The Big Decision


During the summer, at the time when anxiety had reared it’s ugly head again, I found myself crying in the kids section of Next. I was early for work and had gone in to spend my birthday money but, as usual, found myself drawn to the adorable tiny outfits at the back instead. I’ve always loved their baby clothes and, if we’re being frank here, used to peruse them in a daydreamy way a long time before I was ever actually pregnant. I’ve posted before about my big plans and impatient wait for a child.

But this time felt so different. My innocence is gone, shattered. When I was pregnant with Caterpillar I feverishly took adorable onesies to the till and picked his going home outfit grinning and feeling nothing but pure joy and excitement. Those purchases symbolised all my dreams coming true because of the new life I was growing inside me. I walked around in a bubble of daydreams about how I was finally going to be a mum, and thus fulfil my life’s purpose and naturally be the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

I didn’t know how much I’d struggle. I didn’t know the mental and emotional battle that lay just around the corner. I didn’t know how anxiety felt, how every hour feels like a year. I hadn’t experienced insomnia, I’d never lost my appetite. I’d never experienced true, pure terror. Now I have. Now I’ve experience Postnatal Depression and Anxiety and I’ve worked very hard during the last two and a half years to get to a mentally healthy place and to feel (more) comfortable with motherhood. I’ve developed and nurtured an intense love for my son.

So I’m no longer innocent. I walk among those beautiful clothes and a huge, deep part of me longs for another little one to fill them. I want to feel a baby move in my belly again. I want to smell that newborn smell and watch them grow every minute. I want the chance to create another awesome little person who makes us laugh so much and brings us so much happiness. I want to give Caterpillar a sibling, I want him to experience the love I feel towards my brother and the fun we had together growing up and the great bond we have as adults. I want to give my husband another child and feel my love for him expand all over again.

I want another baby.

But it’s not simple for me. I’m frightened, too. The cautious (irrational?) side keeps speaking up – but why on earth would you put yourself through that again? Why do you want another baby when the first one brought you so much turmoil? Why would you risk the anxiety that you know is triggered by lack of sleep? What if you can’t cope with two, what if you don’t enjoy it again? What if you go back to square one and all your hard work was for nothing?

And what about antenatal anxiety? I had two instances during my pregnancy, that I now recognise in hindsight as mild anxiety attacks. Am I going to struggle with depression and anxiety during pregnancy as well as after? These are very tough thoughts and fears, and on that day, next to those cute sleepsuits, the battle raged in my mind until I was crying next to the miniature socks.

That was several months ago and I’m now in a really good place again, a strong place, where those long, frightening days are just a dimmed memory again. I’ve had a lot more therapy and feel stronger and more healed than ever before. The chance of experiencing PND to the same extent as last time, after all this hard work, seems pretty remote. And yet I felt this way before and it did return, and that was without a new pregnancy.

I always imagined we’d be a family of four and that desire still burns very brightly. But then I used to imagine a lot of things that haven’t worked out – like how motherhood would come naturally and how I’d love my son instantly and how I’d want to be a stay at home mum for five years. These wishes didn’t happen. But plenty of other awesome things have happened that I didn’t imagine – I’ve learnt to embrace the present, I’m less of a worrier, I’m a more compassionate person, I’m stronger. I write again and started a blog. I work part-time and love it.

It’s a huge decision, probably the biggest I’ll ever make. Bigger even than the decision to have Caterpillar in the first place, which felt natural and obvious.

I’m currently reading Elaine Hanzak’s book Another Twinkle in the Eye: Contemplating Another Pregnancy After Perinatal Mental Illness which offers some brilliant advice and insights for anyone else going through this thought process too (I’ll be reviewing in a later post).

For me, I suppose this is a classic head vs. heart choice. Although really I guess it’s heart + logical, strong mind vs. cautious, perhaps irrational mind. Who knows really. Who can possibly know what the future holds? I guess I should hope for the best, prepare for the worst and continue to live for the present in the meantime.

I’ve been agonising over the decision to have another child for the best part of a year. But, truth be told, when I hold a friend’s sleeping newborn, or I laugh with my brother, or I see Caterpillar dancing and playing with his cousins it feels like it’s not really a big decision after all, because the choice is already made. My heart has won.

