Pregnancy After the NICU

Let’s cut to the chase here – I’m not pregnant.  Nor am I trying to get pregnant.  I know the title of this post may seem a little misleading, but I promise I am going somewhere with it.

As you may already know, Skeeter’s birth was slightly traumatizing.  {I’m not going into the details now, but it you want a refresher, you can check it out here.}  So stressful, in fact, that my hubby and I agreed that our original plan of having two babies two years apart was officially on hold.  While we are so thankful for a baby that is healthy now, we just aren’t quite ready to jump back in the saddle.

When Skeeter was about 6 months old, I thought I was pregnant.  I hadn’t actually taken a test, but Ol’ Mother Nature was super late.  I had a regular appointment with my OB, so I relayed my fears to the nurse checking me in.  She checked my blood pressure and immediately asked, “Are you okay?  Your blood pressure is really high!”  Um, no, I’m freaking out!  Could you please just tell me I’m not pregnant?  My OB came in a couple minutes later and calmed my fears, but I still cried all the way home, just from the idea of possibly being pregnant.

Fast forward one year, and I no longer have panic attacks at the thought of two pink lines!  But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have fears about another high risk pregnancy.  While I love the thought of a squishy newborn and Skeeter being a big sister, I am worried about this baby that doesn’t exist yet.  What if things go wrong again?  Even though every test under the sun has come back negative for indicators of preeclampsia reoccurring, I’m not sure I’ll ever completely shake the fear.

After giving this some thought, I realized I’m probably not alone.  So I decided to talk with some fellow NICU moms who HAVE done it again and see how they handled the stress.  The first person I spoke with was Houston Moms Blog’s own founder, Kelly.  As many of you have read this week, her sweet boy also spent some time in the NICU.  I also talked with my Phi Mu sorority sister Eva, whose twins spent some time in the NICU too.  Here’s what they had to say ::

How did you prepare yourself (physically & emotionally) for another pregnancy after the NICU?

{Kelly} Our situation was so unique in that I knew the cause of Hayes’s NICU stay, and I also knew that the chances of it reoccurring were virtually nil.  So my husband and I decided that once Hayes was finished with surgeries and was healthy and strong – that we would try again.  Well, what we thought was his final surgery happened in July…and I got pregnant in August.

{Eva} I honestly tried not to think about it. For me, my NICU experience was fairly trauma free. My girls just needed to gain weight. There was so much that was different between my first {twin pregnancy} and my second {singleton pregnancy}. A fellow twin mommy friend put it best by saying that going from a multiple pregnancy to a routine singleton was like going from first class to second class citizen status. While I didn’t worry too much about another NICU stay per say, I did know less about the second baby prior to birth. 

How long did it take after the NICU before you felt ready for another?

{Kelly} Not very long. I loved being a mom so much and my heart longed not only for another child for me, but for a sibling for Hayes as well. Nothing could stop that yearning – not even a NICU stay or surgeries. Once I knew that all was well, I was ready to start trying again.

{Eva} I’d say about a year and a half. I think it took me about that long to feel safe that my babies were healthy and developing normally. So even if there were to be another NICU stay in this baby’s future, it would all be okay.

Did you find your next pregnancy more stressful, knowing what happened before?

{Kelly} In some ways yes, and in other ways no. I knew the demands that came with being a NICU mom, and I knew that it would be so incredibly challenging to do it with a toddler at home as well. So I always kept that in the back of my mind. However, I also remembered to cherish every day of pregnancy and enjoy the miracle happening inside since I felt almost robbed of that my first time around.

{Eva} Not necessarily. I think I had the relief of the twin pregnancy first. So, chances of my singleton pregnancy/ies not going to term were significantly less.

What would you say to fellow NICU moms who are considering another pregnancy?

{Kelly} Follow both your heart…and your mind.  It is a tough balance to juggle the feelings that are placed in your heart while also keeping in mind the risk factors too.  Get educated, talk it out with your significant other, and do what is best for you and your family.

{Eva} I realize it is easier said than done, but try not to focus on what went wrong. Each pregnancy is different. Now that we have the NICU experience under our belts, it is not a scary unknown thing. Our babies are in the best possible hands. And we get a little extra healing time, so we are that much stronger when we bring our babies home.

I want to hear from you – I know we’re not the only NICU mommas out there! 

Did you have a pregnancy after NICU?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Pregnancy After NICU


  1. My oldest was a 26 weeker due to preeclampsia. He spent 3.5 months in the NICU. I remember at my 6 week checkup, my OB said something about “next time, you’ll be monitored…” and I busted out “NEXT TIME? YOU’RE INSANE.”
    I tried to give away all my pregnancy books and baby stuff when he was 1. My husband made me box it up and keep it. But I was 100% done. No way, no how was I going through that again.

    As he got closer to 3 and started outgrowing some of the worst effects of his prematurity, I did change my mind and we went on to have another baby.

