Lilypie Premature Baby tickers

Lilypie Premature Baby tickers

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pregnancy after Preeclampsia & Prematurity

Our little family at a beach wedding last weekend.

I’ve kept my feelings, thoughts, and fears to myself for the first 19 weeks of this pregnancy.  But I realized that it’s just too hard to keep them in at times.  I was excited about being pregnant for about 24 hours…and then the anxiety and stomach-clenching fear kicked in.  And no, it’s not because I watched a dramatic episode of A Baby Story or a Lifetime movie.  It’s because I survived my first pregnancy.  That’s right.  SURVIVED.  And not in the sleepless nights, poopy diaper, non-stop crying newborn type of survival.  The type of survival that involved life-threatening conditions for both me and my first-born son.  It never occurred to me that I would have to think of pregnancy and survival.  In fact, I didn’t think of it with my first pregnancy (Jack), until I distinctly heard, “It’s possibly we may not be able to save them both.”  So yeah, I’m trying to remain positive, because that’s what I’m “supposed” to do.  But it’s hard…for this very pregnancy, that we are so blessed to experience, is also the very thing that could threaten my life or that of our second-born.  I think the problem stems from statistics.  Before Jack, I heard statistics concerning many pregnancy-related issues, but the numbers were so low…they couldn’t happen to me.  Until it did happen.  Preeclampsia happened.  Prematurity happened (and is still happening).  So, yeah, positivity is tough.  But I work on it every day.  When I feel what might be the first movements of Baby Lesoine.  Or when we talk about baby names.  And especially when I think of Jack having a sibling.  I also choose to be realistic.  Because being realistic is SO much better handled than having your world rocked by preeclampsia and prematurity. 
So here is what I feel safe sharing:

  • I met with 4 different maternal-fetal specialists before even thinking of getting pregnant again.  I wanted to be sure I knew all the risks and to be sure I found a doctor who made me comfortable  and had a plan, if we ever were to become pregnant again.  I found him.  Dr. John Repke.  

  • During my first pre-natal visit at 11 weeks, I broke down. Sobbed.  When they attempted to take my blood pressure.  I was so afraid that it was just the start of many pregnancy problems to come.  Dr. Repke treated me with compassion, but didn’t downplay my fears.  He just said, “We will have to take this pregnancy week by week, or day by day, if necessary.”  So far, the problems have been minimal.     

  • You won’t hear me say, “As long as he or she is healthy.”  Jack was not healthy.  We love him.  We kept him.  We wanted him, healthy or not. 

  • You might hear me say that I’d prefer a girl.  Not because I’d like one of each gender.  And not because I’ve always wanted a little girl to dress up and have tea parties.  Because baby girls typically do better when born prematurely.  It’s that simple.  For me. 

  • I’m not ignoring my pregnant state, but I am constantly focusing on the end result I hope for…a full-term baby to hold after birth and take home 2 days later.   If that result doesn’t become reality, I do know that we will be okay.   

  • I often fear that this pregnancy will kill me.  I mean that literally.  (Understand that I am very, very cognizant of the symptoms and warning signs.  But I also know, sometimes there are no warnings.) 

  • I worry A LOT about leaving Jack without a mother.    

  • I oscillate between believing this baby will be born close to his or her due date and believing that this baby will be born even earlier than Jack.  I can’t seem to visualize anything in between. 

  • I, selfishly, would like to have another baby shower and be pregnant this time.  I told my sister and best friend that they should plan early this time…just in case.

  • I have a hospital bag already packed.  Last time, I threw a clean pair of underwear in my purse and that was it.  I need to be as prepared as I can this time.  Packing a hospital bag is something I can control. 

  • My blood pressure is super stable.  On the low side, in fact, with the lowest dose of Labetalol.  Dr. Repke says it’s probably not even affecting my BP, but I’ll stay on the med.  Control.  See?

  • I want to have a baby name picked ASAP.  With Jack, we had some ideas but then had to make a sudden decision.  I don’t want to do that again.  Although, I think Jack Ryan is an awesome name and perfect for him. 