Binky Linky
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Mami 2 Five
The Twinkle Diaries


50 comments on “The Big Decision

  1. I’m not sure any of us would procreate if we only used our heads! I’m so happy for you to have reached peace with this decision. I admire your courage and wish you many, many years of laughter and joy. xoxo

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. Although I didn’t suffer with PND, I have struggled with hormonal imbalances only just coming right after 2.5 yrs…and I totally hear you. Wanting a baby but being so afraid at the same time. I have no answers. I’m too scared to go there. But I’m so glad to hear that your heart has won. Thanks so much for linking up to #coolmumclub x

  3. You ought to be so proud of yourself for fighting through and working hard to regain you strength. The idea of having another must be terrifying but it sounds as though deep down you have made your decision. Hopefully with al you have learnt the first time around you won’t suffer like you did with your first. There’s no real way of knowing really is there, every pregnancy and baby is different. Just follow your heart – it’s all you can do πŸ™‚ #binkylinky

  4. Thank you for sharing this, it’s so brave and honest. I had horrendous antenatal anxiety during my pregnancy, and postnatal depression afterwards, and it has made me think more carefully about when would be the best time to have another baby. #KCACOLS

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and sharing your own story. I’m sorry you had to go through that. It certainly makes the decision very difficult and frightening. I hope you reach a resolution you are comfortable with (and if you ever need an ear to bend about it you know where I am!) x

  5. Wow Laura reading this was like listening to conversations I’ve been having with myself. I always wanted a big family but after my 2nd was born and suffering with PND I didn’t think I’d ever want another but I’ve never been so broody in my life. After suffering and coming through the other side of pnd I decides that number 3 was still on the cards and although I’m worried that pnd will rear it’s ugly head again I am not going to let the fear win. Also we are now equipped with knowledge and support if we do go through it again and that is invaluable. Thanks for sharing this post. You are a strong and brave woman

    1. Thank you, Hun. You are absolutely right. I have let fear rule me for so long I’m refusing to let it do so anymore (but, my goodness, it’s hard!). All the best to you too, my fellow brave mama xxx

  6. How wonderful, wishing you all the luck in the world whatever may be. I realised recently that it felt like EVERYONE was pregnant and then I realised it was that naughty evoluntionary advantage trying to trick me into sprogging up. For me their are too many practicalities to over look right now but you never know right πŸ˜‰ #MarvMondays

  7. You could most definitely use your experiences now to deal with any problems you face if you did have another baby. It’s normal to be nervous, whether you’ve suffered with PND or not. Good luck with everything and you’re doing great! KCACOLS

    1. I think that’s something I need to try to remember too – that most mums are a little apprehensive second time around and it’s not just because of my PND experience. Thanks for reading and commenting πŸ™‚ x

  8. This is such an honest account of PND and I’m sure that many parents who have suffered have these same fears about having a second baby – it’s only natural. I didn’t suffer with PND myself but I did find motherhood a shock to the system and it took me months to feel like myself again. It sounds like you’ve reached your decision and I say go for it – you will know what to look out for next time around and make sure that you seek help earlier if you need to. Thanks so much for sharing with #KCACOLS, Hope you come back again next Sunday x

  9. Big hugs to you. I was totally in the same boat as you. I’ve since had my second little bundle. It is amazing. It’s not half as overwhelming as the first, plus I have fiercely protected us all from the possibility of me falling into the rabbit hole. It’s all about us, not what I ‘should’ be like or doing. I made my other half take 2 weeks paternity followed by 1 weeks holiday, this helped massively. My Mum came to help the following week. I batch cooked like a beast before the baby came. The first three months were tough, but nowhere near as isolating as with my first. I want to give your heart a massive high five and reassure you that if you spend the months during pregnancy not afraid that the anxiety will come, but cushioning yourself, taking it easy, talking about ALL of your feelings with those around you, it’s possible to really thoroughly enjoy babyhood. Sure you’ll be hit with waves of guilt that you were a different mum to your firstborn during their first few months, but it will be lovely. you will be great. you will be amazing. it will be amazing xxxx


  10. Aaaah, this made me cry… I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s so beautifully written, and sad, and a story which basically mirrors my own. I was so full of excitement and confidence with number one, but had awful postnatal anxiety, and lack of bonding, when he was born. The romantic dream of being a stay at home mum was destroyed by how awful I felt, and how being a mum was nothing like I thought it would be. If you feel ready for this, and have plenty of support, I wish you all the luck in the world with your number 2.