    My daughter is now 2. She was a 35 weeker- again from preeclampsia. I spent 9 weeks on bedrest and was a complete stress case. I was nervous getting pregnant again, but started having complications very early on again (protein going up at 12 weeks…) and that set off a nasty case of anxiety.

    She did exceptionally well for a 35 weeker (1 night in the NICU) but just walking in to see her in an isolette, I started crying immediately. My nurse was one that I knew from my first stay and she assured me it was different and tried to calm me down, but I was just sick.

    And I ended up wtih a really nasty case of PPA, and PTSD. Really nasty. I honestly thought I might need to be hospitalized for a little while there. I got therapy, took meds and did everything I could to help my mental health, but frankly- I’m not sure I’ll ever be the same.

    I thought I had dealt with the trauma from my son’s birth but man, did it get me.

    Do I regret it? No way in hell. My daughter is amazing and we did survive. But we are FOR SURE done, now. Husband got the old snip. I can’t put myself or my family through that again.

    The NICU is a trauma and a wound. Prematurity- the gift that just. keeps. giving.

    • Oh my gosh, what a story! I am so glad you and both of your sweet babies are healthy now! And I couldn’t agree more- NICU is a trauma, no matter how long or short the stay.

  2. My micro preemie was my last of four children. My other kids were all full term, so I was in a different position. But, I was on bed rest and almost dies at 17 weeks and was stressed my whole pregnancy. I applaud women who have more children after having a preemie, because it must be very stressful. See my story and the book about my daughter at www.

    • Jennifer, I just took a look at your blog and I LOVE the way you’re raising awareness for prematurity. I can’t imagine all of the stress and pain you and your family endured. I’m glad to see that your little girl seems to be doing well!

  3. thanks so much for sharing this! it was just what i needed to hear as we’ve gone back and forth for the last 3 years and i continue to avoid making a decision to this day! my daughter was born at 29 weeks and while she’s a (4 year-old) firecracker now, and our experience albeit ‘easier’ than many sweet babes born earlier than she was, my health was severely compromised as I had a severe blot clot and had to go through several surgeries at the same time she was in the NICU. I recently found out my placenta was nearly 1/2 dead due to a condition called antiphospholipid antibody and it is likely that the same thing could happen again. I’m with you that no matter who tells me what could or might happen, that doesn’t change the fear of reliving it again. I spent the last 3 years dealing with anxiety thinking of having another child yet my heart’s desire was always for more! It definitely changes your ‘plans’ when reality bites! love to you all down south. you’re doing great things!

  4. This is such a great post for mamas who are experiencing the same fears of pregnancy after a something as serious as the NICU. Eva gave some good advice when she said every pregnancy is different — and definitely encouraging!

  5. Heather thank you so much for posting this! Nearly 2.5 years ago I delivered my first child at 34 weeks and as I am approaching that mark in my second pregnancy it is all I can think about!! Thankfully my son/ we were extremely lucky and he only spent one day in NICU. Having had my water break that early as a first time mom was by far the scariest thing I have ever experienced! My doctor is preparing me for another premier birth but I really think no amount of preparation can really prepare you for it…..I do believe this will be my last pregnancy not sure I could emotional and physically go through this again but only time can really tell I guess!! Thanks again for your post!!

    • Regan, I’m so glad that your first baby is healthy now! I’ll definitely pray for a full term baby this time around. You’re so brave and I hope you’ll let me know when the little one is here!

  6. I just read your story and it is so similar to mine, I could cry! My baby girl was born at 32 weeks due to preeclampsia that set in about 28 weeks in, after two easy trimesters. I so want another baby and dream of a full house, but I am terrified of the the journey. I recently met with a cardiologist and I feel so much better about getting pregnant again. He is doing baseline testing and will continue to monitor me closely once I am pregnant in order to catch any changes immediately. I am still terrified in some ways, but I feel much better with a whole team of experts lined up to catch any pre-e early this time. The thought of bed rest makes me want to scream even today, and i still feel like I somehow was cheated on my birth experience as I missed all the fun stuff- showers, going home together, even the birth itself was so different from what I hoped. Then, we had limited visitors for so long and it took forever to recover mentally and physically. I really appreciate you sharing your story and this follow up because there is so little out there on pre-e in general but specifically on the PTSD part and the impact on having a 2nd.

    • It’s so tough – all of us having been in a similar situation and I agree with the feeling robbed of how I thought welcoming a baby was going to happen. And for me not having people to relate to is hard sometimes, so I’m glad I stumbled upon this blog! We all have a tolerance level and a comfort level and I experienced so much judgement because I hesitated to have another because our daughter is fine, so people see fine and think we should feel fine. But I didn’t want to have another if it risked the child’s health or mine, I am a mom to someone and need to come out strong for her!

      My gyn suggested we see a therapist to deal with the trauma and PTSD like you mention and it was life changing. I knew how I felt but had a hard time expressing it. She taught me how to learn my triggers – which in this regard is not being heard. We tried to be an advocate in the hospital but every time we said what we saw, we were dismissed. So this time around I feel so comfortable on trusting my instinct and getting the team of nurses and drs to be an extension of our advocacy, not just work as they feel they need to.

