For some reason, when you’ve just been through the rigmarole of bringing a tiny human into the world through an array of pain, blood and a distinct lack of dignity, when you’re just finding your feet as a Mum, many people have a certain question they’re excitedly dying to ask; are you having any more?! If it’s your first then so often they’re encouraging you to have another as a sibling for baby number one, if it’s your second then they’re saying three is the perfect number of kids, if you’ve got all boys they’re telling you to go once more for the girl and vice versa.
Of course, as always with these comments, there is often no harm intended. But there may often be a whole number of reasons as to why someone doesn’t want to have anymore children; finances, health issues, or quite simply they may be content, happy with their little family. I guess people just don’t think of these things when they ask. The health issues in particular are a huge matter of delicacy; it could have taken a long time to fall pregnant, or you may have sadly suffered losses.
I had to deal with both. And that’s why I know I am definitely done. And why I find it hard to answer that question the right way when asked if I’d like to have anymore.
Before I fell pregnant with Josh I suffered several miscarriages. They were all before 12 weeks and each as unpleasant and painful as the other. So when we decided to try for him, we were already having things…. investigated. Oh what a delightful way of terming it, but yes the depths of my cervix were being investigated and evaluated to determine my abilities to carry a baby. It wasn’t an easy time. On top of that, it took us a long time to conceive Josh. We were booked in to meet with a fertility doctor and discuss our options, but then, as life so often does take you by surprise, we found out we were indeed expecting. It had got to a point where I thought it was never going to happen and perhaps my body just relaxed with my mindset but it happened. And we were beyond thrilled.
I never expected pregnancy to be plain sailing, although of course I hoped it would be! I’d seen friends and family sail through their pregnancies with no sickness, no scares and a glow that Clarins would charge you forty quid to try and create pre-baby! But for me, not so smooth sailing. Just a week after finding out I was pregnant I suffered a bleed. My heart broke. All I could think was “here we go again”. I don’t think I barely spoke for 12 hours; I had to wait till the following morning for an early scan and the evening before I remember Sam just sat and held me. No words, just hope. I prayed hard that night. And the next morning we saw what would be our Joshy Bears heart pumping away ready to give him the energetic life he now enjoys. Never before have you heard two people breath such a loud sigh of relief.
The bleed (which was suspected to be implantation) subsided and I enjoyed the next week of pregnancy, carrying around our little secret buried deep inside me. But then the sickness arrived. And it never left.
I didn’t have the extreme sickness that others are obliterated by, but it was bad enough. I vomited every day, often more than once, and I was exhausted. I had about 6 weeks slap bang in the middle of the pregnancy when it eased then it returned until my little boy arrived into the world!
The sickness was horrible; throwing up all the time, that drained feeling you have with a hangover minus the fun of the prosecco the night before. I would faint and I was close to being admitted to hospital for fluids a couple of times as I was dehydrating from the sickness. You feel exhausted because your body is struggling and the goodness it does have, your baby is busy zapping from you. I remember immediately after Josh was born thinking I honestly didn’t think I could go through that again.
But once Josh was over a year old, and in that cute age where his personality was starting to shine through and we were feeling human again after a year of sleep deprivation, we decided to go for it and stop being careful in the hope of conceiving baby number two. This time round I actually fell pregnant quite quickly, within a couple of months. But after just a couple of weeks I went to the loo with that familiar, heartbreaking feeling and my fears were confirmed; I had another miscarriage.
This is when I began to wonder if I could do it, if I could go through the heartache all over again. The feelings of allowing your hopes to momentarily rise before they come crashing back down around you without a moments notice. I didn’t know if I was strong enough. But low and behold, the following month my little rainbow baby Holly was cooking away inside me. With her came the sickness again and with a demanding toddler to boot, it was a struggle. I often had to depend on cBeebies to occupy Josh whilst I tried to throw up as quietly as I could for fear of freaking him out. But we got through it, once again and Holly arrived nine months later, a bundle of dark hair and blue eyes, all memories of sickness forgotten.
But it’s not the ruthless sickness that puts me off trying more, although it’s not exactly a selling point either. It’s the fact that, for me, I didn’t have one single day during either pregnancy where I could relax. Where I didn’t feel that icky feeling of fear and nervousness deep in my tummy. Every trip to the bathroom was fraught with the fright I was going to see blood, signalling another loss. I can honestly say I was petrified every single day of both pregnancies. I didn’t feel I could honestly relax and enjoy that special time. It wasn’t until both Holly and Josh were in my arms, in the operating theatre, that I felt the most relaxed I felt in that nine months. Because they were safe, they were here and that fear was gone. I remember calling my parents after Josh had arrived and telling my Dad that we’d had him. He completely broke down and couldn’t even speak, he had to pass the phone to my Mum. But I got it, I knew he was happy of course but it was also a complete release of relief because I knew he had been as nervous as I had been through the whole pregnancy.
So between the sickness, the restless legs, the exhaustion, the c section recovery, but most significantly the complete fear and nervousness that engulfed me through my pregnancies, I can say without any uncertainty I am done. I am lucky beyond my wildest dreams to have my son and daughter. Two happy, healthy and beautiful children. When I was bathing Holly yesterday and she was giving me her beautiful gummy smile, I said out loud “how did I get so lucky”. But I did, through all the pain, the heartaches, the fears, I got Holly and Josh and I couldn’t be happier.
People may wonder why I wrote this, but I guess it’s because it’s more honest than my blunt response I usually give when I’m asked if I want anymore, which is usually just a firm “no”. I have no doubt so many of us will have the same feelings when asked that question and many of us will have similar thoughts and answers. Hopefully by speaking so honestly from my own experience I can encourage others that it doesn’t have to be a taboo to openly say no to more kids. If you’re happy, if you’re content, then life simply doesn’t get better than that.