Almost as soon as Squidge was born people starting asking me if we were going to have another one, which was irritating for a number of reasons but particularly annoying was the fact that I’d only just had one baby and was still walking like John Wayne.
People seemed to instantly forget how difficult pregnancy was for me both physically and mentally but also how difficult it had been for my family and close friends. At one point the Northern One didn’t want to go to work because he wasn’t sure if I’d still be here when he got home.
I don’t really remember how I felt but I remember how frightened and desperate and out of control I felt; similar to not remembering how painful being in labour was but knowing that it was one of the worst experiences of my life. This probably wasn’t helped by my refusal to attend any antenatal classes due to not wanting to accept being pregnant and also being unable to leave the house most days so I had very little idea about how to cope with being in labour.
Looking back I can see how natural labour with minimal pain relief can be an empowering experience but at the time it was anything but.
Have we all not been through enough for the time being?
I don’t really want Squidge to be an only child; I want him to have a sibling or siblings to play with, fight with and learn to share with. I want him to have a partner in crime and someone to share the trials and tribulations of being a child. Me and my brother fought like cat and dog on occasions but we’ve always been there for each other and still have a close relationship and I want that for Squidge.
But I honestly hated being pregnant.
I doubt anyone finds it easy but I really struggled. In the last few weeks of pregnancy I had regular appointments with:
The specialist mental health midwife
The diabetes specialist nurse
The obstetric consultant
The community mental health team
The psychiatrist from the local Mother and Baby Unit.
During pregnancy my mental health and stability was the worst that it had ever been. I was on the maximum dose of antidepressants, taking sleeping tablets and diazepam and still feeling awful. I was hospitalised on one occasion because I just couldn’t cope and I spent a frighteningly large amount of the nine months planning how to end it all.
I wasn’t able to work for the entire pregnancy or really do anything much at all. I existed in a state of almost constant fear and anxiety, misery, guilt and self-hatred.
I avoided leaving the house and coming into contact with anyone who would acknowledge my pregnancy or worse still want to congratulate me and ask questions.
I threw up every morning for five months, didn’t eat any hot food during that time and felt sick for the entire pregnancy. There were a few weeks where I couldn’t go into the kitchen as every time I opened a cupboard or the fridge I would be assaulted by a new smell that had me hanging over the toilet.
Squidge tried to arrive at 26 weeks and I ended up spending three nights in hospital having medications to stop labour and horrible steroid injections to speed up his lung development. I never went into established labour and Squidge stayed put until 37 weeks but it was still a traumatic experience I’d rather not repeat.
By the time I was about five month pregnant I was struggling to walk anywhere and had almost constant backache due to SPD. I was supposed to be referred to physiotherapy but the appointment never materialised.
I developed gestational diabetes and before it was diagnosed I had frequent headaches and felt dizzy and ill. I spent the last two months before Squidge arrived stabbing my fingers up to eight times per day test my blood sugar and eating dry rice cakes for breakfast because anything else sent my blood sugar squiffy.
When Squidge arrived my mental health stabilised within the first week or so and I didn’t develop postnatal depression but everyone involved in my care was on high alert and I saw the midwifery team every day for the first two weeks just to make sure I was coping.
If we did decide to try for another baby there are lots of things to take into consideration besides the initial hurdle of actually getting pregnant.
No one has any idea if my depression would return with the severity that it did with my first pregnancy; there’s just no way of knowing. There’s also the potential for me to develop postnatal depression even though I didn’t have it with Squidge and wouldn’t necessarily develop antenatal depression first.
Even though I feel so well after having Squidge I’m not sure if it’s a risk I’m willing to take. This is partly for my own health but even more importantly I can’t put my family through that again and I absolutely cannot put Squidge through even a fraction of that.
There would be the risk of me going into preterm labour like I did with Squidge but this time it might not be able to be stopped.
I’d be likely to have SPD again except I’d also have a small child to look after so not walking or doing much isn’t really an option.
It’s almost guaranteed that I’d develop gestational diabetes again; that it would occur earlier and potentially be more difficult to control. On top of that every time I develop gestational diabetes it increases the risk of me developing diabetes in later life.
There’s a lot to think about.
Will my body recover fully from another pregnancy or will I be left be left with chronic health problems?
Do we run the risk of irreparably damaging our family of three by trying to make it a family of four?
Is wanting to give Squidge a sibling worth risking leaving him with a catatonically depressed mummy for nine months?
How can we possibly try for a baby if there’s even the smallest risk of that happening?
We need to look after the baby we’ve already got.
But I do want another baby.