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When Trying Again Is Too Risky: Why We Didn’t Have More Children

preemie charlieAfter the birth of my micropreemie due to severe early onset preeclampsia and HELLP, I stepped off of the baby train. That was it, we were done. My husband and I are finished having children. We have one.

People seem to think that the size of our family is their business and often ask, “Are you going to have more children?” I politely smile, chuckle, and say something clever like, “No, we got it right the first time.”

The truth is… I would love to have another baby.

Before my baby’s birth, we decided that we wanted to have at least two children in our family. But, carrying another child is too risky for me.

When I think back to my baby’s birth and NICU journey, what stands out to me is how lucky we were. Ten hours into my twenty sixth week, our baby was delivered alive (and screaming) when the team was prepared for the possibility of a stillbirth. I was dangerously ill, but I survived. Later in the NICU, the discussions of NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) never moved beyond suspected NEC.

10538504_10101890310499479_1566624273875223282_n_editedWe seemed to dodge each peril thrown our way. Despite the residual long-term complications my baby and I deal with daily, we were incredibly fortunate. I’m not willing to knowingly take those chances again.

My husband and I decided together it was best that we stop at one child. However, the decision comes with its own flood of emotions.

Occasionally, I find that I miss the baby we didn’t have. I wonder what we would have named him or her, how he or she would play with my toddler, what he or she would have looked like, or even how the pregnancy would have been. I see siblings play together or in the store together and feel a little sad that we won’t have that in our family.

Sometimes, I feel like a coward for not wanting to roll the dice and try again. Other times, I feel broken. I think to myself, “If only I weren’t the problem, we could have the family we wanted.” Often times, I feel guilty. Especially when I see how badly my husband wants another baby that I can’t give him.

Also, I find that I struggle with jealousy and envy. I’m envious of the women I know who announce a pregnancy after they had declared they were done having kids. I’m jealous of last trimester pregnant women because I will never get to experience the third trimester of a pregnancy.

I know we have much for which to be grateful. However, all of our good fortune does not take away the sting and sadness I feel when someone asks about having more kids. Quite simply, it was not in the cards for us. I’m slowly learning to accept the hand which we were dealt.

Rebecca Wood About Rebecca Wood

Rebecca Wood (VA) is a micro preemie mom. Her daughter, Charlie, was born at 26 weeks, weighing 1 pound 11 ounces due to severe preeclampsia. She has a few long-term issues due to her premature birth including, motor development delays, vision concerns, feeding difficulties, and speech delays. Since Charlie's birth in May 2012, Rebecca has been learning the ropes of the post-NICU world. In addition to embarking on fun adventures with her daughter, she's an animal lover, a reader, a hiker, and an enthusiastic volunteer. You may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or her personal blog.


  1. Great post. You are not a coward to not get pregnant again. I think it makes you more courageous to make the decision that’s best for you and your family in spite of other pressures and desires. As a fellow preeclampsia and HELLP survivor–and in your own words–you got it right the first time!

  2. Becca, I can totally relate! As a mother of a 28 weeker, born weighing one pound eight ounces, I am grateful for the wonderful miracle that we have today. Our daughter amazes me each and every day. Like you, I think we “got it right the first time!”

  3. Thanks Kathy!

  4. God bless you three. My situation wasn’t horrible but it was bad enough. Very bad preeclampsia, induced at 35 weeks, daughter in NICU for two weeks. It scares me that it could happen again which makes me not want to get pregnant. We have one and she is my everything. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing.

  5. leah handy says:

    My husband and I were very young and suffered a second trimester miscarriage and didn’t want to try again but God had other plans for us. We were blessed with a perfect son who came into the world 13 weeks early. After all the nicu struggles we were done with expanding our family. It was eclampsia and endometriosis causing our sins early arrival and the endometriosis caused me to have a complete hysterectomy three years after having our son. I’m 23. My family couldn’t understand why I do that. “Advances in medical technology could make it possible,” they’d tell me. I’m thinking you made a wise decision not expanding your family. Why risk leaving your child on earth for what could be, or losing one. I understand you.

  6. After I had preeclampsia with my second preemie, we also decided to stop, for all the reasons you mentioned. It was–and still is–an excruciating decision because we felt like we didn’t really decide. We wanted more children. I still want more children. But, we’d been so fortunate, and we just didn’t want to take any more risks. I am so grateful for all my blessings, especially my two kids. But, the decision not to have more children is still so difficult, two years after the fact. Thanks for writing about something so personal that I think many families with preemies face!

  7. We feel the same way. I grieved deeply over not having a second child that I had always hoped for, but HELLP almost killed us both. What would our son do if he lost his mom? How would I cope of I lost the next baby? When people ask us if or when we are having another, i bluntly tell them, “never. The first one almost killed me.”

    I thnk I’ve come to terms with it. My son is a great joy, and maybe I’m better suited to being the mother of one.

  8. Kathleen Long says:

    I could of wrote this my self besides the medical problems I had none besides a incompetent cervix and my son had almost every health problem on the preemie check list. We are finally starting to catch up, the specialist list we see on a regular basis is getting shorter and I can sleep through the night with out thinking I here monitors going off.. We are Blessed with our little man and I feel it would be selfish of us if we had another 100+ days in the NICU away from our little man. I wish you the best thank you for sharing..

