It’s easy to look ahead, when you’re a kid, and feel like your whole life is mapped out ahead of you. For me, I knew from an early age that I’d go to uni, get a job on a pop mag, work my way up to being editor of Smash Hits (RIP), meet a bloke, get married, buy a house, have two kids, get a dog. And as the story books go, we’d live happily ever after.
It’s only when you get a bit older that you realise that the world has lots of options. Go travelling instead of uni? Start work straight out of school? Maybe you decide you want to meet a girl and get married. I guess the joy of life (in some countries, anyway) is being able to choose.
One thing that has surprised me about this ‘being a grown up’ lark is how, for me, the decision to have a second baby hasn’t been as straight forward as it was first time around. Back then in our footloose and fancy free days, the conversation between Mr P and I went something like “Our friends are pregnant. Do we want that? I think we do. Are we ready? I think we are. OK let’s do it!” It was exciting and brilliant and we were full of hope for the future.
This time, however, memories of morning sickness, giving birth, sleepless nights and – more than anything – post natal depression are lodged firmly in my brain where they fight, on a daily basis, with feelings of love towards my daughter, feelings of gratitude that we have her in our lives and a desire to grow our family, give her a sibling. This battle has been going on since my daughter was around 18 months old. I want more children, I just don’t know if I’m mentally strong enough to do it.
I’ll be working on my laptop in my local cafe, and a mum will come in with a small baby in a pram. My stomach will flip over – not in that ‘ooh I really want another baby’ way, but in a gut-wrenching way, as memories of being a new mum, being so lonely, feeling utterly incapable of getting through the day in one piece, come flooding back. (FYI: Just typing that sentence made me cry.)
I see mothers of toddlers announcing their second (or third) pregnancy. When my daughter was a toddler, the idea of being pregnant again made me feel physically sick. These women mustn’t have struggled with the decision, I tell myself. For them, it must have been easy.
Because you’re supposed to REALLY WANT to have a baby, aren’t you? It’s meant to be an instinctive gut feeling that overwhelms you and dominates your every thought until you get pregnant. So having conflicting feelings about it – feelings that are as strong as each other – is confusing and exhausting.
Three years ago (just before my daughter turned 3) we made the decision to go for it. Let’s do it again. Yes, it’s bound to be awful and hideous, but we know that the HARD BIT is actually fairly short-lived and the benefits far outweigh the shit moments. There was also a small part of me that thought “Bring it on!” I almost fancied the idea of testing my strength to see if I could cope better second time around. And apparently – as many people will tell you – it’s easier second time around because you’re more relaxed about things and you know what you’re doing (although just as many people tell you it’s harder because you have an older child to look after as well as a baby). So we decided to have another baby.
But my body had other ideas. And three years – and lots of fertility treatment – later, we’re still a one child family. Is this the universe’s way of telling me I don’t want another child quite enough for it to happen? Possibly, but our journey to try to make it happen has been tough, and it’s a journey we’re still on, so I’m choosing to look at it like this: If it’s meant to be, it will happen, and I will be strong enough to cope. If not, we’re bloody lucky to have one amazing child.
Thank you for writing this. I had exactly the same feeling after having our first child as we’d been through a serious amount of stress and heartache to get him! Deciding to have a second one was not something we did lightly but we also made the decision that if it didn’t happen of its own accord then it wasn’t meant to be. We’d spent 5 years trying to conceive our gorgeous boy and many miscarriages and treatments and knew that we couldn’t do it again. This time round we were so much more relaxed and the only thing I took was the usual vitamins and low dose asprin as this was how we eventually conceived our first. 8 months down the line I found out I was expecting and the shock was ridiculous as I’d presumed it probably wouldn’t happen. I understand how you must be feeling at the minute but what I’m trying to say, and I know this is the really hard part but just relax, enjoy life and your lovely family and it will happen when you least expect it. I got caught with our first after we’d been dealt another blow and decided to forget about it and have a good night out with friends and low and behold a few weeks later I saw those magic lines appear in the test! Lots of love and keep your chin up xxx
We went through several IVF’s after we’d had H, we thought it would be so easy to have a second baby because the first one came along pretty easily. But, apparently, secondary infertility is a fun thing to throw at someone!
Going through treatment is ALL the emotions at 100% and the pressure it puts on people is incredible, I’m surprised anyone can get pregnant while going through it to be honest. We decided, after our third go, to give up and enjoy life again, and yup, cliche that I am, I fell pregnant.
It’s such a personal journey, no amount of advice or well meaning wishes can help, only you know what’s right for you, and how much you can go through.
