by Kari Adams, HRH Mom and Volunteer
It doesn’t take long after you have your first baby for friends, family, and even strangers to start asking you, “When are you going to have another?” After a tumultuous pregnancy resulting in a month of home bed rest, three weeks of hospital bed rest, our sweet boy being born at 34 weeks and a 25-day NICU stay, that simple inquiry was actually a very loaded question for us. My “canned answer” was that we were told to wait two years because of my first high risk pregnancy and we were going to talk about it at that point. The real answer was that I didn’t know if there’d be another. Preeclampsia was no joke. Getting pregnant again was (and still is!) a scary proposition.
Two years came and went. Three years passed. Earlier this year and well after Oliver was three and a half, I started to feel ready. It wasn’t until quite a few discussions with my OB/GYN, many open and honest conversations between my husband I and a lot of soul-searching, that we decided it was time to give Oliver a sibling.
I’m now 21 weeks pregnant with another baby boy and we are optimistically excited, yet anxious. Everything is going well and I’m feeling good (except for the typical first-trimester nausea and exhaustion). My doctors are closely monitoring me, already have a plan in place and have started some precautionary measures (i.e. a daily baby aspirin). They were amazing with all the challenges I experienced in the first go-around and are already proving their commitment to helping me have a successful second pregnancy. So far, they all seem very confident that there’s a chance I will not have as many issues as before. And if preeclampsia does rear its ugly head, it will be later in my pregnancy and not as severe.
My emotions have run the gamut since finding out I was pregnant again. The questions float through my mind frequently – sometimes just in the background and other times front and center. Will things get as bad? What will I do if I end up on bed rest again at home? Or in the hospital early? This time I have a four-year-old to worry about, not just myself. I’ve already run through the scenarios in my head over and over and have assembled my hypothetical support team. We are so lucky to have an amazing family who lives close by and wonderful friends who have already offered to help however they can should we need them.
I do feel better prepared and educated this time. Looking back I was pretty naive when things started to go awry during my pregnancy with Oliver. I am now more familiar with what to watch for with how I’m feeling and all the different tests and procedures along the way. I’m also ready to listen to doctors’ orders … admittedly, I wasn’t the best bed rest patient at home last time!
I have a few pieces of advice for those who have been through a high risk pregnancy and are thinking about another. First and foremost, talk to your doctor. I had a very open and honest conversation with mine at about six months postpartum. She told me to wait two years to let my body recover and that she didn’t see any problems with us having another baby. If she had told me differently, I would have definitely followed her advice! Of course, everyone is different. Based on the specific complications you experienced during your first pregnancy, your doctor may have a different directive.
Second, it has to be a joint decision with your partner. A high risk pregnancy affects both of you. My husband will be the first to tell you that all the challenges of my first pregnancy were also hard on him even though he wasn’t the one laying in the hospital bed. There are a lot of things to consider when growing your family in general (emotional, financially and health-wise), and even more so when your first pregnancy came with complications.
Lastly, be prepared and be patient. I have thought through many scenarios in my head. Even though you can’t foresee what lies ahead, I have created hypothetical plans should any of the past scenarios arise (i.e. bed rest at home, an extended hospital stay, NICU time, etc.). We’ve thought through how we might address any setbacks knowing what we know now. I am also more aware of resources like High Risk Hope. I had no idea such an organization existed until one day a Bed Rest Basket showed up in my hospital room. I recommend educating yourself on who can help you and how.
Despite the apprehension and underlying worry that is always with me, I remain optimistic that this will be a healthy pregnancy and a different experience than my first. I’m doing everything in my power to make that come true!