So often, the things that have saddened me about my first pregnancy and Jack’s early arrival, are the very things that scare me for a future pregnancy. Since Jack's birth, I have thought about having another child every.single.day. Selfishly at first, I’ll admit, because I wanted a do-over. And now, because I’d love for Jack to have a sibling. Yet, so many things about my getting pregnant, my pregnancy, and my “giving” birth were just wrong. Too many of the things that Jack experienced were just more.than.wrong. No baby should have to suffer through what he did. Just a few weeks ago, I caught myself thinking. “Okay…we’ll have another. Jack will be okay with his grandmas while I’m in the NICU with the new baby.” Seriously. I’m planning another NICU stay. “What an unhealthy way of thinking,” I chastised myself. But I know it’s a realistic way of thinking, not unhealthy. Since Jack is our first, his early, traumatic birth was my terrifying introduction to motherhood and the only perspective I have on pregnancy and childbirth. Even so, I don’t always think about a future NICU Stay. There is a VERY small part of me is hopeful that maybe...just maybe...the second time will be less traumatic and life-threatening. But then again, how disturbing is it that we have to wish for a pregnancy that isn't life-threatening? I never thought those 2 words would be used together before I had Jack.
The decision to have another baby after prematurity is not simple, nor does it involve typical worries or cares. And talking about it isn’t so easy either. Why do I feel like I can’t talk about my concerns about another pregnancy without the risks and realities being downplayed? I know Jack is happy now and getting healthier…but does that make everything else that happened okay? Getting past 28 weeks is not an acceptable “plan of care” in my book. Telling me that I should be glad to have the one child that I do doesn’t make it any easier to accept that I may not have any more. Saying I could adopt does not make this decision any less painful or difficult. And yes, I know all pregnancies are different…but I have also heard from four…yes FOUR…different specialists that it is very likely that another pregnancy will be exactly the same (60-70%) or maybe even more dangerous. It’s not just deciding whether to have another...it may also be coming to the realization that another just isn’t possible or safe.
Let’s get one thing straight, however. Jack is worth all that we went through to become our little family of three. I don’t in any way think Jack should have gone through all he had to, but what I went through…painful procedures, two IUIs, constant blood work, daily shots in the hiney for 10 weeks, miscarriage scares, magnesium sulfate, emergent c-section…totally worth it to get this amazing little man in my life. I think lately, I’ve probably been driving Jack crazy because I’m always trying to love on him and as a 2.5 yr old, he’s just not having it. If I’m honest, it’s because I am amazed by him and by my love for him…but it’s also sinking in that he may just be my first, last, only child.
I’ve gotten many different reactions when I tell people that Jack may be our only child, but most seem surprised. Which in turn, suprises me…until I remember. They don’t know what I know. They don’t know what it’s like to have to consider that you may never have a child of your own. Or if you do, it may not happen as easily as it does for so many. They don’t know what it’s like to be afraid to move for days and weeks after an insemination (of hubby's donation...Jack is his mini-me), hoping that if you just stay very.still, the baby just might stick. Or maybe they don’t know what it’s like to be told at an early week that there’s a 50/50 chance that the baby may not survive. Or maybe they haven’t been on the phone with the nurse who just revealed your low “numbers” and is heartlessly asking, “Are you having symptoms (of miscarriage)?” Or maybe they never feared the bathroom so much while pregnant, praying that every time you sit down to pee you don’t see the bright red blood you’ve seen too many times already. Or maybe they just don’t know too much, like I do. Or maybe they went through all that and ended up with a healthy delivery and baby. But, I’m guessing they probably didn’t hear this conversation between doctors and their husband:
“This is the only way to save both of them.”
Both of them meaning me and my baby…my boy…my Jack Ryan. But Jack was worth all that. And another baby would be too, if someone…anyone could tell me that the next baby would survive…and that I would too. But nobody…none of those four specialists, or anyone else, can tell me that. (So maybe I have the answer…and am just not willing to accept it yet.) I would do it all again if I knew that the baby wouldn’t have to go through what Jack has. But, could I live with myself if I knowingly put another baby through that? I know other moms have done it and I wish I knew their secret. How do they process and move through this? Is a bigger family, a sibling for Jack worth all that? Worth risking my life? Risking another baby’s life? Risking Jack’s mother? Or Jack’s little sister or brother? How do we move forward with our family when the risks, both emotional and physical, are so tremendous?