Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Conceive or Not to Conceive - conceiving after a stillborn

I must confess, I was a little taken back that a woman (who I had just met, but new about my stillborn baby) so casually asked, "Are you trying again?"

I think that a couple's decision to conceive is a very personal and confidential (unless they want to reveal it) matter. I think it becomes a particularly sensitive matter, once it follows the loss of another child.

"When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions--decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith." (Neil L. Anderson, Children, Oct 2011)

I was equally taken back by the advice of a stranger on flight we were on recently.  We had a conversation with this man who tried to tell us that we should wait to have kids. He accidently became a father as a teenager. In contrast, Trevor and I had made a decision that we wanted our family to grow. I think his advice was supposed to be for himself!

Aside from people's opinions (that obviously don't matter) there are medical considerations to consider with conception--especially after a loss.

I must confess, it was August, just shortly after Luke's birth, when I was searching online for answers to this very question. As I read through a forum whose contributors were all mothers of stillborn babies I quickly came to one conclusion--there is no conclusive time that you can begin conceiving again. (The varying opinions a little later also prove that there is no conclusive answer.)

Of course, if a woman is recovering from a c-section, she must wait for that massive surgery to heal. I feel so blessed that I was able to deliver vaginally so that recovery from a c-section isn't even a factor in my equation. Other health issues that may have caused the loss of a baby might  need to be resolved before another conception, but I didn't have any health issues. I was healthy and Luke was healthy. So before even consulting anyone for their opinion I concluded that we could try to conceive whenever we felt ready and wanted to.

Our insurance company offers free consulting with a nurse. I decided to ask Leah, the nurse I had been in touch with throughout my pregnancy, her opinion on conception. She said because I had been healthy and Luke was healthy and the cause of his death was a "cord accident" and I did not have a c-section, there was no medical reason to postpone conception and whenever we felt ready would be fine. She also said that if my uterus was still recovering from postpartum than I probably wouldn't get pregnant until it was ready. I felt good about Leah's opinion especially because it made sense to me and maybe because it's what I wanted to hear.

My midwife, Sherri's opinion on the matter was to perhaps have 2-3 menstrual cycles to know that things are regular and then whenever we're ready.

Because I had my postpartum checks with my midwife, I hadn't been back into a doctors office since August. In January I went in for my "annual wellness exam". You can imagine my surprise when the doctor told me that I should wait 12 to 18 months before conceiving to "allow my uterus to heal." I was so taken back that I neglected to inquire further about what she really meant about my "uterus healing." When I first wrote started writing this post I couldn't think of anyone specific that I knew, but I was certain that children had been born less than 1 year apart from each other (sometimes planned but probably by surprise too). Since then I found out a friend and old roommate of mine is expecting her second and her first baby is 8 months. So if other parents have children less than a year apart, if I wanted, couldn't I also have my children be spaced less than 1 year apart?  Needless to say, the doctors advice didn't settle with me so I may or may not have disregarded it. Okay, let's be honest. I totally disregarded it!

Like I said at the beginning, a decision on when to have children is a private matter, but it's evident that Trevor and I already made the decision that we wanted our family to be more than the two of us. So when it's right hopefully we'll have another family member join us.


  1. I remember how upset I would get when co-workers of mine would actually express disapproval that I would dare to get pregnant only 3 months after my marriage, after they had 'advised' me to wait at least two years. It really is nobody's business but the husband, the wife, and the Lord. When the three of you together decide to make it happen, I will be so very happy for you! (And sad that you won't be here.)

  2. Good for you. Some doctors really don't know what they're talking about. It's between you, your husband and the Lord, like you said. Thanks for sharing such personal experiences. It's nice to learn about these sensitive issues from someone who's actually been there.

  3. A friend of mine recently had an opportunity to tutor and homeschool a family who will become a mission president (and family) in France. The family wanted to begin tutoring in French immediately and have my friend and her husband move with them to France, live in the mission home, all expenses paid... Ah! It was a fabulous opportunity. This friend and her husband prayed and fasted about it and decided it wasn't right for their family. Now, only a few months later, she is pregnant. I know they were following the Spirit as to what was right for them and I know you and Trevor will do what is right for you. The Lord will bless and teach you, preparing you everyday for the challenges which lay ahead. I find He has continually done so with me. I'm so grateful that our Father knows us and our needs better than we do. Continue to trust in Him. Thank you for your thoughts!

  4. The same thing happened to me that happened to Ruth. So many people were dumbfounded that we would get pregnant so fast and then have another baby before addie was even two. When it's right, it's right.

  5. The things people say sometimes is shocking. I'm sorry. It is a private matter between you, Trevor, and the Lord.

  6. I loved that talk by Elder Anderson! If more people really believed it and were less critical, imagine the "bubble of peace" crew you'd have!
    It's interesting that people consider physical health, how much money that they have, or how long you've been married as a consideration for when/how many children to have, yet they don't consider emotional health. Emotional health and spiritual preparedness are two MAIN factors.
    I marvel at how many factors go into the equation and how, even a difference of a couple of months can affect a child's life (and yours). I love what my friend Melanie always says, "That's why I don't decide. I let God decide". I know you'll make the right choice with Him :) Thanks for your beautiful example of motherhood!

  7. That is definitely an individual decision. And sometimes people start trying again and it takes months or years. I'm comforted by the fact that Heavenly Father knows each of us, and each of our children. It will work out. And from a medical perspective, there is no reason you have to wait 12-18 months. I didn't wait that long after my 2nd or 3rd child to conceive again. :)

  8. Shelley I loved this post. I agree completely with you. my second pregnancy was totally planned and not an accident and a lot of people think I'm super crazy to be having babies so close together but like you said its between the husband and wife and the lord. And we knew that it was the right thing. My sister in law also had two kids super close to each other and her doctor was taken back because she said her body needed at least a year to heal from the first but she had the baby and she is healthy and the babies healthy.

  9. I love you two. That quote from Elder Anderson really sums it up perfectly. It's such a personal, spiritual decision, as so many big decisions are. I try not to say things to people or ask questions like that because, well, it's not my business!

    I'm so excited for you and Trevor to have a second baby. When the time is right I'll be celebrating with you :)

  10. Good for you in disregarding the doctor. What is that all about? My sister has been blessed with six children and many of them are 18 months apart. She's totally had doctors question her choices, which I find really odd.

  11. Amen to it being private. As far as the 12-18 months: I know a LOT of physicians say that, because there are a lot of things that change in your body when you're pregnant, and it takes a while for your body to get back to normal, but they don't necessarily mean they'll affect your next pregnancy negatively. I know that my doctor's suggested that to me mostly because I was nursing my baby, and it's not healthy to nurse and be pregnant at the same time. But, I'm healthily pregnant and Ashlynne's only 18 months. So, obviously things are okay.

    Just know - sometimes physicians say things to "cover their tushes" legally. Love you =)