Not long after having Addison, I knew I wanted lots of kids. It felt like I had found my life long calling of being a mum and I wanted as much as possible to have as many kids as I could. The idea of 5 or 6 kids sounded like heaven to me, literally. I always daydreamed of having lots of kids coming home for the holidays and how big our family gatherings would be once they started having their own babies. I know it’s hard work, especially when they are young, but I just love love LOVE the idea of having a big house filled with people and kids and things always happening. If it wasn’t for our wedding in October 2014, we would have started trying for our second baby when Addison was about a year old, in February 2014 (But we did the sensible thing and started trying straight after our wedding. Baby O was conceived in January 2015 :)) Basically, it’s no secret that I want lots of kids haha.
Oliver being born with a birth defect has shaken me. It popped my little perfect bliss bubble where I took healthy babies (perhaps naively) for granted. OF COURSE Oliver is perfect, and OF COURSE I wouldn’t ever trade him for anything in the entire world. I have never even thought it, not through our countless hospital stays, his daunting medical procedures, his setbacks, during the seemingly-never-ending hours of screams and tears. But I have thought why us, and I have thought, almost daily, how stressful having a sick baby is. In the very beginning, I assumed that he had his repair and now that he was home he was ‘fixed’ and we could get on with our life. Then he started having troubles and a few more hospital admissions at 2 months old, and it wasn’t long before I was saying “he’s just going through a rough patch, we’ll figure this out then we will go back to ‘normal'” – whatever that is. But if there is anything I have learned over the 8 months since then, is it’s not a rough patch, and it is not a phase. This is our new normal. His triumphs and setbacks are now apart of everyday for us and it is something that both he and us as a family will have to face every day for the rest of our lives. I was talking to his GP last week, and I was saying you kind of get to a point where you think he’s doing okay, then something comes along and you get knocked down with a curveball. She told me (in a much nicer way than I am about to type haha) to basically stop thinking that he is better. There will always be something just around the corner that we will have to work through and that is okay. Acknowledging that and preparing for it isn’t pessimistic or a sign of despair – it is life. And I realised that I am okay with that. I am okay with that now.
Even though I have now settled into our new normal, I am still struggling with the very beginning of Oliver’s story – his birth and NICU stay. The smell of the pink hand sanitiser gets sends me right back to sitting at Oliver’s bedside stroking his toes while he slept. I can hear the machine beeps so clearly it feels as though I’m standing next to them. The whole experience was so suffocating and I am absolutely petrified of it happening again. I know how hard it is to make a baby – it absolutely blows my mind how anybody manages to get pregnant in the first place. Odds, timing, circumstance… they all have to be perfect. Add to that all the things that can go wrong, and how anyone manages to have a healthy baby is just beyond me. Having Oliver has opened my eyes to just how many things can go wrong. How does anything manage to go right?
And I know you can’t live your life based on the ‘what ifs’, I do. I hear it all the time. But WHAT IF. WHAT IF our next baby is sick and we have to go through it again. We are relatively lucky that Oliver is otherwise healthy – it could have been much worse. And even as I am typing this I kind of hate myself for being so worried about it. I don’t want to come across as a cold-hearted wench who is worried about having a sick baby when some people can’t even have babies. Please don’t see me like that. We long for any baby that we are lucky enough to be given, but I am just so scared of going through a NICU stay again. I’ve felt like this almost the whole time since Oliver was born, and I think that it is a sign that I am just not ready to have another baby. When we were waiting to get married and then start trying for baby #2, all I could think about was having a baby. I wanted so badly to just be pregnant, if all it took to get pregnant was sheer will, it would have happened in a heartbeat. When I ask myself now if I want another baby, I think “I’m scared – not now”. There is no excitement and there is definitely no dreaming. It is such a polar opposite to getting pregnant with Oliver, so maybe in time once I am able to work through my feelings and issues with his birth and NICU stay I’ll be able to be excited about having another baby. Who knows.