Sat on the sofa snuggled down with my two gorgeous girls zoning out on fb whilst they watch some energetic neon cartoon in tv. I feel happy, truly, genuinely happy. I have 2 arms to hold them and 2 knees for them for balance on; perfect.
Before children and probably in my early twenties I always thought I’d have more than two children. In my mind as a result of me and my brother not quite getting on, and being envious of friends who did get on with their siblings, I naively thought that I wanted to have a big family. Well I certainly got that when I married into one as I now have 4 brother in laws!
Whilst many of my close friends are having 3 children. It certainly seems to norm to want to expand your family yet I know others whom for what ever reasons can only have one child. Both seem as satisfied with their decision as the other.
However because I have always openly said that I would like a big family or want to have 3 children I almost feel like I have set myself up to having this conversation on an almost weekly basis. Am I going to have more children?
Whilst I sway towards the yes and no camp my mind and heart seem torn. You see I had post natal illness after having both my daughters. After my diagnosis and subsequent recovery from pnd with my first child the urge to expand our brood was immense. The feeling so strong that I wanted to have another child overwhelmed any feelings of self doubt or fear that I may get pnd with my second. I know with some mums that their horrendous experiences with pnd can lead them to decide that their mental health is more important than an expanding family and that decision I admire greatly. Had my pregnancy and first few months of motherhood coupled with my pnd experience the first time been worse (it was traumatic to say the least, read other blog posts for those details of my story). It may have been a different story altogether.
After I had my second daughter and had the initial 8wks of the “happy hormone” being present in my body. I can even remember my sister in law asking me as I’m cradling my 4wk old in my arms “am I going to have another?” And me answering genuinely and truly believing this answer of “yes I’d have another tomorrow”. Another 4wks later after such a positive affirmation I was in the throes of my postnatal illness, anxiety ridden and self harming.
What I want to address here is the fact that we can change our minds. With or without a pnd experience we can adamantly state that we are “never going through that again”. Be it a nausea inducing pregnancy, traumatic birth experience or anxious new mum feelings. We know what our body and mind can cope with. And if we change our minds and plan or fall pregnant we can still find ourselves defending that decision.
Childhood dreams of fairy tales and princesses marrying Prince Charming are just that. We all have our reasons to want to have a certain number of children. It is not to say we can’t dream of these. For example when we have found someone special to share our lives with it is not down to friends to say “oh but I thought you wanted to marry Prince Charming?” You just wouldn’t say that, so why is it okay to say “oh but you said you wanted more children.?” A little harsh maybe but I also thought I was going to marry Tom Cruise as well..!
It seems I am continually defending our decision not to have another child too. Me and my husband have discussed it and feel that whilst we would love to fill our home with more children my mental health and the mental health of our family unit are paramount. Because it is not only the mother who goes through postnatal illness it is the family. My husband has been an amazing support and would it be fair on him to see his wife struggle again with a newborn and looking after their other children?
As the TV game show catchphrase says “the decision, is yours…”