When The Decision To Have More Children Is Taken Away From You

After I delivered my youngest child by C-Section, I was wheeled into recovery just like any other momma post-delivery. What happened after that, however, was anything but routine.

I remember laying in recovery, feeling sleepy and maybe a little bit lightheaded, but I reminded myself that I was pretty medicated so I was fine. I remember seeing the nurse move a sheet from my legs and thinking to myself that I’d never been in a hospital that used red sheets before, they’re normally white. Then I remember my nurse calling for another nurse to page the doctor before a flurry of activity erupted around me. The last thing I recall is my husband near my head, talking to me, urging me to please stay awake.

A little more than 12 hours later I woke up while being extubated — the fancy term for when they pull a breathing tube out of your chest and it feels like fire is rising in your lungs. Slowly, my husband and the doctors explained that I had lost a massive amount of blood due to hemorrhaging in my uterus. Medical professionals popped in and out of my room in Intensive Care; they couldn’t believe I was still alive.

I spent the next few days getting to know my new son and recovering. I’m sure I was in shock over what had happened because the reality of it all didn’t hit me until months after my son’s birth.

The one part that I was fully present for was the moment my doctor came to see me when I was finally able to leave the ICU. He was somewhat emotional about all that had happened and he looked at my husband and me and said that we couldn’t ever do that to him again. We all shared an uncomfortable sort of laugh, then he cleared his throat and turned serious. He explained that I truly could not have any more children. My body could not survive another delivery, he explained, possibly not even a full pregnancy. He gave us the card for a doctor he recommended for vasectomies and asked that my husband see him before my six week check up. It was THAT important.

I wasn’t immediately emotional about that conversation with my obstetrician. I had a new baby and older children at home. I was fully in the newborn daze for quite some time. As we adjusted to our new family member and life slowly found a rhythm again, however, I began to feel the sadness. I wasn’t sure whether I even wanted more children, but losing the ability to make that decision felt like an incredible loss.

In our quest to create a family together, we endured years of infertility followed by two difficult births. There will always be a part of me that wishes for that one “normal” pregnancy that I will never get to have.

Every year as my son’s birthday nears the reality of what I went through after his birth hits me all over again. I almost died. I’m not sure I’ll ever fully come to terms with that. As he grows another year older, I see him changing too quickly, just like every other momma does with her child. I thank goodness he’s healthy. I’ve learned to change the regret I feel about not being able to have any more children to gratitude. I’m so fortunate to even be here as he blows out his candles this year. One more baby would have been nice, but being alive and healthy to watch my living kids grow up is so much more important.

Photo: Getty