Today is one of those blog posts that I’d excitedly planned in my head the last few months (and, if I’m honest, way before that) but never actually thought that I’d actually be publishing. And I am still a little bit nervous to-but at the same time, as an anxious person, I feel I will never be 100% comfortable with sharing my news yet, like all things I blog about, it’s actually really important to…
Being open on the internet might not be for everyone but blogging helps me get my head around things and connect with people all around the world going through similar things.
It helps to me seek comfort but also encouragement and soliditary. I’ve never regretted blogging about personal things: such as my fistula surgery or my low egg reserve so I am hopping putting ‘hand to laptop’ is the right thing for me in this case too.
What a dramatic introduction to something I already spoiled in the title, eh? So yep I’m pregnant-I’m 13 weeks and 1 day today to be exact (that one day is important!). And after over two months of battling vomiting, upset stomach, loneliness and just generally feeling rubbish-I’m heading into my second trimester and decided to share!
A lot of you asked me specifically about Crohn’s and fertility in the past-so I thought this post would be part life update/pregnancy journey and part information about trying to get pregnant with IBD.
Before I Got Pregnant
It’s probably no surprise that I was thinking about all things baby as I blogged a good few months ago now that I had low egg reserve. One thing about having Crohn’s in my experience is that they tend to treat you more seriously, and I only mentioned we were trying to conceive to my GP before I got my bloods tested and a ‘fast-track’ fertility referral a good while ago.
On the one hand, it was great to know that there was help out there, I was taken seriously and having IBD ‘fast tracked’ us in a sense but on the other, it created a bit too much pressure-as if we were a normal couple, we wouldn’t have been referred yet and most people at that clinic had probably waited for years.
It created a dialogue that ‘something was wrong with me’ when actually there wasn’t necessarily. If you know me, I absorb things like a sponge so that soon became my new narrative!
It was at that point we learnt about my low egg reserve and it was quite a shock-not only because at that time we weren’t really trying as my Crohn’s was bad but I felt quite young still (as someone who didn’t even get her period until she was 16, I’ve definitely been a ‘late’ developer.) On reflection, depending on which doctor I spoke to, my reserve wasn’t a huge problem.
If you are interested, my AMH (which measures egg reserve) was 12-which is low for 32, but not massively so. It wasn’t a massive dealbreaker and didn’t mean I couldn’t get pregnant. But god, there’s nothing to give you a kick up the arse like telling you you’re not rolling in eggs let me tell you!
Anyway, alongside this, my Crohn’s was not great and I was battling with my doctors over taking Humira (an IBD medication). There were two reasons for this: one is because I do feel quite well even when I’m flaring (so it was difficult to justify) but secondly-my fertility definitely played on my mind.
I couldn’t help but think that it was already precarious so a massive loading dose of medicine would hardly help the matter. Importantly, there is NO evidence to suggest that Humira impacts fertility in any way. But, yes, tell that to my brain months ago!
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HUMIRA DAY💉💉I am going to be honest for a moment now; about an hour after I took this pic, I burst into tears. Yes today I feel crap: woolly headed, extraordinarily tired, dizzy, irritable. I know this only lasts for a day or two post-injection, but it’s more the fact that it brings that nagging question: How do you know you’re doing the right thing? How do I know this is right for me? I don’t think many people realise how many decisions and choices it feels like you have to make with a chronic illness with Crohn’s. I feel like I am always having to trade something for something else; having to choose what’s more important to me and what I’m willing to risk or lose. This past few weeks, I really have had an incredible response to the posts I’ve been writing. But I don’t have any more answers than anyone else. Yes, I perhaps read more research or draw on my group of fellow advocates but at the end of the day, I’m still just one person, trying my best and hoping my bloody colon will cooperate. For now, all any of us can do is cross our fingers and take a leap but I can’t help but feel it’s desperately unfair sometimes…
I ended up with a kind of ‘pass’ from my doctor to delay Humira and give the getting pregnant thing a real go, but it wasn’t really working. Then one day I was flicking through a fertility book and there was a passage on Humira: the very medication I was weighing up taking!
Okay-this is almost 700 words and I haven’t got to the part when I wee on a stick yet! Bare with me! Or just skip to the next section if you’re bored.
So yes, it turns out that Humira was (I’m not sure how frequently it is used currently) in some patients who have continuous miscarriages. It’s not widely done but some hospitals and doctors (and I checked and it was actual doctors-not just people with crystals) believe that the body attacks the ‘embryo’ in the same way somebody with Crohn’s has their body attacks their intestines.
It actually used Crohn’s patients as an example. I.WAS.SHOOK! I didn’t suspect this had happened to me but it was enough to convince me that Humira wasn’t going to at least damage my fertility. And perhaps it could even help?
A New Regime
So I started Humira in June and we agreed to not to do any tests or see the hospital (I was supposed to have that test to see if your tubes were blocked but kept putting it off because yes, it seemed to be as painful as it sounded) or anything for a good while and just enjoy me hopefully feeling better.
The hospital (which by the way is the University Hospital Coventry and is literally world class-I would recommend 100%. They do private services too) actually work with an acupuncturist (see told you they were good!). I’d seen an acupuncturist previously and hated it but I decided to give it another go during this time whilst I wasn’t doing much else- just to see how I got on.
Well, for me I am convinced it was one of the things that helped the most. I saw an acupuncturist called Jacqueline Hurst in Coventry and it was the best decision I ever made! I still see her monthly since being pregnant.