  • I have lost 12 pounds so far in this pregnancy.  First, from being nauseous and having heartburn.  Now from a carb-limited diet due to gestational diabetes…which is also well controlled by diet.  Dr. Repke says he’d much rather we deal with G.D. than preeclampsia.  I concur. 

  • I rarely worry about what it will be like to have 2 children.  I think I will be so relieved to have survived again.  Perspective, huh?

  • It makes me laugh when people ask when I am due.  My goal is to get past Christmas (33-34 weeks) and even then, I know it’s not ideal for baby…but it has to better than 28 weeks, right?  Right? 

  • I’m afraid to ask Dr. Repke if 33-34 weeks is even a realistic goal for this pregnancy. 

  • I feel a big sense of relief, knowing that I will never be pregnant again (our choice) and never be in this specific anxiety-ridden phase of life again.  I know there will be other tough times.  But never this specific time again.  Relief.  Sweet relief. 

  • Once you or your child becomes a statistic, you begin to wonder what other statistics may be in your future.  (Preeclampsia affects 5-8% of pregnancies.  One in 8 babies is born premature.)

  • I know that each pregnancy is different.  This one has been different so far.  But my body is still the same.  That’s what scares me. 

  • After I found out I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was about how Jack would be okay with his grandmas during the day, while I was at the NICU with the baby.  To someone who has never experienced NICU or prematurity, this may sound odd.  But when your first and only experience with pregnancy and parenting started with prematurity and a NICU stay, it forever affects your perceptions and expectations.  It’s what I know.  The other option (full-term, take-home baby) would actually feel “foreign” to me now. 

  • I’m really looking forward to experiencing the third trimester.  I welcome the back pain, heartburn and whatever else it entails.  If it means my baby’s lungs and brain have more time to develop, I will suffer.  With Jack, I had only stepped foot into the third trimester and it “ended” rather abruptly from a baby in my belly to a tiny.tiny human being in a plastic box and tube down his throat, with a machine keeping him alive.

  • I am totally okay with the way I feel about this pregnancy.  I believe that it’s completely normal for me to feel the way I do, considering our recent experience with Jack.  I have learned that we cannot have joy without sorrow or pain.  The sorrow makes the joy that much sweeter to experience.

  • I’m super excited to find out the gender next Friday! 

Please know that I’m happy to be a mom of two in a few months.  It’s a cautious kind of happy, but happy nonetheless.  I’m glad to talk about all things related to parenthood and pregnancy.  But, please don’t diminish my completely valid fears and concerns.  That’s not too much to ask, right?  I hope, if you ever need the same, I can do this for you (no matter the situation). 

Thanks for allowing me to share.

Yeah, this happened.  1st day of preschool.  I still can't believe this happened.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing and being so honest. While my risk factors are different, you have touched on many of my fears about a future pregnancy. You will be in my thoughts in the coming months ... wishing you a long and boring pregnancy.

  2. This was so powerful. Thank you for sharing. My husband and I are petrified to even *think* about trying again, but you sharing your thoughts and fears helped me realize it's possible to work through the fear. I'll be sending lots of positive thoughts for an uneventful pregnancy for you.

  3. Loved your post! Don't rule out being happy with another boy though! Boys can be tough in the NICU too, I'm not sure I totally buy that theory, but maybe that's because I'm bias and a boy too : )

    I ended up getting diagnosed with GD too. Our Pregnancies have been very similar so far, except my was not planned lol.

  4. I just stumbled upon your blog, and I'm so happy I did. We are currently 34 weeks into pregnancy #2, after having our son at 29 weeks due to pre-e and HELLP syndrome (with IUGR) three years ago. I relate to everything you said above, as I've had the same exact thoughts! So happy to see you had a healthy baby girl. Holding out hope for the same!

    1. Cori - So glad you found us! Hope you are doing well. Keep us posted on your pregnancy!