Friday, February 5, 2010

I've wanted to write about this for several weeks now. Actually, about 10 weeks. One of my sisters is pregnant. . . again. She's my only sister (out of four) who has given birth without a cesarean. She's the sister who gave birth at 15 years old, at 38 weeks, to a still born baby boy. That was four years ago and I wrote about it here.

Now sister L is 19 years old. She's so excited to be pregnant. She found out last week that she's having another son (his name is Damien). But. . .but. Just before the became pregnant she was diagnosed with Grave's Disease. From what I've read, this doesn't have to interfere with the pregnancy in any way. Again, but. Her doctor also found that she has the MTHFR gene mutation. From

Because of a mother with MTHFR’s inability to efficiently metabolize folic acid and
vitamin B9, the disorder has been linked to a variety of pregnancy complications
such as chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, and congenital

Elevated levels of homocysteine have been associated with
placental disease, preeclampsia and recurrent pregnancy loss. 21%
of women with high levels of homocysteine experience recurrent pregnancy

She has already been "counseled" about her "options". No doubt, being 19 and facing the chance of a baby with Down's Syndrome, spina bifida or still born she was "counseled" to abort my sweet nephew. What kind of doctor tells a mother who has lost a child that she should kill her next child? No, this new little guy is one of the most fortunate babies on this earth. His mama is going to love him jealously and protect him fiercely.

We're all so worried for sister L though. She faces the very real chance of losing Damien. She lost Izaiah at 38 weeks, so it's a very long road ahead, littered with egg shells. None of us will breathe until Damien is safe in L's arms.

The part of L's story I struggle most with is her decision to schedule a c-section at 37 weeks. In my head I understand why she's made this choice. In her mind, if she'd had a c-section at 37 weeks with Izaiah, he would be a 4 year old little boy playing with worms and catching frogs, instead of a painful 4 year old memory. There are many things I want to tell her that I dare not. I want to tell her that he might not be ready to be born at 37 weeks and may suffer complications. Babies born too soon frequently die. He could have problems that plague him the rest of his life. What about L? She could lose her uterus (at 19!). She could suffer crippling adhesions. She could contract meningitis or MRSA. She could suffer from secondary infertility. She could die.

I worry so much for her. Helping her grieve the loss of another son would tear me apart. Hearing her speak flippantly about a section that was "great" would make me wince. Allowing her to share her tears over a section that was "awful, painful, why-didn't-you-tell-me-how-bad-it-was-going-to-be" would crush me.

There's just no right answer. Nothing right to say to her. My job until the end of July will be to listen to her, share her joy and pray with every ounce of faith that is in me.


Katie said...

Can I ask, why a CS as opposed to an induction? She is a young, healthy woman who has successfully given birth vaginally before...I can't imagine why she and her doctors would not want to at least attempt a 'trial of labor'?

Anonymous said...

Wow. I know you're in a difficult position, and I will pray for you to know what to say (and what not to say). You're probably doing the right thing by keeping quiet... but it is so difficult to do so, especially knowing that there are risks to the way she is planning on going. But there are also risks to not having the baby at 37 weeks, which is what she is focusing on. Having a stillborn child at 38 weeks is not something theoretical to her; having a C-section and a living child *are*.

However, it wasn't labor that killed Izaiah... so I'm a little confused as to why she's scheduling a C/s rather than an induction. One of my friends lost her baby on her due date (the same month as your sister), and she just recently had another baby, which was a scheduled elective induction at 37 or 37.5 weeks. Mother and baby are doing fine, despite the higher risks of induction and of elective birth at that stage. Which gives me great hope -- no matter what anyone chooses, the vast majority of the time, everything goes just fine, even with adverse circumstances. Sure, there are increased risks one way or another, but it's not a certainty, any more than her losing this baby or having him be born with problems is a certainty.

Sorry -- long comment :-) -- but perhaps you can plant seeds of induction rather than C-section. Since she's already had one child vaginally, the likelihood of her having this one vaginally is high, even if she is induced. Plus, she can drink red raspberry leaf tea and take Evening Primrose Oil (check with a midwife or other knowledgeable person, but I think starting around 34 weeks, if planning an induction at 37 weeks), to help prepare her body to be ready to give birth.

Plus, make sure she does kick counts, which may help put her mind at ease.


Stassja said...

That is a tough spot indeed. Thinking of all of you in the coming months!

Becky said...

From what I'm able to piece together (as I don't speak with her directly about any of this) is that

(1) Her labor with Izaiah was long, hard and very painful. She's terrified of that.

(2) She associates labor with giving birth to a dead baby, because that's all she knows.

and (3) she doesn't want to labor and then end up with a section anyway. Our sister A did that and it was brutal.

I wish I could tell her how awful a section is. How excruciating it is to nurse both a baby and an incision site.

Humble wife said...

Well I am sorry to read about the loss of the previous child, but I must share that my fourth child was born at 30 weeks 1 day and she is an incredible 14 year old today. The technology is even better now than then...