The Million-Dollar Question

To have another baby, or not. This is the million-dollar question. I sure wish I could come up with an answer. I always assumed that I would get to the point where I knew, really knew for sure, I was done having kids. Not a doubt in my mind that this body would ever birth another baby. I did think that, for a long time. I remember the feeling coming over me as I sat in my OB’s office. I was a little over 6 months pregnant with Joey (my second baby) and already the premature labor was starting. I was scared and tired and really sick of the contractions. It was as I sat there wearily, my big belly sticking out, filled with a baby I already loved more than I could stand that my doctor let the words slip from his mouth. “If the baby is born this early, he will most likely not survive.”  My heart slowed with every word he said. I understood, but did not comprehend.

I remember the talk my doctor gave me as I was laying in my hospital bed in labor with Jack. It was the first day of my 34th week. As I struggled to focus and breathe through the contractions he explained to me what to expect when giving birth to a premature baby. He might not breathe or cry. He would be small and red. There would be a team (by team he meant more people than I imagined) waiting for him while I was delivering. I was pushing and counting and praying and they were busy setting up the isolette and tubes and monitors. He explained that once he was born, they would take him and depending on how he was I would see him just as soon as possible. I would not hold him first.

He was born and instantly cried. I will never in my life forget what that cry did to me. I knew in that moment he would be okay. He was wisked away, but I did get a moment to snuggle him before he was put in the NICU. He never stayed with us in our room and was only brought in for a few minutes at a time to attempt to feed him. Thankfully he only needed help breathing for an hour or so after he was born, but he didn’t know how to eat. The sucking and rooting reflex babies have develops after week 34 so he had to have a feeding tube in his nose. We would then push breast milk through the tube using a syringe. Everyday he grew stronger and we were able to let him try to take a bottle but it was so hard for him and he would quickly get tired and sleep instead of eat. 

I remember when they told me I had to go home and that he couldn’t come with me. He was not strong enough to be released and needed to stay in the NICU. Leaving the hospital without your baby is the most unnatural thing a mom can do. I sobbed the entire way home certain that something would go wrong, that he would need us, and we wouldn’t be there. He spent 2 weeks in that NICU. I spent all day there rocking him and caring for him surrounded by the greatest nurses and neonatologist any parents could ask for. These people helped Jason and I survive being away from our sweet boy.

It wasn’t the best situation. No one wants to have a premature baby who has to spend time in a NICU, but (and this is a big BUT) we were so lucky! Jack was healthy and strong and he eventually came home. He was perfect.

So as I was sitting there that day, my OB explaining my contractions and dilation, I remember thinking I would not survive it if I lost him. Him, the baby I felt wiggle and roll all day long. The baby who I saw pictures of every week or so on ultrasound. I knew him. If he didn’t make it through this, if my body failed on us, I would surely not survive it.  So I told myself I would do everything they said. I would try it all. The bed rest, the progesterone shots, the horrible drugs to stop labor, the steroids for the babies lungs, I would do it. But after all this, I would never do it again.

I told Jason it was too hard. I was healthy and still my body was constantly going into labor and we had to be always fighting back. It was beyond stressful and tiring and painful (contractions for months is NOT FUN.) Here I was this expecting mom with an almost 2 year old and I couldn’t carry him or pick him up. I couldn’t put him in his crib or the car or the bathtub. It was hard on us all.

The day Joey finally fought hard enough and made it clear he was going to be born I was in my 35th week. I knew what to expect because we had done it before. This time we had the steroids to help develop his lungs and we were prepared for the NICU and all the heartache that came with a premature baby. But it was different this time. He was so big and strong and screaming! I was the first to hold him.

He spent one night in the NICU because he needed help breathing on and off (even with those shots) but he was able to nurse and could eat just fine. He was so tough, our little man. After it was all over, all I could think of was how worth it he was. How all of the doctors visits, hospital stays, tests, shots and contractions, were worth it, worth him.

I go back and forth. I am happy and content with my boys with our family. They keep Jason and I busier than we have ever been. We are also more tired and frustrated by the overall job of parenting than I was prepared for. It is hard work and not just sometimes but most of the time.  There is also the best part of it to consider. The loving them so much I can’t stand it part. They are beautiful, smart, funny, loving, (sometimes naughty) little people. How could I not want another one?

How do you know when you are done having kids, when you won’t look back in 5 or 10 years from now and wish you would’ve had just one more? Then the other part of me thinks why risk it. Why go through all that worry again when I have a great family. I don’t need to get greedy. I just wish I knew for sure, 100% with no doubts.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you! I'm trying again after the miscarriage and I'm fearful of it not being successful. Why is it so easy for some people, yet so hard for others? I don't think you will ever be 100% sure you are done with having babies. How can we say we are done creating such beautiful beings? The closeness only we can have with our little ones when they make their homes in us for 9 months. It's the greatest experience I've ever had. Good luck deciding! :)
    Love, Kara