We spent New Year's Eve the year with boy J., girl J. and their daughter C., who I mentioned in this post. C was born in June after Aidan died. She is now a very advanced 18 month old who already knows many of her letters and is close to being potty trained.
Impressive as hell, right?
Anyway, since they have done such an awesome job of turning baby #1 into a smart little toddler, J. and J. have announced that they are planning on trying for baby #2 at the end of this month.
Now, while I am genuinely happy for them, and look forward to the day that I can meet J. & J.'s second amazing offspring, I can't help thinking "here we go again". Hearing about others pregnancies and births doesn't carry quite the same sting that it did for most of 2010 and 2011, but I do still feel a little twinge. Not because I necessarily want to that to be ME right now...but because I don't know if I will ever have that opportunity again.
It really hit home this morning when Brian dismantled the bassinet that we had set up in our room. Kaia's time as a newborn is over. She might be my one and only (living) baby and she's already growing up and moving away....right down the hall to her own room of course...but still...
Part of my sadness about her being in the cast is that she's not my squishy baby right now. She's heavy, and awkward, and cuddling with her is kind of like cuddling a brick. I'm just sad that if Kaia is the only baby I ever get to raise, we will have spent 19 weeks of her first year (over 1/3) having to love on her via a hospital visit or through a cast.
Knowing the difficulty we had in having a family is probably why I get asked "are you guys planning on having another child?" in such a hushed and solemn tone of voice. People want to know, and I don't mind them asking...however...
I really don't know how to answer this question.
Actually, no that's not true. I DO know how to answer this question, but it involves launching into a long complicated pro/con discussion that goes a little something like this:
I would love another child. I always wanted at least two (living) children and I currently haven't met my intended quota. However, after two disastrous pregnancies, we are understandably a little hesitant to leap into that unknown.
If we are looking at it in terms of MY health, then I feel confident my body could handle another pregnancy. My heart did well in both pregnancies, and my cardiologists were impressed with my recovery. I could currently use a whole lot of toning and strengthening and some cardio, but that's nothing getting back to work, the gym and chasing Kaia around when she can walk won't cure. I don't know how long I would want to put off another pregnancy in terms of my heart. I'm going to be 30 this year, and I think the younger I am when attempting a pregnancy the better. So if this were the deciding factor, I'd say we'd be trying for baby #2 within the next 2 years.
Oh, how I wish that were the only consideration...but alas...
If we are looking at it in terms of the prospective baby, then that puts a whole new spin on things. We currently have NO idea why I developed a Breus mole placenta in both pregnancies, which probably led to my water breaking WAY too early in both cases. The first time, my team of doctors considered it a fluke...the second time they pretty much shrugged their collective shoulders and said "huh, well maybe it's genetic". Yeah great, awesome deduction guys! We just don't know how 'heritable' this condition is. ie: how likely is it to happen again? 100%, 50%, 10%? Also I don't know if we can do anything to modify this risk. Certain supplements I could take? Certain medications? Certain medications I should STOP taking? I think I'd like to talk to Dr. K., the placenta specialist again, before any decisions are made, but my feeling is that any pregnancy we embark upon will be done with the caution that 'it might happen again'.
And, I don't know if we could handle that.
How could I embark on another pregnancy with the knowledge that there is a certain (small, medium, large, extra large?) chance that pPROM could happen again, causing the possible death/disability of theoretical baby #3? Is that fair to the baby? Is that fair to us? Brian and I and our families still have such sadness in our hearts for Aidan. We feel such loss for him and for ourselves. How could I chance that again?
Of course, if they had told us after Aidan was born that we had a good chance of having another pPROM caused by a Breus mole, then we may have decided against any future pregnancies. In which case we would not have Kaia. She has brought such light and love into our lives, and despite a few set backs (prematurity, her hip), she is a very healthy, happy girl. So, how could I NOT chance that again?
Then there is the physical toll that pregnancy took on my body other than my heart. I think my current back problems still stem from all the bed rest and the strength that I lost during that time. I remember on the night before Kaia was born, when they told me I was going for my C-section within the next 12 to 24 hours. In amongst the 8000 thoughts that were flying through my head was this one: THANK GOD, TOMORROW BED REST ENDS!!! I'm NEVER doing this shit again!!!!
But if I was pregnant again and things went the same way my last two pregnancies did, how could I NOT agree to do bed rest? How could I deny the best possible care for theoretical baby #3 that I did for Aidan and Kaia? I don't know if bed rest was what got Aidan to 23 weeks and Kaia to 32 weeks, but it probably didn't hurt. Both Brian and I know, that faced with that situation again, we'd probably do the same thing. Emily in bed doing next to nothing (and relying on EI for money). Brian at work and doing all the chores and having to shoulder a large part of the financial burden. Only this time we would have Kaia to consider. Not sure how mommy on complete bed rest for weeks on end with a small child would go, but I'm sure it would only complicate matters.
The main issue I have is that we don't know why it happened, twice. Once could be a fluke, twice and I begin to question if something is wrong with us. But if something IS wrong with us...what IS that something?
Is there something wrong with my baby-making parts? Does my heart affect blood flow in a way that causes pPROM? Does my short luteal phase point to a deeper problem that is, as yet, undiscovered? If we put our genetic material into another person via surrogacy, would that make a difference? It seems like a hell of an expensive shot to take, and I don't know if I could, in good conscience ask another woman to risk that for us.
If it is strictly genetic and the 'vessel' doesn't matter could those embryos with self-destructive placentas be 'weeded' out with pre-implantation diagnosis? If that was possible, then we could start saving our pennies for IVF. Or, if it's one of us that carries a 'defective' placenta making gene, then maybe we should consider either sperm or egg donation. Not sure about those logistics in Canada, and not sure how I feel about our child being genetically linked to only one of us, but it would be another avenue to consider.
Or, if the problem is genetic, and we can't figure out a high tech way around it and we don't want to risk another placenta going 'kaplooie', then maybe adoption would be right for us.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider. I would LOVE another baby some day, and a chance at a 'normal' pregnancy. But, unlike J. & J. who seem to be focusing solely on the financial and organizational logistics of having a second child, I feel like we have a lot more to consider.
And a hell of a bigger risk to take.
People rarely solicit advice on their personal blogs, but I'm going to do just that. Pretend you're me. Would you risk it again?