Mommy Monday: Stephie Simpson

Stephie Simpson Mommy Monday

Let me take a moment to introduce myself; I’m Stephie a punk rock, crime drama obsessed, married mum of two from the beautiful county of North Yorkshire in the North of England. I am your typical 30 year old mum of two; although I blog at www.colitistoostomy.com and have been chronically sick since I was 10 with Ulcerative Colitis, where ulcers form inside your large intestine and often bleed, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I would like to talk to you if I may; about being a chronically sick parent and what it is like to be sick and be pregnant.

I never wanted children if I’m honest; I always wanted to be cool auntie Steph, although I never thought anyone would want to stick with me long enough to have children, let alone marry me! That had nothing to do with my illness because having it from such a young age it was a part of me, I never let it define me. When I had my large bowel removed and a pouch formed from my small bowel to my rectum I was told my fertility may drop by 25%. At the age of 21 with a partner of 3 years who also didn’t want children (at least with me) it honestly never bothered me. I do remember talking to him and mentioning it to which he responded with “If it happens, it happens.” If I’m honest I still don’t know how I feel about that comment!

But as it happens we never did fall pregnant, which in hindsight was such a good thing because 2 years later we broke up and I got together with the man I was later to marry; my 00Steve. You know I mentioned I never wanted kids? Well it all changed about 6 months into being with 00Steve, we were engaged and living together (I know quick work right?!) Just before Christmas 2010 I don’t know what but something inside changed and every time I looked at him I just knew I wanted to have a family with him. Part of me was absolutely terrified of the chance of not being able to have a family with him but we persevered for around 1.5 years before we finally got those two little lines on our test.

Now that pregnancy was far from easy! In fact I swear I must have been in and out of the maternity ward every week. My obstetrics consultant believed it was due to a massive amount of scar tissue and adhesions in the bowel; now he wasn’t totally wrong as I had had open surgery which left me with a 10 inch scar down my belly, plus polyhydraminos which is where you have an increase in amniotic fluid.  I saw him recently and we discussed how it was actually undiagnosed Pouchitis which in simple terms is Ulcerative Colitis in the pouch; the realisation that swept across his face was exactly the same as mine when I realised!

I had an elective caesarean section due to the previous surgery and unfortunately that happened on my second wedding anniversary! Only I had an issue with that of course, but at 12:52pm we set eyes on our unbelievably gorgeous daughter Lyra-Beth who weighed a dinky 6lb 6oz and was born to Weezer – Islands in the Sun. I remember turning to 00Steve begging him not to make me go through another pregnancy and having needles in my back; just the thought of them gives me raised anxiety.

I suffered with post natal depression after my daughter was born. 00Steve was able to take 6 weeks off on paternity and was pretty much the sole caregiver to Lyra-Beth as I was in lots of pain and still bleeding heavily. Him being able to take time off work was a God send to me to give me time to heal but it highlighted something in my brain that I wasn’t a good enough mum; that I was struggling unnecessarily and finding things far more difficult than I should have been. Now looking back that is a completely normal way for a new mum to feel especially someone that didn’t have much to do with children other than a nephew and the odd friend’s child. But at the time it was truly awful.

I then started to believe in myself as a mum although entirely jealous of the bond Lyra-Beth has with her dad, which was a good thing as we moved away from family and friends and I had to trust myself as a mum.  But no sooner as I had found that strength I got sick again typically just as I had decided I was mentally ready to try for another child, but this time it was different than before; with no regular flare symptoms to warn me that a hospital admission may be looming or when to take a rest it was scary. 00Steve swapped his shifts so he was at home on an evening to help out, I remember one night counting down the minutes till he got home so I could take my morphine, rocking on the kitchen floor due to being in agony and Lyra-Beth stroking me telling me it was okay. She was 2! My 2 year old was taking care of her mother in a sense and I never wanted it to be that way.

I knew I needed to keep going until my next surgery date which was to remove the area of infected small intestine and my rectum, but it didn’t stop me seriously contemplating suicide a few weeks before my surgery date. I admitted myself the next day to the surgical ward as I seriously needed some more help but as my surgeon was on (much needed) leave of his own my surgery date couldn’t be brought forward any earlier.

The second I woke up from my surgery I was in sweet relief, I knew instantly life with my ileostomy was going to be so much better than before and I was finally going to be able to be the mum my daughter deserved. But having more abdominal surgery left the chances of being able to fall pregnant once again up in the air. My surgeon was pretty honest with me and said he honestly didn’t know if I could or couldn’t but didn’t see any harm in trying. I thought that was completely fair and after everything I had been through we still had a beautiful, healthy and happy little girl and that was more than enough if we couldn’t conceive again.

