Deciding Not to Decide
by Christy Sillman
“Are you going to have another?”
I seem to be getting this question a lot these days. I dread this question — only because the answer is very complicated. If only I could steal Facebook’s “It’s complicated” status for relationships and apply it to my family planning section.
I don’t know why I feel like apologizing when I answer that question. I’m an open book, so it doesn’t hurt to talk about it. It just feels awkward, and I bet the people who asked such an innocent question probably regret it the moment I begin to explain. It’s just hard when your life doesn’t follow society’s mold, but there shouldn’t be anything to apologize about, frankly. I enjoy my extraordinary life.
Basically, as I explained in past columns, my heart didn’t handle the extra blood volume you get when you are pregnant and it stretched out like an overinflated balloon. Once deflated, it loses its elasticity and doesn’t quite work as well. Even though my heart has since regained function, there’s a huge risk that this will happen again to my heart if I were to embark upon pregnancy again. It could even be worse the second time around, and ultimately send me into devastating heart failure.
My husband Steve and I quickly decided we should not risk my health by getting pregnant again. It was so soon after my rather rough pregnancy that I wasn’t too unhappy about this decision. As time went by, and my friends all started sprouting beautiful baby bumps, my heart began to sink and the reality of the situation started to sting.
I reluctantly scheduled a tubal ligation (permanent sterilization) and spent many showers crying. I highly recommend crying in the shower because there is no need to wipe your tears away and you’re usually alone. I’m a very proficient multi-tasker.
I then felt this pressure to decide between adoption and surrogacy. There are benefits and challenges to each option. I’m extremely blessed to have had three close friends offer to be our gestational surrogate. It’s amazing what girlfriends will do for one another. I have spent many nights awake trying to figure out what would be best, and what would be most feasible for our unique situation.
A few months ago, we went to see my cardiologist, and I mentioned my plans for the tubal ligation. Then she blew my mind with two simple questions: “Why do you have to make a permanent decision right now?” “Why can’t you decide not to decide?”
Decide not to decide. WOW. I had never thought about that. My cardiologist explained that I’m too young and technology is rapidly advancing, so I should not get pregnant RIGHT NOW, but that doesn’t mean we can’t revisit the idea three to four years from now.
So, she recommended a safer and more reliable form of birth control, and we are trying to enjoy our indecision by focusing on our son. The one decision I do know — we are missing someone in our family, we are not quite whole yet.
She will come to us, one way or another, but she’s waiting for us just like we’re waiting for her.
In the meantime, I’m learning more about postpartum cardiomyopathy in adults with congenital heart disease, and adoption and surrogacy. Gathering information for the time when we do decide. So for now, my answer to the question of whether or not we plan to have more children is, “Yes, we plan to have more children, one way or another.”