the time being), so he could grasp that part. But I made sure to take the time to explain to him that I poop differently and it comes out of my bag, rather than my bottom. It gave us a good opportunity to talk about the process, what he could expect, why we do it and all that. I have not gotten too deep into a discussion of my ostomy with him, but he knows that I was sick and it made me feel better. I’m sure that conversation is coming in the not too distant future and I will be sure to update when I do!

For the actual potty training process, I’m sure it was pretty much the same as it is for anyone. Early on I got one of those stand along toilets so we could start a conversation and he could get an idea of what it’s like. He would occasionally want to sit on it, but other than one random time, he never actually used it. And that one time completely freaked him out. Around 2 ½, we started the actual process of sitting on the toilet and used one of the smaller seats that goes over the regular toilet seat. He did great for a week or two and would sit on the toilet and pee in it when I asked him, but he would not tell me he needed to use it and would not poop in it at all. After that first week or so, he was over it and refused to sit on it again. So we held off for a couple of months.

We tried again and had a similar experience, where he did great with peeing but would not poop in the toilet. It became frustrating for me because either he couldn’t wear underwear or I ended up cleaning up a lot of poop accidents. (And let’s be honest, I’ve dealt with enough of those in my life!) So I decided to wait a little longer.

Right around his third birthday, we gave it another shot and this time I loosely tried the 3 day method where you stay home, no pants, drink a lot of water and going to the bathroom is literally all you do those days. At this point, I think he was just ready. Of course we had some accidents those first few days, but they were mostly overnight or when I was taking care of his sister and unable to help him out. Within 2 weeks, he was set. Only the occasional accident that you can expect from a newly potty trained child.

To be honest, I was a little anxious about how to handle this process with him, since you are encouraged the let them see you use the bathroom, so they can understand that others do this and can see it firsthand. Even though I do things different, it was a good opportunity for us to talk about using the bathroom and get into at least a surface level of my current situation and how I got here. I have never shied away from letting him see my bag and to answer any questions about it, but I don’t think he’s been to the point of being able to grasp what it means just yet, but I do think he will start being able to understand more in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I’m glad to share with him some of what makes me different and to celebrate those things that make us who we are.

For all the mothers—whatever that might mean

I have mixed emotions about Mother’s Day. Part of me sees the immense value of taking time to thank and appreciate those who gave us birth, who raised us, who taught us, who loved us—whatever motherhood has looked like in your life. These women are strong, brave, and loving and, damn it, they should be celebrated! As a mother, a daughter, a woman, I definitely think that the role mothers play is often undervalued and underappreciated. But part of me feels this day merely sets women up for disappointment, as we are bombarded by social media as to what Mother’s Day is supposed to look like and how your day is just not measuring up.

And that’s not to mention all of the emotions that this day brings up for some. There are many who have lost their mothers, to death, estrangement, or mental illness. There are many who have found the road to motherhood to be more challenging than they had imagined. There are those who have chosen not to become mothers themselves, and find themselves having to defend the personal decisions they make.

Sometimes we forget that motherhood takes on a variety of forms. There are those with more kids than you can count on your fingers. There are those with sons, daughters, or a combination of both. There are those who hope to be mothers one day. There are those who desire to be mothers now, but have had difficulty in their journey. There are those who are mothers, but have never been able to bring their child home. There are those who have had to bury their children, something no mother should ever have to do. There are those who have birthed children, but those children have gone on to live with others. There are those who did not carry a child themselves, but welcomed them into their home. There are those who have joined other families already in progress. There are those who do not desire to have children of their own, but have a mother’s spirit for other children they encounter. There are those who mother as part of team and others who stand on their own. There are those who have used medical assistance to conceive children. There are those who have birthed children through medical procedures. There are endless possibilities for what mothering may look like for you and for others.

As someone who is a part of the chronic illness community and the surgical intervention community, I have seen my share of women who have experienced setbacks and challenges in their motherhood journey.

For those with IBD, there is no impact on fertility and the ability to carry a child, but there are still studies that show these patients are less likely to bear children. This is most often due to concerns over their own health conditions, concerns about the medication they take and also concerns about the heredity of their disease. So even though fertility may not be affected, this diagnosis still influences their motherhood experience.

Thankfully studies show that the risk of passing along IBD to children is low (less than 10%) for couples where one individual has IBD. Furthermore, most medical treatments have also been shown to be safe during pregnancy, and those which are not considered safe can be replaced with other options, if necessary. So if your desire is to have children, talk to your physician about determining the best options for you!

