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7 Lessons From My Wedding During an Endometriosis Flare

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Wedding planning is hard. Planning a wedding with endometriosis feels impossible.

I didn’t expect what happened as I led our wedding planning, especially since I have a background in event marketing. This was something I could do and do well from my career experience. Plus, I’m pretty disciplined in my self-care to balance out stress and thought I could counter any wedding stress good enough that way. When I was hit with a sudden flare-up at the worst possible timing for our wedding, I felt so naive that I thought I was handling things well.

Why did I think I could handle working my full-time job, keeping up our daily routines, staying on top of multiple vendors with communication and detail requests, ensuring payments, answering constant questions, handling guest list confirmations, and more without enduring any repercussions?

Call me optimistic, naive, noob, whatever you’d like — I really thought I had it all under control. I was so wrong. That said, I want to share some lessons I learned from this experience and traditional wedding reconsiderations with the hopes that it might help another Mighty through a very demanding life event stressor.

Here are some lessons I learned:

1. When you ask for help with your wedding, be very clear on what you need and don’t accept anything less than what you asked.

I asked for help when I had a set number of guests not RSVP by the deadline date I provided on the invitations and needed to know a final count for the venue. This was something I thought for sure I could get help with and specifically asked for it from family members. I told them to relay to the guests they needed to RSVP online since I needed final numbers to provide to our venue and the mail-back RSVP option would be too slow.

They reached out to the guests, then told me if they were coming or not — and that was it. Not the guests, nor helpers, actually RSVP’d anything online as I requested, and rather than directing them back to do that task for me, I spent my very few free time windows doing it myself and neglected my self-care routines.

2. Don’t be afraid to delegate to your partner even if you’re unsure where they can help.

My fiancé had no idea where he could help me during our wedding planning and I didn’t either, so when he offered to handle the music stuff I let him. It was the best decision ever, he took his time and really put effort into which songs should be played and which songs to avoid. I couldn’t have done it better myself, so make sure to listen to your partner when they speak up about helping with something.

The other thing I had him handle was picking up the desserts from the bakery on the day of our wedding. I wouldn’t have been able to due to my hair and makeup appointments, so I asked him to handle it — and he did. No cake, cupcakes, donuts, or brownies got smooshed or ruined in the process despite my anxiety worrying about that happening and not being the person to handle it directly.

3. Input all relevant questions and information into a shared document and loop all the important people in on it for visibility.

This will save you a lot of headaches because you’re the one with all the answers or others anticipate the bride to be so excited that they’re the ones to turn to for questions. Naturally, everyone will be texting/calling you (the bride) to get them. I wish I would have put the contact info of all our vendors, names, updates, event timeline, etc. information into a single document, then shared it with everyone in our families.

This would have saved me so much unnecessary stress and last-minute digging for information to answer stuff on demand. Those frantic questions/last-minute checks seriously impacted my mood, especially when I was trying to find space away from wedding details taking over every possible conversation.

4. Consider therapy while you’re wedding planning.

I know this one may sound odd, but hear me out. The week of my wedding, I became so overwhelmed with everything from trying to prep my extended time off work, handling the sudden final details of the wedding, and coordinating things with our officiant that I spun out. I spun so hard that I reconnected with my therapist requesting an emergency session.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t available until the following week but she still expressed empathy toward what I was feeling, which felt very validating because no one really empathizes with your efforts toward planning such an event, only demands, expectations, and some bumps along the way when things don’t go their way.

That alone was helpful for me, and I got past my burnout and mini-breakdown that came with it, but when we reconnected she mentioned that the stress of a wedding can really create havoc and flare-ups for those with chronic illness and it all clicked together.

I really wish I would have been in therapy to help vent out a lot of stress and frustrations, along with someone who could keep me level and thinking right because she’s really good at making me think of “what do I need” vs. my usual nature of “what can I do to help others.”

5. Ask or tell what you need — from anyone.

Before my wedding day, I had to bail on a family lunch. I was so mentally exhausted and dreaded the idea of sitting with my family was too much to consider because I didn’t wanna answer questions or talk about that wedding, at this point I wanted it done.

I wasn’t very happy or cheerful leading up to my wedding, so when my flare-up happened the day before and came out full force on my wedding day, I wasn’t happy because I physically hurt and people without a chronic illness cannot understand that easily.

So I told all my family upfront, including my husband-to-be, that I wasn’t feeling good but to not take it personally. Communicating this was a big help and took the pressure off of needing to “fake it.”

Since my pelvic pain and lower back were kicking hard, I had to shift my wedding photos and timeline out. I felt ashamed that I took time to consider wedding photo poses I wanted only to say screw it, just tell me what to do, and don’t have me make any decisions because I’m done thinking. Also, we cannot go far from a bathroom and have to be mindful of walking distance or stairs to avoid making things worse. I’m still awaiting our wedding photos and am really hoping there are at least some decent shots where I don’t look too miserable.

During my wedding photos and reception, I had to ask my wedding coordinator to make me some chicken broth in a mug to drink. My nausea was so bad that I couldn’t stomach much of the food we selected. However, having a cup of chicken broth is my go-to for bad nausea days and it offered a bit of much-needed comfort for me.

The point is — tell people what’s going on and tell them what you need. I received no backlash from anyone and it helped me tremendously feel less pressure to act like I was just peachy.

6. Prepare an emergency endometriosis flare kit.

I really hope you won’t need to use it, but I packed a flare kit to bring along with me on my wedding day and I don’t know what I would have done without it.

I was able to keep pain relievers, muscle rubs, cough drops, essential oils, Thermacare heat patches, and so much more in a very cute purse. Any time I needed something, it was there for me and because it was in a purse, I’d take it to the restroom with me and use whatever I needed to avoid any uncomfortable questions because no, I really didn’t feel like explaining my health journey to some family friends I just met the first time that evening.

My best advice for your care kit — pack what helps you the most. Doesn’t matter what it is, get a bigger purse or a tote if needed. Having the ability to grab what you need, when you need it made me tolerate the flare-up much easier.

7. Repeat to yourself: I will keep moving forward.

On my really bad days, one thing gives me comfort and that is time. No matter what you’re feeling, or how bad things get, time will continue to move forward and you will move forward with it. This comforts me because I know while the present may be tough, I’ll move past it whether I want to or not because time doesn’t stop.

The sun will rise, and the sun will set.

And I found myself watching the time until about 7 p.m. because I told myself, I only have to make it through a couple more hours. The hard part is over, just get through this and this beautiful but exhausting day will end.

And you know what?

It did. And as I look back on our wedding despite how difficult it was for me physically and mentally, I remember the most beautiful moments and snapshots of our family and friends who came to celebrate with us.

Those moments are something my endometriosis couldn’t rob me of — even though it tried like hell (at least it felt that way). For that, I feel victorious and have found kindness and compassion toward myself instead of feeling guilt and shame over something I cannot control.

I hope this list can help any other Mighties out there feeling any wedding stress exacerbate your chronic illness symptoms. Stay strong!

Getty image by Prostock-Studio.

Originally published: June 27, 2022
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