Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trying Again After Preeclampsia

For many women, the decision to have another child after a complicated pregnancy can be difficult. For a mild case at term, PE may barely be a bump in the road, but it's a lot harder if you were very sick, or if your child was in the NICU, or worse, if your child did not survive. All the traumatic emotions I mentioned yesterday can play a role: anger, sadness, depression, fear. Especially fear. Will it happen again?

After my first pregnancy, the question of whether to try again wasn't that difficult for me. I'd always wanted a large family. I had read a research article putting my risk of recurrence at 40%, and that if it happened, it would likely be later and milder. I knew what to look for this time and was determined to manage my condition better and to advocate better for myself and my baby. I found a new doctor who assured me she'd monitor me closely and take my concerns seriously. And after all, even though it was scary to have been so sick and difficult to have my baby in the NICU, we did get through it reasonably well.

Sadly, my second pregnancy ended in the first trimester, as did my fourth. I mention that both because I always want to acknowledge that those children did in fact exist and also because some of the same risk factors for PE can raise the risk of miscarriage, in particular blood clotting disorders (which I have) and autoimmune diseases (which I am suspected to have).

I did end up getting PE again in my third pregnancy, but it was milder and later. That part of the story is coming tomorrow. Even after having PE twice, I didn't hesitate to try for a third child. As it turned out, I got a "two for one special", which threw a whole new variable into the equation. That part of the story I hope to put up next week, but long story short, it was a much more dangerous and scary experience.

After five complicated pregnancies, none of which made it to term, two angel babies, two brushes with death, and four healthy preemies, Papa Runner and I decided we couldn't risk another pregnancy. Even though I know it is the right choice for my family, it still has been very difficult to deal with. As I said, I always dreamed of having a big family. If I had normal, healthy pregnancies, I would want to have at least one more, maybe two or even three. I feel like I didn't really choose my family size, it was forced on me by this horrible condition. I am definitely grateful for my four surviving children, but my arms ache for the baby that should have been.

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