Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday-ish. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.
I need your barren advice. After two D&Cs, the last of which was last week, I am trying to decide if I even WANT a second baby. My last two pregnancies, before their eventual terminations, were each awful in their own ways. The first, a blighted ovum, never felt right, which, it turned out, was correct. The second was great, and I was so excited and happy until I started to cramp and bleed heavily at six weeks. A huge bleed was discovered, and I was told to take it easy, not lift or exercise, not have sex, and not have orgasms. That was in place for four weeks until I went in for a routine check-up, and found out that there was no heartbeat, and not only was this one dead, I have a clotting disorder that killed this one and probably was behind my severe preecampsia with my son. It sounds like knowing this, it won't be hard to fix... baby aspirin and maybe a monthly shot. But I don't know, I am so burnt at this point.
My husband, who would be fine with our son being an only child, thinks we should have another, because he thinks it's something I really want, and have for a long time, and heck, he’s agreed twice before. And that's true: I love babies and children, and I don't want my son to go through life with no siblings or cousins, which looks very likely at this point. My husband also thinks that it would be silly to quit now, when we have figured out the problem. And also, up until the end, my pregnancy with DS was fantastic, so I know it’s possible.
The problem is, I don't have a lot of time to figure this out. I'm 38, and while I seem to be really good at getting pregnant, I don't have forever. I also don't know if I'm willing to make sacrifices to have another baby. I realize they are short-term, but still. And, my confidence is shaken. I was sure that I could have a sunny, uncomplicated pregnancy, then could breeze my way through working full time, having a marriage, having an infant, and raising a kindergartner. Now I don't know... I could potentially ruin everything. Or, I could forever regret chickening out at this point.
Do you have any advice on how to make this decision?--Anonymous
This isn't going to be the answer you want to hear, but this is such a personal decision, the only person who can make it is you. Not your husband, not a friend, and not a therapist or doctor. This doesn't mean that we can't help you by walking with you up to the edge, but you are the one who ultimately needs to make the decision to jump or fly. And only you know which decision represents falling and which one represents flying.
And that is where I would start. I placed you at the edge and used these two words: fall or fly. When you thought about yourself falling, which side of the decision (trying or stopping) did you picture? When you considered yourself flying, what were you flying toward?
I think you already know the answer of what you want to do--it is merely the work of finding it buried under all of those emotions.
Sometimes, when I'm looking for something in a drawer and I know that it has to be in there but I'm overlooking it, I take everything out of the drawer and place it on the floor and then put it all back in the drawer neatly, usually finding the missing item along the way. I think the same thing can work with difficult decisions. Take everything out of your head and lay it on the page and then look at it from the outside, seeing how it looks from a different view. And these are the pieces of paper that you will take to your husband to explain your decision because your choice involves him as well.
Begin with looking at continuing to try for a second child. Write that inside a circle you draw in the center of the paper.
Now make lines coming off it and start writing out every what if you're carrying in your heart about this decision. Follow each what if to its possible end. I included a few I could imagine myself just as an example, but you need to personalize this and make it the what ifs that are suffocating you about this decision.
There will be many more what ifs, all tied to your personal situation, including what happened after the birth of your first child, the feelings of your husband, and your age. Your paper may have five major what ifs, or you may need to pull out the poster board in order to have enough space to get down all of your thoughts.
Once you finish with this choice, you're going to set aside the page, turn it upside down, and honestly fill out another decision web using the other choice--stopping now--and all of the what ifs that stem from that (good or bad what ifs).
When you're doing this exercise, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. You can choose whether you want to redraw the webs to show another person, keeping the brutal honesty solely with yourself, but that is my only caveat. You cannot hold back any of the yucky thoughts, the embarrassing thoughts, the regretful thoughts from yourself. Putting them down on paper, admitting them to yourself, is the only way you'll make this decision without regrets.
Without regrets does not mean joyfully. You may still cry or be angry or frustrated or resigned. But you won't have regrets, and that is truly the only weight others can help you remove before you decide the way to exit the cliff.
Before I send you off to find a quiet space and work through your decision, I want you to know that all of the points you discussed in the note were all valid reasons to keep trying or stop. None should be swept under the rug. Just because you now know about the clotting disorder doesn't dismiss the enormous feelings you have about trying after multiple losses. Not putting yourself through that again, even if it means that you have to change the way you saw your life in the future, should not be undertaken just because. Just because you don't want to disappoint someone or just because you were already on this path. It is equally valid to say no. To stop. To know your limits and respect them.
I don't think we need to continue with everything we start, especially when new information is learned that would have kept us off the path in the first place. Quitters do win--especially those who know their own heart and listen to its wisdom. Winning is not only having everything turn out how we wanted in the end--winning is about how we live our life, the choices we make, the happiness we grab, the sanity we preserve. I have a deep respect for people who can say no. Who can take a step back and ask themselves what is lost as they try to gain and weigh out the two sides so that they don't come out at a deficit just for the sake of doing what is easy vs. doing what is best.
Stopping is neither good nor bad--truly, the only thing that matters about stopping is knowing why you are doing it so you can come to a place of closure. I think a lack of closure comes from not understanding what brought you to a stopping point or having the choice taken away from you and made by someone else or circumstances.
And, at the same time, I have a deep respect for those who continue on, even knowing that they could possibly lose a lot by taking the next step, but doing it anyway because it is the strongest impulse within.
Go find your quiet space. Remove all the thoughts from your head and place them in front of you to examine. Come to a place of peace and know your own heart and then share it with others--your husband, namely, who may surprise you in agreeing wholeheartedly with whatever decision you make when he hears the reasons that brought you to that place.
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