My Last Pregnancy is Coming to an End
I’m not ready to be done having babies. I’ve been grappling with this question for the last few months as one severe complication after the next has piled up throughout this pregnancy. Now, I’m sitting here confined to a bed in the hospital at 33 weeks pregnant and I have to face the fact that this is my last pregnancy whether I like it or not.
My. Last. Pregnancy.
A piece of me is heartbroken that he will be the last baby. I’ve always wanted five kids, but sometimes life doesn’t work out like we planned. Actually, life almost never works out like we’ve planned. That’s the beauty of it. I may not have known that Liam was going to be our last Jedi, but God surely did and that gives me incredible peace although I’m still filled with so much regret and guilt.
You see, I’ve been praying for him since the day I knew he existed inside of me. Praying that he would be healthy and that things in life would fall into place in just the right way. I prayed for his sisters that they would be prepared to welcome another kid into our house only 18 months after the last one. I also prayed for Travis and our relationship. I prayed that this pregnancy would be easy and uncomplicated. I prayed that it wouldn’t impact my career or change our goals. I prayed for everything and I rushed through the motions of it all.
Trying to Slow Down
I realize now that I’ve wasted 33 weeks praying for this pregnancy instead of enjoying it and it’s tearing me apart. Logically, I know that this has to be the last pregnancy. I’ve had three doctors give me the speech about how another pregnancy might actually kill me and that I need to be there for my four kids. I get it. Message received.
It’s not even that I want to have more kids. I’m pretty content with my four awesome kiddos. It’s the finality of it all. There is a huge huge difference between not wanting to have another baby and not being able to have another baby.
The State of My Health
I’ve been in the hospital 5 days over the last week and I’ve been on medical leave from work since 11/21/17. It hasn’t been fun. I spent my first 32hrs in the hospital on magnesium, which basically makes you feel like you got run over by a bus and got the worst version of the flu all at the same time. I was only allowed to have 1oz of fluid every 1hr for the entire time I was on “mag”. We thought that I would be stuck on an IV and a catheter for Christmas day and made arrangements to get all the presents here to celebrate bedside. Fortunately, I had a great third day and they discharged me on 12/23 and I was able to be home just in time for Christmas Eve! Wooo!
Want to know where I got this awesome maternity shirt? Click here!
One of the partners at my OB/GYN is on the board of the hospital here. She’s very well-known for her experience and her practice. She was the first to visit me to talk about removing my tubes. A 4 am chat with my doctor about this pretty sensitive topic is a tough pill to swallow. Quite frankly, Travis and I haven’t even discussed this topic in great detail yet. We thought we still had time. That morning talking to her was a very big wakeup call that I needed to make a decision quickly especially since they were giving me steroids to speed Liam’s lungs just in case I had to deliver within the next few days.
On 12/26, I was re-admitted to the hospital because I didn’t pass my triage checkup (darn the luck right!?). My blood pressure refused to come down and finally after 4hrs and several large doses (including 3 IV doses) of blood pressure medication, I was starting to see numbers back in the 140s/80s.
That afternoon another partner at the doctor’s office came to visit. She was also the one who readmitted me and wouldn’t let me leave with the blood pressure numbers I was facing. She was pretty blunt about the fact that I had to consider that another pregnancy might kill me or any future baby I would be carrying and wanted to answer any questions that I might have about tubal ligation or tubal removal. I had questions indeed.
Travis and I had talked a little the night before and we had the following questions:
- Will it lengthen the surgery and how long?
- Does it put me at increased risk of pain or longer recovery time?
- Will I be accessible to Liam quickly since he will be in the NICU?
- Does it hinder my ability to breastfeed?
- What risks are involved?
- Given my family history of cancer, should a tubal removal be considered?
My doctor explained that (specific to me and my health):
- Surgery would be an additional 10-15 minutes. It could take up longer if they find a lot of scar tissue or if I have bleeding complications.
- The pain would be minimal in addition to the pain I’m already going to have because of a 4th c-section. My recovery time would not change at all.
- Liam will go to the NICU for evaluation right away because of the issues that he is facing with a pre-term delivery and having short long-bones due to IUGR and being small for gestational age.
- It would not hinder my ability to breastfeed or my hormonal levels.
- The risks involved are the same for the c-section, which for me is higher because it’s a 4th c-section. Risks that I could face include excessive scar tissue, bleeding issues, and the normal risks of a major surgery.
- Yes. New studies are indicating that ovarian cancer, might actually develop first at the end of the fallopian tubes. She discussed how some new research supports removing the tubes in these circumstances to prevent the need for another surgery down the line given my family history. More research about tubal removal and ovarian cancer can be found here and here. Remember to always talk with your doctor about your personal health and any concerns that you might have. The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance offers a risk analysis that has great information and questions to discuss with your doctor to determine your risk of developing Ovarian Cancer.
Sterilization. The end of a chapter.
The mere word gives me an uncomfortable feeling. Sterilization. I realize that there are a ton of women who are fighting to have children and I’m complaining that I won’t have more than four. I absolutely know how darn lucky I am that I’ve had these four little miracles and survived each pregnancy despite the crazy complications that I’ve faced with each one. For anyone, this is a very emotional decision. I always err on the side of caution, but both sides of this choice are cautious for different reasons.
The last baby. Last flutters. The last kicks.
I don’t know how to grasp all of this just yet. Would I have taken more pictures? Would I have done more things to record my pregnancy? I feel guilty for regretting a huge chunk of this pregnancy because of the major impact on my career I thought that it had before I realized that impact was a giant blessing in disguise and will forever change the course of my family. I’ve got (hopefully!) 3 1/2 more weeks to remember all of this and document what I can before this little man arrives.
I commend all of the mamas (and future mamas) out there! This life isn’t easy. We face a lot of choices and we also put a lot on ourselves. It’s hard not to feel guilty or scared about making a choice. Keep being strong and keep making the tough choices and persevering on to make things happen whether it’s to have kids, to be healthy, to keep your kids healthy, to raise a family, and everything in between! Cherish it all. The good, the bad, and even the ugly.
So What’s Next?
Stay tuned as I continue to share and document this journey over the next few weeks. It’s pretty apparent what my decision needs to be, but I’m not ready to type it or say it out loud. If you are going through a similar decision or situation, please feel free to share your experiences with me. I’ve been searching the internet and taking it all in. The stories I’ve read are beautiful and heartbreaking. One thing is for sure and that is that they all leave me feeling like it will work out in the end.