After the birth of my micropreemie due to severe early onset preeclampsia and HELLP, I stepped off of the baby train. That was it, we were done. My husband and I are finished having children. We have one.
People seem to think that the size of our family is their business and often ask, “Are you going to have more children?” I politely smile, chuckle, and say something clever like, “No, we got it right the first time.”
The truth is… I would love to have another baby.
Before my baby’s birth, we decided that we wanted to have at least two children in our family. But, carrying another child is too risky for me.
When I think back to my baby’s birth and NICU journey, what stands out to me is how lucky we were. Ten hours into my twenty sixth week, our baby was delivered alive (and screaming) when the team was prepared for the possibility of a stillbirth. I was dangerously ill, but I survived. Later in the NICU, the discussions of NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) never moved beyond suspected NEC.
We seemed to dodge each peril thrown our way. Despite the residual long-term complications my baby and I deal with daily, we were incredibly fortunate. I’m not willing to knowingly take those chances again.
My husband and I decided together it was best that we stop at one child. However, the decision comes with its own flood of emotions.
Occasionally, I find that I miss the baby we didn’t have. I wonder what we would have named him or her, how he or she would play with my toddler, what he or she would have looked like, or even how the pregnancy would have been. I see siblings play together or in the store together and feel a little sad that we won’t have that in our family.
Sometimes, I feel like a coward for not wanting to roll the dice and try again. Other times, I feel broken. I think to myself, “If only I weren’t the problem, we could have the family we wanted.” Often times, I feel guilty. Especially when I see how badly my husband wants another baby that I can’t give him.
Also, I find that I struggle with jealousy and envy. I’m envious of the women I know who announce a pregnancy after they had declared they were done having kids. I’m jealous of last trimester pregnant women because I will never get to experience the third trimester of a pregnancy.
I know we have much for which to be grateful. However, all of our good fortune does not take away the sting and sadness I feel when someone asks about having more kids. Quite simply, it was not in the cards for us. I’m slowly learning to accept the hand which we were dealt.