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I'm Only Having One Child Because of My Mental Illness – and That's OK

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Have you ever heard the phrase “one and done?” If so, you’ve probably heard it in regards to having more children.

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Five years ago, my husband and I decided to become parents. We were fortunate to conceive, and to do so quickly. Of course we were stoked, but likewise, I had fears about becoming a mother. Every woman gets nervous and scared, but my mental illness made me feel these things on a completely different level. Me fellow moms with a mental illness will know exactly what I’m referring to.

“Will I be a good mom? Will she know that I’m ill sometimes? Will she understand why? And worst of all…”Will I give this illness to her, too?”

Sadly, some but not all of those, have reared their ugly head. She does know I’m ill sometimes, but she doesn’t understand. And I hope, with every fiber of my being, that she never has to.

Let’s fast forward four years. On a pretty consistent basis, the topic of having children comes up in a conversation between women. That’s when people always ask me, “When are you having more?” Upon telling them “I’m one and done,” they all make remarks about how I’ll change my mind, or  how my little one should have a sibling to grow up with. My answers aren’t good enough, but they can’t know the true reasons I strongly express that phrase as soon as the question is there.

I understand their rebuttals and how they could fit a perfectly healthy mother. But I am not a perfectly healthy mother.

I have days I am super mom! But not for the same reason as others. Typically this means I’m hypomanic, which also means I can be more distant and hateful than loving.

I have days where I’m so depressed I can barely get out of bed and take care if my own self, much less another human being who cannot survive without me.

When I say I am “one and done,” I am not being selfish. When I say this phrase, I think about the baby days of my daughter I currently have, and how depressed I was. I didn’t even feel a connection with her until she was around 3 because I was so unhealthy and unstable. I think about how I wouldn’t be a happy mommy, but an on edge, distant mommy, because I can’t mentally handle more than one child at a time.

When I say my husband and I agree that we are “one and done,” it’s in the best interest of our entire family, and we are beyond happy about this! So if you ever hear a woman say they are “one and done,” please don’t pressure her to have more based on your preference and ability to have more than one rugrat! Chances are, you have absolutely no idea of her true reasons for making such a decision.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: December 30, 2016
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