With everything that happened with my pregnancy with Brady, we had a lot of questions about what future pregnancies would look like, and whether we would be willing to take on the risks associated with any future pregnancies. We had always been hopeful we could find a way to reduce our risks and still be able to have children in the future. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make more babies with this stud?
Doing any sort of reading on the topic of HELLP Syndrome is SCARY. I apparently stopped taking my own advice to stop googling after a while, and the results were not reassuring. HELLP is a life-threatening pregnancy complication, and has ~25% recurrence rate for women who have had HELLP in a previous pregnancy. Not fun.
There are certain blood-clotting and auto-immune disorders that are associated with HELLP Syndrome, but the tricky thing is that pregnancy messes with your blood work. At my first follow-up after my c-section, my nurse practitioner recommended that I go in for a full panel of blood work 12 weeks post-delivery. She also told me a lot of things that would later become significant when it came to our family planning – she suggested that I not get pregnant for 18 months and informed me that all of my deliveries going forward would be scheduled c-sections between 36 and 37 weeks. This is all specifically because I had a classical c-section (vertical incision). Classical c-sections need more time to heal and are prone to rupture. Just the thought of that makes me majorly cringe.
Brady was still alive at the time of my first follow-up appointment, so planning for future pregnancies seemed super distant. I had always wanted two (or three) kids, but Brady was so amazing that I doubted even wanting to have other children. You can’t outdo perfection. (Here’s a little reminder of that perfection, in case you forgot…)
Of course, you all know that things took a very unexpected turn, and Jeff and I ended up in a situation where these things did matter. A lot. It seemed like such a long time waiting for those 12 weeks to pass. I anxiously made my appointment and went in for the blood work, only to find out 3 days later that my blood work was completely normal. I think I assumed that there had to be a reason that this happened, and not having anything to pin it on was frustrating.
We made an appointment with our perinatologist, Dr. Wagner, to do a pre-pregnancy consultation. You might remember that Dr. Wagner was the doctor that delivered Brady and was my doctor on that fateful Sunday when the HELLP Syndrome developed so quickly. Jeff and I trust him 100%, and I specifically requested that my consultation be with him.
We learned a lot from Dr. Wagner at our appointment. While he acknowledged the high rate of recurrence for HELLP/pre-eclampsia for women who have had it develop early in previous pregnancies, he recommended a simple solution that would bring the recurrence rate down to 5-10%. Baby aspirin. Freaking baby aspirin. It’s so simple, but it will be key to me (hopefully) having a successful pregnancy in the future. He also recommended that we wait 12-15 months before getting pregnant again. It feels like a long time, still, but 12 months sounds a helluva lot better than straight up 18.
Dr. Wagner also acknowledged that any pregnancy we have going forward will be full of worry. I believe his exact words were, “You probably won’t sleep at all until about 28 weeks, then, at about 32 weeks, you’ll start to think you might actually make it.” He made us feel hopeful that any future pregnancies could be successful. This appointment was the first time that I’ve felt at all hopeful about the future since Brady passed.
Of course, what our future holds is still up in the air. Jeff and I have gotten so many comments from people dancing around the topic of us having more children. It’s like they expect it to happen soon. Like now. It won’t, and any decisions we make in the future will be thoughtful, joint decisions. That’s just how me and Jeff do.