Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

First steps

DH and I have been together for 12 years now, and for all bar the first few weeks we’ve known that we both wanted children. At least 2, preferably 3 or 4 or even more. We decided on our favourite names in 2003 (our eldest wasn’t born until 2009!). For over a decade the prospect of having a large, chaotic, loving and happy family has always been a part of our plans. But not any more. Today, as a 33 year old mother of 2, I asked my GP to refer me to the local hospital to discuss sterilisation.

This is something I’ve discussed with my husband and my mother and I think it’s the right decision. I hope it is. The reason is very simple – as much as I yearn for more children I know that another pregnancy, another child, could endanger my life. My mental health has deteriorated over the last few years. I have suffered with post-natal depression after the birth of both my children, each time severe enough to make me suicidal. During my second pregnancy I had ante-natal depression which, while not as severe as the PND, still meant I was barely functioning. I wasn’t able to care for my daughter (then just 2) properly, I wasn’t able to care for myself and I certainly wasn’t able to care for the child I was carrying. As recently as March this year I was in crisis and suicidal; although I’ve recovered from that and feel stable again there’s always the possibility of a recurrence.

In addition to this, my physical health is poor. I suffered from awful PGP (pelvic girdle pain) in both pregnancies – the first time this meant I needed crutches to walk, the second time I was barely able to move by the third trimester. There’s also my spine to consider, as I have degenerative disc disease. I’d previously been told that if I wanted children I should have them before I was 30; the last consultant I saw was even more blunt and told me that if I wanted to retain the ability to walk I would limit my family to the 2 children I already have.

I know that sterilisation is a huge step to take, but to me it seems the logical one. For all the reasons listed above, if I should accidentally conceive I would have to abort the pregnancy. And I honestly don’t know if I could do that. But having conceived my son while correctly using contraception, I have very little trust in the usual methods of birth control. While I know that sterilisation isn’t a guarantee, it has far better odds of successfully avoiding pregnancy than anything else. My husband, lovely man that he is, has offered to have a vasectomy so that I don’t have to undergo a fairly major operation. But that seems unfair, to me. I’m the problem here, I’m the reason we can’t have more children. If DH and I ever split up or if I died, I would like him to find someone else and have the option of having more children if he wanted to. So I’ve said no.

I know that there will be people reading this who can’t have children, and who are probably screaming at the screen that I should be thankful for what I have. And I am, I really truly am. I realise that my pain is in no way comparable to that of someone unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. But knowing that I will never have another child is very painful for me and I refuse to pretend otherwise.

DH and I have always been keen on fostering and that may be an option for us later on, if our mental illnesses aren’t a barrier. But I will never bear another child and I need to come to terms with that, somehow. Last week I took the first step and disposed of all the baby clothes and everything that DS has outgrown. Today I took the second. I’m not sure what the next step is but I hope it leads to not just acceptance, but peace.

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Comments on: "First steps" (7)

  1. obviously i don’t know you but it sounds like this is a descision you haven’t taken on a whim so clearly it is right for you.I think you are brave and very selfless.It is extremely noble of you to let your husband stay as he is and you are right to be aware that ann extra child will not be a joy for you but could be a risk.You are clearly a wonderful mother and I wish you luck in your operation.take care.xx

  2. Mamaduck said:

    We’ll be with you every step along your path no matter how difficult or how stony it may be xxxx

  3. I think you’ve made an incredibly brave decision, I can’t even imagine the immensity of heartache and headache that’s gone into it. It’s actually selfless too.

    Mental health problems are a bitch 😦 xxx

  4. Sutton said:

    You know you’ve got full support from your mates regarding anything that is better for you healthwise. Can I request a teensy change of terminology though?
    You…. are not ‘the problem’.
    Ok, you have various illnesses which prevent you from chasing down one particular road which you had planned for. That is by no means a ‘you being the problem’, anymore than polycystic ovaries, a broken pelvis, placenta detachment, low egg count, low sperm count, or lack of internal paternal feelings for anything other than amphibians is other people being a problem. You may HAVE a problem, but that does not mean that you ARE the problem.
    Life has dealt you an unpleasant hand, but instead of folding and slinking away, you have chosen to change the game. I cannot begin to explain just how many shovel loads of balls you & DH have for sensibly thinking this through and coming to a decision like this. I’m sure there are more eloquent ways of putting it, but kudos to you both. Xxx

  5. mutteringmummy said:

    You, my dear, are so incredibly brave!Lots of love to you and your beautiful family xxx

  6. Good luck with everything, and I’m sure whatever decision you take will be the right one for you. Good luck with the fostering too if you decide to go down that route. All the best, RM

  7. A very brave decision to make. If you feel that is right for you and your family then you go ahead. Also please never feel like *you* are the problem, its not your fault. Good luck with your decision x

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