"From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a mother. But, when I began experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s disease at age 21, I became worried about how my future may look. ... Research into the topic wasn’t as plentiful as I would have liked, and the message boards and mom blogs were full of more questions than answers. As it would turn out, I would need to participate in the research if I wanted to help answer this question.
"Once on proper medication and in confirmed remission, my husband and I got happy news: We were expecting. After congratulating us, my doctor brought up the possibility of taking part in a pregnancy study. ... Throughout my first pregnancy, I would chat on the phone with the research coordinator, who asked questions about disease activity, medication use, infections, and overall health. [Later] I would answer questions about my health and breastfeeding status, as well as [my son's] overall health. ... It was such an important topic of research that I was happy to start the process all over again when, almost two years later, I became pregnant a second time.
"Both of my sons and I have taken part in this study since 2012, and it’s one of my proudest contributions to future moms who are faced with a hard decision, just as I was: Is it safe for me to take my IBD medications while pregnant? Now that some of the results are being shared across the world, it’s amazing to know that moms will now have more information at their fingertips. Contributing to research doesn’t always mean signing up for the latest drug trials. It may mean tackling an area of disease management that is not currently well researched and contributing your experiences to further the medical community’s understanding of it."