In the days following Samuel's birth, I had a surprising and compelling urge to hit the 'REDO' button and have another baby. Immediately. Of course, it was an irrational feeling that I'm sure my mind was using as a band aid for the situation.
Years before we were married, Michael and I had many conversations about our dreams: children, how many, how far apart they would be, the genders, and so on. Dreams that any happy couple has as they start a life together. Originally our plan had been two children, two years apart. At the time, I thought this plan was more like a daydream than a possible reality.
When I was nine, I went through an experimental...and rather grueling...chemotherapy and radiation protocol to treat a cancerous tumor that had grown on my kidney (called Wilms.) Although the treatment was very successful, the chances of my having children later in life looked doubtful. Fast forward fifteen years, and you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I looked at that positive pregnancy test result.
Samuel is a HUGE blessing. In more ways than one. But the thing is, I'm not sure I could do this again. Sometimes I feel like I'm still picking up pieces of myself and trying to fit them back together. I'm afraid that if we had another extremely early child that there would be nothing left of me to reassemble.
So obviously, having child #2 is going to take some serious contemplation and prayer. There was never a good explanation for Samuel's early birth.....no infection, no blood pressure issues, nothing. The ultrasound I had two weeks prior to his birth looked absolutely normal.
You ask, "What's the big deal? So you had one early...that doesn't mean anything for the next one." Wrong. As I've had quoted to me about a billion times, "The women who are at greatest risk of preterm labor and birth are women who have had a previous preterm birth."
With this in mind, we set up an appointment to teleconference with a high risk pregnancy clinic in Little Rock. Michael and I felt like we needed to know what our options are and what their thoughts were. I think we were hoping that they would have a good explanation for why I went into labor so early and give us some answers about how to prevent it from happening again. OR tell us not to have any more children. I can't say I would have been happy with the latter, but at least it would have been clear-cut.
Before we teleconferenced, we spoke with a genetics counselor. She told us that there is some recent research showing that Wilms cancer survivors had an increase chance of preterm labor. However, the results weren't conclusive and the actual cause was unknown. One theory is that large doses of radiation cause the uterus to lose it's elasticity. It reaches a certain point and can literally grow no larger. But this is just a theory.
After we spoke to the counselor, Michael and I were feeling pretty down. We waited in the small stuffy waiting room anxiously for the teleconference to begin....thinking that we were going to hear the same thoughts from the high risk doctor. We didn't. The nurse very confidently told us that the high risk doctor felt like we should try again, and at 16 weeks we would begin P17 shots (progesterone.) She said they have dealt with several other Wilms tumor survivors and they did fine.
Now it looks like we have a big decision to make....and with about as much clarity as we had to begin with. I have so many conflicting feelings. Excitement over the possibility of a REAL pregnancy and a full-term baby....big belly, baby showers, time to decorate the nursery, breast feeding, a sibling for Samuel, no doctors appointments, no oxygen, no monitors, etc. Worried over the possibility that I may not enjoy the pregnancy because I'd be anxious all of the time....what if? Confident that I can do my best with this pregnancy....stay off my feet, drink a lot of water, frequent check ups at the doctor to measure my cervix.
This isn't going to happen any time soon, but we'd appreciate your prayers for wisdom, direction, and peace with the decision. God's plan is greater than any plan we could ever make.