Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Are You Scared to Try for #2? Me Too.

When I was younger, people’s chosen family sizes always intrigued me. Why do they have that many (or few) kids? Why is there such a large age gap between those two children? Why am I 15 years old and dissecting other people’s family size? Of course now I know that most family sizes aren’t chosen, but that was long before I knew anything about infertility or Incompetent Cervix or birthing trauma. I am one of 6 kids myself, and didn’t know why parents could possibly want fewer than 4 kids.

Even as a teenager, the whole having-kids thing intrigued me. I felt like I knew it all because I watched that Ricky Lake documentary, Business of Being Born. And that when I had a baby, I wouldn’t let “them” give me Pitocin and just maybe I’d willingly give birth on my kitchen floor too. But nothing prepared me for gestational complications.

another child, prematurity, pregnancy complications, incompetent cervix

24 weeks pregnant with baby #1. Hospital bed rest.

When I was pregnant, I naturally visited those baby message boards. One section was called Gestational Complications, and I thought oh wow, that’s so sad, can you imagine? Good thing I won’t have any issues with that! (First trimester unicorn lala land, right?). I’m a healthy 22-year-old. What can go wrong? I’m invincible!

Come my 20-week anatomy scan, and suddenly I knew everything about anything involving gestational complications. Or, at least Incompetent Cervix, anyway. I had to call off my home birthing midwife. No kitchen floor birth for me (well, not by choice, anyway).

That very day I was taken to the operating room and had my cervix sewn shut. I then spent the next seven weeks on bed rest, constantly sitting on the edge of a mental break down because every week I went in for my doctor’s appointment, my OB was shocked I was still pregnant. I gave birth via c-section at 26 weeks gestation, watched my son lay in the NICU for the next 15 weeks.

Nearly four years later, here we are, terrified of number two. To be honest, there are many moving parts as to why we haven’t had another child yet. I wanted a larger age gap between my son and any subsequent kid, and honestly, I just really like only having one. A career change which has my husband away much more than usual, and an overall lack of desire to “go through that again,” were all additional reasons for holding off on another baby.

And here we sit, fooling around with the idea of number two, because apparently we have amnesia. But when your only experience with child bearing is kind of, well, horrifying, can you ever truly get over it? Either you have another kid and it’s your miracle baby, your redeeming baby, the baby whose amazing birth has transformed and healed you from the trauma of the only other time you ever did this, or it happens again. What if it happens again?

I don’t have any answers because my husband and I are still scared about trying again. If you’re in the same boat, then we’re in this boat together, and it’s nice to meet you. But I have some thoughts that I’m basically telling myself, and you can listen in.

another child, prematurity, pregnancy complications, incompetent cervixIf you’ve gone through a birthing trauma and can’t decide on expanding your family or not, here’s the thing: Whatever choice you make, you will make for the right reasons. If you choose to keep your current family size, that is totally honorable. If you decide to have another child, that’s honorable too. Either option can be right. Please don’t make the decision because you feel pressured. Dig deep and ask yourself what’s right for your family. I know that trying to decide is difficult and sometimes a burden. But what you’re choosing right now is right. And whatever choice you make in five years is right, too.

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Karee Marsh About Karee Marsh

Karee Marsh (IL) had her first and only child at just 26 weeks gestation due to Incompetent Cervix. He was born 2lbs 7ozs and had a very uneventful albeit long 103-day NICU stay in 2013. In addition to being a stay-at-home mom, Karee helps run her family's honeybee supplier business (son in tow), keeps honeybees herself and has blogged since she was a teenager. Her passions include informing families and friends on how to best support NICU parents, as well as those dealing with Incompetent Cervix issues.

Comments

  1. Susan Hundley Sullivan says:

    This was our struggle also – “if and when,” after our Son’s very early birth. We had initially decided that three children, each about two years apart, would be our ideal family. Then, suddenly we were experiencing our Son’s very early birth and our “perfect plan” seemed shattered.

    My husband wanted to try again a year after our Son’s birth. I couldn’t imagine ever having another child, out of fear of such an early birth.

    After my husband’s loving patience, I agreed to try once again, but only once more. Five years, two months and one day after our Son’s very early birth, our daughter was born at 36 weeks and was perfect 💕

  2. Jessica Sandler says:

    Thank you so much. Glad to know we weren’t the only ones scared. We talked about it and finally went to see a high risk OB before we even started trying again. She gave us the go ahead to try if we wanted because nobody knew why my first was so early (27 weeker, severe IUGR). We got lucky and go pregnant. Found out at the 7 week mark (mandated early ultrasound because of so many issues previously) that we were in fact having spontaneous twins. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life. My first thought was you couldn’t split my daughter in half (490 grams at birth) and make two babies.
    Long, doctor visit filled, story short, my identical twin girls were born at 34 weeks and after only a short NICU stay went home with us. After our first experience, this was so much better. We’ve now got three amazing girls – and every time I bring up the idea of another my husband just laughs at me. We are done.
    It’s such a personal decision – and everyone makes the right decision for their own family.

  3. Having a second child post-preemie was a bittersweet experience for me. After a sudden placental abruption due to a previa, my daughter, my first child, was born at 31 weeks and 4 days via emergency c-section. She spent 33 days in the NICU before coming home on an apnea monitor. As any preemie mommy can attest to, it was life changing.

    However, my husband and I always wanted two children. After 2 1/2 years and reassurance that it was highly unlikely to have a repeat of our first experience, we began to try again. I had two early miscarriages – what some refer to as chemical pregnancies – and began to think that another child wasn’t meant to be. I prayed on it so much and decided to truly let things play out according to God’s will.

    A month after I convinced myself to let the cards fall as they may, we took another positive pregnancy test. We had some extra monitoring and saw a high risk OB. I received weekly progesterone shots as an added layer of precaution – not fun, but I would’ve done weekly hand stands for an hour at a time if they had told me it would’ve resulted in a fully baked baby!

    My perfect, healthy son was born at 36 weeks and 6 days via c-section, weighing 6 pounds and 9 ounces. I remember the nurses saying he was tiny, and I scoffed at them. He was huge in comparison to my 3 pound 10 ounce daughter!

    I had an intense and immediate physical bond with my son that I didn’t get to have with my daughter. I was able to breastfeed him and hold him shortly after birth. When I was discharged from the hospital, I got to take my baby with me. The closeness I felt with my son made me sad for what I missed with my daughter. Several times I cried just out of fear that something could still go wrong with my son, even after his uncomplicated birth. It was like I escaped something that I shouldn’t have. Still, I was overjoyed to have an uncomplicated delivery and a baby that was the epitome of a healthy newborn. My joy overwhelmingly outweighed any conjured trauma from my first birth experience.

    My preemie daughter is now a healthy four year old, and memories of monitors, tube feedings, and growth charts that are nearly vertical are distant memories. My healthy, handsome son is nearly four months old, and my biggest struggle with him is that he’s already comfortably fitting into six month clothing.

    Part of me is sad to have the days of pregnancy and newborns in the past, but I almost feel like I would be tempting fate to try for a third after such a perfect second. My advice to anyone preparing for their first birth is this – throw your birth plan right out the window. It’s ok to have an idea of what you’d like to happen (pain medicine vs. none, breastfeeding vs. bottle, etc.), but don’t be so married to a plan that deviations will shake you. Babies don’t like plans! Further, my advice to anyone considering a second is that you’ll never shake off all of your fears. Pregnancy will never be carefree. Sometimes we have to just put fear aside and go for it. If your heart truly longs for another baby, try, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

    Pregnant women, preemie babies, and their mothers around the world will always be in my prayers.

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