Yesterday was my regular 4-month ophtho appointment. Since my last one, my eyes have continued to drip and dribble from time to time (the left (bad) on in particular). Understandably, I get pretty nervous for these appointments now, regardless of what I can see happening in my eyes, because I’m always worried that there’s something else happening that I can’t see.
I was particularly nervous for yesterday’s appointment because I had decided to ask my ophtho the dreaded, “Should we give up on having another baby” question. Ack! As I’ve mentioned, my husband and I have gotten fairly comfortable in the last little while with the idea of not having any more children. The longer the leaking in my eyes continues, the more we’ve been anticipating being told that having another one would be too risky.
So that’s where I was at going into my appointment yesterday.
While I held my breath, Dr. Ophtho (wouldn’t it be awesome if that was really his name?!) did his usual “look up, look down, look left, look right” spiel and shone a piercingly bright light into my dilated pupils. I was finally able to exhale when he told me that he didn’t see any new proliferation nor any scarring developing. WHEW! YAY!
We then talked a little about why my eyes might still be bleeding, since I’m doing everything I can to avoid bleeds (i.e. keeping blood pressure under control, no heavy lifting, no inverted yoga poses, etc.). His explanation was that my vitreous is still pulling at my retina, which is (apparently) normal, but that the little leaky vessels just can’t handle it without breaking. Stupid vessels. Stop being such wusses!
After that, we talked a bit about the risks of scarring (i.e. if the leaky vessels “heal” and leave scars on my retina) and the further risks associated with that (i.e. retinal detachment – *gulp*). He assured me that he’s still seeing no signs of this starting in my eyes.
Then I brought up the pregnancy question. Or, rather, then I started rambling about how frustrated I’m getting that my eyes are still acting up and how we’re starting to give up on the idea of having another baby.
His response surprised me.
He told me that, while it was my decision to make given the risks involved, in his words, “I don’t feel that it would be irresponsible for you to have another pregnancy.”
He went on to explain that he’s quite happy with how stable the proliferation (or lack thereof) has been over the last two years, and how the extra laser treatments I’ve had during and since my last pregnancy provide additional comfort that the risk of further proliferation would be low.
Okay, I said, but what about more bleeding? I had pre-eclampsia once, and I’m definitely at risk to get it again. (Aside: How many times will I say “risk” in this post?)
Dr. Ophtho said that if that were to happen, we would do a vitrectomy. It would be treatable. But, he also emphasized that he would not do a vitrectomy during pregnancy. I would have to wait until afterwards. It was not lost on me that he did not say we would “just” do a vitrectomy. There’s no “just” about an invasive procedure like that.
So the door that was almost closed is now flapping in the wind. I’d be lying if I said my husband and I weren’t very conflicted about this new information.
On one hand, we’d always planned on having two children. We’ve always wanted to give our daughter a sibling. We’ve never wanted that choice to be taken from us because of a health concern like this.
On the other hand, there are some risks involved that definitely can’t be ignored. What if I do end up with permanent damage to my eyes? What if I do have more proliferation and my eyes are leakier after the next one than they are now. What if I have a significant haemorrhage early on in pregnancy and end up being blind in one eye – or both! – for the duration of my pregnancy?
We had some pretty major challenges during and after my first pregnancy. It was tough – some of the toughest stuff I’ve ever been through. The thought of doing that again is damn scary – especially because there are no guarantees that it wouldn’t be worse the next time.
But it might be better.
And it might let us fulfill that dream of having a happy little family of four (plus a dog).
We have a lot to think about…