Thursday, February 27, 2014

Making the Choice to Stop Having Kids...For Now

Despite the somewhat odd way my husband and I stumbled into parenthood, there was one thing we knew-- we wanted a big family. We agreed on 6, which is odd considering before I met my husband I never wanted to be married or have children. It's funny the way life works out.

As I mentioned before, we are a blended family. My husband and I have 3 boys together and my step daughter lives with us full-time. Although it's crazy and hectic, I would love to throw a couple more kids into the mix; however, there are just certain circumstances which caused us to make the choice to stop having kids.

I was never the lucky woman who had easy pregnancies. In fact, mine were a terrifying nightmare. I never made it full-term. I start going into labor as soon as I hit 30 weeks, I'm always hospitalized, suffer a long list of complications, and don't necessarily have healthy babies. Some people are just not meant to have babies.

My oldest son was born at 34 week by emergency c-section. At 5 months, I was put on strict bed rest because my son wouldn't grow and my water levels wouldn't stay up. Despite 2 NST, 1 ultrasound and 1 regular check up every week, the doctors knew they were going to have to deliver him early...and they did. My son was born in better health than expected and stayed only a short time in the NICU. However, years down the road, we are now having to cope with the results of him being premature-- even at 8 years old. Essentially, he has to be kept in a bubble as he's literally allergic to everything, has uncontrollable asthma, and gets sick no matter what you do-- he can't go outside, can't run, can't be a normal child.

With my middle son, I had many of the same complications as with my first, but I almost made my due date. #2 was born right at 37 weeks, and I knew from the moment we saw him he was going to turn our world upside down. It wasn't until we were being discharged from the hospital that the we learned things weren't quite normal. The nurse calmly says as she's leaving the room, "Oh, they told you he has spina bifida, right?" This lead to a 4 year battle, with 13 doctors in 3 different states to have my son properly diagnosed with a rare form of spina bifida, heart murmur, underdeveloped core muscles and scoliosis.

My middle son was diagnosed 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant with #3, which we learned any child I had had the risk of having the complications of child #2. We were so lucky with baby #2. You can't get that lucky twice. If my son had been diagnosed earlier, we never would have tried for baby #3.

But, baby #3 was on his way and it was the same rocky road. Again, he was delivered early at a little over 35 weeks, but the c-section was a nightmare. It went terribly wrong for my baby and I. As I laid there on the table struggling to breath, the only thought in my head was, "I'm not going to see my children grow up." I told my husband to make sure the kids always knew I loved them. I knew right then and there, I was done having kids. When we saw our bruised and swollen baby struggling after birth, we both knew, that was it...no more.

With the health problems of my older 2 boys, the trauma of baby #3, rough pregnancies and early deliveries, the smart choice is to stop. The possible consequences, should we decide to have another, are just far too great. Plus, it would just be another boy anyway.

Although we made the choice to stop having kids, our family is by no means done growing. When our own children are older, we plan to become foster parents, hopefully for special needs children. We've also left the door open to adopt in the future.

I don't think our family will ever be done growing. I just simply can't picture a house with no kids in it. Life just seems to be less meaningful if you aren't raising children-- you not only make a difference in their life and your life, but a difference in the world as well.

So, for now, our family expansion is on hold, but that's ok. We have 4 beautiful children right here and right now. That's all that matters.

Have you made the choice to stop having kids? Why did you choose to stop?

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