Jane’s Story – The First

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1982.  I was only 16 and had been unwell for at least three years previously.  Doctors had been unable to determine what was wrong with me and after a while I began to doubt myself and to think that maybe all the symptoms were in my head.  I began keeping a record of events, a bit like a diary in which I could record my feelings and concerns.  When I am down I look back on my notes and am surprised at how far I have come!

As many of you would know, having a chronic illness during your teen years is not much fun.  I was lucky in that I had and still have a very supportive family and network of friends.  Not everyone is so lucky.  I am grateful to them for being with me on my journey.  Despite Crohn's I managed to complete my H.S.C. and to gain a degree.  The latter took longer than planned because of being ill, but looking back I should never have attempted full time study but taken the part time option earlier on.  I had a resection during that time and tried many medications in an attempt to manage the disease.  Eventually, the medication no longer had any effect and I knew that an ileostomy was on the cards.  I put that off until 1996, at which time the decision was pretty much made for me by the fact that I was so unwell.

I was married in November 1995 and then had ostomy surgery in the following February.  There had not been much time to let Tom get used to the idea.  We had a whirlwind romance and were married within 15 months.  In that time he was forced to learn about Crohn's Disease and stomas very quickly.  Again, I could not have been luckier in finding a more supportive partner.  One thing we had to talk about sooner than most couples was children.  I had always feared that I could not get pregnant because of the drugs and surgeries of the past and so had convinced myself that I did not want children.  Once I was in a permanent relationship this changed.

All up, considering surgeries and recommendations from doctors, Tom and I tried to conceive for two years.  We had given up hope of it happening naturally and had signed up for I.V.F.  A week before starting the treatment I found out that I was pregnant.  Then began weeks of worry about whether or not I could carry to term.  Afters years of medical problems you begin to expect the worst at every corner, but I have been surprised at how easy the pregnancy has been for me.  I cannot really say that I have had morning sickness or been exhausted.  I worked until seven months and am now eagerly awaiting the birth of our much-wanted and much-loved child.  I have "nested" and feel that all that can be is now ready.  I still do not know if I will attempt a "natural" delivery or have an elective caesarean, a lot depends on the baby and how my body copes with the last couple of weeks of pregnancy.  This morning I found out that my blood pressure is a little high - this could dictate mode of delivery, but I am not worried.  I trust my obstetrician implicitly and feel that Tom and I have been informed and included in every decision made so far.  I feel so lucky to have gone through the miracle of pregnancy and look forward to the next few days/weeks.  Hopefully, I will write another instalment after the birth - once I have adjusted to my new role as mother.

[Editor's Note:  Still suffering from high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), Jane was admitted to hospital at her next ante-natal appointment.  Patrick was born that evening, on 1st October 1999, delivered by caesarean section - Jane and Tom's healthy baby boy!]

Reprinted from "Just for YOU" (Volume 9 - November 1999)

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