But just two short months later we found out we were expecting again which was pretty amazing and exciting but it sadly wasn’t meant to be as the baby stopped developing at 6 weeks but I didn’t start to miscarry till I was 8 weeks. It was and still is really hard to deal with as no support is offered to people who suffer the loss of miscarriage, yes it was only early but I had so much love for that little Bean and all the what if’s? What would they have been like? What did I do wrong? We were told after I had the first period after the miscarriage we were safe to try again and that you are often quite fertile for a few weeks after. Now I’m sure if I didn’t fall pregnant the month later I would have been devastated after hearing the spiel about the fertility spike.

But we were incredibly lucky in our eyes to fall pregnant and this time it was a much easier pregnancy than with my daughter but I had the constant fear of “Will I lose this one too?” my ileostomy only stretched a small amount in size which I was thankful for but when I hit the third trimester I started struggling with increased pain and once again it was blamed on all my colorectal surgeries. I had planned to have a natural birth this time but at 27 weeks I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with the pain. But the week before the caesarean date I was admitted to maternity with what seemed like early labour. There was nothing happening but it wasn’t really deemed safe for me to go home and after fighting with a obstetrics consultant that it wasn’t what was left of my bowel giving me grief I was diagnosed with “hypersensitivity to pain” which every Doctor I have seen since told me it was a cop out.

 

Our son Jacob was delivered after I freaked out as we had a plan in place with the anesthetist to help me cope with the needles in my back but all of a sudden everything got rushed and nothing had been put into place. The birth is something I am still trying to deal with mentally so I apologize for skipping over it but if you wish to read more please head on over to ( http://colitistoostomy.com/momostomy/traumatic-birth/#more-1819 ) as someone who is already in a heightened state of anxiety this was not going well!

We eventually got the needles in and Jacob weighed 6lbs 15oz was born at 11:26am to +44 – When you’re Heart Stops Beating. He was just the spitting image of his older sister and it was love at first sight; just looking at him made all the anxiety wash away until the consultant who blamed my stoma for everything asked me if I had already had one of my ovaries removed. Now this was quite alarming as I was undergoing a routine sterilization and as far as I was aware was still intact other than missing a rectum and intestines.

Once she asked 00Steve to leave the room she told me that she could only find one ovary so she thinks she clipped it but couldn’t be sure! That was it the anxiety came flooding back and needless to say 00Steve wasn’t happy on his return. I had opted for a sterilisation because we only ever discussed having two children and I could deal with being chronically sick and parenting to an extent but I seriously struggled with pregnancy. I didn’t want to have to consider having an abortion when just taking the tablets after my miscarriage felt enough like that. It has taken 5 months of fighting from me, my health visitor and the consultant who delivered my daughter to find out if I had been sterilised correctly and to help heal the mental anguish I still suffer from Jacobs’s traumatic entrance into the world.

So having a 4 year old and a 5 month old whilst still chronically sick is definitely a challenge I wouldn’t change for the world. I definitely live and breathe my children and hope that them having a Mum that isn’t always able to run around after them but can still do sit down activities will teach them to be more empathetic and kinder to those around them as you never know what is going on behind closed doors.

Do you feel that being chronically sick affects your parenting or how your body copes with pregnancy? Or did you suffer a traumatic birth with one of your babies? Please don’t hesitate to contact me either in the comments or via www.facebook.com/colitistoostomy www.twitter.com/colitistoostomy or www.instagram.com/colitis_to_ostomy thank you all for reading.

Share Stephie’s Story!!

Mommy Monday – Shannon Lusk

The Smart Lioness’ – 1st MOMMY MONDAY!!!
Introducing Shannon Allen Lusk

Shannon, Lucy, & her Husband James

Hi!  I’m Shannon.  I am a wife, Social Worker (with a degree from Auburn University), daughter, sister, and of course, proud mommy of a sweet and squishy little 6 month old, Lucy.

 

Lucy, 6 months

Hillary asked me to write an entry for her Mommy Mondays blog a few weeks ago, and I’ve finally mustered up the courage to share some of my new mommy “insight” with y’all.  With a little encouragement (and pushing) from Hillary, I finally decided to write on one of the most essential parts of every relationship we have: communication.

*DISCLAIMER: I’m new to this whole Mommy thing, so please take what I say lightly. This is in no way meant to mommy-shame or imply that I have it altogether, because I certainly do not. These are just some of the thoughts I have as I navigate through this new and unfamiliar phase of my life.

