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

Should I Have Another Baby?

I vividly remember lying on the stretcher gushing blood in a silent panic as the hospitalist said to me, “You’re going to be here for the duration.”

What?

The duration?

The duration of what?

I have six more weeks to go.

I haven’t even packed my bag yet!

You know, the perfectly organized 2-night-stay bag that all of the mom bloggers post about?

That was four years ago. The next day I delivered a 34-weeker. He weighed 4 pounds, 14 ounces and I remember nothing of his birth. I awoke from general anesthesia in a fog thinking, “Did I just have a baby?”

Thirteen weeks into my pregnancy I discovered through a pulmonary embolism that I have two rare blood disorders causing my blood to clot easily. I spent the rest of the pregnancy giving myself shots of blood thinners twice a day. When I felt a pop at 34 weeks sitting on the couch, I had no idea I had abrupted and how complicated all of my blood issues would make the end of my pregnancy. Turns out I had developed preeclampsia, turned HELLP syndrome. The anemia and headaches and general slow recovery would make our NICU stay much more challenging.

Though not a micro-preemie and not nearly as fragile as some, he did need to be intubated, given surfactant, and quickly whisked off to the NICU. My husband frantically rushed back and forth from the recovery room to the NICU and back again. I kept saying, “Take more pictures and bring ’em back to me!” Later he confessed that he felt silly taking more or less the same shot because our preemie did little more than move his arms and legs from time to time and stayed in the same general position asleep in his isolette.

Mama's First TouchTwenty-seven hours later I met him for the first time. The nurse told me to gently put my index finger on him and to not stroke him. Forget about holding him today or the next day. Not quite my romantic dream of motherhood. Two days later I was able to cradle my child. That’s the moment I felt like I officially became a mother.

Despite all of the trauma surrounding my pregnancy and his birth, he’s doing well. He’s a typical four-year-old and keeps me on my toes.

Everything about being pregnant was hard for me and we really questioned whether or not we should have another biological child. That’s why a positive pregnancy test last fall really brought all my fears rushing back again. I had no idea the extent of my PTSD until I saw a double blue line. I didn’t think I had it in me to do another NICU stay – until I was forced to.

I think it’s common for mommas of NICU babies to question whether or not to have another baby. You watch your friends do it and it looks so easy. I know for me I got a lot of advice from others about whether it would be wise to have another. Honestly, none of it was helpful. Even advice I got from various doctors was conflicting. Baby number two was a surprise for us, but whether or not we would have planned it, it took  lots of faith to walk the road of pregnancy again.

This time I made it to 37 weeks. But at a seemingly healthy 5 pounds, 9 ounces we knew even the first night that something was not right. Within two weeks we had a confirmed rare genetic diagnosis that would change our lives forever.

Back to the NICU. Back to the beeping, the syringes, the cords, and the pumping. Back to someone else knowing my baby’s feeding and pooping patterns better than me. Back to someone else choosing outfits and giving baths. Back to spending days, weeks, and months in the hospital while real life goes on without me.

Whatever your unique and precious birth story is, you may find yourself asking the question, “Should we really have another baby?” Despite everyone else’s answers to that question, the decision isn’t up to them. Sometimes it’s not even up to you.

We are only a few months in and it’s hard and tiring and messy. It’s also beautiful and amazing and hopeful.

The truth is, this baby is a blessing. Whether he’s with us a short time or a long time, it’s undeniable how he’s already enriched our lives. In the end – whatever “in the end” looks like – we will be okay. You will, too.

Kathy McClelland About Kathy McClelland

Kathy McClelland (TX) is mom to two beautiful boys and both spent an extended period of time in the NICU. Her first was a 34-week preemie. Early in her pregnancy she suffered two pulmonary emboli, which revealed two blood disorders. Then late pre-term she developed preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. Baby one weighed 4 lbs, 14 oz and was a feeder/grower spending three weeks in the NICU. Baby two was a surprise on multiple levels. Hoping to not repeat the NICU experience a second time, she delivered a 5 lb, 9 oz baby at 37 weeks. However, he was soon diagnosed with a rare syndrome and spent two months in two different NICUs. She writes about faith and finding beauty and hope on her personal blog.

Comments

  1. Shirley Sneller says:

    Kathy,
    You are a very gifted communicator and God is using your “messiness” in a very beautiful way. Thank you for being available to be used by Him.
    Shirley Sneller

  2. I was admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks after PPROM at 16 weeks. My son was born at 30 weeks & it seems every new nurse who took care of me antepartum asked if I would have another baby. It seemed so absurd to ask when I hadn’t even delivered my first baby and had no clue as to the status of his health once he was here. Now that he’s been here for 4 months & we are making our way, I ask myself if I will have another child. While our son’s start in life was a challenge I wouldn’t want him any other way but that experience definitely makes me pause to have another. Best of luck to you, you are incredibly strong and I hope all turns out well for you.

  3. My pregnancy was blissfully easy until the day before my son was born, and suddenly I was so ill I was literally going to die. I also had HELLP and preeclampsia. I barely knew what they were.

    My son is a beautiful two year old now (birth at 29 weeks), but your story is so familiar. I want another child so badly, but it’s likely we never will. I never imagined only having one child.

  4. Your last paragraph is so true – if only I could remember that when I get sucked into the “will I or won’t I” game!

    I have asked myself this question every day for the last 14 months, after delivering my 25-weeker due to an abruption. I had a brief discussion with my doctor at my six-week post-partum visit, and she said it wasn’t out of the question, but I needed to wait two years, and that due to some uterine abnormalities discovered during my c-section, I would absolutely be delivering another preemie – another NICU stay is guaranteed.

    And so I’ve wrestled with the question every day since – even when I logically know that I have no business making this decision for almost another year at the earliest. I make up my mind each way on a daily basis.

  5. I felt that “pop”, too, at 32 weeks pregnant. I had developed HELLP syndrome also. Had never heard of it. My baby girl was delivered by emergency C-section and weighed 3 lbs. 4 ozs. The hospital I delivered at did not have NICU at the time, so my baby was rushed to another hospital across town. I stayed 3 days in one hospital while she was at another. Three days after that I was able to hold her for the first time. We were blessed that she had no major health issues, she was just tiny. She stayed 23 days in NICU. She is 12 years old now and the biggest blessing and joy in my life. Preemies just have a special place in my heart.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The big news is that I am going to be a regular contributor to the Hand to Hold blog, PreemieBabies101.com. My first post appeared today and ironically it is called, Should I Have Another Baby? […]

  2. […] and was in the NICU as a “feeder/grower” for three weeks. I was expecting to not have a another NICU baby the second time around. I had fantasized what it would be like to enjoy first time cuddles in the […]

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