Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Baby Thing

Hello again readers. I know my posts have been few and far between for quite a while now. A lot of positive things have happened during that time. Mr Man is now back at work a couple of days a week, and he is driving again! His recovery is going really well, and things are really looking great for him and for us. We're even going on holiday this year!

But today I want to talk about the baby thing. A very long time ago a reader asked me how I felt about children and whether I ever wanted any, because for her it was a deciding factor in separating from her husband. Yes, I have wanted children, and this has been a painful issue for me, and not one I was ready to talk about at the time. So why now?

Tomorrow we shall be dining with a couple of friends who are expecting their second baby. (Yes, we have a social life now too!) I'm dreading it, and yet only yesterday I was telling friends how glad I am that I don't have children when I hear the struggles that other parents have. That statement is true; I only have to have my nieces and nephews over to know that I couldn't cope with being a full time parent, but I still find it difficult to manage my feelings when friends have babies. I tend to go the other way completely. In an unconscious attempt to manage my broodiness I avoid the subject altogether. I avoid pregnant friends, I avoid baby sections in shops, and I definitely avoid babies. Yes, I'm sure they're beautiful, but I don't really want to look to decide for myself, and I certainly don't want to hold them.

Mum's get a bit sensitive when people don't love their babies though don't they? And whilst it's acceptable for a man to completely ignore the fact that a woman is pregnant and not even mention it in conversation, for a woman it is not. And for a friend to do that?...

I've already done it, and I feel awful. One of my closest friends has had a baby recently and I hardly saw her throughout her pregnancy and I still haven't been round to offer my congratulations yet and to hold the baby. Being one of my closest friends, I can only hope that she knows and understands why, without me having to say a word.

Anyway, I haven't really explained why we don't have any children have I? Considering we chose our children's names before we even got married, I suppose it must seem a bit strange to some.

We had decided that we would enjoy five years together before we started a family. I always had health problems anyway, so it was always questionable as to whether I could cope with a young one. I got broody before the five years were up when I became the last one in my family to not have any children, but I agreed to wait. On our 5th wedding anniversary Mr Man was a patient in the psychiatric hospital. It had been just 3 weeks since his attempted suicide on the ward (which I have not written about in detail yet) and it was time for me to have my contraceptive injection, which I had every 12 weeks. I cried at the appointment, but obviously it wasn't the right time to start a family, and at that point, I didn't know if there ever would be a right time.

Later on down the line I became very broody again. In the past I had always said to Mr Man to just let me have my cry and I would get over it, but this time was different. It was the only thing I thought about. I spent sleepless nights crying. I would lie in the bath for hours until the water had gone cold, just lost in my thoughts and day dreams of having a child. Despite his illness, Mr Man agreed for us to try for a baby. But it just didn't happen.

Some doctors were helpful and supportive, and some doctors were not. One doctor suggested that if I wanted a family I should leave my husband - without even knowing which one of us was possibly infertile. Another doctor suggested a sperm donor, simply because of the risk of passing on Schizophrenia to our child. I wasn't happy with either of these suggestions, so with the support of our GP we started having investigations into why we were not conceiving.

There was quite a wait for those kinds of appointments, so in the meantime we just kept trying. To be honest, it got to the point where I just couldn't cope with the disappointment every month. Every month was the same. I felt like if I just crossed my legs to stop my period from starting that it would mean I had to be pregnant. Some months I was late, and I would convince myself that this was it. I would wait as long as I could possibly bear before buying a pregnancy testing kit - which was never very long at all - only to find that my period had started by the time I did the test. Every month it was the same crushing disappointment.

One month was different. I was late, but I was determined not to get my hopes up. Mr Man on the other hand needed to know one way or the other. I took the test, and the result was positive. I wrote about it at the time in my other blog:

Mr Man, on the other hand, was impatient for an answer. Saturday night I took a test, but the faint blue line which threw me into panic wasn’t even visible to Mr Man with his glasses in another room and with poor night lighting. He was satisfied enough to get a good nights sleep.

I, on the other hand, was awake for a good deal longer, worrying about how he would react once he realised the truth.

I had to confess my concerns to him the following day, and after the initial shock and panic had worn off he seemed fine. The line was very faint though, and I needed to be sure. I took another test this morning… actually I’ve taken five in all over this weekend, and the only test to give a positive result was the first one I took, which was what started all this confusion in the first place.