      I would encourage talking to someone that could help overcome the fears and stress.

      All of you wonen are such an inspiration , and I appreciate hearing stories!

  7. All of my boys were a little early at 34 weeks, 36 weeks, and 35 weeks. Number one and three had NICU stays. My last little guy had a severe case of respiratory distress syndrome. It was rough. Did I mention I happen to be a NICU nurse? I worried about every possible complication. Lucky for me, I had friends taking care of him. I think it’s tough on all moms, no matter the gestation.

  8. Wow, this is on my mind all the time. I have also learned that it’s not something I can share a discussion with just anyone. From the start my husband and I said it’s ok that people don’t know how we felt with what we went through and it’s not our responsibility to make them feel it. So we earned that if we needed true support – not being reassured out daughter is fine – but support, we kept it to a few people that went through similar situations.
    We had a very normal healthy baby girl right on her due date! A few things happened during labor that I still wonder if they were indicators, but don’t have answers. On day 2 of her life, we saw her in distress – threw her arms out and arched her back off the bed (something neuro had to be happening for her to be able to do that). The nurses said she was choking and cleared her airways. A dr was never called we were new parents freaking out but looking for trust in he system. The next couple of days she was under the lights and a day goes by and I had her on he bed to hangs her diaper – she threw her fists by her side then went limp and turned as blue as he hospital bed – this happened several more times, told she was choking and we were released later that day with very clear burping instructions.

    Spent the night at home – no I didn’t sleep. We never called anyone except my parents for help, the next morning we took an ambulance to the children’s hospital. Being admitted to the nicu after bring at home is VERY rare, we were there for 10 days.

    Drs found a stroke and several brain bleeds. We were told to wait and see f she can hold a pencil and in that moment our life changed. We felt so wronged by the first hospital – we never left the nicu. I had 7 hours of sleep in 5 days from labor until we got the news.

    So deciding to have a second was a challenge. The answers that we got on why weren’t reassuring it wouldn’t happen again so we did every test under the sun and got good news, no clotting disorders for her or me. But still higher risk for it happening again. We decided that met our comfort level and we were willing to try once more.

    Our daughter is more then done today 2.5 yrs and just amazes us. We find that people think we should “move on” from what happened and we have, but not a single days goes by that it doesn’t cross our minds and we feel blessed every time we remember back and what we could be living now.

    I’m now in my second trimester, chose a new hospital and declined and trimester screens – I didn’t want to worry for 9 months. We agreed with the drs that weekly ultra sounds at 28 weeks to see of there is any in utero activity were the stroke may have happened originally.

    Good luck to you – the biggest piece of advice I got was to imagine your thanksgiving table in 20 years, how do you envision your family?? You can get through the few tough years for the life time of happiness!!

    • Lexie, I can’t imagine what your heart has been through! You are such a strong momma and I will keep you in my prayers. I had never thought of how I want our family to look in 20 years – such an awesome idea. Thank you for sharing!

    • Lexie, this is SO similar to our experience it gave me goosebumps reading it. My son was born on his due date, and I had to most easy and regular pregnancy you could imagine. As I was delivering him his heart rate kept going up over 200 and they didn’t know why. They were ready to bring me in for C section but I was able to push him out faster. When he came out, his Apgar score was very low and a team had to rush in to resuscitate him. He seemed ok after that so we went to sleep and he stayed the night in the NICU. We were told the next morning that he had a similar episode where he arched his back and then another one where he stiffened his arms. Thank God our nurses recognized that those were seizures and they ordered a ultrasound right away (i can’t even imagine what would have happened if we had brought him home before they realized.) The ultrasound showed a neonatal stroke (intraventricular hemorrhage) and hydrocephalus because of it. we were sent to the Children;’s hospital immediately where they monitored him for 3 weeks to see if the bleeding would dissipate on its own. in that time it was apparent that the pressure in his brain was building because he was vomiting so much every time i tried to nurse him. he couldn’t keep anything down. they decided to do surgery and put a shunt in, which he will have for the rest of his life now. he can live a completely normal life with the shunt but there is always a risk that it can become blocked or malfunction at which time we would need to go back to the hospital for surgery. he was doing so well for so long and then this january (right before his 2nd birthday) he had a long seizure and they diagnosed him with epilepsy.

      i also find it hard sharing with people that haven’t been through the nicu experience. it was so incredibly traumatic that i feel like we sugarcoat it for them. my husband and i have always wanted 2 and i would love for my son to have a sibling but how can i get through 9 months of worrying what will happen?

  9. My first son was born at 28 weeks and was in the NICU for three months. It was an emotional roller coaster for me and I was severely traumatized from the experience. He is 6 years old now and is perfectly fine. I also have a two year old son that was born 6 weeks early but was only in the NICU for two weeks. The whole experience was much easier the second time around. Now with our little girl on the way, I’m currently 31 weeks and am scared every single day that she is coming. It’s just the fear of the unknown.


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