Deciding to try have another baby after experiencing a SIDS baby is an extremely personal choice between you and your partner, and you and your partner ONLY. After suffering from SIDS, only you yourselves will know where you are in the grieving process and how ready you are to fill your arms and hearts with a little bundle again. I hope to offer some suggestions and things to ponder over so that you and your partner can come to a mutually agreeable decision that you are both comfortable with. If you are already pregnant, you have a whole new set of concerns right now. I will try help out with letting you know how I feel, and where I look for support in this time. Becoming pregnant with a SIDS sibling can be terrifying at times, and you need to be prepared for the emotional rollercoaster you will experience. Hopefully, this page will at least let you know you are NOT alone, and maybe will give you a little comfort while travelling down this road of uncertainty.
ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER LITTLE BABY?
This decision is such a tough one for many many people, and an easy one for many more. You no doubt have thoughts on which answer you are leaning towards and hopefully you make the right decision for you and your family. The first dilemma comes in the form of WHEN should you prepare for another child...That answer is extremely difficult because we each grieve so differently. Having another baby relatively soon after losing your angel is sometimes a great temptation so that you can *replace* your angel. The hard part is that your baby will never be replaced, and it is extremely unfair to the new baby to be thought of as an extension of your SIDS child. So...I personally think that once you have come to a definite realization that this new baby is NOT ever going to be a replacement of your angel baby...then that is the time when you are ready to consider another child. Again, this changes depending on your grief practices. If you are in a completely self-destructive area of grieving that you are unsure of escaping, it is obviously best to wait awhile and get yourself mentally, physically and emotionally back on stable ground.The new baby needs GOOD and STABLE parents who are excited to welcome him into the world...the baby cannot be your therapist. YOU need to be the strong ones for the baby. I became pregnant about 4 months after losing Daegan...I was still obviously heavily grieving, but I knew that I wanted this baby and I knew that Daegan was gone and this new baby was Daegan's sibling and more importantly...my new child. Yes, my heart, head and arms were aching incredibly...but I was able to decide (with my partner) that we wanted to have a family once again. We wanted to be parents. Good and proper parents. THAT was our decision and we made it together...something that is very important that you do with each other. Granted, my situation obviously changed and this baby is now not wanted by his father...but that has not affected my desire for my new baby one little bit. Why? Because I had thought long and hard as to whether I really really wanted to try become pregnant again and I had come to a definite positive answer...it was not dependent on external factors.
The next thing to consider are risks. For some reason the people in my SIDS support group told us that it is very unlikely that SIDS will ever occur again in my family as it is not genetic. Although I do not know if they are correct, research shows that SIDS siblings are definitely at a higher risk of becoming victims. This could be because SIDS risks remain the same in the families that have already experienced SIDS, but noone is sure. I learnt that AFTER I became pregnant. This would have been a vital piece of information which could have changed my mind about becoming pregnant again. SIDS siblings ARE at a higher risk of succumbing to SIDS although the numbers of actual occurrences are of course still low in relation to population. Still, it is important to know that this risk IS there. Another risk is an increased rate of miscarriages and infertility after experiencing a SIDS baby. This has been purely related to stress felt by the mother throughout the subsequent pregnancy. So...you must be prepared that these are all possibilities. The numbers are extremely low, but they ARE THERE.
Other Women That Have Decided to Have Another Baby
GOING AHEAD WITH A PREGNANCY AFTER A SIDS BABY
The decision has been made and the little pink/blue line has appeared...CONGRATULATIONS! You are going to have another beautiful baby. You will go through the typical pregnancy symptoms that all moms-to-be go through...morning sickness, aches and pains, bloating etc. But YOU will also go through something much more. Instead of exclusively feeling joy, you may find that sadness and fear creeps into your pregnancy. You find yourself panicked at the thought of losing another baby...you find yourself worried about whether you will bond as closely with this baby as you did with your SIDS baby...you will entertain thoughts of mortality and the uncertainty of the future. YOUR pregnancy is not the one that is written about in all the pregnancy books and magazines on the market. YOUR pregnancy is a pregnancy after a devastating loss...and that DOES make a difference. Along with your growing excitement (and belly!) your fears will grow. This is the time you need to hold tight with your support partner..whoever that may be. Talk about your fears, do not just keep them locked inside and cause major stress to yourself. Talk about your excitement and your uncertainty. DO you feel guilt over having another baby...thinking that your angel may feel as if he is being replaced? Talk about it. Your partner or counsellor is the best person, as someone who has not lived your experience will not understand why you feel the way you do. And you don't need to add doubt about your sanity to your list of concerns!
Another setback you may go through emotionally is with regards to the nursery and baby items. Fortunately I moved from the house where Daegan died, I don't know how I would have faced this next dilemma if I didn't. Many people who are still living in the family home where their baby died have huge problems with opening and reusing the nursery. Some have kept the door closed since the baby's passing, others have changed the purpose of the room into something else. Whatever you have done with the nursery, you will find now that it is time to "reopen" that door. Using your SIDS baby's nursery is going to bring back a LOT of memories. Changing the decor, rearranging furniture etc is probably going to raise a lot of questions in your mind. There is no easy answer for this. Before I moved I had kept Daegan's door to his room always closed. It was not so much seeing his items there, it was the lingering baby smell that stayed until the day we left the house. Whenever I entered that room the day of Daegan's passing would come rushing back at me and the anguish was overwhelming. Shutting the door did not feel right but it was all I could do to remain relatively sane. For some of you now, you will need to open that door. This is going to be a hard time for you if you do not mentally prepare yourself first. Be ready for the memories as the door opens and you will absorb this experience more readily.
This last part deals with using your SIDS baby's items of furniture and clothing. What I have decided to do, and remember this is right for me...not neccessarily for you, is to keep and reuse Daegan's furniture with some new additions that are specially for this new baby. The only item that I cannot use is Daegan's car seat. It is where he spent a LOT of time as we travelled from the island we lived on to the mainland pretty much every day. I could not guarantee myself that seeing the new baby in the car seat would not instantly bring comparisons of Daegan to mind, therefore I choose not to use it...at least that is my choice as of this moment. We are all allowed change our minds as often as we want. As for Daegan's clothes, there are items that will be kept as only Daegan's...but there are also some items that I will TRY put on the new baby and only then will I know if I can reuse Daegan's clothes.Many of his clothes he never lived long enough to wear as they were bought for 5 and 6 months and up...those clothes I can't imagine having a hard time with, but again, we will see when that day comes with the new baby. I can only offer my opinion at this time, as I have yet to experience all of this myself...very soon. I do know that if I try something and it triggers a huge emotional response then there is no reason for me to continue pushing. What may work for some parents will not work for all. It is important to remember with us, that we cannot look at our new baby in our SIDS baby's item and smile happily thinking of how lovely it is to pass items down in the family. There is always an element of pain involved that other families don't experience. Be gentle and careful with yourself. There is no need to push matters or feel that you should be able to *get over* something.
Other Families/Women Pregnant after Losing an Infant