Last week I was talking to our chiropractor about Robbie's birth. He didn't really know the story and was asking some questions. After learning some of the details, he chuckled and said "So I guess you're done now, huh?"
And I was dumbfounded.
I hadn't been so flummoxed by a question about children since before getting pregnant with Robbie.
It always surprises me when people ask a stranger if they're going to have children. It's such a personal question; one fraught with emotions. I dreaded the question with all of my being when we were trying. Even after we were completely out of the closet and I'd answer "well, we're trying but...." I still hated it. Usually being honest about the question just lead to a myriad of assvice usually starting with "just relax.." and left me not just surprised at the question, but furious at the response.
I don't so much mind when people ask if we WANT to have more children. The answer to that is easy. Yes, we would like another child.
Will we HAVE another child? I can't answer that.
Will we TRY to have another child? Well, I can't answer that, either.
There are too many unknowns right now. My OB has been encouraging. Yes, I would be high risk from the beginning. She actually would send me to see a MFM pre-conception. Probably some form of blood thinner injection for the duration of a pregnancy. But she hasn't ruled it out.
There are more "normal" issues, too. Money is a big one. Our financial state definitely reflects an unplanned year off of work and far too many co-pays for doctor and hospital visits. Not only have we eaten through every cent of savings we had, but also lived on our credit cards as well. We will need to both pay off (or at least DOWN) some of that and rebuild our savings before we can even consider another child.
The risks are not small. The chances of me getting sick again are very, very high. Statistically it would happen later and less severely. But "later" might be 28 weeks instead of 26 and maybe next time I'd make it a few weeks before delivery instead of a few days. But it's entirely possible that we'd have another preemie. Forget dealing with all of that again- we'd get through it, just like we did last time. But is it fair to do it to another child? Robbie bears the scars of his NICU days in many ways. Sometimes I kiss his many small white-dotted IV scars and feel guilty that my body made them necessary. And Robbie had a fairly uneventful NICU stay, particularly for a 26 weeker. It could be worse next time.
And what ABOUT Robbie? I love him and wouldn't trade him for anything, but the simple fact is that he requires more than the average child. Therapy twice a week, probably more to come. At least one doctor appointment per week, usually two. Exercises multiple times per day. Never mind that every feeding takes at least 90 minutes to keep him from screaming in pain. Would having another child lessen my focus on him?
And the new baby? Would Robbie's needs keep me from being a proper parent to a 2nd child? Would having another just keep me from being a good parent to EITHER of them?
Of course, Robbie's newborn stage was not easy on my marriage, either. I'd like to think David would be more experienced and therefore more helpful if we had another, but I can't count on that. Could our marriage survive another newborn, especially if the new one also came early and had special needs?
But the fact remains that we would LIKE another. Someday. Certainly not soon, but I'm also not getting any younger. And with pre-e, sometimes sooner is better. There is a theory floating about that a first pregnancy (though it was my 3rd, but who's counting) with pre-e is almost like a vaccine again getting pre-e in a 2nd pregnancy. With a case as severe & early as mine, it's less so, but again, it should happen later and less severely. So time may be of the essence.
All of this went quickly through my mind when the doctor asked such a seemingly innocent question. "So you're done then, huh?"
The short answer? "uh, maybe. We don't know. We'll see.."