Monday, January 20, 2014

Having Another Baby

If you've followed this blog for very long, you may remember the post I wrote almost a year ago about whether or not to have another baby.

At the time I was not at all ready to have another child, but I was feeling the pressure to make a decision, as Cora had just turned two.  I went back and forth over the pros and cons, questioned all my intentions and suppositions, and put all my worries out on the table.  And I got a lot of really wonderful responses to that post.

And what I realized is how very personal that decision is for each and every person.  I simply wasn't ready at the time.

Fast forward less than a year, and here we are, expecting our second child in early July.

I've had a few people ask for me to share my process in making that decision.  And I've had a couple of people express that they are worried for me, or that I must be so afraid. 

As for the process we went through in deciding to try again:  the simple truth is that we just felt ready.  Attribute it to getting slightly better sleep over the past few months, perhaps, or to Cora seeming less like a baby.  She must somehow know it's time to become a big girl.  Heck, a couple of weeks of after we learned about the pregnancy, she completely weaned and became a full-time walker.  Talk about making some big-girl strides. 

As for fear and worry, I think that many people assume that Cora having Down syndrome weighed heavily into our decision, but I'm not sure how much that is true.  Of course, she does have Down syndrome, and our lives are definitely affected by it.  Her delays do make her path through childhood and development different than may be typical, and we have long-term concerns for her that are more complicated than they may otherwise be.

But all in all, Down syndrome didn't factor in as much as you might think.  And the fear of Down syndrome certainly wasn't a big consideration.  Many people on the outside of the disability world seem to assume that Cora's diagnosis is a huge burden and something to be feared.  And depending on their situation and where they are on their emotional path, a lot of parents of kids with disabilities fear it, as well.

Statistically, once you have a child with Ds your risk of having a subsequent child with Ds goes up to 1:100, and can go up even more if you have other risk factors like advanced maternal age or being a balanced translocation carrier. There are no certain answers as to why the risk increases, just as there are no certain answers as to why Trisomy21 occurs in the first place.  Learning this when Cora was a newborn made us a little nervous at first. But very soon we began discussing how much we felt that Cora would benefit from having a sibling, and most of our thoughts on having another child have continued from that point of view.

I think the biggest challenge for us was making the decision to expand our family not solely because we felt it would likely benefit Cora, but because it was something we wanted as a family.  As I've said before, there are no guarantees when it comes to having children, so making a decision solely to "help Cora" wasn't convincing me.  There is no guarantee that another child will help her, just as there is no guarantee that any child will be healthy, or free of disability, or happy, or anything else.  That is simply part of being a parent... choosing to love something that is so much out of your control.

But that is a risk that we are willing to take at this point.  We do not fear having another child with Down syndrome.  As much as we know there would be some advantages to raising Cora with a typically-developing younger sibling, that is not really up to us.  We also know that there would be many advantages to raising Cora with a sibling with a disability or other health challenges.

I won't tell you that I wouldn't love to not have to worry about health issues, hospital stays or surgeries.  I would love for this baby to be healthy and not have to face life-threatening concerns.  A new pregnancy can definitely bring anxieties to the forefront, and for me most of those surround all the fear I felt after Cora was born until she had her heart surgery, and when there have been other health scares.  I am not particularly eager to relive those fears, not with Cora or with a new child.  But these are not the decisions that I get to make.  All I can do is trust and hope, and make whatever plans I make with that in mind.


  1. The day before I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with Annabelle, I told myself I didnt want any more kids, ever, after all we had gone through with aiden. We love him, but it was an emotional rollarcoaster. To find out I was unexpectedly pregnant again when aiden was just three months old, at first I wasnt thrilled. Fast forward to now, I think its the best thing to ever happen to us. Sure, 90% of the time Im pretty sure Im clinically insane, attempting to care for two toddlers, but here are my thoughts. I was lucky to know whats its like to experience a 'normal' pregnancy, one not frought with daily hospital trips, ultrasounds, fear and pain (from too much fluid and early labor). I am overjoyed to have finally had the home birth experience I had wanted for aiden. For the first time I got to experience whats its like to have a healthy child. Don't take this wrong, I love Aiden. I would go through everything we went through with him a million time to have such an amazing child and I really do mean that. But it was also nice to experience the opposite. They are each others best friends, built in play mates, therapy partners, support system... and sometimes each others worst enemies. They teach each other so much. It wasnt easy, and Im not religious, but I do feel things happen as they are meant to, when they are meant to. Congratulations on baby number 2! Hope it is an amazing journey!

  2. Oh man. This is so much of how I feel about having another. Except, of course, that we have three. ;) The more I think about it, the more the decision sends to be simply whether we want to have more children, period. Disability or not, we see benefits and challenges, but having the child is the biggest leap. Anyways. Congratulations again. You're giving me baby fever, darn you!

  3. Oh man. This is so much of how I feel about having another. Except, of course, that we have three. ;) The more I think about it, the more the decision sends to be simply whether we want to have more children, period. Disability or not, we see benefits and challenges, but having the child is the biggest leap. Anyways. Congratulations again. You're giving me baby fever, darn you!

  4. Adding to your family, regardless of already having a child with a disability, is simply a private and personal decision. For my family, we are very content with 3 and having one kiddo was what the hubs and I had already decided way before Owen ever entered the picture. I don't fear disability at all--nothing is guaranteed in life as you said, so anything can happen. We finally feel like we're in a very good place, very comfortable and really enjoying the time we spend with Owen, so it works for us. It may not work for others and that totally OK.

    I'm so excited for you, Nick, and Cora!

  5. I am so excited for you guys and cannot wait to see Cora in action as a big sister! Are you planning another home birth?

    1. We are planning it for now. As long as the ultrasounds and screening don't give us any reason to be in the hospital, that is. :)

  6. Congrats! I think Cora will be an awesome big sister. I can't wait!

  7. I really like the comments at your guest post:

    Some were very cool to read.

    Can't wait to see that little squirt wiggling around in a few weeks ;-)

  8. Yay Congrats...totally my thoughts on how I feel about having #3...


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!