I can't remember why I was in a panic, considering it was what I had wanted for so long. Mr Man was never very keen though, and only ever agreed to it for my happiness. By the end of this little episode I was an emotional wreck. My period started, and then it stopped again. I didn't know what to think. I was clinging on to every bit of hope there was. Finally my period started properly and I knew it was over. As disappointed as I was, I was also relieved. I couldn't cope with the emotional roller coaster that trying for a baby caused. As strange as it sounds, I actually found it easier to come to terms with the thought of never having a baby than the continual disappointment every month from not falling pregnant. In a way, I gained strength from making the decision to remain childless, instead of the choice being taken from me every month. Besides, Mr Man and I have both suffered relapses since then, and I know we wouldn't cope with the responsibility of raising a child. So I found hobbies.

Hobbies? That sounds like such a shallow replacement. But I also enjoy the company of my nieces and nephews as often as I can, and I tell them that I wouldn't be able to love them as much as I do if I had children of my own. I do love my nieces and nephews, and seeing them doesn't cause me pain, only joy. But babies... there's just something about babies.

Coping with being childless has meant that my brain has switched off all maternal instincts. I'm not interested in pretty baby clothes, and I find I have to remind myself to even look at the baby and say something nice when I bump into someone I know in town pushing a pram. My brain is obviously trying to protect me, and it does a very good job of it; I hardly ever think about babies these days. But then there are those times when I just can't avoid it, and it's painful. Life would be so much easier if everyone I knew just stopped having babies.

Related post: Under Pressure


Anonymous said...

Hi there, I just found this blog - please don't stop posting. I do Intend to read as much as I can where appropriate and I do have a question for you, if it can be answered.

Has your husband ever experienced a childhood trauma such as child-sex abuse or child physical abuse, severe emotion neglect etc?

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi there Anonymous! Welcome to my blog :)

Your question is an interesting one, but in short, the answer is no. His parents did divorce but he was already in his teens by then. In all honesty, my own childhood was more traumatic than his, and yet I don't have anywhere near his problems.

I have read that a difficult labour could be a contributing factor to people developing Schizophrenia when they're older, and Mr Man's mother did have a difficult time during labour with him, although I doubt if that is the sole cause.

I hope that answers the question for you. Thank you for your encouragement to keep going, and I hope to see you again :)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm so happy to see that you are posting again. I found your blog during a very dark period in my life last winter when I was suffering from severe anxiety and depression. This blog was literally a lifeline for me. It helped so much to read about how you and Mr. Man coped with his mental illness. I devoted an hour a day to reading through the posts until I had made it through all of them. Thank you for putting all of the effort into this blog to record your and your husband's story.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you so much Anonymous! I'm really glad to hear that my blog was helpful to you! I wish I hadn't deleted the parts about my own depression and anxiety now, but at the time I felt that no one was taking me seriously and it made me feel paranoid about writing about it.

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope to hear from you again :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again (the second anonymous). I'm sad that you deleted the posts about your anxiety and depression. I definitely don't think you should have felt paranoid or self-conscious. You've had so much to cope with; not struggling would be the strange thing.

I can identify with your feelings about having children to a certain extent. I've gone back and forth on this decision so many times. I'm not sure I have a strong maternal instinct like you, though, and I really worry about whether my mental state could handle it. Seeing my friends and family have kids is hard -- I can definitely relate to your struggles with that. I'm constantly in limbo over the children decision -- but I guess at some point indecision is the decision.

Barbara K. said...

Glad you're posting again. You are a wonderful writer with so many insights to share.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Mans Wife!! I'm a wife of a schizophrenic too. He actually has Schizoaffective Mood disorder, which, I guess, is a bit less serious than pure schizophrenia but still lots of "fun". I started reading your blog precisely when my husband had his last serious episode. You write in a way that a person in my situation really wants to just cry for I stopped. I cried my eyes out when I was reading your posts during his episode, but now that it's over and I decided to find your blog again, I'm crying...I'm 23 by the way, married my Mr Man when I was 19...I knew about everything but didn't really realise what that meant or what it envolved (how could I?)...not having children of my own or having them and risking them having Schizophrenia....having to cope with his mood swings...not having a social life...visiting him in a mental hospital...being uterly alone for a period of time while he's "away"...having to listen to the nonesense of people following him...and much, much more...I guess you get me. And I also guess you get me when I say that I love him, don't know how to live my life in case of a divorce, don't know how to cope with a man that will love me much less than my Mr Man and oh! so diferently and beneath him(in case of a divorce)...and if it were me with the diagnosis, how would I feel about him writing this letter right now? I am alone, I moved for him to a different country, I have no close friends here, my mother doesn't know (it would break her heart) and in general where I'm from people take such mental illnesses as something embarassing and feel that such people should not come out of a, nobody knows except for his family (mother and brothers)...I'm sorry I did not read all of your posts (it's really heartbreaking) old are you? It feels good to tell somebody...thank you! Tania

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Tanya, thank you for responding.

