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

Will You Have Another?

pregnancy after a preemie

Decisions made from the heart

For the most part, I have been blessed with good health. The few times I contracted a cold or infection, I went to the doctor and got a prescription and a day later I would start feeling better. In my limited experience, doctors could fix things. And until my pregnancy complications, I believed they could always make things better.

It took a few days for the reality of my suddenly high-risk pregnancy to set in. I was admitted to the hospital during my 20th week of pregnancy. When I met with the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor, I was convinced she would have the answer to make everything okay, but instead I was met with a lot of uncertainty. I was shocked to hear that there was no cure for my condition, and even worse, they were unclear what exactly was going on. Did I have a true case of incompetent cervix? Or was I experiencing preterm labor? The plan to keep me pregnant was not concrete. There was no guarantee that any intervention they tried would work, and ultimately I was forced to put things in the hands of God. I’m pretty certain it was a combination of medicine and prayer that kept me pregnant long enough for my daughter to have a chance at life here on this earth.

Fast forward four months. We had survived our NICU journey and had just brought our sweet baby home. No sooner had we settled in as a family of three, the questions began. ”Will you have another baby?” “Can you have another pregnancy?” And while it was difficult to hear these questions, it made me start to think about this for the first time. I was still healing emotionally from the trauma of having an early baby, but I knew that I needed to explore this issue further. Finally, two years later, I set up an appointment to meet with my obstetrician to discuss the risks of another pregnancy. I asked my husband to join me so that we could both hear the information that would eventually help us solidify an answer to the question that lingered in the far depths of our minds.

While again I was hopeful that “medicine” would have the answer, our conversation contained no definitive solutions. My OB addressed all of our questions, she let us know how she would manage another pregnancy, and she assured me that she would support our quest for another baby should we choose that path. It was during this meeting that acceptance finally settled in, the moment where the information in my brain finally aligned with the feeling in my heart, and I knew the answer. Leaving her office was a mix of emotions as my husband and I realized that we would no longer consider another baby. For us, for our family, the risks just seemed too great.

I’m incredibly grateful that I got to experience part of a pregnancy and that my daughter survived her early arrival. It has changed me as a mother. I notice the small things and I celebrate it all. But I’m sad that I will never have another baby to rock. I will never experience a third trimester or know what labor feels like. I will never have the newborn infant placed on my chest or the bonding moments of breast feeding. My daughter will never know the feeling of having a sibling. I will grieve this loss while I continue to move forward in my life.

Rachel Pasquale About Rachel Pasquale

Rachel Pasquale (ME) is the mother to Isabella, her only child, born at 23 weeks, weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. After 107 days in the NICU she and her husband welcomed home a healthy baby. Despite being well supported during her entire journey, Rachel felt a profound sense of isolation, often feeling that those around her did not truly understand what she was going through. Her desire to help herself and others feel less lonely navigating the NICU led her to Preemie Babies 101. In addition to contributing to this website, Rachel is a member of the NICU Family Advisory Council at the hospital her daughter once called home. You can contact her through Facebook or via email.

Comments

  1. This was an incredibly evocative essay for me to read. My daughter was born at 28 weeks and is now a happy, healthy 2 year old. I’ve had people ask if we could or would have another baby, and there is no easy way to answer it. What I particularly appreciate about this post is that you (Rachel) chose not to have another child. Most people who ask me about having another always follow up with a story about another friend who had one preemie and went on to have full term babies, or about how I might have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy, “normal,” full length pregnancy. I almost feel I am letting those people down when I say we are not considering having another biological child, as if somehow I lack their faith that everything will be alright. But the truth is, I don’t need to test my faith, or theirs. I have faith that our incredible daughter, who was difficult to conceive and difficult to sustain in utero, was meant to be our biological child. I have faith that although I won’t know some of the seemingly simple joys of a healthy pregnancy or typical newborn experience, I got to have the incredible experience of having a baby who did not have a guaranteed survival and was not guaranteed a normal development. That experience allowed me a better understanding of hope, faith, and blessings than I ever thought possible.
    There are days when I wonder if our family is truly complete, which is why we are considering adoption as a future option, and there are days I feel sad that I won’t have more experiences of pregnancy and that my post-partum reality was so hard and not as joyful as I anticipated. But I also know when I look at our daughter that we tested fate and won, and I don’t need to try to win the jackpot twice.

