When Preeclampsia Steals Your Family Plan

Isn’t it amazing how you can make all the plans you want, but everything can turn out so differently? Nothing is ever guaranteed.  There are days when I’m so thankful for the life I have, but I still feel a bit of an emptiness over things that weren’t meant to be. That’s hitting me especially hard now that my last baby is closer to 3 than 2.

when preeclampsia steals your family plan

When Ben and I were newlyweds in our very early 20’s we would often sit down and discuss our “family plan”. There were talks about how many kids we wanted to have. We began planning for 3, but knowing that there has only been 1 boy in each generation of his family going back as far as we can see on the family tree, we even tossed around the idea of trying for #4 if we ended up with 3 girls.

We wanted to take the time to enjoy each other as a couple before having children. We did just that spending a majority of our 20’s taking trips on our motorcycle and just living the “kid free” life. Then there was the financial aspect of it all. We wanted to be stable, able to afford our children without worrying paycheck to paycheck. Everyone tells you to plan ahead, but there are just some things you can’t plan for.

We planned diligently, but when our first daughter was born in 2009, our life was anything but the fantasy we had created. We couldn’t imagine the economy would tank shortly after I got pregnant. We couldn’t plan that Ben would lose his job weeks after our daughter was born. We couldn’t plan that my perfect pregnancy would turn to severe Preeclampsia at 34 weeks throwing my natural birth plan out the window and leaving us both fighting for our lives.

That last one hit me the hardest. I had a wonderful team of doctors who fought to make sure both my baby girl and I survived. Delivery wasn’t the “magic cure” for me, and I had to deal with a lot of complications. I’m thankful my tiny 35 weeker was healthy, but at the same time I was devastated at the idea I may not have more children.

When our daughter turned 2 we started discussing the possibility of another baby with our doctor and ob/gyn. The general consensus was that there would be a risk, but we would have to decide if the risk was worth taking. Many times Preeclampsia only occurs in the first pregnancy. My case was so severe my doctors gave me at 60% chance of recurrence, although they believed it would be milder.

I so badly wanted another baby, so we took the risk. After months filled with so many doctor’s visits, ultrasounds, and biophysicals I lost count, daughter #2 joined us in June of 2013. I developed pregnancy induced hypertension very early on in that pregnancy and ended with superimposed Preeclampsia developing during induced labor. My daughter arrived healthy via VBAC, meeting another one of my goals. My recovery was much easier the second time around because my Preeclampsia was much milder, but it took 7 months for my blood pressure to return to “normal”. I say “normal” because it will never be the same. I am now pre-hypertensive, and that led to some very strong encouragements from our doctors to really consider the risks of what a 3rd pregnancy might do to me.

We decided then and there that Aubrey would be our last baby. I now have 2 precious little girls who need their mama, and the life threatening risk of a 3rd baby just isn’t worth it. It took Ben a little while longer to come to terms with the fact that he will never have that little boy he always wanted, but eventually we both agreed our little family is perfect. We discussed a vasectomy, but it didn’t happen at the time because my husband didn’t have insurance.

Here we are 2 years later, and all those feelings are welling up inside me again. My baby isn’t looking so much like a baby anymore. She’s taking on the features of a little girl. I started donating the last few baby items I’ve been holding onto to local charities or friends expecting babies. And boy do we have a lot of pregnant friends right now! We’ve been re-exploring Ben getting a vasectomy, and we’ve gone as far as making a list of urologists in the area to contact to find the ones that take our insurance.

I don’t know if it’s all the new babies, the vasectomy, or just watching my “last” baby grow, but I’ve been a complete mess! Suddenly I feel like a piece of me is missing that I will never have, babies that could have been, and I want to curse Preeclampsia with every breath. I find myself yet again mourning what wasn’t to be while counting my blessings for what is.

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Jenn is from Upstate, SC, and loves that she gets to work from home to be with her two little girls. Jenn has been happily married to her very own Superman, Ben, for over a decade, and spends her time reading, writing short stories, doing freelance work and blogging, crafting, riding motorcycles, watching Clemson football, and enjoying life with her family.

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