Lucy, Flower Child 🙂

After my husband and I got married on August 29, 2015 we knew we didn’t want to wait long before starting a family.  And to our surprise we found out I was expecting about a month before our first anniversary.  I went through all of the emotions you would typically expect after seeing that positive pregnancy test, but I can very vividly remember thinking, “Gosh, I hope it’s a boy.”  I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself the worst teenager but I also know that I wasn’t the easiest to live with, and I was (and still am) scared to raise a teenage girl because let’s face it, karma really is a b**$h.  But low and behold, here I sit with a beautiful, healthy, and happy six month old baby girl that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

As soon as I found out we would be bringing home the daughter that I was already terrified of, I decided that I would work my hardest to let her know how much I would love, accept, and support her.  I have had enough education and experiences (as a Social Worker) to know that communication between children and their parents will significantly impact the child’s life; your past relationships will always influence your current and future relationships.  But how do you communicate with a child who can’t speak yet and (probably) doesn’t understand a word you’re saying?

 

Before we get into that, I think it’s important to emphasize that every child is different and every mother is different, so as a result, every communication style between a mother and her child will be different.  The methods that work for Lucy and I may not have the same results for you and your child(ren).  Therefore, I believe it is important to develop your own style of communication that will help mold these important relationships. 

I’m sure you have heard of The Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman (which I am a huge fan of and highly recommend you reading), but you may not know that he has also written The Five Love Languages of Children.  In the book overview he writes, “Everything depends on the love relationship between you and your child. When children feel loved, they do their best… Discover your child’s primary language and learn what you can do to effectively convey unconditional feelings of respect, affection, and commitment that will resonate in your child’s emotions and behavior.”

 

This is just one of the many resources floating around that can help you decipher how to better communicate with and love your child(ren), but again we’re back to the question I had earlier: How do you communicate with a child who can’t speak yet and (probably) doesn’t understand a word you’re saying?

To answer that question that haunted me for most of the 10 months of my pregnancy (that’s not a typo, 40 weeks = 10 months so don’t believe any of that 9 month garbage they tell you) I reflected back on my teenage years.  You know, back when I knew everything and thought my parents were clueless.  And I realized that, if I had known that my parents actually experienced, and understood many of the same emotions (and hormones) that I was trying to navigate through as teenager, maybe, I would have heeded their advice more often than I did. 

So I came up with the idea to write a journal to Lucy, one entry each month for the first year of her life and then at least one entry per year (I plan to have some “bonus entries” thrown in every now and then).  My strategy is to give the journal to her on her 16th birthday (when her teenage rage will most likely be at its peak) so she will hopefully understand that like her, I too have real emotions and can possibly relate to many of the hardships that she will no doubt experience in her teenage years, and even beyond. 

As of now, most of the entries are just chronicling the milestones she’s reaching each month, but I always make sure to include some of my hopes for her future.  I try to encourage her independence and reassure her strengths as a woman – I pray that she will fall in love with herself before she falls in love with anyone else.  I also write often about my marriage so she will be able to recognize and engage in healthy relationships of her own once she is ready.  And although I write about my life choices, I encourage her to choose her own path – one that will make her the happiest, and I assure her that I will always support the decisions that she makes.  The main goal I hope to achieve from this journal is for Lucy to one day be able to read all of the important things I may not get the chance or take the time to tell her.

 

Lucy with her journal

 

Another creative communication technique that may work for you (and something I intend to do as Lucy gets older) is writing letters to each other on a regular basis.  I think this is such a fun and non-threatening way to encourage honesty between you and your child(ren).  It opens up a line of communication that is constant and confidential, and also protects you from making the “Oh my gosh!” face in front of your kid if/when they drop some really shocking information on you. 

The Center for Effective Parenting states that, “Effective, open communication takes a lot of hard work and practice. Parents should remember that they will not be perfect. Parents make mistakes. What is important is that parents make the effort to effectively communicate with their children starting when their children are very young. The result will be a much closer, positive relationship between parents and their children.” 

Like I mentioned earlier in the post, these ideas may or may not work for you and your child(ren).  You might already be dealing with teenagers, or don’t have the time to sit down and write on a regular basis, or writing just may not be your forte.  But I challenge you to find a way to increase the communications you’re currently having with your child(ren), because it can only improve your relationship.  There is a plethora of resources online, or you could reach out to Hillary Ivey Montijo @thesmartlioness – she is an EXPERT in communication! 

If you have a creative and effective form of communication that you want to share, please comment below.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Thanks for reading,

      Shannon Allen Lusk