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“Am I cut out for this?” is probably a question that most new moms ask themselves throughout their pregnancy. But for me, it was something I wondered every single day of those nine months.

There’s no doubt my son was much wanted; after learning I had low ovarian reserve, I finally became pregnant naturally two months after a failed IVF attempt. But I did panic that I may not have possessed the magical “mom gene.” I didn’t feel all broody when someone’s baby got handed around the office, and I’d never changed a diaper in my life. I had no idea what to write on my birth plan other than “get the baby out.”

Yet, almost a year ago, my son entered my life — and I was surprised at how easy I adapted to it all. As he approached his first birthday, my thoughts turned to the idea of a second child. That is, they went there until we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. And I’m finding that it’s not my son or the hard work of parenting that is making me change my mind about having a second; it’s COVID-19.

When I think about how things went back when my son was born, it now all seems shockingly easy. The fact that I was self-employed meant my maternity leave wasn’t as lengthy as those of my fellow mom friends. ut I soon got into a routine of balancing nursery and other childcare; loving every single overpriced baby class where I shaked a maraca at my son’s head for an hour whilst he desperately attempted to eat it.

I cherished our days together (and, of course, still do) but equally loved the breathing space I got when away from him. Not only did this help me work on my business (something that being freelance, I’ve taken years to build up) but it also gave me the chance to rest. Struggling with both physical (I have Crohn’s Disease) and mental health issues meant this was vital to stay on top of things.

In one way, it was a decision I’d almost made. Despite my failed IVF cycle, we did have one frozen embryo waiting in storage; a symbol of hope and potentially a future sibling for my son. It felt inevitable but, in the space of just a few short months, the pandemic has me doubting everything I thought I wanted.

Of course, I always knew I was lucky to have two sets of doting grandparents and a village nursery a few minutes around the corner. But I never realised that these things weren’t just good fortune but what made me the mum I was. Without them, and with my son 24/7, I’m finding it really, really tough. It goes with saying (but so worth recognising again) that there are a huge number of people currently in a more difficult situation than me but I’m still exhausted, frustrated, lonely, scared. Scared that I’m not actually a good enough mother to do this by myself. And if I can’t do it with one, how can I with two?

Now that I think about it, fear is something that lingered in those early weeks of motherhood too. Not the fear of failure that I’d initially anticipated but a fear of something terrible happening and not being around for my son. This seemed to be unshakable until I realised I was suffering with postnatal anxiety and sought help; undergoing talking therapy and starting antidepressants.

Anyone with mental health issues will know the importance of equipping yourselves with the tools and support you need: for me, that was leaving the house each day, baby groups, meeting with friends and weekly counseling. Each day, it’s becoming more difficult to keep on top of my anxiety without these networks and whilst before I felt confident I could control my mental health second time around, now I’m not so sure.

I’d like to think that one pandemic is enough for anyone’s lifetime but, even with some countries taking tentative steps, there’s no sense of when life will truly return to normal—or if it ever will. As I turn 35 in June, like many mums, I don’t necessarily have the luxury of waiting years for things to pan out before deciding to grow my family. And whilst a ‘yes’ based on the current landscape is an impossibility (regardless of my decision, IVF treatments are currently cancelled anyway), saying ‘no’ to our embryo brings its own share of guilt and regret.

Yet, I remind myself that I’m not alone in this quandary. Pregnancy and motherhood will still go on throughout this pandemic and beyond. All across the world, mums and mums-to-be are asking themselves difficult questions: Is this the right time to fall pregnant? Is this the right time to grow our family? If not now, when? How can I manage motherhood? When will my IVF begin? How do we make a blended family work? Should we try adoption?

No mom ever knows the answer to all these questions but somehow, it works out — or we make it work regardless. I only hope I can do the same.

Having more kids is of course a valid choice, but so is having an only child, like these celeb moms did.

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