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‘I felt myself split into before and after’: how giving birth triggered a life-changing illness

🌈 Abstract

The article is a personal narrative about the author's experience with severe ulcerative colitis that was triggered by the birth of her first child. It describes her journey through hospitalization, surgery to create a stoma, and the emotional and physical challenges she faced during her recovery.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The author's experience with ulcerative colitis

1. What were the key events in the author's experience with ulcerative colitis?

  • The author was hospitalized with a severe case of ulcerative colitis that required emergency surgery to remove her colon and create a stoma
  • She was initially misdiagnosed with Crohn's disease as a teenager, but the doctors later determined it was actually ulcerative colitis
  • The ulcerative colitis flared up severely after the author gave birth to her first child, requiring hospitalization and the eventual surgery

2. How did the author's ulcerative colitis impact her life and transition to motherhood?

  • The author had to move back in with her parents during her pregnancy as she and her partner were renovating a new home
  • She was classified as "high-risk" during her pregnancy due to her history of Crohn's/ulcerative colitis, but her scans showed the baby was doing well
  • After giving birth, the author experienced severe physical symptoms like leaking, pain, and bleeding that she struggled to manage, making it difficult to care for her newborn

3. What were the author's emotions and mental state during her hospitalization?

  • The author felt a sense of disconnection from her body and her previous life, describing crossing over into "the nightside of life"
  • She experienced hallucinations and depression, feeling impotent to do anything about her worsening condition or the state of the world
  • The author grappled with feelings of shame and a loss of her previous identity, unsure if she was "tough enough" for motherhood

[02] The author's stoma surgery and recovery

1. How did the author initially react to the prospect of getting a stoma?

  • The author was resistant to the idea of getting a stoma, seeing it as something that would "ruin everything" and drastically change her life
  • She had very limited prior knowledge about stomas, only associating them with a "bag of waste stuck to a stomach"

2. What was the author's experience with the stoma surgery and recovery?

  • The author underwent an 8-hour surgery to remove her colon and create the stoma
  • She initially had a strange, euphoric reaction to waking up from the surgery, feeling a sense of love and connection
  • The author had to learn how to manage the stoma and all the associated equipment, which she found overwhelming at first

3. How did the author's perspective on the stoma change over time?

  • The author initially wanted to keep the stoma private, but eventually became more open about it, seeing it as part of her story and body
  • She worked to reframe her view of the stoma, seeing her body as a collection of stories rather than something to be ashamed of
  • The author came to see the stoma as something that gave her back her life, rather than something that ruined it

[03] The author's journey of healing and rediscovery

1. How did the author's relationships and support system evolve during this time?

  • The author's partner, Will, had to split time between their parents' homes caring for their newborn while the author was hospitalized
  • The author's parents, especially her father, played a crucial role in supporting her during her recovery
  • The author developed a deeper appreciation for the people in her life and the small, everyday moments of connection

2. What positive changes did the author experience as she recovered?

  • The author described feeling a "Technicolor" shift in her perspective, finding more joy and meaning in simple everyday activities
  • She became more open and honest in her relationships, shedding her previous tendency for small talk
  • The author felt a renewed sense of appreciation for being alive and a deeper connection to the world around her

3. How did the author's relationship with her newborn son evolve during this time?

  • The author was initially afraid to hold her son due to her physical weakness, but was able to reconnect with him during her recovery
  • She realized her son's first smile came just after she returned home from the hospital, feeling he had "saved it" for her
  • The author plans to one day tell her son how he helped pull her through the darkest moments and taught her so much in their first year together.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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