A woman looks nervously at baby clothes featuring an inflamed GI tract.

Living with IBS – My Fear of Having Children

Having IBS can cause you to have many fears when it comes to life changes. For me, having children is one of those fears. I’m in my early thirties and I feel ready to become a parent, however, because of my IBS I don’t know if I’ll be an “adequate dad”. In other words, I’m afraid I won’t be able to run around with my kids or throw a football with my son when it’s nice outside. My IBS keeps me from doing a lot of things, especially at times when I really want to do them, and it’s hard to keep up with life when that happens. My greatest fear is that I won’t be able to even keep up with my own kids, and in turn I will disappoint them.

Questioning the future

In the past, I didn’t complete my college degree nor was I ever able to maintain a steady job all because of my IBS. I switched majors more than twice and had to constantly go from one job to the next for a few years. My IBS has made it extremely hard for me to learn how to maneuver through life without any issues or doubts about who I was. Therefore, I can’t help but to question whether or not I’m going to be the father my kids deserve in their lives. I ask questions like, “Will I be there at their graduation?”, or, “Will I be able to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married”? I feel like these are valid questions to ask because sometimes I just never know what IBS has in store for me, or my future children.

Another fear I have is that my kids might develop IBS just like me. I can remember the dark times I went through because of my IBS and I would hate for my children to have to go through a similar situation. It took a long time for me to accept this disease and be able to feel comfortable in my own skin; to think of my own children having to deal with a comparable obstacle is frightening to me. Due to my IBS, I’ve had some dark thoughts and extreme low self-esteem issues. Why would I want my kids to suffer that same kind of misery?

Facing my fears

Throughout this IBS journey, I told myself that I will not allow IBS to control my life. I refuse to let it instill fear in me. It took a long time to develop this mentality, but I never gave up fighting to live the life I choose. I will turn this around into something positive and see the good things that could come out of having children. For instance, I could teach them what invisible illnesses are, and to respect those who suffer from them. Because I suffer from IBS, my children will have a better understanding about how physical and mental struggles can make daily life extremely difficult. Also, if any of my kids do develop IBS, or any invisible or visible illness, at least they’ll have a dad who truly will understand what they’re going through, and I’ll be their number one supporter. With that said, I will face this fear of having children head on, and if I’m ever blessed to be a parent, I will fight every day to be the best dad I can be.

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