Before Charlie was born we were sure we wanted more children; me 2, Lou 3- and she wanted them close together. After Lou’s pregnancy I think it was safe to say she was a little put off- her pre-eclampsia and 6 week stay in a maternity ward somewhat skewed her opinion. Then as pieces fell into the CP jigsaw the idea of another child drifted further into the distant future.
Can we have another child, physically? A huge factor for us in the pregnancy question is, ‘will it happen again?’ Pre-eclampsia can reoccur in subsequent pregnancies but the chances are reduced. Did we do something wrong in pregnancy, expose Lou to things that were bad for her? Did I stress her out too much (or work…)? The positive side would surely be if ifs happened once it would be looked for and monitored more? The uncertainly however is a scary point for both Lou and myself. We’ve been assured that Charlie’s condition is not inherited but more ‘bad luck’.
Despite our desire for a bigger family I think we both felt that the demands of a newborn baby were probably beyond our capabilities. I certainly felt that there would be a trade off in Charlie’s care to some extent that I didn’t really feel I could make. Charlie’s progress has been wonderful but it has been time-consuming and labour intensive- would the needs of a baby take away the time Charlie need for his continuing, hard-earned, development? Would time for therapy have to reduce?
How would we transport Charlie and a baby? Push his wheelchair and a pram? Carry a baby and Charlie? The simple answer is we couldn’t, but it may also break Charlie’s reliance on us by forcing him to do certain things himself. Charlie is now much more independent- he can be left to his own devices. He may want to show and tell us things at all times of the day but he does not NEED us as much now. How would another child feel as they grew up if Charlie’s therapy took up lots of our available time- would they feel left out? Rebel for attention?
Charlie starts school in September and will attend full-time so maybe now there will be more time to devote to a baby? School can shoulder some of the learning responsibility for Charlie…
We’ve plenty of friends that we have meet though Charlie’s disability that have children with various issues and needs, many have subsequently had happy, healthy siblings that are thriving. They’ve managed (or so they say) with the additional extra that an expanding family brings- why can’t we?
Maybe a 2nd child would be a positive step in Charlie’s development- he could watch and care for a developing child and maybe even mirror some of the milestones he struggled to reach, maybe a child could help Charlie see the movements he should make and learn them anew? Charlie certainly would love teaching a baby about the things he loves- superheroes and surprise eggs! The care Charlie would give a sibling is undeniable; he is a caring, helpful soul and would dote on a baby brother or sister.
Charlie has told us when we’ve talked about family that he really would like a baby brother- when we told him there isn’t a choice he stopped and told Lou’s belly that a sister wasn’t wanted and to make a boy! After talking about families with Charlie he has even told other people that he is going to be a big brother- people have asked Lou if she’s pregnant, much to Lou’s surprise!
The strange thing is, do children know? For a number of weeks Charlie would wake up in the morning and talk about being a big brother and even ask how mummy’s tummy is. Before we had any idea at all I think Charlie knew our news… hold on tight, Baby Smith No.2!!!