It was a funny realisation in the years following my youngest’s birth. I didn’t know if I wanted another baby. I had never thought about this decision much before. I truly thought I would either have an insatiable desire for another child, a feeling I wasn’t complete, or, the exact opposite. I finite feeling of completion, a resolute understanding that we’d made our family and weren’t going back for more.
What I didn’t expect was the uncertainty. Of all the feelings, that was the worst. How could I not know? Should I read into that that if I wasn’t sure, then the answer surely should be ‘no’? I mean, having a child is a huge decision and if you’re unsure, well that’s enough to say you shouldn’t, yeah?
But then, if you’re not sure that you’re done, well, that clearly means, you will regret not having had another child? A wise woman once said to me…”You’ll never regret having the child once they’re here, but you may regret not having them in years to come”.
But then I had two kids….and I felt many times over that I may regret the choice of going once again through that sleeplessness, those tantrums and looking squarely down the barrel of possible divorce a few times in the process.
My youngest has just turned 6, and when she turned 2, then 3, then 4, the conversation came up. Birthdays tend to focus this point for us. After long frank chats together, several weeks of independent contemplation, and lots of looking at other people’s babies and re-thinking the good and the bad. Each time, we came to a ‘no’. Then when she turned 5, then 6. We stopped bringing it up.
We occasionally drew up a list of pro’s and con’s. A ridiculous thing to do when making this decision, I would not recommend it. The list of con’s was stacked with immediate practicalities, financial decisions, holiday options. Then a few more touchy topics like ‘would we survive another dose of PND’, or what if our third has a disability and changes our lives as we know them much more completely then we are expecting? On the pro’s, it was one line:
‘I want one’.
How much weight do you give that statement? Well, I guess it depends.
And right there, in that awkward place of unknowing, risking, dreaming, dreading, is where we are left. In many ways, choosing to stop having babies is often a bigger decision then having them at all. Sure, there’s an argument that once you’ve got one, how many more you have doesn’t change your life as dramatically as the first. Which is probably true. But when do you stop? 1? 2? 3? More?
Some women describe certainty, and I envy them. But many other’s, I found, are like me. We talk a lot about this place we’ve found ourselves in. Refreshingly, everyone’s ‘it depends’ actually depend on the same few topics.
The decision is very black or white. Obviously. There’s no half in this decision whatsoever. So even if you don’t know, you have to sit on one side of the fence. I’ve chosen my side, and I’ve made a happy peace with it. But in many ways, it has been the biggest decision of my life. And I was so surprised I didn’t know. Because I thought I would.
Becoming a Mum, it's a rollercoaster. I didn't get it right, not every time. But I picked up a few good tips and here's the shortlist
1. When feeding, prepare your area before you snuggle in, it helps to have:
3. Wear long sleeve pyjama’s to bed even in summer, getting up to kids at night is tough, but so much worse when you know you’re going to be cold.
4. Always carry wipes. That is all.
5. Embrace the big scarf or the shawl. Not only a neat fashion accessory that can be a handy cover for those little vomit stains on your top, it’s so easy to wrap about you and bubs for some privacy during a breastfeed and double’s up as an extra blanket when you live in Melbourne and get four seasons in a day!
6. Make your goal for the first few months to ‘achieve nothing’. You and I know that in fact your achieving so many tiny miracles and laying down the foundations of a healthy, happy, balanced human. But in terms of your old life, this may feel like you’re making very little progress. Go with this new rhythm. Embrace it if you can.
7. When you get out of bed to feed your baby at night, cover your sleep area with the doona otherwise it will be cold when you return to your bed and you will lose precious minutes of rest while you try to get cosy again.
8. Find a village. Family, friends, mother’s groups, play groups, facebook mum tribes. You need people with babies and kids around the same age as yours. No one else has the stamina to discuss poo’s, sleep routines, details about your nipples and breasts, food refusal, teething, leaps and thunderclouds except those who are also in that moment. You need them. You may need to find them. Go forth.
9. Learn how to do a pelvic floor muscle contraction correctly and do your exercises. You wouldn’t stretch your hamstring 3 times it’s length and do no rehab for it. The benefits of a healthy pelvic floor are far reaching and have a huge impact on your quality of life.
10. Take a photo every day of your baby. A video if you can too. You simply cannot appreciate all the little expressions, dimples, giggles, even the tantrums and the mess. Sometimes taking a photo at the worst times helps you to realise that this too shall pass. It all passes, the good, the great and the terrible. And believe it or not, you’ll want to remember and smile, laugh or cry about it all.
Hi! Welcome to The Blog!
Please be aware, Womankind Physiotherapy's blog is not intended to replace information and advice from your health care provider. For specific concerns regarding your health you must seek individualised care by your preferred provider.