Your questions are awesome! I didn't put this much thought into it before I had children.... maybe I should have. In any case, my first pregnancy ended up being nothing that I could have ever expected, and it changed me completely as a person. I got pregnant the very first time we tried, after I went off the pill, and I was pregnant with identical twin boys. That initial surprise turned to shock when we found out 14 weeks into the pregnancy that one of the boys would not survive outside the womb and would most likely die during the pregnancy and cause a miscarriage. It's a long story, and not one you'd ever be prepared for by any of the pregnancy books on the market, but in the end we ended up with the boys being delivered by emergency C-section three months before their due date. One lived for 21 hours in our arms. The other miraculously survived the horrible pregnancy, delivery and a subsequent massive brain hemorrhage -- he's now about to turn 14 and is the most extraordinary kid.
Even after the nightmare we experienced while bringing our boys into the world, I got pregnant again (a little girl that time) just 4 months after they were born. I remember friends and relatives thinking we were insane to attempt another pregnancy so soon after the trauma that we experienced. But somehow, sometimes, you just move ahead in life and don't think too hard while you're jumping off that cliff.
I guess that's really what it's like having kids.... jumping off a cliff. You can never, ever be prepared. No matter how many answers you seek. There are risks around every corner -- before they're born, when they're learning how to cross a street, when they're learning how to drive. But there are so many joys too. Far too many to count. And even in the midst of mind-numbing grief, when I had that tiny, miniature hand of my one-pound baby boy wrapped around my index finger during his 21 hours of life, I felt the inner peace of having known him and having given him all of my love during that little window of time.
There's no greater honor than having brought a life into the world, and helping to guide that life for just a little while, whether that time spans 21 hours or 21 years.