    1. Thank you so much for your reply and for sharing on Twitter. It is so sad, and such a horrendous illness. I still grieve a lot for the time I have lost and the aspirations that were robbed from me. But I have found the only way to cope is to try to focus on the positive only, otherwise I just fall into a downward spiral x

  11. Such a brave post. We planned to have two kids, and with the PND after my second which almost broke me, the possibility of another was completely written off. I love cuddling little babies, but I don’t feel that broodiness. I feel that just sticking with the two kids is right for us – and I can’t face the PND battle with another child. I don’t think I would win.

    Thanks for sharing on #SundayStars

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing your own story. It is such a horrible, tough decision. I don’t mind admitting that I’m terrified. But another part of me is also desperate to have another child and “complete” our family. Of course, it is complete right now already but my curiosity and desire for another is winning at the mo. It is a very scary thought though, and I go back and forth a lot. It’s hard to leave yourself in fate’s hands. Thanks for commenting x

  12. I think as you say, you already know the answer to this decision and yet it is a daunting thought to go through all of that again. I had PND after my first and was terrified that it would return after my second. Sadly at 9 months pregnant I lost my second son and spiralled into a very, very dark place and was eventually hospitalised with severe depression, anxiety and anorexia. Having my third baby was the most terrifying experience of my whole life, I was convinced that not only would she die, but that I would also become severely depressed all over again. I had counselling throughout and when she was born, healthy, I did develop PND but I survived it. So much so that when she was 6 months old I discovered that I was pregnant with baby number four, and just as the PND returned again, when she was three months pregnant I discovered I was pregnant with baby number five!!! For some reason I shall never know, I didn’t get PND with my fifth (and final!) baby and these days I look back and I am so glad that I didn’t let the fear get the better of me. I am sure that you will be absolutely fine and I wish you the best of luck!! xxx

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss, I can’t imagine how that must have been for you. The strength you then showed to go through it again, several times, is breathtaking and so inspiring to me. It’s so wonderful to hear that you don’t regret any of it. The one thing that makes me feel more certain about a second child is that, despite everything, I could never regret my son for one moment now that I am well so I live in hope that I will feel that way in the future too, should we have another. Thanks so much for sharing your brave story x

      1. Ahh thank you. There was never a doubt in my mind that I would do whatever it took to give my son the sibling that be longed for and for us to have another baby in our arms. It still amazes me that there are now four of them, I can’t quite believe that we survived it all but thank god we did!! You’ll be fine, I promise. Xxx

  13. It’s lovely that you have found peace with your decision. I also struggled with anxiety after the birth of my first, although I think I was very lucky in that it was very mild compared to what you describe. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to chose to take that step again. I can only say in my experience that things were very different second time around. I was already a “vaguely” experienced mum, and had built up a group of mum friends and playgroups etc which made it all less daunting. I was also expecting and aware of the signs of anxiety and I understood it, so was able to manage it better. My husband was also better able to support me from experience. All in all I was absolutely fine with my second. Everyone’s story is different, and it was hard work with two little ones at first, but now when I see them play together I could not be happier or more proud. It was definitely the right decision for us. I wish you every luck and happiness x

  14. I had post natal depression following my first child and I was terrified that I would go through it again if I had a second one. So much so that I never planned on having a second child. My youngest was a surprise baby born 5 years after his brother. Second time round I didnt suffer at all.
    If you are aware of the possibility of PND and have plans in place to deal with it, you will get through it even if it does come. The rewards for having a second child outweigh the risks xx

  15. Thank you for this brave and honest post. My little mr is now 2.5 and after battling pnd for the past 2 years only now do my thoughts now turn to another child. Your post sums up the conflicting feelings I deal with day to day at the moment and I find it so hard to decide what to do. I’m terrified of going back to that place especially after all the hard work to feel well again but the desire for another child burns brightly. It’s comforting to know that you feel the same. Thank you xx

    1. Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry you went through it too. It gets easier in time, I already feel more confident now than when I wrote that post. I hope you reach a decision and feel more comfortable eventually. Thanks for reading x

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