My pregnancy after a preemie...

Our first experience being pregnant was just purely terrifying. After a C section at 31 weeks for mine and my babys safety, I would not be discharged home with my daughter. She would be staying with people who were not her mother or father for an additional 8 weeks and I felt like I was a failure from day 1. At the time I thought, first time mom…huge failure…no one else goes through why am I?  After an 8 week stay in the NICU, my baby girl Addi finally came home.

 Fast forward to the following year flu season turns into Christmas season and December 23, 2015 we are admitted into the hospital with pneumonia! I thought to myself, is my baby going to survive? What did we do wrong? How can we even discuss a second child? We always said we will talk about baby number 2 when she is 2 years old. That’s in 6 months how can we do this? She is so little, so fragile and she needs us all of us.

When Addi turned 18 months and was doing great so we had the talk about baby number 2. I had so much anxiety about another pregnancy… I was so confused. I wanted another child but I don’t know if I can handle the anxiety, the trauma… but we decided to try again.

Shortly after Addi turned two, we found out we were expecting again! All these fears come rushing back in. The horror, the fear… but also joy. God blessed us with another baby and chance to carry life. We were so excited. Our entire family and a few friends knew that we would be welcoming baby number 2 around Christmas, what a great gift!

Unfortunately  at 8 weeks pregnant, I just didn’t feel right and my second chance to bring a baby inot the world was taken from me, from us. Test after test after test confirms a miscarriage and the doctor told us to wait 3-6 months before we try again. My heart was broken. I failed again. I felt that I couldn’t carry a baby in my body full term, how is another pregnancy even an option for us?

My husband and I went through a dark time. In my heart I had hope that one day I could carry another baby, but my husband was very set on just moving forward with our lives. He was unsure he could go through another pregnancy again. The pain… the heartbreak. It caused fights and arguments. We both agreed to discuss it after we went on vacation in September. We both needed time to clear our heads and think…

On October 2, 2016 I took a test… “Pregnant” it read! I walked into our bed room and said “thanks for the anniversary gift.” Both of us in disbelief because we hadn’t discussed another pregnancy yet and were so careful.

We were due in June and would tell NO ONE until I was 11 weeks after my first doctor’s appointment. I made it to my appointment and was immediately referred to a High-Risk Doctor. All of my doctors were very realistic with me of the risks I could potentially face and I was immediately fearful again. I had a 2 year old who needed me, who likes to to jump on me and play. I told myself I was selfish and a failure as I couldn’t be the mom I needed to be to her when I missed out on the first 8 weeks of her life how could I do this again and leave. So many emotions going through my mind. I was so happy yet…so sad and scared at the same time. We kept my oldest daughter engaged with the pregnancy and explained what was happening. She was so excited to meet her baby sister. This helped me focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Addi would constantly say “that’s my baby sister, I love her.”  We were blessed! Things were going great! Then 30 weeks hit… the horror again. I started to do a lot of praying and put my faith in God. I spent more and more time with my oldest snuggling and watching movies in bed  and I knew my time with her was even more precious. She became my safe zone and my comfort.

She was 2 and doing amazing as she graduated from the post NICU program. I didn’t have to worry any more. At 31 at an ultrasound with my High risk Doctor when he  tells us that there is a blood flow pattern with the cord and that I’d be monitored as this is an indicator of preeclampsia…. He said something else but I completely zoned out that word PRECLAMPSIA as that’s what happened with Addi along with HELLP syndrome. I remember getting in my car and crying. This cannot be happening again. I prayed every night with my daughter by my side. We would put our hands on my belly and say a prayer. 

At 37 weeks and “full term” the Mommy guilt sets in. How was I going to have this baby? How would I  have enough love in my heart for baby number 2? Would I resent this child because she is a “Normal pregnancy?” What is a “normal pregnancy” anyway?

Normal pregnancy…Normal infant…Normal Newborn…What is Normal? I thought my 31-weeker is pretty darn normal. Her birth was perfectly imperfect and it was meant for us. It was meant for us to build a strong foundation and relationship.

On May 19, 2017 I dropped Addi off at the babysitters and gave her the biggest hug and kiss before I left knwoing in my heart the next time I see her she wouldn’t  be an only child. At 37.5 weeks tells us during an ultrasound that we needed to deliver right away as I was in the early stages of preeclampsia.  The tears flow again as I knew that feeling of failure. However, this time I walked to the OR on my own and delivered my baby. I heard a little cry… and they placed my baby on my husband’s chest… I looked over at her beautiful body and she is perfect. She is mine. I did something right.

I  head into recovery and they placed her in my arms. This time, no one will hold her expect me…No one. I didn’t have this bonding time with my first and I was determined to not miss this moment for anything.

My brother picked up Addi from the babysitters and kept her over night for us. We faced times and she loved seeing her “Sissy” she even got to name her. Kennedy Rayne. My heart didn’t feel complete yet. I was missing my baby, I was missing my Addi doll. When Addi finally got to meet her little sister, my heart melted as I watch her excitement. They instantly bond and love each other.

I now know I am stronger for what I went through with both my girls. I still have people who ask me about me “normal pregnancy vs my 1st pregnancy.” I ask what a “normal pregnancy?” is? I had 2 healthy gorgeous girls who are my world and that’s my normal. They are gifts and blessing from God. He knew exactly what he was doing with all my pregnancies. I had to go through soul searching and renew my faith. Having baby #2 is not an easy task after having a preemie. To this day I never knew that my husband was more terrified than I imagined. 

Know and understand you are not alone and have people to lean on. Know your emotions are going to be real and it’s okay to feel scared it’s okay to feel happy all at the same time. It’s okay to cry. Educate yourself you family and friends on “your” pregnancy. Get your Preemie involved in the excitement. Addi was the first piece to complete our family and Kennedy was the final piece. Fear is something we should accept because in the end it may have the greatest rewards. Embrace every challenge and every struggle. Let you heart guide you. I am a mom of 2 spunky, sassy little girls. I would do both pregnancies over in a heartbeat. Both came into this world in a perfectly imperfect way and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Don’t be afraid to fulfill your hearts wishes and have that second baby.

Megan Gassman