I had a very idealistic view of how my pregnancy would go: prepping the nursery, bump pictures, childbirth classes, etc. Everything as expected for 40 weeks and in the spring we would welcome home a healthy baby.
That all changed at my 20-week appointment. Instead of happily walking out with ultrasound pictures of little fingers and toes, I was told that my cervix was … incompetent. Yes, incompetent.
A Traumatic Pregnancy
Incompetent cervix happens in about 1-2% of pregnancies and can lead to miscarriage or premature delivery. Within two weeks I was put on bed rest, had a procedure done to help keep my cervix closed, and received steroid injections to speed up the baby’s lung development in case of early delivery.
I felt like I was walking on eggshells over the next three months, fearful that even sneezing too hard could be harmful. Then, it happened: preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) at 32 weeks. PPROM is also an uncommon complication, occurring in 3% of pregnancies. Basically, my water broke early. I was admitted to the hospital with the goal of trying to keep baby inside for at least four more weeks. She made it five more days and my spring baby arrived during a snowstorm in late February.
After a stressful three week NICU stay, we brought our daughter home and a new chapter began. But it wasn’t long before we were asked questions about a second baby. The thought of going through that again felt paralyzing. For a long time I didn’t know if there would be another.
Kate is now three and I’m 13 weeks pregnant with our second baby. We’re just as excited and optimistic as we are nervous and anxious. The scary questions still float around my head: I have a three year-old to look out for this time, so what will happen if I end up on bed rest or in the hospital again?
If you’ve been through a traumatic pregnancy or birth experience and are struggling with the decision to have another baby, I understand. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to making that decision, here are a few things I found helpful:
Include your Partner
Pregnancy complications affect both of you and can be just as challenging for your partner, even if he/she is not the one on bedrest or in the hospital. Have open and honest conversations with each other about your desires, fears, and run through “what if” scenarios together.
Talk to your Doctor
Seeking your doctor’s input is important. Depending on your specific situation, your doctor may have advice on how long you should wait before trying again. Write your questions down ahead of time and bring them with you to the appointment. Don’t avoid any questions; if they’re on your mind – ask them! Remember, the relationship between you and your provider should be one of partnership.
Reach out to your Supports
It can be scary to open up about your experience, but sharing your plans and feelings can have its advantages. You might be surprised by how willing family, friends, and extended community supports are to offer help if you should need it. It is relieving to know you will be supported, regardless of what you decide.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Professional Help
It took a lot of processing, healing, and soul searching to get here and I did that with the help of a licensed therapist. Sometimes you need a little more support or guidance than what your best friends can provide, and that’s okay! Psychology Today is a great resource for locating a therapist who can meet your needs. Additionally, if any of your concerns involve job security, don’t be afraid to reach out to an employment law attorney. Many firms offer free consultations and a lawyer can help provide more guidance on your particular situation.
The road to choosing what is right for you and your family is individualized. Despite the underlying worry that is always present in the back of my mind, I am choosing to be optimistic and remain hopeful this pregnancy will be different. I’m happy to share more and offer a supportive ear if you need it. Connect with me on Instagram: @evaateresaa