5 Things I Would Do Differently If I Have Another Baby

1 Jun 2017

I'll let you into a little secret; when I was pregnant with Willow, my partner and I discussed having another baby and both decided we would try almost immediately once Willow was born. We wanted to have 'all the children in one go', so that they'd start school at roughly the same age and I would be able to go back to work full time or even complete my Masters and PhD, without worrying about nurseries and childcare. As luck would have it, the difficulties I faced post-caesarean soon put a stop to that idea and if I'm honest, I'm glad.

I've treasured having this time with Willow, watching her develop, learn, grow - blossom in fact, into this beautiful little girl who is wild at heart. I'm glad she is, for the moment, our only child, because you never get to experience your first a second time and I want to soak up everything with her. I know I wouldn't have been able to give her everything she deserves in these important early years; my time, my full attention, if we'd had another baby straight away, but that doesn't mean we don't plan to have more when we're ready.

5 Things I Would Do Differently If I Have Another Baby

Emotionally, I am ready for another baby. Physically? My body is far from where I want it to be. I wasn't the smallest before I had Willow, a size 14 after having lost around 5 stone; I put on 6 stone when pregnant with Willow and I am still trying to lose that weight now, which is coming off very slowly. Before we start trying for a second baby, I want my body to be in a healthier place, I want to be happy in my body and I want to feel confident that I can go through another pregnancy and birth, which may just end up being a planned caesarean, without worrying about how my weight will affect my recovery.

Yet, the idea of another baby is always on my mind, forever feeling broody and missing that newborn stage. Hopefully I can reach my weight goal before the year is out, hopefully, I can get myself to a fitter and healthier stage and hopefully, the right time will come for us to try again.

Here are 5 things I would do differently next time around, things I would do differently from the first time if we are lucky enough to have another baby.

I don't think I was very realistic and honest with myself when it came to what I ate when I was pregnant with Willow. Sure, I didn't binge on junk food and I didn't eat absolute rubbish, but I was certainly eating far more than I needed, otherwise I wouldn't have put on as much weight as I did. Next time, I want to eat better, healthier and stick to normal portion sizes. I never used the line "I'm eating for two!" when I was pregnant, I was quite capable of over-eating all by myself, but the weight I gained had a negative effect on my birth and recovery from my emergency caesarean, so it's definitely something I want to work on next time, especially as I plan to lose at least 7 stone before trying for another baby - I wouldn't want all that hard work to go to waste!

The same applies to keeping active. I've never been one to exercise, but going for daily walks is the least I could do to ensure I am keeping active. I'm sure I'd be more active next time around anyway, playing with Willow and chasing after her certainly keeps me on my toes; but anything would be an improvement on the zero exercise I did throughout my first pregnancy.

I spent my first trimester convinced I would go to our 12-week scan to find out I'd had a missed miscarriage, something I only realised even existed after spending too much time on Google in those first few weeks after finding out we were expecting. When our scan showed we did in fact have a healthy baby with a strong heartbeat, I started to relax - and then, over the course of a couple of months, several friends and people in our lives had the devastating news of losing their babies. It was a wake-up call for both of us; just because you get pregnant, doesn't mean you get to keep your baby. Sometimes the worst imaginable happens and you don't get to bring your baby home. That thought terrified me and left me on edge for my entire pregnancy.

I wholeheartedly believe those who have suffered a baby loss should be able to talk about their loss openly and publicly. I would never tell someone not to talk to me about their experiences; but throughout sharing my pregnancy on social media and here on the blog, I received a lot of comments, messages and emails from people who had lost babies. At one point, it felt like every single day another comment would be left telling me they had lost their baby. On one hand, I was glad people felt they could be open with me and share their babies with me; on the other hand, as a pregnant woman who was already scared and worrying about the worst case scenario, it left me absolutely petrified and even when being induced, the midwives had to try and reassure me, because I was convinced something would go wrong.

I don't want to spend my next pregnancy worrying that my baby might not survive. I didn't enjoy my pregnancy as much, emotionally and mentally, as I would have liked because I was so sure that something bad would happen. Whenever I talked about our baby, I'd always finish my sentences with "If everything goes OK and they are born safely, of course". That isn't how I want to think and speak next time we get pregnant, and I don't know how my partner didn't lose the plot with me constantly telling him our baby might not survive.

Birth plans aside because we all know births don't always go to plan, next time I want to make sure I put my foot down with a few things. The first being my hospital; I gave birth at a Leicester hospital, when where I really wanted to be was Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham. The Leicester hospital was chosen because it was easier for the person who we planned to drive us to the hospital. Next time, I will be making a firm choice to go to Nottingham, the hospital I myself was born in, to give birth.

Having already gone through a pregnancy, birth, newborn stage and everything that comes in the first 16 months of having a baby, I am far more confident in my choices as a mother. That said, a lot of choices I made when pregnant and in Willow's first few weeks after she was born, would be weakly whispered, worried that someone would shoot me down. The choices I made for Willow have turned out to be the best possible choices for her and I need to have more confidence in myself as a parent next time around, so as to be firm with my decisions and worry less over what others might disagree with.

I was over halfway into my pregnancy before I felt comfortable enough to take bump photos, worried that I'd just look like the fat girl that got fatter because I didn't have a neat little bump. I only have a handful of bump photos, all Instagram square shots, and I so wish I had taken more.

A maternity photo shoot wasn't my kinda thing when pregnant with Willow, but I would love to do one next time around - with Willow. I think that would be lovely, to have photos of me, Willow and a future baby bump, her future baby brother or sister. Something lovely to look back on.

There were a few things on my birth plan that could have happened regardless of having an emergency caesarean, and I'm angry with myself for not making sure they did happen. Like delayed clamping of the cord, letting my partner be the one to cut the cord, keeping the vernix on for as long as possible and immediate skin-to-skin. I really struggled to come to terms with not having a single one of those things happen and it still deeply upsets me now - even as I write this, I have tears in my eyes ready to spill over. I knew absolutely nothing about caesareans and so trusted that the midwives and surgeons and everyone else involved were just doing what needed to be done, and they did, but all those things which may seem so little to other people, are possible during caesareans, and next time, I will make sure they happen.

When Willow was born and we were on the ward, I was oddly content. I don't remember much, due to all the painkillers I was on, but I remember just smiling, a lot. As soon as we came home it's like all the happiness and confidence I naturally felt in the ward, disappeared; I was scared, I was worried I'd do something wrong, I kept looking to others to tell me what to do - even though, I instinctively knew what to do, it was like I needed permission from everyone else first.

Next time, I want to trust myself more. I've done it once before, I know what works and doesn't work for us, I know of course all babies are different but the basics are the same and I know I can do it because I've already done it. I don't want to seek approval and permission from others next time around, I don't want to worry that if I don't do something the textbook way, that it won't be good enough. Next time, I want to take the lead, I want to put my foot down with things like immediate skin-to-skin and all the rest, I want to make right all the wrongs from Willow's birth. I suppose, in a way, I want my next baby, pregnancy and birth to be healing, to make me feel like the things that went wrong the first time around are OK and normal and although not everything will go to plan, as births rarely do, but make sure that the little details, the important details, are covered.

What would you do differently if you had another baby?