A woman whose stoma saved her life announced that she is pregnant with her first child – despite consultants calling it 'impossible.'
Holly Fleet, from London, was on the brink of death after she was hospitalised with Ulcerative Colitis – a type of inflammatory bowel disease.
The freelance journalist received a life saving proctocolectomy – which is the removal of the colon and rectum – and now wears a stoma that collects her poo.
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Ever since the surgery, Holly has been active on social media to raise awareness of her condition and lovingly goes by the name Stoma Babe.
And she recently revealed a rude assumption people have made about her – as they think she can't have kids.
Despite consultants telling Holly that falling pregnant would be a pipe dream, she has proven otherwise.
Speaking to Daily Star at 12 weeks pregnant, Holly explained: "I’m someone that if I get told I can’t do something, I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it.
"I have always wanted children but never been someone who was desperate for a family.
"I was always of the mindset that it would happen when it happens.
"I was shocked of how quickly I naturally conceived as I had major surgery to remove my rectum six months earlier."
Holly's rectum was sewn shut and now refers to her backside as a 'Barbie bum'.
The major surgery was not easy for the soon-to-be mum, who described the procedure as 'excruciating'.
But, the operation gave her a new lease of life and allowed her to bring one into the world too.
But conversations around pregnancy after bowel surgery is often "negative", according to Holly.
While it is safe to get pregnant with a stoma, not everyone understands that – and this is something Holly wants to change.
"There was a lot of negativity on social media about fertility after bowel surgeries," the mum-to-be claimed.
"With some consultants even telling patients it is 'not possible'.
"On social media I have had so many lovely messages from people who have been through similar surgeries and thought it would not be possible for them.
"But I am living proof that it is completely possible and safe to get pregnant with no colon or rectum."
Although having a baby without a colon or a rectum is safe, Holly's pregnancy is deemed as 'high risk' just to be extra cautious.
She finds it reassuring that the additional appointments are to make sure that the pregnancy runs smoothly – but struggles with the trauma of visiting hospitals.
"I am under many different medical teams at St Thomas’ hospital for this pregnancy, as it is deemed high risk due to my surgery not being long ago and my chronic illness Ulcerative Colitis," Holly explained.
"I have to attend more appointments than regular people, but it feels good to know that hopefully everything will be under control.
"I have terrible PTSD about hospitals so I do struggle with the continuous appointments, I know it’s just to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that the baby will be OK."
Being pregnant with a stoma does come with its struggles though.
Holly openly shared on social media that the baby was 'hiding' behind the stoma during the 13 week ultrasound scan.
So after 20 minutes, the appointment had to be rescheduled.
She also admitted to being "terrified" of her bag leaking as the jelly used in the scan started to lift it.
Her experience resonated with other women with stomas who thanked her for being open about the highs and lows of pregnancy.
"It’s definitely not been all easy with a stoma and being pregnant though," Holly said.
"I have been completely exhausted to the point of napping every afternoon because I can’t stay awake.
"My stomach has also been in excruciating pain, which I have discovered is due to abdominal adhesions (scar tissue from my previous surgeries).
"This has also made me very sick and I now have to carry sick bags wherever I go.
"I have been through a lot of pain and sickness over the years.
"So it does make a change for it to be for a positive reason instead of just my organs falling apart."
You can follow Holly on Instagram here.
For more information on Ulcerative Colitis, you can access the official NHS website here.
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