Thursday, October 28, 2010

To have a baby -- or not to have a baby?

I've been up since 4:30 am, for no particular reason.  (Not my favorite way to spend a morning!)

Luckily, I had my handy new Droid conveniently placed on my bedside, perfect for way-too-early internet-surfing pleasure.  After checking my FB, disappointed at how few people post between midnight and 4:30, I turned to a website I hadn't visited in awhile:  the preeclampsia foundation.

For those of you who don't know, when I was 37 weeks preggo with Maddy, I developed preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.  Both are life-threatening diseases and the only cure is delivery of the baby.  To put it nicely, my health was rapidly declining, so they delivered early.  Even though we both recovered and were healthy, I was left very depressed about my birthing experience.

About a year after she was born, I found the preeclampsia foundation's website.  I never expected my healing to come from surfing the internet late one night.  But as I read other women's stories (some whose babies survived, some whose didn't, and some where even the mom died)  and submitted my own story -- I finally felt at peace.

Every once in a while I go back and read the recent stories, perhaps to remind myself what could have been and be grateful for God's hand on me and Maddy.  Today was such an occasion.  But instead of feeling gratitude, I became overwhelmed with fear.

After all, Maddy is almost 2.  And I get a hankering to smell newborn baby head every once in a while (you moms and dads know what I'm talking about.)  And sometimes I think Maddy would be happier with a sibling.

So maybe I do want another baby.  But then again, after today's stories, maybe not.

The first 3 stories I read were these:  Delivered at 24 weeks, baby died.  Delivered around 24 weeks, baby survived (after months in the NICU), mom had severe complications.  Delivered early, baby fine, mom in coma for 4 weeks and barely made it out alive.

Hmm .... newborn baby head doesn't sound quite so appealing anymore.  How could I put myself, and my baby at risk?  What if I die and leave Ryan and Maddy?  What if we lose our baby -- could I live with the loss?

So, for those who like numbers, here they are:

I have a 40-50% chance of developing preeclampsia or some other serious complications with another pregnancy.  I have a 25% chance of  developing HELLP syndrome.  These complications could come at any time during the pregnancy, although USUALLY in the last trimester.

Considering I had a 0.5% chance of developing HELLP with Maddy (and I did) .... 25% sounds astronomical.

For those who don't so much care for numbers -- suffice it to say that I'm terrified of getting pregnant again.  But saddened beyond belief at the prospect of not being able to have another Rachel-Ryan mix to call my own.

No big decision needs to be made today -- but I know we need to decide before we have another "OOPS -- we're pregnant!" on our hands.  Ryan and I already want to adopt .... I had just hoped I could have at least one more of our own babies to add to the family.

(To read my story, go to:  And note that there is a typo:  My liver was about to rupture, not erupt.  Every time I read that I cringe.  If only I could edit that post!!)


  1. I love your honesty, and I'm so happy you and Maddy are fine. :D It's crazy that she is almost two!!

  2. I think it's worth researching health care providers who have experience in alternative treatment/prevention of these sorts of things in pregnancy. While there is no "cure" or 100% guaranteed prevention, there are *LOTS* of things that you can do to work toward a healthier pregnancy. In my experience, however, these are not things that Docs in the mainstream medical culture have much knowledge or experience with. Just something to add as you consider your options.

  3. Love the honesty also, and I agree with Crystal. I can't believe how much I've learned this 2nd pregnancy by seeing providers who are 'outside the box'.
    I also know from my own experiences that God never wants us to live in fear- He speaks life and freedom into us :)

  4. Hey Rachel, not sure if you followed our first daughter's story at all, but I had her at 28 weeks due a a placental abruption (here's a link to the beginning of her journey - Everything about my pregnancy was picture perfect up until noon on the day she was born. Although the statistics were much lower on a recurrence (5%) in future pregnancies, we decided it was best to wait until Elise was about 3 to try for another baby in case the baby needed to be hospitalized for as long as Elise was (10 weeks, 5 days) and in case my recovery took as long (ICU, postpartum and then many weeks before I could stand for more than a few minutes at a time).

    The Lord had different plans and I was pregnant again only 6 months after Elise was born (and only 3.5 months after she came home from the hospital). I processed through a lot of fear during that pregnancy, especially fear of dying myself because I came within 15 minutes to an hour of dying with Elise only 9 hours after the first onset of pain. Since I had no warning of problems with Elise (only having abdominal pain actually isn't typical with abruptions), it made the uncertainty of not knowing whether I would live all that more real. I did a lot of praying and crying. I wrote a letter to Elise in case of my death. I prayed for my husband's future as a single father. I asked that the Lord would bring "mothers" into my daughter's life who would raise her to bring Him glory.

    There's a worship song called Beautiful Jesus that talks about seeing the Lord's majesty "in raging storms and quiet cloudless days." When the Lord brought that song to me one Sunday in worship, I wept. Although it seemed a bit over dramatic to call Elise's birth and first few months a "raging storm", it is a beautiful picture and the "quiet cloudless days" are a picture of how my second pregnancy went. Everything was perfect and I had a scheduled C-section and delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl - Evelyn - whom I was able to meet and nurse right away and who came home from the hospital the same day I did.

    Although the Lord's plan for you might be different as far as outcome, He is faithful. And ultimately, although we like to feel as though we have control over our own fertility, whether you get pregnant again is up to the Lord. So if he has for you to have another baby, He also has plans for you and for that baby. Those plans might not be what you would like or would picture, but we found very quickly in our experience with Elise that we would much rather have the Lord in control than be in control ourselves.

    Hope this doesn't sound too preachy or anything. Just wanted to share a bit of my experience with you in a similar situation. I have fellow preemie parent friends who have decided not to have more biological children and friends who had one more baby (who was born prematurely as well) and then stopped. Feel free to email me if you're ever looking for someone to reflect with who can understand.

    Oh, and the best thing to do is to not read too many of other people's stories if you do decide to try again. I found that simply living the story the Lord gave me and not worrying about those of others during that time was best.