This time last year, I was filled with grief . . . and uncertainty. I had just experienced my fourth miscarriage on my journey to have a fourth child. I was reminded that I’m not normal—whatever normal really means. My heart was broken, but I was more concerned about my broken body. It’s painful enough to experience a miscarriage. Add to that grief the fear that your body will continue to betray you, and you suddenly find yourself mourning two distinct losses simultaneously.
As I was thinking about either giving up or seeking the help of a recurrent pregnancy loss specialist, I suddenly felt compelled to blog about my feelings and experiences. My writing journey began nearly 13 months ago, just a few days after my fourth miscarriage and second D&C. As I was admittedly feeling sorry for myself, I began to meet those of you in the blogging world braver than I who had experienced as many or more miscarriages than I had—all without bringing home even your first “take home baby.” I realized that I was not alone . . . and remembered to be grateful for the the living children that I already had.
I didn’t know then that I would be blessed with a new life one year later—a life that nearly died from an unexplained massive fetomaternal hemorrhage months after my war with My Mighty Miscarriage Foe had officially ended. With the birth of my son comes a victory of sorts, even as I am still healing from our recent ordeal. Though the traumatic experience of our fetomaternal hemorrhage has reminded me that I will never be immune to the potential perils of this sinful world, even after My Mighty Miscarriage Foe can no longer hurt me, I still choose to rejoice over the new baby that graces my world. Beyond that, I finally have the closure I need to say good-bye to my childbearing years—something I didn’t have after my third baby was born.
Back in 2008, I naively believed that my third miscarriage had been a random event (since I had given birth to two babies after being treated for PCOS following my first two miscarriages). But after my fourth miscarriage, I could no longer ignore the fact that My Mighty Miscarriage Foe would be there to do battle with me each time I chose to conceive another baby. The only way to put him behind me forever was to stop trying to have more babies. I nearly stopped trying before my sweet Luke was conceived, forging ahead only after the woman on the cruise ship (who I believe to have been an angel) told me one week after my D&C that I needed another child so that my son could have a brother. So the first reason that I choose not to have any more children now is that I do not want to risk having another miscarriage. My risk has already proven to be greater than average, and as I get older, this risk will only increase further due to age.
The second reason I choose not to have anymore children is that I am fearful of experiencing a massive fetomaternal hemorrhage again. What if the next time my baby bleeds to death before I make it to Labor & Delivery? Each day that I was pregnant in the future, I would wonder whether my placenta was stealing precious blood from my baby.
The third reason that I choose not to have anymore children in the future is that I had my first C-section and that C-section was complicated by wound dehiscence and a post-operative infection requiring a second surgery and hospital stay. Two weeks after my son was born, I developed high fevers from a wound infection that didn’t respond to oral antibiotics, so I had to undergo an incision and drainage under general anesthesia followed by two more days in the hospital for IV antibiotic therapy. And my wound, though closing nicely, is still open (as expected) two weeks following that incision and drainage. As far as repeat C-sections vs. VBACs go, I know that this subject is controversial, but for me personally, I could never undergo a VBAC due to the 1% risk of uterine rupture and possible fetal death even in women who had a low horizontal incision previously. For some women, that risk is acceptable, but for me, it is not. I lost too many babies due to miscarriages that were beyond my control. I couldn’t knowingly take on the 1% risk of a catastrophic outcome when that risk is in my control. For me, that one percent risk is HUGE. That would leave me with another C-section, and after experiencing this complicated wound infection (with my only risk factor being the fact that my C-section was done emergently), I have no desire to ever have another C-section again.
The fourth reason I choose not to have anymore children is that children and prenatal & delivery care are expensive! There are only so many times that you can fork out that kind of money to have a baby. Plus, each time I add another child to our family health insurance policy, the monthly premium increases significantly (by more than $200 just for my new baby boy, even before they knew that he would require a NICU stay). I will be paying these medical bills for months to come. And, of course, these bills don’t take into account the amount of money that it will cost to raise a child until adulthood once you actually bring your baby home.
Had I stopped at three children, I personally would have always wondered if I should have had another baby. For many women, this question wouldn’t enter their minds even after having just two children. But for me, it would have been there. And in my case, I would have wondered if I had stopped at three children only because I was afraid of having another miscarriage. I now know that this isn’t the only reason that I am done.
My twelve year journey to build my family is finally over. My war with My Mighty Miscarriage Foe is finished once and for all. Along the way, I was called upon to experience infertility initially and then one miscarriage for each baby that I eventually brought home. And even after experiencing these losses, I never thought that my journey would end like it did—with a massive fetomaternal hemorrhage requiring an emergency C-section at 35 weeks and a complicated post-operative wound infection. But life rarely unfolds as planned, does it? I am a different person because of these things that I have experienced, but I have peace nonetheless, and God was with me every step of the way—even when I couldn’t see Him.
As I say good-bye in this final post, my wish for all of you is that you will eventually discover the same peace and closure that I have been blessed enough to find—that your journeys to build the families you dream of will go smoothly . . . and that you will remain strong and eventually prevail—even if they don’t.