Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The dreaded question(s)

It wasn't until after we lost Addison that I realized how much I hated the question "do you have children?" or "how many kids do you have?" or even "so, when do you think you'll have children?".  Even to this day I hate answering those questions.  And now, there's one more to add to the list:  "Are you ready to have another?".

Those people that don't know our story, that don't know what it's like to live through the death of your own child, a death that, technically, you caused, have no clue.  And, yes, it was my fault.  It was my body's fault, my immune system.  Yes, I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, I KNOW that.  I don't really blame myself for her death, but I know in my heart that it was my body that attacked her.  In 2005, I had 2 life saving blood transfusions.  No one gave a second thought to screening the blood for antigens, it's not common practice in emergency situations; no one could have predicted how life would turn out.

My body attacked Joshua in the same way.  By 24 weeks pregnant, he was very anemic.  Over the next 10 weeks, he received 6 transfusions in utero.  Rainbow pregnancies are stressful without added complications, but this was nearly too much.  So when people say "Are you ready for another?" I just look at them and smile.  They have NO idea.  They don't know that, with antibody isoimmunization, all subsequent pregnancies are usually worse than ones before them.  Babies tend to be more affected by the antibodies, often a lot earlier.  Transfusions are very difficult to do at early stages and most doctors won't do them before 19 or 20 weeks simply because it's too hard to get a needle in to the umbilical cord.  There is another transfusion procedure where the blood can be put in to the baby's tummy, but it's not nearly as effective.  The transfusions themselves suck.  Not only do they come with some pretty high risks (blood clots, severe bleeding, uncontrolled contractions, early delivery, fetal death, etc), they are just plain nerve wracking, uncomfortable and, at times, painful.  Imagine a 6-8 inch needle being plunged in to your uterus after only having a topical/local anesthetic (usually lidocaine, though some docs will actually do spinal blocks; mine didn't).  Sometimes, the first attempt is at the wrong angle, so they have to withdraw the needle and try again.  Once the doc is at the right angle, they then have to get in to the umbilical cord and into the vein without going through it.  Bear in mind, the umbilical cord is not stationary.  And, if you've ever cut the cord, you know just how tough it is.  Not only that, but if the baby hasn't been sedated, he or she can kick or pull on the cord, knock the needle out of the cord or anything else you can imagine.  Joshua was famous for pulling the cord just as the doc got the needle in.  Needless to say after the first transfusion, the docs sedated him without hesitation.  For the most part, my transfusions went very smooth.  There was only one time I was brought to tears.  Right in the middle of the transfusion, my uterus contracted.  It was a very powerful contraction, almost as bad as active labor.  I was so sure something went wrong...but it didn't.  And, I have a healthy baby to prove it.

But do I want to go through all that again?  More than likely, the answer is yes.  We have always said we want 2 (living) children.  But am I ready?  For another kid, yes...for the stress, I'm not always so sure.  So, if I just smile when you ask me "are you ready for another", try to put yourself in my shoes.  Its not easy being in those shoes, trust me. 


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