For those who have read my blog long enough, you know that I’ve always dreamed of having a large family. As in six kids. I have no religious basis the these longings, just that I love children and want to be surrounded by them.
This past year, after the third miscarriage, I was forced to re-evaluate my plans. Was wanting another child worth the emotional and physical strain of one, two, or four more miscarriages? I wasn’t sure. Ben and I agreed that one more try would surely mean a successful pregnancy. We were wrong. If I hadn’t become unexpectedly pregnant two short weeks after that fourth miscarriage, I am not sure if we would have tried again.
With this pregnancy, the hyperemesis gravidarum started early. It reached a point, sometime around 7 weeks, where I even cried (out of sickness) that I hoped to miscarry. (A very common desire for those who experience severe pregnancy-induced sickness.) What ensued was constant bed rest, continued vomiting, horrible headaches, and reliance on anti-emetic medications.
After seeing my miserable condition repeated day after day, Ben tentatively asked me if I could endure this again. I didn’t answer him immediately; I think it was about a week later that he repeated the question. This time, I had an answer: no. I couldn’t do this again.
I don’t need to explain my reasoning to anyone. I write today to remind my future self why I, we, made this decision.
When I consider trying for another baby, it isn’t an exciting venture. Instead, I have intense anxiety as I wonder whether the pregnancy would stick or whether I would undergo another miscarriage. For those who have had one miscarriage, you can understand the deep sadness and anger that comes from losing your baby. Now multiply that, because the more miscarriages you have the more sadness and anger you feel. It takes all the excitement out of baby making and turns it into a stressful and angst-ridden venture. (I imagine my friends who have experienced infertility can relate to this.)
So I have to ask myself, is it worth it? Sure, if I welcome a baby it is, but if I have bleeding, cramping, and a possible D&C, than it’s not. The emotional side effects of a miscarriage are so complicated and ambiguous that it takes me months to recover and even longer to not sob every time I think of the lost baby.
If the miscarriages weren’t enough, once a pregnancy sticks, I must contend with 24/7 HG. Not only do I throw up constantly, but movements, sounds, smells, colors, and sensations (like feeling my pants against my tummy) add to the nausea and increase my vomiting. The medicine I take to limit the vomiting has its own side effects: dizziness, migraines, continued nausea, and exhaustion (just to name a few).
I am on bed rest. I can’t take care of my children, help my husband, go to the store, or do anything by myself. I can’t even snuggle with my kids or husband. Taking a shower involves having my husband sit on the toilet just in case I pass out. Brushing my teeth induces vomiting. I can’t sleep, can’t eat, and can’t drink. It’s tiring, frustrating, and not a pregnancy experience I can handle again.
To top it all, there is fear. Even now, with everything going 100% the way it should, there is that small possibility that I can still miscarry. Pregnancy is a risk, all women know this. That risk increases if you’ve had previous problems.
I am positive, exceedingly positive. I am also realistic. I don’t dwell on what could happen I just acknowledge that risk exists. There are days when fear overtakes reason and I must cope with that. From experience I have learned that you can’t ignore fear because it only makes it bigger, so I must face it and show it that I am boss. Each showdown is draining and leaves me emotionally vulnerable. Frankly, I’m tired. I want to enjoy life; living with fear (even WHEN you are positive and happy) makes this hard.
As most of you know, I don’t make decisions on a whim: I analyze; I weigh my options; I write lists of pros and cons; and, mostly, I self-evaluate. After considering my experiences, my current condition, and my emotional state, I recognized that this decision isn’t just about me. It’s about the family. And my family cannot afford another miscarriage (or slew of miscarriages) nor can I ask them to sacrifice while I have another difficult pregnancy. I know that we are strong and willing to support each other, but I am not sure if I could emotionally handle 4 more miscarriages and a pregnancy with severe HG. Frankly, I’m not going to ask my family or myself to repeat these last 2 years. We have each other, we have another baby on the way, and we are lucky.
It’s Not Over
With the decision made, I can now really enjoy this pregnancy (as much as I can right now) and remind myself and my husband that things will get better.
I also know that there are other options. My time as a mother hasn’t ended. I have my two beautiful kids, another on the way, and the possibility of other children–though not birthed by me–to raise. If I can convince my husband to complete the STARS classes with me, then we could eventually start fostering and might one day add to our family through adoption. There are also kids overseas who need a family. The point is, there are endless possibilities. While I am ultimately saying (and some might argue prematurely to which I say “go to hell”) good-bye to future pregnancies I am not barring the door to the future.
Whew. That was tough. Now I am going to eat chips and suck on Life Savers while crying copious amounts of tears because this has been an emotional, albeit necessary, post to write. To my future self: don’t worry, you made the right decision.