This is my first blog post for Supermum and one thing you should know about me is that I tend to jump straight into things! No introduction, just background information when needed. So I want to jump straight in and ask, “Should I have children?”
Although I am currently single, it’s a question I will no doubt have to ask myself and my partner if I am ever able to get over my social anxiety and find someone. At 24, many people I know from school are married and/or have children and being a woman, I can’t help but feel a little broody when the baby pictures invade my Facebook page. Do I want children? Of course! *Should* I have children? That, my friends, is the question.
You may be puzzled as to why I am asking this. So here’s my story:
On Friday 19th January 2007 my Grandmother was seriously ill in hospital. My Grandfather had died a few weeks previously and so it was a tough time for us all, my mother particularly. That night in my diary, I wrote of a little girl called Lizzie-Lu who had been taken away from me just after I’d given birth to her and that I wanted her back. Going over my old diary now, I can see that my memory of her started suddenly, yet at the time I believed I had been thinking of her for months, since the day she was born which I later ‘found out’ was back in June the previous year.
Confused yet? OK, here’s the vital piece of information I’ve left out. I have schizophrenia. Lizzie-Lu is a delusion.
From that day back in 2007 until January of last year (2011), my thoughts about this little girl were very changeable. One day I could be convinced that murdering someone would allow me to see her again, the next day I could be sure that she didn’t exist. The following day I could be miserable, wanting her back but knowing that there was nothing I could to do to see her. They were a very frustrating four years and it was a very difficult time for me. Even the voices I heard weren’t as difficult to deal with.
January last year was when I finally believed once and for all that Lizzie-Lu is a delusion. The pain I felt from not having her became worse as I knew that I was never going to see her again. I knew I had to start moving on with my life and stop my life from revolving around thoughts of her. It wasn’t easy. I needed something to replace her, someONE to replace her. However, as I was in a psychiatric hospital at the time there was no one I had that could replace her. So, a few weeks after getting out of hospital in March last year, when I realised that I could be pregnant I was nervously excited. I didn’t want to tell anyone until I had done a test to be certain, not my parents, not my boyfriend, not even my diary! However, I was unable to get to a shop by myself that sold pregnancy tests.
When my regular-as-clockwork period was 2 weeks late, I began to allow myself to think that I was pregnant. As I had not long got out of hospital, I knew that the timing wasn’t exactly great but I didn’t care. I was going to have a baby! I began mentally planning everything about this little life inside me. I knew that the baby would have a December due date and I was so excited about the amazing Christmas present I was going to have. Just when a chance to get a pregnancy test emerged, it happened.
I started bleeding.
Initially, I didn’t panic. I thought that many mothers-to-be had a bit of bleeding when they were pregnant so it was nothing to worry about. I knew that some mothers even had normal periods throughout their pregnancy and so I was sure that this was only going to be a normal amount of blood that wouldn’t affect my pregnancy.
I was wrong.
The bleeding became heavier. And heavier. Clots started appearing. They got bigger. And more frequent. I was having to change my sanitary towel at least once an hour. Sometimes three times an hour. I refused to believe that anything out of the ordinary was happening and instead convinced myself that I was just having a heavy period and that I was going to be one of the mothers that had normal periods throughout pregnancy.
The bleeding finally stopped overnight. The following morning, I changed my sanitary towel, expecting to have to change it fairly frequently. When no more blood appeared that day, I believed that I had just had random bleeding that was normal in pregnancy. Even when I had a proper period 2 weeks later, I convinced myself that everything was fine with the pregnancy. However, the rational side of my brain was starting to tell me that I had miscarried and that I was no longer pregnant. This prevented me from getting a pregnancy test as I refused to believe that I had lost my child. When rationality convinced me that I had in fact miscarried, I stubbornly wouldn’t budge in my beliefs that I was still pregnant. I must have just had twins and lost one child. I was still pregnant with one child.
The months went by and I secretly planned out how I was going to tell my parents about the baby I was about to give birth to. I was going to play the ‘I didn’t know I was pregnant’ card. I excitedly waited for December to arrive and when my December ‘Due Date’ arrived and passed with no baby I decided that the baby was just going to be a little bit late. 2 more weeks passed and still no baby. Finally, a couple of nights before Christmas, I allowed myself to realise the truth. I had lost my baby. Again.
Heartbroken didn’t even begin to describe how I felt that night knowing that I wasn’t going to have the baby I had been expecting those last 9 months. The despair I felt soon turned to guilt. I believed that the medication I had been taking for schizophrenia had killed my baby. I was a murderer. I had killed my own child.
In the beginning of this year, I finally told my parents about what had happened. I’ve still not told the guy I was dating. We broke up in Summer last year and although we’re still friends, I’m not sure how to tell him. I still struggle with thoughts of the baby I lost and the ‘delusion’ baby I had. So knowing all this, do you think I should have children?
I know I want at least one child. I think everyone who knows me knows that I want children. But I’m schizophrenic. What if I develop Postpartum Psychosis and try and kill my baby? What if I have a psychotic relapse in my child’s life and harm them in some way? What if? What if? What if?
I know that many women struggle with doubts before they’ve had their first child. Yet for me, a schizophrenic woman, I know the risk of postnatal depression or psychosis is greater and I don’t want to spend what should be the first magical moments of my child’s life in the throes of mental illness. Also, what if I miscarry again? I don’t want to go through another miscarriage, especially if the pregnancy lasted longer than the last one. And the main fear – what if the child was taken away from me? I believed that Lizzie-Lu was taken from me due to me being an unfit mother but what if it actually happened? Could I cope with the knowledge that Social Services believed I was an unfit mother, a ‘bad’ mother?
So what do you think? Children or no children? Answers on a postcard please.