For some people the decision to have a second baby is based around finances, house sizes or work commitments but for other people like me it is about the fear of not being able to cope, it’s about my anxiety.
As I have said in other blogs I suffered from post-natal anxiety after I had Little Man. It was a scary time, not just for me but for the people around me as we didn’t really understand what was happening or why. Little Man is 2 now, he brings me so much joy and happiness and I adore being a Mum. When I was in the thick of my anxiety I didn’t think I would ever write those words but the skies became clearer and I learnt how to deal with it. I have good solid techniques behind me now; relaxation, distraction and others but it is still there.
Now Little Man is older the question of ‘are you having number 2?’ comes up in conversation a lot. ‘Oh, we can’t afford it yet’ is usually my answer. Which believe me is true, with expensive nursery fees we would indeed struggle to have 2 children in nursery. However, we would cope, everyone always does. Underneath all of the light hearted answers the actual answer is a scary one. I am scared that if I have another baby, my anxiety will turn up full throttle again and I will be back where I started but with the added pressure of a toddler and a newborn to look after. I worked harder than I have worked on anything to face my anxiety and to be honest I don’t want all that hard work to go to waste. My anxiety didn’t just affect me, it affected my marriage, my friendships and above all Little Man. The real question is can I cope with having number 2?
I am an only child and always really wanted 2 children, I still want Little Man to have a baby brother or sister…it would be easier if I didn’t. Also, its not really about putting myself through it all again, its about putting G (my hubby) through it all again and my family and friends. One of my friends has always said she would be happy but scared for me if I had another baby. This side of things of course is the negative side of things and since having anxiety I try to be the most positive I can be so here is my glass half full approach.
I have read up a lot on post natal anxiety/depression and it seems sometimes this sort of thing only happens once. For example, some Mummys of 3 have had it with their 2ndchild but not their other 2. When my anxiety first started it began with dizziness which I later found out was down to hyper ventilation. At the time though I had no idea what was going on and thought I was suffering from a physical illness. I know now that if that was to start again or other signs such as starting to dread someone visiting that its my anxiety and that I can just let it be there and carry on. If however it got worse I would also know to visit my GP as soon as possible. I have learnt there is no shame in getting a bit of help. People around me would notice much sooner too I think. I am fully aware some of my friends probably thought I was giant pain in the bottom when I cancelled at the last minute or I didn’t seem involved in a conversation but now they know (after a long time) what I was going through they would let me know straight away if they noticed anyhing if I hadn’t already worked it out for myself.
The one thing all anxiety sufferers can give themselves is the tools to deal with situations. My Dad always told me when I was younger that I must always give myself options granted then he was talking about my A Levels but it rings true with my anxiety too. I must give myself the options and tools to deal with anxiety if it comes my way and that can only be done by reading about it, seeking help and above all understanding it.
Having a 2nd child is daunting at the best of times and this does add an extra dimension to it all for anxiety and post natal depression sufferers but we must not let it rule us. I know you’re shouting at the screen: ‘easy for you to say!’ It’s not. Its incredibly hard for me to write because I know how hard it is to not let it rule you because it ruled me once and it still does in certain situations but more than anything I want our little family to be a 4 and I want my boy to grow up with a brother or sister to annoy him, befriend him and above all so they can look after each other. Maybe I will never get into the right head space to have another child or maybe myself and G won’t feel it is right for our family in the end but this gives me a goal, an aim to feel well enough to be okay with the possibility of trying for number 2.
I hope anyone out there who is feeling the same will take comfort knowing that I’m thinking about it all too. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay not to be sure and don’t let all the (well meaning) questions pressure you. It’s a decision that has to be okay for your whole family and if the time never comes, you have baby number 1 who you battle your own mind for everyday and that little person is a blessing in itself, anything else is just a bonus.