When you’re planning out your life, you never think that having a premature baby could shake your confidence on all future choices, but it does.
I knew that when I started my family I would want two kids, so they could grow up together and be best friends like my sister and me, and my husband and his brother. There were no doubts or hesitation, until there was.
My first son, nicknamed Bug, came into the world after severe preeclampsia hurried an emergency c-section. This isn’t what we planned. Not one baby class talked about what a c-section would be like, and the hospital tour did not include the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We adapted, as NICU parents do, caring for my recovery and whatever our little Bug needed, but this was a different experience than we imagined.
When thinking about a second baby, we knew that we wanted one, but the fertility journey mixed with thoughts of our first birth experience left many doubts in the back of my mind. I had negative voices asking, ”Are you sure? Isn’t Bug’s life and schedule going so smoothly now? Are you ready to chase two? Can Grammy handle helping with two littles while you work?”
But now, I was also battling the premature, worst case scenario questions in my head. “Aren’t we still working on his speech development and delays? What if he comes early too? How will you work and care for yet another fragile baby and a toddler? What if your blood pressure goes crazy again, what will your recovery be? If we have a NICU stay…” It was on loop. All the questions for those worst case scenarios, not only affecting me, but now a new baby, a toddler and our family.
Sure, you think you know more now. I can handle this if the worst case scenario happens, right?
One huge difference from my first pregnancy to second is I am thankful to have my lifeline, my counselor. She’s been there for this anxiety and negative voices in my head since just after Bug was born. After confirming my pregnancy, she helped me work through a lot of the questions and scenarios I was going through. For me, list making helps me feel more comfortable and in control. So, I made a list of questions that were on my mind. These lists and questions led to conversations with my doctor, who explained better processes, base lines and expectations.
Another huge difference between pregnancies is the current global pandemic. The arrival of COVID-19, has added another level of anxiety that I was not prepared for, a new layer that I would need to work through daily as the virus and spread changes.
A normal person would be thinking, ”Man this is messing with my grocery plans or seeing my friends/family,” but for someone who is pregnant, and high risk on top of that, this has been life changing. I look at every opportunity and option through a different lens.
For me and my growing little person, getting COVID or any other illness could be devastating. At any point I could have to deliver to save both myself and this baby. What if that happened today at 26 weeks? What if it happened at 34 weeks again? What would this mean for me seeing my baby? My recovery? There are so many uncertainties that even medical professionals can’t guarantee or work through because of how many factors could have different effects.
Also on my mind, what does COVID and delivery mean for the postpartum period? Who can visit? Who can’t? How can I tell family or friends that I don’t feel comfortable with them coming into the house with a newborn when they went out to a restaurant last week? None of this is normal and none of this is fair.
What I do know is I am becoming a new kind of mom. I still battle my anxieties, but I have a trusted group of people to help me through all of this, including my counselor and my doctor. I am stronger after my NICU experience. I know how to advocate for myself this time. I know what I need for my mental health. I will ask for help this time. I will express my feelings. I will welcome an amazing new baby into our family, in whatever way they arrive with whatever obstacles come with it, because at the end of the day I know – I was born to be a mom.