Yes, I understand everything that you are saying, and I'm sorry that you have had such heartbreaking times. How is your husband now?

I'm 39 now. Time passes by so quickly when you're having fun! Mr Man is so much better now. He drives, he works, he socialises. We even had our first holiday together in 12 years this year! Previously he wouldn't have been able to cope with going away from home, but he really enjoyed it.

I suppose what I'm saying is, don't give up hope. Love and hope are what will help you through, and one day things will get better.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I agree, it feels good to share it! That's why I started my blog :) Feel free to offload here whenever you feel the need. x


And Thank You Barbara! :)

Dee said...

I read some of your posts so far and I really like and appreciate them and you for being the person you are.
I am considering dating a guy who is schizophrenic. The reason I say I am considering it is because I have experienced a lot of bad things in my past relationships and also because I have education on schizophrenia. I am not open to 'dating', especially 'pointless dating' as I call it, meaning going out with someone you do not have a future with. I only met him a while ago and do not know him well at all, but I just feel drawn to him for some reason, can't really explain it.
I did a lot of reading online about people who have this mental illness and also, like your blog, people who live with people that have this illness.
He is okay to go out and such, but he does have the emotionless face and is quiet unless someone speaks directly to him. I understand this is a very good sign, as it means he is doing good and that his medication is working. I also know he has a job.
I read in a lot of blogs (and even saw it in the movie A Beautiful Mind that I noticed is mentioned on your website as well) that intimacy might be a problem. I tried to find a blog about this topic on your page but have not found one so far. I am not sure if you are just not comfortable discussing it or if it is not a problem in your case.
I also suffer from anxiety and depression and besides what happened in my past relationships, it is a big reason why I feel I am better off being single. I feel like in western society today it is difficult to find a guy my age looking for love, and not sex. I am not a 'typical girl', looking at the young women in society today. To better explain it, I reject the media's brainwashing, and I am educated in social sciences and other areas. I feel like I need a man to support me when I lose my mind over the horrible people in this world and the horrible things happening. I am wondering if this would be possible with a schizophrenic man. I hope I don't sound like I am labeling schizophrenics or anything like that, because I honestly do not have enough information to even remotely feel that way. I studied it a bit in psychology and have been reading a LOT about it online, but truth is that every person with schizophrenia is different.
Also, on a side note,I am only 23 but I have always had a...hunger to have children, and I am not even there yet in any way, but I just wanted to tell you that you are not the only one who tries to avoid friends and people in general with kids, and especially babies. I also feel a hurt when I see people in bliss because they are pregnant and such. I think some is natural (maternal instinct)but most of it is the media brainwashing people into thinking they must get married and they must have children and etc...but at the same time, a lot of women state they they never had any desire to have children...
I'm sorry if I confused you and that the comment is so long...but I hope you can give me some tips!
All the best to you and your loved ones! =]

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi Dee, thank you for your comment.

I thought I had talked about intimacy, but I can't remember where on the blog or when - it might only have been in the comments section now I come to think about it. You're right, it is a little bit of a sensitive subject to discuss!

Anyway, the truth is, this was a problem for a while, but only while he was on Clozaril. I don't know if any of the other medications cause this problem, but for Mr Man this was the only medication that did. Of course, there is no real way of us knowing if the other medications have caused actual fertility issues or not - even if he had tests, we would have to presume that he was fertile to begin with, and it's not a path we personally want to go down anyway. I haven't fallen pregnant, but the issue could be with either one of us, and we have decided we would rather not fall into the trap of assigning blame. You know, I have known couples who were unable to have children together but have both gone on to have children with other partners! So I suppose sometimes it just goes that way. I'm not saying it's an easy thing to accept, but sometimes this is just a reality for couples whether medication is to blame or not.

Mr Man is now taking Abilify, which doesn't appear to create any problems in that area at all! ;)

I have to say, you sound like a lovely person Dee. I am also the sort of person who "loses her mind over the horrible people in this world and the horrible things happening". When it comes to emotional support every one is different, but I don't see why having schizophrenia would hinder this. Obviously when the person is very ill their thoughts tend to turn inward, but even when he has been pretty ill, Mr Man has surprised me with his level of compassion when I have needed it. So I would say that it is definitely not impossible for a person with schizophrenia to give emotional support. Some people are dysfunctional in this area anyway! And it's so much easier to blame an illness for all kinds of things than to just simply admit that we are flawed in some way!

I hope this helps Dee. :) All the best to you too. And thank you for reading.