I just ‘clicked’ with her as an acupuncturist’ and the first month we just worked on my ‘cycle’ as I deliberately avoiding conceiving as I knew I was having a loading dose of Humira (which felt like a huge strain on the body already without complicating it). She taught me how to track your cycle properly (with temperature and ovulation kits combined).
But weirdly, even just after that month, I felt it had helped. I literally had the perfect menstrual cycle. Sorry if that’s too much info, but you might know what you mean if your cycle is a bit random.
I felt as if it had sorted something out-and I also had my first proper positive on an ovulation test. I had tried these on and off before but couldn’t get on with them and never seemed to get the right result- but doctors had done tests that confirmed I did indeed ovulate so they just told me to not worry about.
And yes, the second month of trying, I never got to see what my period looked like: because I was pregnant!
The Journey Up Until Now
Just FYI, this is just a stock image-I definitely didn’t pose with my test and nor do I ever have nails that nice. But my legs are probably as hairy.
Okay, so now we’re at the actual part when I realised I was pregnant (only took me 1100 words!). I wanted to share this part because I really struggled and it might help someone (god knows I googled!).
I found out very early-a good 4 days or so before my period was due. I just kept feeling incredibly sick but not even 1% of me thought I was pregnant. I didn’t mention it to anyone as when you’re trying for a baby, you convince yourself multiple times over that you are pregnant.
However, like anxiety is. It was playing on my mind and I stumbled across a leftover test. I just wanted to shut my brain up so I could get on with my day! It even said on the box to wait until your period so when it said ‘1-2 weeks pregnant’ on the screen, I called my acupuncturist and my mom asking what to do and what health conditions could cause a false positive (typical me, trying to diagnose myself with something!)
I was definitely in denial. It’s so strange as you spend years imagining how you’ll feel and it was nothing like that. I was absolutely convinced it was a fake and then when I did another one, I was so poorly by that point- I was convinced baby wouldn’t have any nutrients at all.
I went to my GP explained that basically, I was having a really bad stomach and was going to the toilet every time I ate anything at all.
I know you’re probably thinking ‘duh, you have Crohn’s’ but this was nothing like Crohn’s! It was ten times worse! She explained I probably had a lot of hormones in my system due to the early things and this does cause a digestive reaction for some people.
As I’ve blogged before about my digestion system massively being upset with my periods-this did kind of make sense! She was really great and did lots of blood tests which showed by folic acid, vitamin D, iron were all really good-which massively reassured me.
You might think my IBD team would be more involved but they really weren’t. They told me when to stop my meds (all being well I will stop Humira after week 24) but didn’t offer anything else.
My GP really took pity on me but I think there’s definitely an attitude of ‘nothing we can do’ when a pregnancy is in the early stages, and the IBD team said even if I was poorly, I was already on Humira medication so there was nothing I could have. I haven’t even seen my gastro doctor!
However, by 6 weeks I’d reached peak-anxiety (one of the disadvantages of finding out early) and I called MUMS. If you’re in the Midlands, MUMS is a fantastic private clinic that does everything from your blood to smears and ultrasounds. They booked me in for an ultrasound about 5 days later as I felt by this point, I just needed to know!
At first, they said they couldn’t see anything on a belly scan (so, of course, I was hysterical) but that’s because I was so early. I explained to the woman that it might be all in my head and the tests might be wrong but she then interrupted me to say well there’s a baby and a heartbeat!
Which was pretty much the happiest moment of my life but I’ve said that about every scan so far. And because of my worries, I’ve had scans privately with MUMS at 6,8,10 and 12 weeks.
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It’s so funny as I have composed this post hundreds of times over the last 2 months or so in my head -thinking of all the cute pictures I could take and witty captions I could include! But as I look like crap and keep vomiting, I really can’t be bothered! Took this after our 12 week scan on Thursday and sums up how I am both ecstatically happy and terrified (eyes still red from pre-scan tears). But even though it’s still early days, as I am officially in my second trimester today, I thought it was time to share. 💕After so many years of hating my body for its struggles, I am so proud of if for doing something right. #13weekspregnant 🤰😬💕💕💕
It was after the 12 weeks scan and having all the genetic tests on Thursday (these are available on NHS but the wait time for results worried me) done that we decided to share.
We still have our NHS scan on Tuesday-but that’s just for getting out dates into the system really as we’ve already done everything privately.
As for my Crohn’s, well as I mentioned, in the earliest stages, my stomach was awful. Weirdly, once my morning sickness (With daily vomiting) kicked in my stomach problems disappeared and I’ve probably had the longest period of normal toilet trips since then!
I’ve also eaten completely differently-things like eggs, strawberries, cheese and more and not felt any consequences!
However, I did a blood and stool test last week so I’ll be ringing up in the next few days to get the result. Part of me wanted to wait until I announced, but I am starting to accept there’s nothing I can do to control my health and whatever the results, I’ll do my best to get through it and fight regardless. I am trying to separate the two in my mind if that makes sense?
Anyway, I am still cautious about jinxing this but think it’s time to press publish. I remember a friend messaged me in the early stages saying how proud I should be that after so many years of struggles with my Crohn’s, my body was doing this amazing, healthy thing all by itself. And that really is true and something I want to celebrate on my blog today!
I’m not sure if I’ll keep pregnancy stuff on here on start a separate blog-but I’ll definitely share a Humira update (cross everything for me!) next week!