Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sitting at a Crossroad With My Uterus

It's been a long time since I've talked about this. Most of you probably weren't reading my blog when I was pregnant and only some of you probably know this happened to me.

I had a great pregnancy. The kind of pregnancy that only exists in movies or in books. The kind of pregnancy that's nausea free, swelling free and the kind that causes you to only gain 22 pounds.

Not that I was a hot pregnant woman, because I looked like I had a beer gut almost my entire pregnancy. But it's hard to complain when your weight gain is really not that bad, despite a love for McDonald's.

And then when I was 38 weeks along, my whole body shut down. I didn't know this, because I'm an idiot who thought that excruciating pain was a normal part of a pregnancy, that screaming into a pillow from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. meant that I had digestive problems.

I'm not sure why, looking back on it, I was so stupid. Why I'd wait two days to get help. And then, when I got help, I told them that it wasn't that bad, just a sharp pain. Which led them to put me on a fat-free diet, thinking that I had gall bladder issues.

I actually know what stemmed my attitude during this whole thing, and that's the fact that our medical insurance was so crappy. And I didn't want to cost us more money than I had to.

So instead, I took my life and my Little Man's life, and played Russina Roulette with them. But I won. The universe decided to cut me a break and gave me back my health and the most perfect baby boy with it.

And when we got home from the hospital, Sweetie Pie did some research about the terrible disease that nearly took my life, which is called HELLP, and he told me that he read that I shouldn't have any more children.

At the time, I got mad at him. "Screw you!" I said. "How dare you tell me when I'm holding your four-day old son that I can't have any more kids. Let me just enjoy this time."

And I did. For the last 16+ months, I've loved being Little Man's mom. And when I asked my OBGYN about the likelihood of my getting HELLP again with my second pregnancy, she equated it to getting struck by lightning twice.

But now, I'm ready to have another baby. And so yesterday, I decided to spend some time seriously researching the thing that tried to kill me. And it frightened the shit out of me. Basically, the message board of the HELLP Syndrome Association was filled with stories of women who'd had multiple incidents. Most of them had babies born too prematurely, like 23 weeks, and lost them. One woman said her doctor had given her a 25 percent chance of getting HELLP with her second pregnancay. And she got it. Then with her third, she was given a 50 percent chance. And she got it for a third time. But the worst part is, is that the site discussed the fact that there is a connection between women who develop HELLP during their pregnancy having a stroke 15 years later.

So now I'm Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. I remember the first time I saw that movie and I thought "How stupid. Why would she risk her life to have a baby?" But when I look at Little Man, I think to myself that even if I'd known that my liver would shut down, I would do it all over again.

But would I do it for a second child? That's where it gets fuzzy. Do I have the right to gamble with my life now, when I have a child who is counting on me? How could I take the chance to not watch my son grow up? Only to get to experience the miracle of life again? I don't think it's worth it. Even though the idea of not having more children breaks my heart.

Sure, I could adopt. But right now, I'm not Angelina Jolie. I always intended to have three kids and get to experience birthing each of them. And get to feel them kick me from the inside. And get to wear pants with elastic waists for six months.

I know that I can't rely on the Internet for all of my medical information. Obviously, this is a serious conversation I need to have with my new OBGYN, who's a mother of two boys herself. I'll ask her, would she chance it, if she were in my shoes, for a third baby.

Right now, I have no idea what I'll do. But I know that my heart breaks if the decision is not to go forth with more kids.




susan said...

*big giant hugs*
Whatever you decide I've got your back! If you do get preggo call me anytime to vent your worries. If you decide to adopt, I'll go find an attractive knocked up teenager for ya. If you don't have anymore kids...I was an only child and I turned out ok. Didn't I? I'll always be your cheerleader. Well, the offbeat, scrawny, not popular cheerleader.... You know what I mean.
Love ya! Now I must go google HELLP, and find every possible good news article to email you.

Beccy said...

My heart goes out to you, that is one dilema I would not like to be faced with.

I guess knowledge is key to helping you make a decision and you are doing well to look for advice from many different sources.

I hope you come to the right decision for you and want you to know that you're in my thoughts.

That Chick Over There said...

Oh, I am so sorry to read this. I'm struggling with secondary infertility now and it bites the big one. I unfortunately have no advice, just wanted you to know you are not alone in how you feel. Not even close. :(

frumiousb said...

Sorry, random Internet person who came hear via a Google search on HELLP. I just lost my daughter (first child) at 26 weeks to HELLP/pree and we are struggling with the same dilemma.

Have you done the full medical workup to sort out the roots of your HELLP? What I understand from the hospital is that much of future chances will depend on what they find in my blood and renal exams. They're going to do a full panel looking for blood coagulation problems, renal disease or other possible factors. Perhaps you've already done that, and it was negative, but I would certainly get yourself to a high risk Peri who is a specialist in the area and can really evaluate your chances.

Good luck, and sorry for the interruption.

random_mommy said...


it says that subsequent pregnancies are usually less severe... look at the prognosis part.
sending all my best from bama!!

Catwoman said...

Thanks for all the sweet comments and support you guys! I think that's the problem with the Internet. Too much information. And once you decide to get your head out of the sand and actually look at the data that's out there, it's pretty freaking frightening. I have an OBGYN appointment on Feb. 19th, so I'll be having a long conversation with her about this and meeting specialists and so forth before deciding to move forward one way or another.

Julie said...

I'm a little behind on my reading so just read your post. I can't imagine being in your shoes - what a tough decision to make. I think you are going about it the right way though - see what the specialists have to say. Hugs!

Emma in Canada said...

What the patooie? I totally left a long comment on this yesterday. Anyway, what I essentially ended up asking is that if you made it to 38 weeks last time before an occurrence what are the chances that it might arrive in the last few weeks again and could they then not induce at 37 weeks. Does that make any sense?

jempress said...

ditto on all the love and support for you, sweetie pie, and little man. i'm sure for every scary story there's tons more success storie - let us know how your OBGYN appointment goes. I wish I could meet you all for lunch this Sat. :( - but you and your uterus are in my prayers.

Catwoman said...

Jempress, the idea of you praying for my uterus totally gave me the giggles! I can only imagine you talking to God and saying "please take care of Catwoman's uterus!" I'm sure that would make God think "whoah! OK, this I've got to hear!" :) Thank you for your sweetness!

And Emma, the problem with HELLP is that it usually occurs between 23 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. I'm one of the lucky ones that developed it later, so the only consequence on Little Man is that he was, well, little (5 lbs 15 oz) even though he was full term.