I have a favor to ask, and I know it’s going to be hard, because who doesn’t love squishy babies?
Please stop asking when my child is getting a sibling.
Here’s the thing about me having more babies.
I had preeclampsia. Until 32 weeks of pregnancy I was healthy, under the care of a midwife who I adored, planning a peaceful intervention free home birth, all medical tests showed me and my baby being healthy and on the right path. Then, boom, I developed blood pressure that was averaging 200/100 (not great numbers, in case you wondered) and was suddenly hoping my hospital birth didn’t end in surgery or worse. That’s what preeclampsia does, it’s a bully that waits until you’re relaxed and gliding through a healthy and happy pregnancy to pop your bra strap and trip you down a flight of stairs.
It was a horrible few weeks of praying for lower blood pressure, praying I wouldn’t be preeclamptic. Praying nothing would happen to my sweet baby or to me.
At 35 weeks (5 weeks earlier than my estimated due date for those unfamiliar with the weeks of pregnancy) I was sent from my doctor straight to the hospital for additional monitoring and then informed I would be induced that evening. The induction was a blur of medications, interventions, and information being thrown at me. Thankfully I had been given emotional “permission” to approach my very unnatural birth with the aid of pain medications, a necessity due to the state of my health and the medically induced labor I was about to endure. I spent several hours of labor on my left side unable to move and with an oxygen mask strapped to my face. If I moved the mask I was told I was endangering my soon-to-be born baby. I was not in control of a single aspect of the birth, not even in control of my face.
It was OK, honestly. I knew I was enduring this sort of birth because I was going to die if I didn’t. I mourned the loss of my home birth plans but I was prepared from conception to go to the hospital if I was sick. I was very sick, so I went to the hospital. (I would still recommend midwife care to any and all who would care for my opinion, by the way.) My baby’s health was at risk as well. I was aware of the facts. As unnatural and against my wishes my birth ended up, I wasn’t as depressed as I could have been. I’ve seen friends with no health issues be subject to interventions they don’t need or want and have birth stories that ended up with traumatic outcomes. None of the interventions I faced were unnecessary and that was the one reason I could remain peaceful during the unfolding of my circumstances.
I want to write a more in-depth birth story someday in the future. But this is not the purpose of this, it is simply as a bit of background.
I’m in an icky form of limbo following my birth. I know there have to be other women who are faced with this same frustration. I hope to give them the sort of written empathetic hug that I know I sometimes need. It feels like nobody understands this sort of pain. I hope I can make you understand if you’re not in this same column of the childbearing aged women alongside me.
I want another child desperately. I feel intense pain at moments for how badly I want another child. It makes me ache and want to vomit into the nearest receptacle at the same time. I am so beyond thankful for my gorgeous son, and if he is my one and only, then he has exceeded all the incredible that I could ever ask for in a child. He’s insanely perfect. But I don’t really want him to go through life without a sibling or nine.
After the experience of finding myself incredibly sick in pregnancy, sick with the one thing that is the leading cause of maternal mortality, I have an incredible amount of terror and apprehension at the aspect of ending up pregnant again. I’ve talked to my doctor about proactive measures to take before conceiving again in the future. I can take a baby aspirin daily once I’m pregnant (although the research on that doesn’t show much promise). I can lose weight. I can eat a high protein diet during pregnancy. I’ll be monitored intensely during any forthcoming pregnancies due to my higher risk status. Believe me. We’ve got this covered as far as prevention is concerned. But my odds of being sick are just as high this go around. This is why preeclampsia is such a stupid bully. She’s hiding in a bathroom stall without a predictable pattern to her madness.
Being told it might not happen again doesn’t make the prospect of me ending up pregnant any less terrifying.
I have heard any combination of the following: I need to have more faith, or pray, or do yoga, just go for it. The problem is, these people don’t have as much to lose if the baby baking health situation goes south.
I guess it’s easy for someone to say: “just go for it, you PROBABLY won’t get it again”. They don’t have to worry about having a baby start life in the NICU or with lifelong health problems. Or worry about having a baby not survive in my body. Or the thought of my beautiful son growing up without his mother and future sibling alive.
I ache at the thought of not having any other children, but the heartbreak thinking of those other options is far more gut wrenching.
I kind of want to ask everyone to stop asking when I’ll have another baby. It stings every time I have to give my quippy “I want one, but don’t want to die in childbirth” speech with a clenched-teeth smile on my face.
It’s a weird feeling to pray for an unexpected pregnancy to just happen? To understand that it COULD kill you, but to still pray for it?
I do not have any idea what infertile women endure when they hear the comments from the same vein. I don’t understand not being capable of having any children. I don’t get that. I ache for them though, because I know it hurts. In the tiniest way I understand how it hurts to be asked something that punches you in the gut on an almost daily basis. I hope it makes me a better friend to them. I pray it does.
Stop asking them, and all other women, too. The ones with five kids, and the ones with only one and the women with none. You don’t know how your innocent inquiry could send them home to curl up in a ball for a few hours.
I’m guilty of this too, I know I am. I’m hoping this appeal teaches someone else the lesson I’ve so painfully learned. I’m a southerner who doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut. I have seen friends who “appear” to not want children who are struggling desperately to conceive one child. I’ve put my sensible flat shoes in my mouth a few too many times to count. But I’m working to be better. This is why I’m writing this.
This is why I’m baring my soul to you. To ask you for a bit of understanding. Not only for me, but for the sisterhood of women who ache in this same way. I’m strong, I can handle the questions. Some cannot.