I know your innocent question wasn’t meant to hurt me…

…but a sibling for my son will just never be possible

A guest post by Suzy from Our Bucket List Lives

I spent over 4 years of my life trying for a baby. Hearing people ask: when were we going to have a baby and wouldn’t we like to have a child? That was tough back then for many reasons. Now I hear different questions nearly every week, and they hurt just as much. Such as “Is Jamie your only child?” or “Are you going to have another?”. They are totally innocent questions but sadly they hurt just as much.

I think it’s so easy for people who have conceived easily and naturally to not think that these sorts of questions could really upset some people. To you they are innocent questions, perhaps a bit of friendly chatter. But to so many these sorts of questions can cut so deep and hurt so much.

I’m sadly one of them. I normally mutter something about “Yes he is the only one”; “He’s more than enough”; blah blah blah. But I’m screaming inside. “Yes he’s the only one and yes I would just love a sibling for my precious miracle. But you know what, he was a miracle, and I couldn’t risk my life again. I certainly couldn’t risk him losing his Mummy to give him a sibling.”

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We went through 4 rounds of IVF to conceive our precious boy. That’s quite enough for anyone to go through. To add to all this, I had an extremely complicated pregnancy, and I fell into the bracket of high risk when it was discovered that I had a placenta accreta.

Definition by Mayo Clinic Staff
“Placenta accreta is a serious pregnancy condition that occurs when blood vessels and other parts of the placenta grow too deeply into the uterine wall. Typically, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall after childbirth. With placenta accreta, part or all of the placenta remains firmly attached. This can cause severe blood loss after delivery. Placenta accreta is considered a high-risk pregnancy complication. If placenta accreta is suspected during pregnancy, you’ll likely need an early C-section delivery followed by the surgical removal of your uterus (hysterectomy).”

Scary stuff hey? But don’t worry; it happens in less than 1% of pregnancies. Yes, I was a rare “case”, and as the chances are super high that I’d get this again with another pregnancy, then the risks are just too much. You can’t really impart all this information to someone when they are asking you such innocent questions. Nor would I want to. Sadly, there’s so many women out there who have been through similar events. Not just having to have so many rounds of IVF for one baby, but who have gone through their pregnancy with such high risks that having another would just be impossible … and crazy!

So yes, I nearly died having Jamie. I lost a scary amount of blood and I was under general anaesthetic for 7 hours while they tried to make me well enough again. I didn’t meet our gorgeous son for 24 hours because I was so poorly, and the road to recovery was long and hard. The worst thing was that I never even saw my son come into this world because I was under anaesthetic. I wasn’t there for him when he needed me. 

The last 4 weeks of my pregnancy were spent away from home – either in hospital because I was bleeding or in a hotel nearby in case of an emergency, as they basically wouldn’t let me go home because we lived too far away. When Jamie was born, we were both in hospital for 10 days after because I was so poorly and because of the strict observations they had me under. 

This is why I could never give Jamie his much wanted sibling. I had always dreamed of having two kids. That’s how I lived my life. I have a brother 2 years younger than me and we played so much together when we were younger. I am ever aware that Jamie will never have this. Sad thing is, this isn’t just me and my story. There are thousands of stories out there. The couples who struggle to conceive at all and the couples who could never give their child a sibling.

In conclusion, I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask questions like this because, hey, it’s only human nature to be interested in others. Just take into account that perhaps for some people these questions could hurt more than you can imagine. We know you mean well.

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Two Tiny Hands

Why birth plans are a waste of time for first-time mums

Is that a nice controversial blog post title? Well, it got your attention, right? Right. Okay, so birth plans might not be entirely a waste of time. But I think first-time mums in particular should be warned that they very well might be.

You see, when I was pregnant with my first child, nobody told me that a birth plan wasn’t really a plan. It’s more like a sort of wish list. To me the word plan connotes something that I have control over. If I plan to go to work tomorrow, then there is a 99% chance that I’m going to go. There are some conceivable events that could stop me from going, but in all likelihood, it will be purely up to me as to whether I follow through on my plan.

But when it comes to birthing babies, we have very little control as to how things are going to pan out. That is the truth that nobody told little old me. My birth plan was written on my heart. It had the following points:

  • I wanted to deliver at a midwife-led centre instead of in hospital
  • I wanted a water birth with only gas & air for pain relief
  • No induction
  • No epidural
  • No continuous monitoring
  • I was going to have a beautiful, calm, natural birth

I was so certain that these were the things that were needed to help me cope with the delivery. I also thought they were the best and safest options for me and my baby. However, at 10 days overdue I was showing meconium-stained waters with no other signs of going into labour. So this is the birth I got:

  • Birth in hospital instead of the midwife-led centre
  • I didn’t even go anywhere near a water birthing pool
  • I was induced
  • I had an epidural
  • I laid on my back the whole time, being continuously monitored
  • I screamed and cried and swore and was absolutely terrified and NOT CALM the entire time
  • I had an emergency c-section

It was the polar opposite of what I had wanted.

And I was absolutely heartbroken about it. I had spent so much time thinking about how it was all going to go down, and researching what the best things to do were. When I didn’t get to do any of those things, I saw myself as a failure. For me, failing to have the “natural” (read vaginal) birth I’d planned was like failing at something I thought I was born to do. I’d been gallivanting around telling my friends that my body was built to give birth. And it was. Just not the way I had intended.

I just wish that someone – anyone – had taken the pregnant me aside and told me just how unpredictable giving birth can be. And that at the end of the day, all that matters is that you deliver a healthy baby. So if you’re pregnant now or recently gave birth and are feeling disappointed by the experience, here are a few things that I think need to be said:

  • Remember that there is a possibility that all plans, wishes and expectations will go completely out the window on the big day. Accept that and don’t dwell too much on a future you can’t predict.
  • A lot of advice I was given from various sources made me think that I would need to “advocate” for myself during the birth. I would need to keep those doctors and midwives in line by making sure they knew my birthing desires at all times. But when it came down to it, I was too scared and in too much pain to argue about anything. I just did exactly what they told me to. And that was probably the right thing to do, but the earlier advice made me feel as though I’d failed myself by not pushing my agenda.
  • There is no nobility in facing unbearable pain. If you want the drugs, take the drugs! There is nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about if you use every single pain relief method available to you.
  • It doesn’t matter how the baby comes out. You will give birth in the best way you can, be it vaginally, via a caesarean or with other assistance.

So in my humble opinion, the best birth plan is a plan to go with the flow. How can you plan something that is different every time it happens, even for the same person? But if you think it helpful to write down your wishes with regard to your birth – of course go ahead. Just be prepared that when you’re actually in labour, you may want to crumple it up and throw it at someone – probably your partner.

And if, like me, you are unhappy about how your birth went, then talk to someone about it. Many hospitals offer a postnatal debriefing or counselling service where they go through your delivery notes and explain why things happened the way they did. I took advantage of this service myself and it made me feel so much better about my birth. I stopped blaming myself for it not going the way I wanted.

Before I had the counselling, I was afraid to ever give birth again in case it was equally awful. But the counselling showed me that every birth is different. When I did eventually have a second baby, everything went exactly to plan. Because I didn’t have one!

Tammymum
Petite Pudding