I got a call from my OB Tuesday, my hCG levels have gone down over 50% since my last test on Saturday, so I appear to be in the clear. My body is taking care of things on its own, thank goodness, and I feel lucky for that. One more blood test next week should be the last.
However, the burning question is consuming my mind: do we want to try for another baby now? This was such an unexpected surprise pregnancy. Such an unexpected joy, followed by a lost sadness that left me feeling empty. We had made a space where there was no space before, space in our hearts, at our table, in our imagination of our family . . . and now that space is empty. I can’t figure out if I want to fill that emptiness because I’m grieving, and I fiercely want to fill the void; or if I actually want to try to bring another tiny human into the world and into our family.
I keep obsessing over what another pregnancy would mean for me, in order to try to talk myself out of it, I think. It would mean:
- That I would (ideally) have FOUR kids! Four is a lot of kids. I never thought of myself as a person who would have four children. For over a decade, I was pretty sure I would only have one child, in spite of my efforts for more. I always imagined that women and families with four or more children are the types of people who always yearned for a large family; women who were born nurturing and motherly and dreamed of many children. Perhaps I’m completely wrong on this one. If you are in the four (or more) boat, did you always dream it? Or did it grow on you (pardon the pun)?
- Pregnancy is HARD. Beautiful and magical and hard. I get terribly nauseous, which makes me grumpy, and the exhaustion of the first trimester is life-draining. Can I afford that? I have three children and a husband to love and care for. Can I handle three months of sickness and a desire to crawl into a deep, quiet hole and sleep? When I’m pregnant, especially with my daughter, I can be a bit . . . fiery. My husband has to deal with a very fierce wife, which starts to strain the relationship after a bit. Suddenly, I have very strong opinions about things I never cared about in the past and things I won’t care about in 9 months, but in the moment, I really mean it! I don’t know if we (he) is ready for all that again.
- I have a healthy fear of birth now. The cesarian section birth of my 11 pound, 1.1 oz, breech baby boy made me quickly lose my innocence. It was a very scary experience, not just the surgery (I’m a read-head and my body does not do well with any type of anesthesia, my BP tanks and I have to be watched very closely and dosed with intermittent vasopressors and stimulants), but the fact that my baby was so unexpectedly huge, and they had a very hard time getting him out of the standard-sized incision they had cut across my abdomen. After what felt like 10 intense minutes of violent tugging and pulling and pushing, I heard the obstetrician ask for the scalpel again. He was stuck, and she had to make the incision larger to get him out; thank goodness she did. It was terribly traumatic in the end, particularly since I have stood at the foot of the bed and watched a c-section as a nursing student, and even in my foggy headed, low BP brain, I knew mine was getting dangerous. Once my baby was finally out, the previously silent room erupted in excitement, gratitude, shock awe at his size; holy cow! So, now I’m a VBAC candidate, which I never thought I’d say, because I was sure he’d be the last. The danger of that birth, the amount of blood I lost due to all the time it took, and the danger to my baby terrify me to think about now; too many what if’s. Ignorance is bliss when it comes to birth, and I am no longer ignorant.
- Macrosomia and Gestational Diabetes: The smallest of my babies was 8 lbs, 9 oz. My largest was 11 lbs. They say that babies get bigger with each successive pregnancy, although my first was bigger than my second. During my last pregnancy, I passed my glucose tolerance test by one measly mg/dl. My obstetrician should have had me repeat the test but she didn’t. I only gained 30-35 lbs for my last two pregnancies, so I think she assumed I was low risk for gestational diabetes (unrelated to DM), based on my smallness, which is erroneous thinking. In any case, clearly I had gestational diabetes and my poor baby was getting pounded with sugars from my body; otherwise he would not have been 11 pounds! In the 9 days prior to my last miscarriage, I obsessed non-stop about everything I put in my mouth, because I desperately want a VBAC, because I’m terrified of c-sections now, and I HAVE to make sure I have a smallish (for me under 9 lbs) baby in order to have every chance of successful VBAC. If an OB thinks I’m going to have a big ol’ baby, he/she is going to be pushing for that section, I know it! That said, the last thing in the world I want is to put my baby in danger or have an emergency cesarian after trying to deliver vaginally.
- I was about to go back to work! I signed both my littles up for full time preschool starting in August, and was ready to switch careers. I’m 3/4 through a paralegal certification, and was looking forward to getting back into the workforce. I could still do that with another bun in the oven, but paying for 3 kids in daycare makes no sense. We’d be upside-down; I only make enough to make paying for 2 kids worth it, so we’d have to juggle some things and possibly change the plan.
- My body! I started working out really hard at Orangetheory about 5 months ago and I’m feeling really strong and powerful and fit. And I hate working out hard, but I love Orangetheory, so . . . maybe I can just start over after baby #4?
- Chromosomal Abnormalities! I’m advanced maternal age, so of course I’ll be worrying myself sick about that!
OK, enough already. This my “Irrational/Rational Fears” list. I know it is long, but I feel good to have gotten it out, and hopefully you’re not crosseyed from reading it. Yesterday, I was SURE I wanted to try again for that little love. But I woke up today thinking about how lucky I am and how perfect my little family is now; a big part of me feels guilty for even thinking about asking for more. I’m still not sure.
If you got to the end of this ramble, bless you! Take care out there, and if you have any insights on VBAC’s, 4 or more kiddos, body after multiple babies, or any of the other ramblings, please share!