LeeAnne Warner (32), Remy (3) and Rhett (1)
“Parenthood has made me more aware of the things I say to my children about bodies, certain words have been excluded from my own vocabulary including ugly or fat in reference to myself included. I accept and love my scars, all of them, as they each represent each a battle and a blessing. Trying to become more fit and physically active isn't about changing the physical aspects of my body anymore, it's about getting some self care and being in better shape to really run around with the kids. I've also begun to accept and love my new breasts, as carrying two children and nursing them both beyond a year each has certainly changed their shape. It is a beautiful reminder of the sustenance I was able to provide and a bond we shared. I have found that not many physical characteristics of my body remain the same after having children along with the other infinite things that change in one's life.
I struggled with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis to be exact, as a college student and failed all medications, leading to three major surgeries to ultimately result in the removal of my large intestine. This can often lead to infertility and was something I wanted to put off until after I had children, but couldn’t. When we decided to start a family, we did battle infertility and then finally, Remy was conceived. We were so excited to finally have a baby in our arms that the difficult postpartum experience didn’t seem too bad to us. He arrived and was a poor sleeper and still is 3 years later. He was the baby who had to be tricked into sleeping so we co-slept, nursed around the clock and did whatever it took to survive as we were both working full time. I had read a lot about attachment parenting and felt that there were other babies out there similar to him and his needs so didn't feel overly surprised by the difficult journey we had.
We surprisingly got pregnant with Rhett when Remy was just 18 months old. I also for really the first time since my surgeries in 2011, got very sick with a flare of my IBD right at this same time. It unfortunately continued all pregnancy and into the postpartum period. When Rhett arrived, we were thrown into the whirlwind of raising a 26-month-old and a newborn. I also went from a working pharmacist to a stay at home mom and battled serious sickness daily. These three major changes made life hard for a good while. I tried a lot of treatments that failed to control this flare, I felt guilty for not being able to take Remy to the park for fear I’d need a bathroom, I bought pack after pack of Depends, all while parenting two very small children. Survival mode was very much the case for the first year, and still sometimes even. I definitely felt the pressures of taking care of both children to be much harder than I expected or than anyone told us. The mom guilt of having the toddler watch the iPad while nursing the baby and the decision to sleep train Rhett so we could all rest and have easier naptimes were very intense. He is overall an “easier” baby than Remy and we feel so much love for them but also stress, anxiety, all of the feelings of hoping we are doing a good enough job while still trying to maintain a semblance of a bit of relaxation and fun for the adults. Just before Rhett turned one, I finally got a good report with my j-pouch and felt symptomatic improvement, letting us see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We had initially thought maybe three children would be in the works for us, but with both children here, we have decided two complete our family. Everyone says to enjoy every second of everyday because it goes so fast, but honestly, that is such an unrealistic thing to say to a parent. The postpartum experience after our second has one of the hardest things we have been through as individuals and a married couple. They are worth every single second of these struggles and we love them more than words can say, this goes without saying but our truth was this as well.
What is your truth?
My truth is that is is okay to feel your feelings, the big and small, the happy and sad. You can go through infertility, have a baby and acknowledge that not every second of parenthood is happy. There are hard times and you don't have to feel guilty for not loving or smiling every single second.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I decided to come today after following the 4TB movement for years. I love the body positive message and real truths about every aspect of childbearing. Having a lengthy and still ongoing battle with an autoimmune disease that lead to infertility and finally children has given me such appreciation for the joy and love that children give and receive. I wanted to share my story to hopefully inspire women battling inflammatory bowel disease and infertility.