  2. I am under the exact same circumstance, suffered from pre eclapmsia and delivered 10 weeks early, both me and the baby almost died in the delivery room and was told that the same would happen should I get pregnant again (I suffer from hypertension)…It took me and my husband awhile before we could even get pregnant to begin with and even considered IVF at the beginning so having this baby is already a blessing, I feel very blessed even if I didn’t go through all the “normal” pregnancy stuff because I was allowed to be a mom in the first place…..

  3. Emily Sims says:

    Rachel,
    Your story and feelings hit home with me. My husband and I welcomed a beautiful 1lb. 11oz girl at 26 weeks due to HELLP. I went in for a blood pressure check and 3 hours later had Samantha. I was in bad shape. I had a c-section and was completely under for it. A year after she was born, we spoke with our OB and while she said she would not tell us we couldn’t have another child, she would not recommend it. My husband and I decided that we our beyond lucky to have a perfect Samantha and will be a family of three. I too have heartache to know that I will not experience a third trimester, the labor pains, the joy of seeing your baby the second they are born, or taking them home two days later. After 96 days in the NICU and the nurses and doctors we now call family, I cherish every minute of our experience. We are also on the NICU Family Advisory Council at Samantha’s hospital. (:

    Thank you for sharing your story as I have gone and am still going through the exact same emotions.

    Emily

  4. Kristin Bertsch says:

    I completely understand. I had a 27 weeker from an incompetent cervix (emergency cervical cerclage at 20 weeks). Then, I got a preventative cervical cerclage at 14 weeks with my second and got the progestrone shots. Still she delivered 2 weeks earlier than her older brother at 25 weeks. A year after that we decided the best decision for us was an abdominal cerclage. I had it done locally (Akron, OH) and laproscopically. It was an outpatient procedure and recovery was just a few days up to a week (hard to remember exactly how long it took). It is the only thing I recommend for anyone with an incompetent cervix. I am not pregnant (a year after the cerclage was placed) and they no longer even consider me high risk. In fact I am 19 weeks pregnant and have no bed rest or restrictions at all. A lot of doctors are still unfamiliar with it (although I don’t know why if it is such a great remedy for our issues). So you might have to do a lot of research. I would check out the group on yahoo called Abbyloopers. It is for women with an incompetent cervix. It has a ton of info about the difference between cervical cerclage and abdominal and where to look and what questions to ask, etc. People think we’re crazy to try again after two failed cervical cerclages, but this time around things are quite different. If for some reason I would be part of the very small percentage of women who it does not work for, we are done. I just had to give it a try though.

  5. Kristin Bertsch says:

    I am now pregnant, not “I am not pregnant.” Sorry!

  6. I too had a NICU daughter. She was a 25 weeker. She is now 13 yrs old and I just delivered, almost 3 weeks ago, a healthy (5 day overcooked!) 8lb 7oz baby boy. Dont give up hope. The doctors are there to help you along your journey. It will be scary if/when issues arise (I had a couple scares) but it is worth it in the end looking into your baby’s eyes.

  7. I too struggled with this decision after having “spontaneous” labor at 29 weeks at having my son 10 weeks early. We spent 30 days in the NICU and he came home a healthy baby boy. We were so blessed. My desire to have another child outweighed my fear of not knowing whether we would be able to go full term. I met with MFM and my OB and they put me on the progesterone shots at 17 weeks. At 22 weeks they started bi-weekly cervical ultrasounds, and at 26 weeks we were admitted for potential pre-term labor. We held off with bedrest until 31 weeks but my second was double footling breach with a bulging bag and he was delivered via c section at 31 weeks. He spent 53 days in the NICU and did “much worse” than my first. When I dreamed of a 2nd child, we always hoped we’d get a full term baby. Never did I dream that the 2nd experience would be worse. We are so blessed with 2 very healthy boys but the emotional toll that it took on me is not one I’d like to do again. Such a hard decision!

