Christmas is coming. I'm excited and looking forward to it. At least on the outside.
Inside, I've been feeling more conflicted, anxious and irritable lately. We are coming to the point in our lives where we have to decide whether or not to try for another child. I want to start my Masters in September 2014 (I can't do this night shift stuff forever!!) and we'd like to be done procreating the summer of 2014 at the latest. I've known since Kaia was born that we would have to make this decision at some point, but back then it was comfortably far in the future, no need to worry about it too much... Except the time is now and the reality of it is starting to hit me.
You know how it goes:
1) The 'trying' (fun for the first time or two, stressful after that). And if it does work...
2) The 'finding out' (No going back now... Should we do betas? What if they don't rise as expected? Do we do an early ultrasound? What if it doesn't show a heart-beat? Definitely want to be on progesterone...will my doc prescribe it? Cue the stressful watch for spotting EVERY TIME I go pee. Plus, if everything goes well there is still the nausea ad. nauseam to look forward to. Oh and don't forget that all day crushing tiredness. "Kaia, Mommy is not to be woken up prior to full daylight for at least the next 12 weeks. You're good with watching Backyardigans and Dora all day while I pretend to watch but really try to nap here beside you, right sweetie?!")
3) The second trimester. (Usually other couples are doing the happy dance at this point. 12 weeks! Way to go little fetus! Smooth sailing from now on! Time to get the grainy ultrasound photo up on facebook and start planning the registry! Except in our case this is historically when the shit hits the proverbial fan. Do we tell people we're pregnant at this point? It will likely begin to be pretty obvious, but then we'll also have to say "yes, but as per our previous pregnancies it's not a sure thing yet...we'll keep you posted". Also, this is when my stress levels will sky rocket since at this point I'll be afraid every.single.twinge. is disaster beginning to strike. "Kaia darling, Mommy would like to lie here quietly until we hit at least 24 weeks and would prefer to spend all our free time in the ultrasound suite scanning for abnormalities in your little sibling's placenta. That's cool with you right?" Fun times all around.)
4) After that? Who knows. Let's label it: the great unknown (???)
So while all this is stewing around in my brain, it didn't help that I had a few tough shifts at work lately. The worst was looking after a little baby the night before his family had to withdraw life support due to the absence of brain activity. This is sadly not a terribly uncommon thing in our NICU, but what made this particular baby's case so personally stressful for me, was that his mom was also very sick. She was on life support, with a very guarded prognosis. She had a pre-exisiting medical condition (like me) which led to complications and then her heart stopped when she was within spitting distance of a full term pregnancy. The baby would go on to die the next day leaving mom to either get better...or not. My heart broke to see the family members come in to get the news regarding the baby's prognosis. Because, what do you say to a family in a case like that? Sorry your whole life has just imploded. Sorry you got the exact opposite of what you expected. Sorry you are living my worst nightmare. Sorry...sorry...I'm just so...sorry. I settled for "I'll take good care of your baby tonight"...which I did, but it hurt my heart to do so.
I worry maybe even more that I ever did before about something happening to my own health, or to our possible future baby's health now that Kaia is around. Because right now, life is pretty good. Kaia is thriving. I could stand to lose a few pounds (after Christmas, I promise), but otherwise, I'm pretty good too. Our life feels good, with manageable amounts of stress. It's daunting to consider tinkering with that.
Then of course, in my personal life, friends of ours have become another cautionary tale. They just had their 3rd child. They have two school age daughters, but Mom really wanted another baby. So they had one....at 28 weeks. Her first two were preemies as well, but were both over 32 weeks. Their third wasn't so lucky. As far as we know, he's doing well in the hospital, but he'll be there awhile, and visiting their tiny son in his isolette was not exactly how they planned to spend the holidays. The kicker is his mom had a doctor's appointment only days prior to his birth in which she was told she had 'no signs of impending labour'. Good call OBs. Guess you forgot to look in your crystal ball that day. It makes any predictions that we are 'unlikely' to have a recurrence of any of our previous problems seem like a shot in the dark.
On the other hand, I hate to live my life ruled by fear of the 'what ifs'. Afraid by what I see at work, or with friends, or on the news. I don't want to be afraid to make my life what I want it because something might go wrong. All of that discounts the possibility that something may go very right. Might turn out wonderfully. Might be a healing and happy and normal experience. Despite the challenges we faced last time, my baby did come home. It is possible. I don't want to live with regrets.
I'm just not sure what I would regret more. Something awful happening, but knowing 'well, at least we tried', or the never knowing what could have been.
Maybe I'll have to flip a coin or something.