  9. Wonderful article. I still struggle with this every day. It is nice to know I am not alone. I knew that after having my 25 weeker due to HELLP, I was done. But 4 years later, I still long for that 2nd child even though I know it is too dangerous. Thank you for sharing such personal emotions on a topic so close to my heart.

  10. Thank you for this post. My husband and I have had very similar conversations lately, and the post brought me a great deal of comfort. My son was born at 27 weeks in August of 2013 after premature rupture of my membranes. Shortly before I delivered him, doctors told me that I would be at high risk of the exact same thing happening again during any other pregnancies. While my husband and I always imagined having at least 2 children, and while we want our son to have siblings, we don’t want to take the risk. We can’t imagine bringing another child into the world that would likely go through what our son went through. We don’t know that we could go through that experience again as parents. We feel incredibly blessed that our son is doing as well as he is, and we will continue to focus on that gift and blessing.

  11. Suzanne Miller says:

    I had a 26 weeker. Preeclpsia and HELPP. 1 lb 14 oz. Was faced with so many problems, worst of which was ROP. Today, he is 19, and doing really well. My OB told me that I should not risk more children. I was seen by a high risk specialist who tested me for A Lupus antibody. (Lupus anticoagulant antibody). Does not mean you have Lupus, but has been found to be a factor in pre-eclampsia. Tested positive for it. I injected blood thinner 2x day for the entire pregnancy. Took baby aspirin. Was closely monitored by high risk group. Son #2 is such a blessing. High risk OB group may be able to help you make an informed decision of your risks. (Had #2 at 38 weeks via scheduled C section)

  12. Amy Sanders says:

    After my husband returned from Iraq in 2008, we were elated to find out we were expecting our first child. I was 32 at the time. July 15th our lives were forever changed! While driving home from work I felt some wetness. When I stepped out of my car my water completely broke. I was 26 weeks along. I was admitted into the hospital and placed on strict bed rest. I was only allowed to stand for 15 minutes total a day. I was not in labor, had no infections and was given no explanation as to why my water broke. I was able to maintain the pregnancy for another 10 weeks. Our daughter was born weighing 4 lbs 10 oz. She spent 6 weeks in the NICU. At that point I knew that having another baby was a huge risk. Our daughter is now 6 years old and has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism and ADHD. Last year she became obsessed with becoming a sister. Asking us daily why she didn’t have any brothers or sisters. We made the difficult decision to attempt to have another baby. I became pregnant almost immediately. I was considered high risk and advanced in maternal age. I was monitored very closely by our awesome OB and was able to make it to 37 weeks! I did have preeclampcia. The OB decided to induce me. That same morning my water broke. Our second daughter was born weighing 5lbs 11oz. She’s in perfect health! Sometimes you just have to have faith. I know we’ve been so blessed by our two beautiful daughters!

  13. Thank you for writing this! My husband and I lost 3 prior to our miracle baby. 2 of them were lost due to HELLP. They were delivered at 24 weeks and survived a day and a half. My 4th baby is a miracle and was born at 31 weeks due to HELLP. This is something my husband and I deal with…a deep desire for more children, but knowing the great risks. Of course, the worst case senario is losing my life and my daughter growing up without a mom. I can’t bear that thought. Some days I think I’ve made up my mind…no more children. Other days I think if the treatment I received with my 4th baby worked, perhaps it will for future pregnancies. I’m happy to know I’m not alone.

  14. After my first micro preemie due to an incompetent cervix, the doctors told me that thet could prevent it in a second pregnancy, so we tried again. My second pregnancy was a success, although it required a cerclage, lots of medications, weekly shots, 2 rounds of steroids because I was contracting at 25 weeks and again at 32 weeks and bed rest after my cervix started softening and thinning again at 25 weeks. My husband and I decided that we were blessed enough. But it was not easy for my heart to take. Fast forward 5 years: my husband and I decide to do foster care after my work experience showed me how desperately needed good foster homes are. Our goal was to help as many kids as we could. Instead, we ended up adopting our first placement -2 siblings who were placed with us when they were 13 and 24 months (disclaimer: not the typical foster care experience!). Today my micropreemie is 12 yrs old, his sister is 10 and our younger two are 6 and 5. While this route is not for everybody, there are other options for those who are interested in looking into them. You just never know what your future holds!

    • brigitte says:

      Congratulations on your wisdom and ability to put the common desire into loving constructive action.I really don’t think taking gambles re procreating with known risk factors is all that responsible or fair to anyone.Especially because the options of fostering/adopting can be such a oonstructive way to have more children.Your one of the best!!

  15. I had Class 1 HELLP and like you always dreamed of 2 kids! I have a 1 in 4 chance of getting it again. I know people & children who have passed from HELLP. Luckily I beat my 1 in 4 odds of survival and my son and I lived! I won’t leave him without a Mom & my husband without a wife. I fought too hard to be here to not see my one child grow up. Does it break my heart on a regular occasion that I won’t have another child? Yes. Do I envy those that remember and had a normal birth experience? Yes. Am I grateful for my miracle son and to have my life? Every.single.day.

    I think choosing to stop at one is one of the most selfless acts I can do.

    Eventually my heart will come around to accept that. 🙂

    Thank you for your honest post!!

  16. Wonderful post…
    I struggle with this too and its comforting to know I am not alone. Its hard to grieve but comforting to know your journey was a humbling and blessed one by the miracle that got to go home with you! I completely understand. I find peace at one too, but also have my sad days and remember that my emotions are PERFECTLY normal…. and yours too 🙂


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