Sending you lots of love, hugs and a good amount of choc and booze for those days xxx
Just wanted to say, firstly, that I love you. And I’m proud of you for writing this. Other than that, I don’t know what to say that will help. But I do sort of understand. We always thought ‘three babies’ and Daisy is hardly out, but then it’s a scary decision to think of going through this again with a third. There’s a 50% chance that we will. But my heart reminds me that it’s worth it. She’s not even out of the woods yet. But to not have her is something I can’t even imagine. And it would be like turning my back on myself – as I was just like her once upon a time. It’s completely different. But I do appreciate what you mean. And I hope that the future brings you the outcome that is right for you and your family. Either way – that gorgeous daughter of yours will be happy and very lucky to have a mother like you. xxx
I think your attitude is a really healthy one. And whatever happens, you’re a wonderful family and G is lucky to have you and Mr P for parents. xxx
Such an honest heartfelt post Alison ❤️ Much love to you xx
Good attitude to have you know yourself and your situation better than anyone
I think that there is a plan somehow… things happen for a reason maybe? I just hope you find a path to getting all your hopes and dreams xxx
I’m sorry you’re going through this. Such an honest and moving post. I can relate in parts, I had a very tough pregnancy first time around with severe sickness and the second Time was a really really tough decision, that ended tragically and so the third time I too wasn’t sure I was physically or mentally strong enough to do it and it was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Of course I wouldn’t change them for the world but I would still say it was the hardest time of my life. I say this because you are not alone, on the surface it’s just another pregnancy but deep down it isn’t easy for everyone. You have a lovely outlook on it and I really hope that whatever life brings for you and your family you are happy X
Such an honest post Alison. I love your attitude towards what must be such an incredibly difficult time. You rock x
A really good insight, thank you. My daughter is only 4 months old and I already think about a sibling for her (in a few years mind), but after suffering a lot in pregnancy the thought of a toddler and pregnancy/newborn terrifies me! I’m new to blogging and look forward to reading more from you. X
There is no right response and nothing to say that makes things better in this situation, but I admire your openness and attitude in this post too xx
I think you’ve got a brilliant attitude to the whole thing, and I do hope that things work out perfectly for you all, whatever that might mean. For me, having a second child was important because I was so lonely as a child and hope that my children won’t have to go through that because there are two of them. Although I do know that this is a rather romantic view of siblings!
Thank you for writing this, it’s such an honest and heartfelt post, I can really relate to it. Our decision to have a second child was difficult, for me it was for similar reasons to yourself, howeverwe decided to go ahead and have been fortunate to have another recently. I feel mentally stronger this time in that I recognise when I’m heading in a downwards spiral and force myself to get out. I’ve made a real effort to make friends with people who have children and be honest with them when I’m struggling. It’s why I took up blogging too (even though I’m terrible!), to try and socialise – albeit virtually – with people with children, just to not feel so alone. Sending love xx
Oh love. I am always toying with the idea of a third but I kinda struggled with two so it’s probably not the best idea. But you know when you had the vision of your family. Mine was lots of us around a table and it makes me sad that may not happen. You have your beautiful girl and you are an amazing Mum xxx
Oh lovely, I just want to give you a big squeeze. The universe is a weird place, and I have no idea why things happen and if things are ‘meant to be’, but I don’t doubt you’ll be strong enough to cope either way xx
oh my gosh, I could have written the majority of this post! My daughter turns 3 next week and all I constantly get asked is “when are you having another one?”. Originally I would have said that yes I would love more than one, but like you memories come flooding back of morning sickness, all the complications of pregnancy and birth, the lack of sleep and stress of being a new mum. And then I look at my daughter and I wonder how on earth I could ever love someone as much as I love her. At the moment I am sticking to just the one. I’m not broody and I always thought people always knew if they were meant to have another, so I don’t want to rock the boat by having a baby that I’m not 100% sure about having. I think things happen for a reason, and if I did get pregnant then obviously it was meant to be. But for now I am just enjoying every moment I have with my little one, as my heart bursts with pride, love and joy every time I look at her
I’ve only just read this post but it truly resonates with me. My son is now 5 1/2, and when people find out I only have one the next question is usually “are you going to have any more”. The truth of it is I don’t know, I still don’t know.
I’ve never had a massive desire for more but at the same time I sometimes get this gut wrenching sadness about not having another one so I am completely torn. Then what we went through comes into the mix – we had identical twins, a great pregnancy that I enjoyed up until 20 weeks when we found there was a severe problem with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and we were facing losing them so I had to have surgery. I ended up going into labour and having them at 27 weeks, then we nearly lost my son in the first week and subsequently lost his brother at nearly 3 weeks old.
It has taken me nearly this long to be in a happy place again to even consider the possibility and now I just think I feel thankful for what I have and whilst he doesn’t get spoilt by us I want to be in a position to give him everything he needs, including me. I also want to be able to enjoy being pregnant again and I’m not sure I would.
I never thought it was supposed to be this hard to decide. I always thought I would just have this desire, a human instinct shall we say, to have children but I just don’t. So for now, I have decided this is what our family is going to look like and I am happy with that – I think! H x
Oh my goodness, I can’t believe what you’ve been through. I feel incredibly sad for you, and I’m not surprised you’ve found it difficult to decide whether to have another child. All you can do is act upon how you feel right now, and if in the future, you look back and feel regrets, tell yourself that you made the right decision at the time. That’s all you can do, right? Thank you for commenting Helen xx
I could have written this post myself. Seeing my friends with newborn babies gives me a sort of sense of dread as it takes me back to ‘that place’. I’ve never felt as lonely as I did when my Daughter was young, even when I was surrounded by people. The anxiety that comes with having a child you love so blimmin much is crippling. I’m very honest when people ask if I’m having another child. I have never once felt broody since having my Daughter, it’s just not in me. I feel a bit sad that she won’t grow up in a big family like I did but our mental health is detrimental to them and I think my sanity would definitely wane if I had to go through pregnancy/newborn stage/lack of sleep again! This was a great read (more so because I can totally relate!)