When I was younger, people’s chosen family sizes always intrigued me. Why do they have that many (or few) kids? Why is there such a large age gap between those two children? Why am I 15 years old and dissecting other people’s family size? Of course now I know that most family sizes aren’t chosen, but that was long before I knew anything about infertility or Incompetent Cervix or birthing trauma. I am one of 6 kids myself, and didn’t know why parents could possibly want fewer than 4 kids.
Even as a teenager, the whole having-kids thing intrigued me. I felt like I knew it all because I watched that Ricky Lake documentary, Business of Being Born. And that when I had a baby, I wouldn’t let “them” give me Pitocin and just maybe I’d willingly give birth on my kitchen floor too. But nothing prepared me for gestational complications.
When I was pregnant, I naturally visited those baby message boards. One section was called Gestational Complications, and I thought oh wow, that’s so sad, can you imagine? Good thing I won’t have any issues with that! (First trimester unicorn lala land, right?). I’m a healthy 22-year-old. What can go wrong? I’m invincible!
Come my 20-week anatomy scan, and suddenly I knew everything about anything involving gestational complications. Or, at least Incompetent Cervix, anyway. I had to call off my home birthing midwife. No kitchen floor birth for me (well, not by choice, anyway).
That very day I was taken to the operating room and had my cervix sewn shut. I then spent the next seven weeks on bed rest, constantly sitting on the edge of a mental break down because every week I went in for my doctor’s appointment, my OB was shocked I was still pregnant. I gave birth via c-section at 26 weeks gestation, watched my son lay in the NICU for the next 15 weeks.
Nearly four years later, here we are, terrified of number two. To be honest, there are many moving parts as to why we haven’t had another child yet. I wanted a larger age gap between my son and any subsequent kid, and honestly, I just really like only having one. A career change which has my husband away much more than usual, and an overall lack of desire to “go through that again,” were all additional reasons for holding off on another baby.
And here we sit, fooling around with the idea of number two, because apparently we have amnesia. But when your only experience with child bearing is kind of, well, horrifying, can you ever truly get over it? Either you have another kid and it’s your miracle baby, your redeeming baby, the baby whose amazing birth has transformed and healed you from the trauma of the only other time you ever did this, or it happens again. What if it happens again?
I don’t have any answers because my husband and I are still scared about trying again. If you’re in the same boat, then we’re in this boat together, and it’s nice to meet you. But I have some thoughts that I’m basically telling myself, and you can listen in.
If you’ve gone through a birthing trauma and can’t decide on expanding your family or not, here’s the thing: Whatever choice you make, you will make for the right reasons. If you choose to keep your current family size, that is totally honorable. If you decide to have another child, that’s honorable too. Either option can be right. Please don’t make the decision because you feel pressured. Dig deep and ask yourself what’s right for your family. I know that trying to decide is difficult and sometimes a burden. But what you’re choosing right now is right. And whatever choice you make in five years is right, too.