I have agonized over the decision to have another child for the past three years. Greg has always wanted two children. I had always wanted three.
I hated the thought of Lauren having Down syndrome having any part in our decision. Because I would choose her over and over again. And I would welcome another child with Down syndrome happily.
But I also know how to protect myself and my heart. We are at a greater risk for a baby with any chromosomal disorder, not just Down syndrome. Sometimes I feel like I barely came out alive after Lauren's hospitalization, illness and surgery. I'm a totally different person than I was before we had her. I'm still not totally sure if I like myself better then or now, but the result remains the same. I am different. Anyone with a child who has been critically ill will likely tell you the same.
I'm not one to live my life based on "what if", truly I'm not. But I do feel that I've come to a point where I need to protect myself.
When we found out Lauren had Down syndrome we were offered termination. I immediately and angrily refused and demanded it not be brought up again. I could never choose that.
I hate the question mark that follows that word. I hate that its become a question for me.
And here is where the "what if" comes in. What if my next pregnancy resulted in a chromosomal diagnosis considered "not compatible with life"? Of course I want to think I would never terminate. But I have lived through the pain of not knowing if my baby would make it. Not knowing if I would bury her in the outfit I chose for her to wear home from the hospital. Not knowing if I would ever again hold her with a beating heart after handing her to the surgical team. I have lived through the self-loathing that comes with the failure to bond with a baby I wasn't sure I'd get to keep. And I know I can't ever put myself through it again.
I felt guilty for wanting another child- like people would think Lauren wasn't enough. And I felt guilty for not wanting another child- like people would think I was too afraid to have another child like her.
There are no guarantees in life. I know this to be true. I thank God every single day for the amazing, beautiful, healthy and PERFECT children he has blessed me with. They are my world.I am content.
I am protecting my heart with a fierce sense of self-preservation that I no longer feel like I need to apologize for. This new woman I have become since Lauren changed my life is more confident, independent, and I can now trust that the Lord has awesome things in store for our family as we are.
I am healing.