I have never been broody. I don't really like babies either. I get very excited when my friends are having them and can't wait to meet them, and mine was very cute (biased?), but in general, they remind me of maggots. Sorry. I've got better with them since becoming a mother myself, but they're never going to do it for me, and I never feel the ping of my ovaries that you're supposed to feel when I cuddle a new baby. Also, they cry a lot and don't sleep enough, and their inability to hold their heads up terrifies me and makes me feel all wobbly and funny.
However, I have recently found myself in this very odd position:
Firstly, My best mummy friend has just had her second baby. I met Rebecca through NCT classes when we were both pregnant. One day she came round for coffee, we spent 3 hours laughing hysterically at each other and it became apparent that I had met my mummy soulmate. Her son was born 11 days after Rory and together we stumbled, whinged, cocked up, swore a lot and drank copious amounts of gin as we picked out way through early motherhood. The boys have grown and changed in tandem and we've got a bit better at knowing what we're doing. Then she decided to have baby number two, and while I have been so excited all the way through her pregnancy and since she's had her baby girl, it feels weird - like she's a member of a club that I can't join. It's like your best friend getting their period before you when you're at school. Plus, she really knows what she'd doing this time, while I'm still stumbling about blindfolded with my first child. I know it won't change our relationship, but it's made me have to think about whether I want another child or not.
Secondly, my body wants another baby, but I don't. It's so strange. I have a desperate bodily craving to be pregnant, but my brain is shrieking "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." As well it might. And this is why:
1. I don't even know if I can have another baby.
This is kind of important, right? I was told I couldn't have children when I was 24. I was kind of upset for a few months, but decided I'd adopt if I wanted any and disregarded it after a bit. I can get pregnant, but I miscarry at the drop of a hat after losing a pregnancy many years ago after an accident at work. There have been a couple of miscarriages since Rory (more due to my laissez faire attitude to contraception than any great desire for a baby), and I can expect more if I ever decide to try to have another child. I conceived Rory just weeks after discussing hysterectomies with my gynaecologist, and spent the whole pregnancy waiting to lose him, as predicted by the specialists that I saw. I was in and out of hospital with bleeding for the first 4 months and every time they scanned me, I expected bad news. That Rory is here at all is quite a miracle.
2. 'Morning' Sickness.
I heaved and retched my way through my pregnancy. I never once stopped feeling sick and often it was so bad that I couldn't talk because opening my mouth would make me retch. As I was a teacher at the time, this was no fun. I often had to leave the room in the middle of taking the register to dry heave over the sink and spent a large proportion of time stealth eating illicit Jaffa Cakes in my stock cupboard because it was the only thing that would give me 5 minutes of relief. You know those nylon book bags that children have for school these days? The smell of those set me off. Imagine trying to listen to the children in your class read their reading books to you when the smell of their bags makes you want to stick your head down the nearest toilet and never come out. My mum had hyperemesis when she was pregnant with me, and the only reason I didn't actually vomit was because I have a deep seated phobia of being sick which is so severe that it inhibits vomiting. (It's a voluntary action, believe it or not). Hence I can heave until I crack a rib, but nothing comes up and I get no relief from the nausea. Pleasant. I can remember lying in bed at about 9 weeks pregnant, unable to even turn my head because I felt so ill, thinking that if anybody had offered me an abortion at that moment, I'd have taken it because I felt like I was being poisoned.
3. My body does not like being pregnant.
I think I'm allergic to it. As well as wall to wall nausea, my immune system got up and left the building for 9 months. It just completely ceased to work the moment I got pregnant and didn't start up again until I had Rory. Again, imagine here that you work in a primary school. All around you are sneezing, coughing, puking children. Yes, I came down with every single illness that they brought into school. And the worst thing about that is that when you're pregnant, you can only take paracetamol. Usually you can dose up on Lemsip or co-codamol or whatever and struggle through, but when you're pregnant you're left feeling awful. Now add morning sickness to a hacking cough. Boke. I ended up signed off at 18 weeks pregnant until the end of my pregnancy because I was constantly ill. I can literally remember 2 days of not having a cold or virus or flu during those 18 weeks.
As if that wasn't enough, I lost all the sensation in my hands during the last trimester and woke up with them bent into withered claws every morning. I retained water like a sponge. I couldn't sleep at night but fell asleep everywhere else during the day. I got restless leg syndrome. The only thing I didn't get was the text book mood swings that pregnant ladies are supposed to get. I never once shrieked at Richard for a stupid reason or burst into tears in a huff. I felt too rough for such luxuries.
Lets keep it brief. It lasted 30 hours, it was so painful that I wanted to die, I had heart problems half way through, Rory got stuck and wrenched out with forceps and I bled like a stuck pig. I have no desire to go there again.
Ughhhh, their floppy heads. I can't stand this phase. As soon as they can hold their heads up and look about and smile and make a few noises, it's not so bad, but I have palpitations at the thought of having to care for something so entirely helpless. Also, the umbilical stump. Rancid. Smells like blue cheese. The never ending colicky crying. The walking around and around the room with them trying to calm them down and get them to sleep. Never ending breast feeding and all the agony that that entails. Getting up 3 or 4 times a night. Or simply not sleeping at all. The loneliness. Taking an hour to work up to leaving the house. Baby sick in your knickers.
I didn't even get the baby blues after I had Rory. OK, I was exhausted and traumatised after giving birth and scared and had no idea what I was doing, but I was stoic. However, when he was about 3 weeks old, OCD kicked in and it all went horribly wrong. This blog is not the place to go into it on any detail, but I ended up seeing an emergency psychiatrist, being medicated immediately and put on watch with the emergency psychiatric team, who came to visit me twice a day to check that I didn't need to be sectioned. All because of hormones. I still take the tablets (I love the tablets. I'm calmer than I've been in 25 years). I don't fancy going down that route a second time.
7. It might be twins.
It goes without saying that I am not the sort of person who could handle twins. Can you imagine Rory and two willing minions? Jesus.
So that is why my brain and body are disagreeing. At the moment, my brain is winning by a mile. "It's worth it in the end though isn't it?" everybody says. Well, yes, Rory was more than worth it. He is my amazing little boy and I adore him. But when it comes to thinking about another child, I can't see beyond the problems that will go before having it. Not yet. Maybe not ever.