Maternal Mental Illness and Baby No.2 … ?

2 + 1 = 3.

We are a family of 3.

Within a few weeks of Reuben being born we were asked that age-old question – “Well…how many more do you plan to have?” or faced with “Just you wait until No.2 comes along, there’s no stopping you now!” Well, yes there is something stopping me/us, but more on that later. I answered those questions negatively and  was usually laughed at or scolded (nicely, of course) and told that my “feelings would pass”.

cartoon-1082114_1280As Reuben is coming 3 in September, it’s really amazes me how many people have rolled their eyes as I have explained – “we just plan to have the one, Reuben is more than enough for us” – as if they actually know better! On occasions even strangers have asked the question and then passed comment, with one delightful lady feeling free to mentioned that she believes I’m “selfish” and stand to “ruin” Reuben’s life, if he’s an only child. Really? Hmmm. LOL. Thankfully, I was in good humour that day!!

Who ever really knows why some families have one child and some have four? I don’t think we even need or have a right to know, it’s a personal choice and let’s face it sometimes it’s not always choice for some. Whatever works for you, works for you. My heart and love goes out to those families who don’t have a choice and so don’t get want they deeply long for.

To be honest, I didn’t ever imagine I’d have “x” number of children – I knew I wanted to me a mum but didn’t have any other plan in my head, before Reuben was born. Not that there is anything at all wrong with having a dream or a plan, or even names you know you’ll use – that just wasn’t me!  I think if you had really pressed me I would have said that we’d be delighted and blessed to have one healthy child – getting pregnant was not supposed to be straightforward for me, or so we were told. As soon as I held Reuben I knew I was done – though at that point I could not have articulated why. That hasn’t changed, despite what many have told me!

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 19.19.50There is no denying that PND is the biggest culprit in my/our decision. If I had not experienced this illness, things might be different. But isn’t that the case with most things in life? That facing other circumstances could, quite possibly, change the outcome of almost anything? So it’s fair to say, if things had been different, we could be expecting or have had another little Robinson on our hands!

But no, we are not expecting. We don’t plan to be expecting or have any hopes to be expecting. I’ve thought long and hard about it. We’ve talked about it as honestly as we can and we have come to the decision, that we are happy as we are: 2+1=3.  For me the two biggest stumbling blocks are these:

 What if I become ill again?

I guess every mum who has suffered ponders that question. I can’t get it out of my head. I know not every mum who has had it with one baby also struggles with the next. But I also know mums who have had it with each pregnancy and birth. I have been offered, and promised, first class, Mental Health team support – from day one of pregnancy, if it were to happen. Even that can’t dismiss or diminish my fears enough. It seems too much of a risk, and I’m not that big on taking risks!

  • What if I get become unwell again and I end up as ill as I have been this time around? What if I am worse?
  • How will I cope with Reuben and Gavin and another little bundle – how would I ever survive?
  • Can I really put Reuben, Gavin and my family through the hell of this again, never mind myself? I just can’t imagine how or if I would cope, if I was back in the midst of that nightmare for a second time.

Like I said, this is a very personal choice. I take my hat off to mums, who are much braver than me, who do have another baby, after experiencing PND. You are exceptional and I admire you greatly. I also understand mums, who like me, really struggle to and perhaps don’t do it, for fear of the unknown. I guess only each of us know what it right, best and the next step for our families.

But there is also another questions that holds me back, perhaps more powerfully that the first…

What if I don’t get ill again?

You’d reckon that would be the ideal…right? As I’ve said above, I could not cope being so ill and taken to the point of life or death, that I was at for so long. So NOT having PND, or the assurance that I’d be well, should mean I’d go again in a heartbeat? Hmmm….not so.

All I know is being a mum with PND. I don’t know what’s it’s like the other way around. And while I imagine there is so much I have missed and so much to be enjoyed that I have no idea of, it frightens me. It frightens me because what if…

  • What if I do have an immediate bond with another baby, that I didn’t have with Reuben?
  • What if I don’t doubt a new baby to be mine? How will that feel and what will it mean for me and Reuben?
  • What if I do manage to BF this time and our connection is unshakeable?
  • What if I am a better mummy to someone else than I am to Reuben?

Oh, the list goes on. I will not have another baby because I will not do that to Reuben. I will not risk everything being different and him being the one to have lost out….AGAIN. He doesn’t deserve that. He has always deserved better than me as his mummy and I just could not let him down, again, in this way. I think it would break my heart, even further, to realise that there is so much more to motherhood (minus PND) that I never had with Reuben – to honestly know all that we have missed out on – but to have it with another. I am just not prepared for that. Just one look at his little face and I know I am making the right choice for me.

I know to some of you this won’t make sense. It’s nowhere near what mums feel across the board. But it is how I feel – rightly or wrongly.

You might wonder why I am writing about this. It’s simply because I try to be as authentic as I can when I write and share.  This happens to be a question I get from lots of you, who email me –  “Has PND put you off having another baby”. Being asked it often has really made me think hard about my answer. So I thought I’d be as honest as I could and let you have a window into where my heart is at on this issue too.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 19.04.13

2+1= 3.

We are a family of 3 and that’s alright by me!


7 thoughts on “Maternal Mental Illness and Baby No.2 … ?”

  1. You choose what is right for your family but do not sell yourself short saying Reuben deserves more than you as his Mummy! You had an illness you had no control over. You are now in recovery but it’s a slow process and there will be good and bad days. You are fighting a hard battle. Be proud of yourself and how far you have come! You are also an inspiration sharing your PND and helping others. I would say Reuben is lucky to have such a wonderful Mummy! Xxx

    1. Thank you so much, Hannah! Lovely kind words from someone who understand this illness is such an encouragement! xxx

  2. What a brave and refreshingly honest post. I know the soul searching that must have gone into writing it and putting it out there so congratulations.
    Please never ever feel that Reuben deserves better than you as a mummy – you are his entire world. You got ill, which was in no way your fault, your baby was conceived out of love and you’ve done all in your power to overcome something that quite literally tried to kill you. Still, you try to help others and have conciously sacrificed having another child just so you won’t in anyway hurt Reuben – how could he ask for more love than that? You literally are doing everything in your power to safeguard him. There are other parents who don’t show even an ounce of the endless love you are showing him, do please don’t sell yourself short as a mum or a person. You didn’t choose to become ill, but you’ve overcame it.
    I had PND with my first two pregnancies and post births but luckily with my last two I was ok. It’s not something I’d wish on anybody and I admire your decision because it’s brave and you’ve considered all options and it’s right for you all as a family X

    1. Thank you so much, such a lovely comment! I had tears in my eyes when reading it. I’m so sorry you also struggled with PND but how great that you were able to be okay with the next two – that’s brilliant! Keep well xx

    1. Hi, thanks for reading and for commenting! Glad this has reminded you that our little ones will be just fine 🙂

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