Clarifying Something

It has come to my attention that perhaps I did not adequately clarify in my last post what the verdict is from my ophthalmologist re: having another baby.

The verdict is that there is no verdict.

I’ve asked my ophtho off and on through the last year-and-a-bit what he thinks about the possibility of having more children and his answer is always the same – It’s not out of the question but it’s too early to say.  So I’ve kind of stopping asking him.  As long as nothing has changed in my eyes, I’m assuming his answer is going to continue to be the same.

In all honesty, unless something dramatically changes for the worse, I don’t think I’ll ever get an “all clear” from him (pun intended), because it will always be risky.  He has children, so he understands our desire to have another one – a level of empathy that I’m really grateful for, actually.  But he’s also a fantastic retinal specialist so he knows the risks and he knows he’ll never be able to say with certainty, “Don’t worry, Bethany, your eyes will be fine.”  What I’m expecting is that one day I will say, “Okay, it’s now or never” and he will say, “I’m not going to tell you not to, but here are the risks” and then it’s up to me (up to us) whether we’re willing to accept those risks. 

And that’s going to be tough.

I wish he could give me a definite answer (I love definite answers…I crave definite answers), but that’s not how this works.  And I suppose a “maybe” is better than a definite “no”, but the problem with this scenario is that the onus falls on me (with some serious discussion with my husband, obviously, but ultimately it’s on me) to make a decision that very heavily affects my husband and my daughter as well. 

I could say that I just don’t want to risk it.  It’s my sight and I need it and that’s that.  But then my husband, who has always wanted 2 kids, and who grew up with 3 siblings, doesn’t get that second son or daughter.  Then my daughter doesn’t get a sibling…then my daughter is an only child.  It feels so selfish to make that decision because I feel like I’d be chosing me over them.

But a while ago another (very wise) woman with diabetes and retinopathy and a yearning for another baby pointed out to me that chosing to accept the risks and go ahead with a pregnancy might be just as selfish.  In a worst-case scenario, it might leave my husband with a wife with who can’t work (at least not in her current job), can’t drive, and can’t carry on with “sighted” life as usual.  It might leave my daughter with a mother who doesn’t get to see her grow up…doesn’t get to tell her how beautiful she looks on her wedding day or how much her little girl looks like her.  How can I possibly risk that?

And then, in the midst of this, I see our close friends who desperately want a child, and who would be absolutely spectacular parents, but who for some reason just haven’t been able to conceive…and then I feel selfish for even feeling sorry for myself. 

I have a beautiful daughter who has brought meaning to my life and taught me about love  in a way I never thought possible. 

I don’t need more than that.

The complicating factor in all of this is that my OB gave me this 2-year “deadline”.  Presumably that deadline is all about the risks of pre-eclampsia, miscarriage and Down’s Syndrome.  At the 2-year mark I’ll be 32, so maybe it’s flexible…maybe I could wait a bit longer without greatly increasing those risks.  We’ll probably schedule an appointment with him at some point to discuss this, because I’m not feeling very confident about being ready to try again this spring/summer.  At best, if my eyes quit leaking now (one leaked yesterday), and we decided to go for it in May (that would be 2 years), I’d have had 8 1/2 months of no “activity” in my eyes.  Because the activity that I am having relates to leaking rather than more proliferation, I might be willing to risk it at that point, but I don’t know…I just don’t know.

So at this point there’s no answer.  We wait – something we’re kind of getting used to in this life with retinopathy.


10 responses to this post.

  1. Obviously, there are a lot of factors to learn about, but would you consider adoption or surrogacy if you don’t want to carry a second child?


    • Maybe adoption…but I don’t know. If we couldn’t have any of our own then adoption would be more likely, but with one of our own already I’m not so sure…


  2. I’m the type of person who craves definitive answers and order in life as much as possible as well. Well, obviously right?

    There were a couple books I read two years ago that made a dramatic difference in my level of acceptance, peace and freedom. Two by Eckhart Toole; The Power of Now and New Earth and almost anything by Deepak Chopra. If you haven’t read them, then check them out.

    I’m guessing that if you are supposed to… you will. You will WIN!


  3. Bethany, my heart goes out to you as you deal with this decision.
    If you think about it, when you have such a tough decision like this one, and the risks/benefits seem like they are pretty much equal, then when it’s all said and done years from now, you will probably feel as though you made the RIGHT decision, if that makes sense. When the choices are so tough, you won’t feel as though either option is correct, so hopefully you won’t feel guilty about whatever you’ve chosen once it’s done.
    Pregnancy is hard on the body, in any event. I hope that you personally won’t feel guilty if you decide not to get pregnant again. It’s not that YOU are robbing your husband and daughter of another child/sibling, it’s that this crappy T1 has robbed them! It wouldn’t be your fault.


  4. Posted by Sylvie on September 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Hey Bethany
    Wow….tough waiting, tough decisions….

    I get that. 12 years ago I gave birth to my daughter, and had to make a choice about a second child as well (cardiac reasons). For me however, the verdict form the docs was much
    clearer–don’t do it again!! It still did not take away the desire for a second child and the feeling of guilt for the possibility of raising her as an only child. I mourned the possible loss of the possibility for a second child for a few years, off and on (you call it feeling sorry for yourself; I call it processing and mourning). Today though, I see a different picture. I have a generally happy, well balanced adolescent who has quite a large circle of good friends, a family that spoils her with love in a good way. I don’t think she suffers much from being an only child. She even tells me at times that being an only child has many perks (you know, not having to share the attention, the finances, the energy–my interpretations of her words). This way I have “enough” to raise her well and, in my case, I am not sure that it would be so if I had had more than one.
    It certainly was a “decision that very heavily affects my husband and my daughter” . But, again, in my case, choosing my health was also a gift to my family.

    I am not writing this in an attempt to influence your decision….but rather as a way to let you know that I hear you. I am sure that whatever you eventually decide will be for the benefit of you and your family. The journey to that decision is the hardest part….


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