When I first heard from Tiffany, I was immediately drawn to her story. Every single day she wakes up, she has no choice but to be a warrior. A Mom of soon to be three, is exhausting for any Mama. Tiffany however, has been battling with Crohn’s for over 10 years. As a Mom with Crohn’s, she has been faced with challenges most people wouldn’t see in their entire lifetime. She however, chooses to be thankful, positive, and powerful. Please meet Tiffany, our first Warrior Mama.
1- Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, how many children do you have, and how old are they?
Hi, I’m Tiffany! I live in Houston with my husband, Phillip, and our two kids, ages 6 ½ and 4. I am currently 36 weeks pregnant with our third child, and have a planned c-section date of 7/13!
2- When did you find out you had Crohn’s disease? What is Crohn’s disease?
I’m coming up on my 10 year anniversary of being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. It definitely was a mourning process of sorts – accepting that I would never be able to get back to my old self ever again, even in remission.
Crohn’s is an auto-immune disorder, similar to lupus or arthritis. However, Crohn’s is the immune system attacking your digestive tract.
A heart transplant patient is at risk of his immune system attacking the donor heart; with an autoimmune disorder, your body thinks that its natural tissue is foreign and begins to attack it. Basically, my immune system is trying to kick my intestines, stomach, etc. out of my body because it has gotten confused and thinks it doesn’t belong.
I was pretty much perfectly healthy until about 10 years ago, when all of a sudden I became very ill my first week of teaching (just a few months after graduating college). This meant I was diagnosed very quickly; many people have just mild forms of the disease and can go undiagnosed (or mistakenly diagnosed with something else) for years.
3- How do you manage as a Mom with Crohn’s? What is your biggest challenge?
Oh my goodness, that has been a roller coaster! I think the biggest challenge is accepting my limitations and not comparing my own health to others’ healthy lives. I look at what healthy moms can do and feel like a bad parent because I can’t keep up with them.
However, it’s not true! My children are learning so much about empathy and independence in ways they wouldn’t have been able to had I been healthier. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to pace myself. In the chronic illness world, we call that counting our spoons. We’re limited in how much energy we have each day, so we need to be wise about how we use it. If I do too much one day, I pay for it the next few days, which isn’t fair to my kids.
As a Mom with Crohn’s, I have to set boundaries for myself, and that makes a whole lot of difference. Really it’s been a lot of trial and error that way – I’ve learned the hard way what happens when I push too much, and I end up missing out on so much more than had I just stopped an hour or two sooner.
4- How do you feel during your pregnancies?
Being 36 ½ weeks pregnant, I think I can say I just feel fat and uncomfortable!
In all seriousness, this has been my easiest pregnancy. With my first, I had just come off a feeding tube and was pretty underweight and malnourished. I also had hyperemesis gravidarum the entire time, which is like morning sickness only about 100 times worse. I spent every day at the hospital getting IV nutrition and fluids. She was born full-term at 37 weeks but only weighed 4 lbs 8 oz.
My second pregnancy was normal morning sickness, but it lasted the whole time. I probably landed in the ER once a month for dehydration, and I started flaring with my Crohn’s a little at the end.
With the first two pregnancies, I also had untreated antepartum depression, which was rough (on top of being a Mom with Crohn’s). It stopped after I had my first, but with my second turned into mild postpartum depression. The antidepressant I was put on also turned out to help my fibromyalgia, so I stayed on it even after the PPD had passed.
So comparatively, this one has been great! It’s been “normal” which has been really nice. Only a few weeks of morning sickness, and not really any antepartum depression since I’m on the antidepressant still.
5- As a Mom with Crohn’s, how do you manage motherhood and run such successful blogs?
It helps that I have really great kids and an awesome husband. And that I sold the first blog (a couponing blog) last year.
I homeschool my kids, but since they are younger the actual curriculum takes only 1-2 hours per day. I also fill our days with extracurriculars, like gymnastics or dance. While they’re out being “entertained” by coaches, I can sit back and work.
I also don’t try to set aside huge blocks for work time. My first priority is my kids. Work intrudes on my kids, not the other way around. Each Sunday I sit and schedule out the week into 15 minute increments, and I always fill it up first with things with the kids. Then I pencil in work around those times. And if I don’t get to it, then I just don’t. I have goals, but I don’t let them stress to me the point that it affects how I talk to my children.
6- What tips can you give to fellow bloggers (like me!)?
Listen to people smarter than you! Find worthwhile support systems who will build you up and can help answer questions. Take classes. See what the best bloggers out there are doing and try to learn from them.
If you can afford it, don’t be afraid to outsource you work. For example, I have tried so hard to understand Pinterest. I’ve taken courses, listened to the best out there, and I still just can’t make it work well for me. So I decided to hire a company to manage my Pinterest and Tailwind. I save myself dozens of hours per week, and I have so much more return than I ever did trying to do it on my own.
7- What made you want to start blogging?
My first blog was a coupon blog. A friend from church showed me how to coupon, and I got really good at it (think extreme couponers). After my son was born, he only slept at home. On the bed. Next to me. Between that and some relatively minor health hiccups for me, I spent a lot of time on that bed. I needed something to do, so I would create these elaborate shopping trips with coupons that I would try to get my husband to go do (and he hated it). I figured if I was putting in all that work, I might as well share it with others and help them save.
My goal for the blog was to maybe make about $50 per month that I could have for fun spending money to splurge on myself. Instead, it wildly took off and within a few months I was earning hundreds of dollars per month.
I did that for about two years, but we started fostering some children and I simply didn’t have the time it took (couponing requires multiple posts every single day). I also was getting a little bored of it, and I wanted to write quality “evergreen” content. Hence, Saving Talents was born.
8-Do you miss teaching at all? Or have you found your passion in something else?
I really missed it for a while, so I have tutored students here and there. I enjoyed it as well – I love the “aha” moment that I just don’t get anymore than when I was teaching middle school math.
Homeschooling, however, gives me that opportunity. I love teaching my kids and watch them understand a concept.
9- Given all the challenges you have encountered as a Mom with Crohn’s, what is some advice you can give to other Moms?
You be you. Try to be the best version of you, but only compare yourself to yourself. Don’t measure your own inadequacies with the strengths of others. Trust that you have something of value to give to your kids, no matter what your circumstances are.
10-What is your favorite thing about motherhood?
Oh goodness, that is a really tough one. Probably the fact that as my kids are getting older, we get to interact in really fun ways. I never thought I would homeschool – I was seriously looking forward to sending my kids off to kindergarten and pre-K two years ago! But I would have missed out on so many amazing moments watching my kids learn and grow and evolve into their own people.
A Mom with Crohn’s, a fighter, and a true Warrior Mama
I want to thank Tiffany for sharing her journey with us. The number one thing I have learned from her journey is the perspective she has on life. She chooses to recognize her story as her own, and lives her life the way she is meant to live it! Her children are learning such a great deal from her experiences, and those lessons are absolutely invaluable.
She has taken her time to channel her energy in such a positive way, and has built successful businesses, while not just raising her children, but homeschooling them! She is able to do this not just as a Mom, but a Mom with Crohn’s! There is clearly nothing that can stop her from accomplishing whatever goals and desires she has for herself and for her family. Thank you Tiffany! Keep fighting and conquering your journey.