I’ve written a bit before about my feelings about not having another baby (here). I just feel like I haven’t come to terms with it and so maybe writing a bit more about it might help with that process?
When I wrote last time, I had spoken to the haematology and rheumatology consultants but not to the cardiologists. When I met with them earlier this year they broached the subject of another pregnancy (it’s always the doctors who bring it up, never me!) and basically if I had to summarise the look of ‘don’t do it, you and probably the baby will die, it’s the most stupid idea ever’ then it would be the look both consultants pulled. Basically the warfarin I take to stop my blood clotting can be swapped for different medication which stops clots (so I’d have a daily injection throughout pregnancy and for six weeks after) but the heart medication I take can’t be taken while pregnant and there’s no safe alternative. So although my heart operates at around ten per cent less than a normal heart, which is only classed a mild cystolic disfunction, there’s no way of knowing how much damage nine months without medication would do to it. And of course if I had another episode of CAPS then I’d basically be screwed because of already having a slightly dodgy heart.
To put it bluntly, they can’t put a number on it but it’s more likely than not that either me or the new baby wouldn’t make it. Obviously I have a child and an almost-husband and family and friends to think about when I consider the risk to my own life. But for me the thought of actively trying to conceive a baby who has more chance of dying than living is scary. How would you cope with the guilt if it didn’t survive? There’s a difference between taking a risk with your own life and doing that with a tiny baby’s life. And of course Alex is a huge consideration in all this, the last thing I’d want is for her to be adversely affected by any decision we took.
I know all of this, when I think about it logically there are so many reasons it’s a truly terrible idea. But still it doesn’t sit comfortably with me yet. I can’t feel okay about it yet. When I hold my baby nephew sometimes something just catches in the back of my throat when I think about the fact I missed Alexandra being that age, and I’ll never get the chance to do it again. When I see people on forums who had babies in the same month as I did either planning to or actually falling pregnant again, I feel a little twang of something. There’s a huge physical need in me (can you feel your biological clock?) to have another baby. It’s something I feel much more acutely than I ever did before I had Alex.
Alexandra was the most wanted baby ever and it’s a miracle she’s here and alive and healthy and just absolutely wonderful all round. It’s even more of a miracle that I’m here to enjoy her. I think this a hundred million times a day. But I can’t help thinking about what might have. How might life with two have been different. Would we be trying again yet? Would we have got pregnant really quickly again? Would I get to be fully involved in (and maybe even enjoy) the newborn stage the second time around?
There’s so many questions that I can never have the answers to and there’s a whole lifetime of expectation that I have to drop. I just have to move on and get over it and deal with it. But one of the things making that even harder is the wealth of people queuing up to ask me when we’ll have another. Obviously those very close to me knows but anyone outside of that immediate circle seems to be popping up right now to ask the question. It’s like a timer’s gone off and now my baby is ten months old everyone wants to know when number two will be here.
I usually just give a short ‘there won’t be a number two due to medical advice’ sort of answer but every time it breaks my heart a little bit. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of a couple unable to have children or who’ve lost a child. I wouldn’t ever compare myself to them. But this hurts too. It’s very real for me, the sadness, the sense of losing out on something I’d almost taken for granted I could have. I try to remember there was never any guarantee of number two but I know a ‘no’ is not the decision I would have come to.
The trauma of what happened to us has become much more acute over the past couple of months and I feel much worse about it than I did in the immediate aftermath when I was fighting to get physically better. It will take a long, long time to heal but my worry is I will never fully accept the decision my illness made for us about not having another child.
Harriet and Alexandra x