Photo by Autumn Mott. Creative Commons license.

Photo by Autumn Mott. Creative Commons license.

In 2009 I unexpectedly fell pregnant with triplets. It was a huge shock. I wasn’t ready.

I was in a very unhealthy relationship and had actually planned to leave my (now ex-)partner before I found out I was pregnant. I had planned to travel and wanted to change careers. I put all those plans to one side so I could focus on this unexpected role of being a mother.

The pregnancy was a difficult one. I was in and out of the hospital on an IV drip. I had financial worries. My partner was not supportive and I felt very much on my own. I had to take time off work and nearly lost my job. I was constantly stressed and ill.

I didn’t really enjoy the pregnancy. I did not bloom, I did not blossom. Despite this, I tried to focus on the prospect of being a mother. I made plans for the future. I planned to raise the children on my own because my partner had decided he didn’t want to be involved.

Over the course of my pregnancy, I had more than 15 sonogram scans. The hospital had warned about the loss of a baby, an increased risk when a woman is carrying more than one fetus. During each scan, I was filled with dread and fear of what the technician might tell me. My emotions were all over the place.

Throughout the pregnancy, I suffered cramps and bleeding. I was told by the hospital that I had a weak cervix. They wanted to give me a cervical cerclage (a stitch to help prevent premature labor). The weight of all three babies at 22 weeks was the same weight as one baby at 32 weeks. The consultant explained that my cervix was similar to a grocery bag that was growing too heavy, that the bottom could eventually give way.

They also warned that this stitch could actually induce premature labor, but advised that it was my only way to prevent miscarriage. I spent a week on bed rest, having blood tests twice daily, which led to a collapsed vein in my arm. I also had daily injections into my thighs to prevent blood clots. The blood tests showed I had an infection that they could not pinpoint, which meant they couldn’t go through with the cerclage.

When I went into premature labour at 22 weeks I was petrified. I felt robbed of the future I had planned. While the pregnancy had not been easy, I was still trying to look forward to being a mother. As the triplets were born, they were not able to breathe on their own. There was nothing the hospital could do. After further tests, I was told I also had an issue with the blood supply from my placenta. I was heartbroken, emotionally raw and physically exhausted. It had been a very tough five months. My body felt as though it could take no more.

It took five years to recover from the experience. I rode a rollercoaster of emotions, tried various methods of counselling and medication. I was followed by a black cloud of depression. I really couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Related: Overcoming Trauma When You’ve Had a Miscarriage

I had to learn to live again. I had to rediscover who I was, learn what I liked and what I wanted from life. I left my partner and tried to create a new life for myself.

Although I would have adapted to being a mother and I commemorate the anniversary each year, I don’t know now whether I actually want to have children of my own. It is a discussion my husband and I have had several times. He’s very different from my ex-partner, and incredibly supportive. But could I really put myself, my body, my husband and family through all that again?

People ask when there will be the patter of tiny feet. They comment on the fact that we’ve been married three years and should think about having children. They’re shocked when we say that children are not on the cards right now and we’re not sure if we want to have them. They’ll ask how old I am. When I say I am 33, they tell me my biological clock is ticking and I should have children now while we are still “young” enough to enjoy them. They ask why we aren’t putting the need to have children above our own desire to travel and take vacations. They joke that we must be “too selfish.”

What they don’t realize is that with any future pregnancy, I would have to be very closely monitored. I would have to have a cervical stitch before I conceived. I would have to give up work around 12 weeks and remain on strict bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. Any future pregnancy would have to be planned far in advance. We would need counseling before, during and after a future pregnancy to help prepare for whatever might happen. It would not be a “straightforward” and “enjoyable” pregnancy.

Personally, I feel that putting myself, husband and potential child through all of that would make me selfish. There are too many risks and complications. Multiple births run in my family. My cervix would not cope. Am I prepared to take these risks so I can have a child of my own? No, I don’t think I am. Does this make me selfish to not want a child of my own? No, I think it makes me selfless.

There are lots of children out there desperate to be given a loving home. Children might not be in the cards for us right now, but someday we would gladly open our hearts and home to a child wanting to be fostered or adopted. I can still be a mother without putting my body through potential dangers and risks.

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