  8. I was thankful this was a question that I don’t have to struggle with. Our twin girls who arrived at 24w4d were numbers 4 and 5 for us and we knew it was our last pregnancy before we knew we were having twins or any of the complications that followed. I know it would have been a difficult one to answer otherwise. I remember asking the nurses early on in our stay if anyone ever dared to have another after this. She told me that many don’t. Everyone has to make their own peace with it.

  9. I’m struggling with this decision right now myself. My husband and I have been married for 8 years and have just had our first child. She was born at 29 weeks. I became pregnant in 2011 but miscarried around 11 weeks. The fetus never formed. After the waiting period my OB gave us, I found I was pregnant again. Everything was perfect (not even morning sickness) until around week 24 when I started having swelling in my extremities. I’ve always been relatively healthy, but for a minor cold every now and then. I didn’t know anyone (closely, you always hear stories) who had a preemie baby and it seems everyone in my family has always had healthy pregnancies and babies. So, it was a major shock when I was told I had pre-eclampsia. I ended up being transferred to 2 separate hospitals, first by ambulance the day I was admitted and then by life flight 3 days later. Nothing that was going on really sunk in until much later. I’ve always wanted at least 2 children but I am terrified the same thing may happen. I had read several different times while I was pregnant that pre-eclampsia is pretty rare and your likelihood of having it again is even more rare. I found out different during my visits at the NICU from doctors, nurses and other mothers. It’s great to read everyone’s stories and know that I truly am not alone in the world having to make this decision. I wish I had seen these pages and sites while my daughter (who is perfectly healthy now) was still in the NICU. This kind of support would have made such a difference in dealing with it all. It really does grieve me to say no to more children and that is definitely the most difficult question to decide or give an answer to. Especially since I was so excited about experiencing a “complete” pregnancy. Only God knows if it will happen or not, so I put my trust in Him again and again.

  10. Erin Cadden says:

    It is so good to hear of others having more babies after having a premie, we too were told we should not try to have another, but having 2 pregnancies in my life a loss, i feel like i want to have so many more. Like i cannot imagine not trying again. thanks for the insights.

  11. I feel ya on this.
    I’ve had two successful cerclages after a second trimester loss of our first child and have all of my information in detail on my blog at http://angelheartsforever.blogspot.com/

    Take care xoxo

  12. Andrea… thank you for this. Your bravery in saying that another is not an option but that it is still a loss for you is really special. My daughter was born ten weeks early, & that was five weeks ago. She is making it in the NICU and doing very well for what has happened, but the questioning of more babies to come is daunting. My baby was a miracle any way because I was on birth control and insisted on making my husband use spermicide and condoms too when we conceived her just before our first wedding anniversary. During labor I told my husband no more babies. Everyone insisted, including him, that it was the pain. Even now they insist I’ll change my mind. But I won’t and I wonder if anyone will ever understand that I wish I could but I’m not willing to face that situation again. I had a traumatic birth due partially to severe preeclampsia and partially due to a well intentioned highly reccomendable medical team that were so focused on the task they forgot the basics of looking at and listening to the patient. First I had a placental abruption, and saw the doctors pulling handfuls of blood and clots out of me. My heart stopped during pushing and I remember floating in a blue sky with lovely music playing, then I remember the pain of contractions flooding back to me, and seeing tears and panic on my husbands face looking down at me while I heard my dads voice telling me to wake up. I want more kids, but I’m not willing to die just to give birth. What’s the point if it kills me? It isn’t worth the risk to me. I wish no one else thought it was either but instead everyone keeps saying I should try again. I don’t understand the logic. But your strength helps me feel like I’m not wrong for that.

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