This pregnancy was both exciting and terrifying. Hancock describes herself as a "nervous wreck" until she could feel the baby move regularly. Her obstetrician provided some relief. "Because I was using the same doctor and we had been through so much together already, I was allowed to call with any stupid question I wanted," says Hancock. "I called them because I was worried I had a hole in my uterus! They held my hand and calmed me down whenever I needed it."
Hancock saw a high-risk specialist for regular ultrasounds and near the end of pregnancy saw her obstetrician twice weekly for ultrasounds and non-stress tests. She also did regular kick-counts at home. "I was basically able to set my mind that if what happened to my daughter started to happen to my son, we would catch it [in time]," says Hancock. Her son's movements were tremendously reassuring to her and her husband.
She and her husband also found great solace in giving themselves permission, even during their grief, to enjoy joyful moments—something she credits to their own philosophy of Humanism. "We took our happiness when it came," says Hancock.
She did feel anxious again toward the end of her pregnancy. Her C-section was scheduled for 38 weeks—coincidentally, two days after the anniversary of her daughter's death. But the birth went well, and her son was a whopping nine pounds, four ounces.
Three Healthy Children—Despite Chronic Illness: Jodi's Story
Jodi Webb has had epilepsy for most of her life. "I had my first seizure the summer after fourth grade—I was at Girl Scout Camp!" says Webb, who lives near Reading, Pennsylvania. "It made my parents very protective, I couldn't drive, and once I hit high school I felt like I was always hiding the fact that I had epilepsy and waiting for it to leak out."
Epilepsy complicated Webb's reproductive life, too. The medication she needed to control seizures posed an increased risk of birth defects, ranging from small birthmarks to brain and spinal cord defects.
Webb's first pregnancy was "a surprise." She was only 21 and didn't see a specialist obstetrician—in fact, her neurologist was the only one to tell her she needed to be on an extra dose of folic acid (all pregnant women need folic acid, but women with epilepsy need a higher dosage as anti-seizure medicines interfere with the absorption of the nutrient).