And those who have undergone surgery, whether it be for an ostomy, a j-pouch, or a resection, still have a strong chance of being able to conceive and carry a child, but there is a higher risk of  an impact on fertility. This may eventually require further medical interventions or exploration of other options for becoming a mother.

Fertility is a difficult topic for many women, because the ability to conceive and bear children is often tied to their identity and sometimes their feelings of worth as a woman. I am not saying it should be this way, but this is how it is for many women. I know when my husband and I first decided we wanted to have kids, I was so hard on myself every month it didn’t happen. Every negative test felt like failure.

And in the grand scheme of things, my conception story was much simpler than many women out there. I conceived both of my children following two surgeries: removal of the colon (colectomy) and removal of the rectum/anus (proctectomy). It didn’t happen immediately for us, but conception was not something we struggled with ultimately.

After fairly uneventful first half of the pregnancies, I ended up in the hospital due to intestinal blockages both times. I had to undergo bowel rest, CT scans, X-rays, and strict dietary changes in both instances, and a premature inducement in one. I felt an incredible amount of guilt for feeling that I already was not being able to protect my child and having to make the decision to do something that could be potentially harmful to the baby because of my health issues. It was a deflating feeling and something I have struggled with as a mother.

My story is just one in a vast expanse of mothers all around the world. We all have a story to share. Our journeys to and in motherhood are all different, and difficult and heartbreaking in their own ways. But we are all in this together. So today, whether you are a mother, long to be a mother, or none of the above—You are seen. You are loved. You are in our hearts.

There’s a new girl in town

Everything anyone ever told me about having two kids is true. The past few weeks since the birth of my daughter have been exhausting. They’ve been amazing, but exhausting, too. I have been wanting to share the news for a while, but had a difficult time finding the time (or energy) to sit down and actually do it. So I am woefully behind on this, but here goes…

chandler birth labor delivery mom baby ostomy blockage obstruction pregnancy ibd crohn's disease ileostomy stolen colon stephanie hughesOn July 11, we welcomed a wonderful new addition to our family: Chandler Marie. She was born at 38 weeks and 5 days gestation, nearly a full three weeks further along than my son. Her birth was the result of my body naturally going into labor, and not due to an induction because of a persistent bowel blockage, as I dealt with last time. (You can read the entire story of my first delivery here.)

The abbreviated version of this story is that I started having mild contractions the evening before around 10:00 p.m. I went to sleep and they woke me up a few hours later and we ventured over to the hospital around 3:00 a.m. to find that I was already 5 cm dilated. After 8 hours of labor, I was no further dilated, but then BAM, in the next hour and a half I went from 5 to 10 cm dilated. I started pushing at 1:01 p.m. and she officially entered the world at 1:07 p.m. (Trust me, it was not the same story with my first.) She weighed 7 lbs. 9 oz. at birth.

There were no complications with my ostomy during the actual labor and delivery process. It was essentially a non-factor during that time. And thankfully, as was the case with my first, my body seemed to get back to normal as soon as she was born. I was able to start eating the same foods I had prior to pregnancy with no blockage issues! It’s taken a few weeks, but my stoma is getting back to normal. It was still fairly large for the first couple of weeks and I was concerned that it might not return to its normal size, but at 9 weeks postpartum it seems to be pretty close to the size it was originally and not prolapsed like it had been during my pregnancy.

chandler birth labor delivery mom baby ostomy blockage obstruction pregnancy ibd crohn's disease ileostomy stolen colon stephanie hughesChandler has been doing great, as well. We were able to come home just 24 hours after her birth. She’s been growing like a champ and getting more personality by the day.

I’ll be sure to share a little more about the final weeks of my pregnancy with an ostomy and attempting to avoid another blockage but know I am so thankful that I was able to avoid any further complications with my ostomy and any more hospitalizations. I wanted so much to be able to deliver as a result of spontaneous labor and I was able to achieve that goal, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

These past few weeks have been a big adjustment as I’m now living with a high-energy 2-year-old and an infant. I hope as we get more settled that I can get back into a good routine of sharing information and keeping in contact with all of you. I apologize to anyone that I have not responded to recently and I hope to be in touch soon. Thank you for all of your support and well wishes!

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How to dress when pregnant with an ostomy

I have done a video before about what to wear with an ostomy, but now that I am almost 9-months pregnant, I wanted to talk about how to dress when your stomach becomes more of a focal point. It does become a bit more complicated to attempt to hide your ostomy bag during this time, but I don’t think that means you still can’t dress the way you want. I think it is much more about what you are comfortable with and making your decisions based on that. Here are some of the clothing options I have chosen throughout my pregnancy, but I’d love to know if you have found some other options that I do not cover here!

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