I was slowly finding my way out of the darkness that had been eating at me for years. I was no longer clinically depressed, I was starting to feel alive again, and best of all I had finally fallen in love with my second daughter. Then I got pregnant again.
We were being careful – honestly – because, although I had always wanted a big family, a third child was not an option for us. We were still struggling financially (the day I did the test, at the end of the month, we had less than €5 in each of our bank accounts and no savings). And anyway, I would have been terrified of having another baby because of the possibility of going through post-natal depression again. We talked that evening and decided not to go through with the pregnancy. “Our heads say one thing, but our hearts want something else,” said my husband. “We have to listen to our heads.”
I didn’t sleep that night. I kept thinking about those words he had said to me when I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter: every child is a gift from God. Every child. I kept thinking about the baby I had lost – how devastated I had been to have him ripped from me without a choice. How could I consider doing the same thing voluntarily to another baby? I kept thinking about those months, that perfect summer, that sweet love for a helpless newborn that I had lost to post-natal depression. Maybe I would get sick again, but maybe – just maybe – this was a chance to get it all back. But my husband was right – we couldn’t have this baby.
The next morning he sat on the balcony, picked up the phone and dialled the number of the hospital to book me an appointment. I watched him punch in the number, lift the phone to his ear. Then, “Hang up,” I told him. “I can’t do this.” He gave me a funny look and I knew he thought it was the wrong choice. But he did as I said because, deep down, he didn’t want to go through with it either. Also, he knows me – and he knows that when I’ve made up my mind to do something, there’s nothing in the world that can stop me doing it. I am the most stubborn person on Earth.
I was glad of my stubbornness throughout my pregnancy. Because everyone thought I had made the wrong decision. I can literally count on the fingers of one hand the number of people who were actually pleased for me. And one of them was the junkie who sells paper towels outside the petrol station on my way to work. Some people – the ones who knew about my previous depression, like my mum – were worried about what might happen to me. But the others were just killjoys; telling me I would have to give up my job, that kids are expensive, that my apartment was too small; asking me if I was sure I knew what I was doing. I let it all wash over me because, after the initial shock, I was sure. I had never been more sure of anything in my life.
With my other pregnancies, I didn’t feel real love for my babies until after they were born and I could see them and hold them. This one I loved from the moment I told my husband to hang up that phone. I felt she was a part of our family before she was even born – the missing piece that would complete us.