Having another child after post natal depression

First published on Daily Life – November 20th, 2014

 

D

eciding to have another child is always a difficult decision. Sufferers of post-natal depression have an added layer of questions to work through in their decision, sometimes to which the answer can never really be given. This is one survivor’s story.

It’s when you start to feel on top of things that you decide you’re up to throwing something else impossible into the mix. For me, the question comes up every six months or so. I wrestle with it in my own intense way and come to a decision, and get on with my life. But like clockwork, it returns when I’m feeling capable.

I thought we were One And Done. Am I done?

My memories of early motherhood are not nice.

The broken sleep. Haemorrhoids. Blocked ducts. Breastfeeding in yoga-like positions to clear the blockages. Weird bodily fluids. The crying, oh god the crying.

Wondering if I would ever love my baby. Wondering if that feeling was normal, or I was just so very tired. Wondering why everyone seemed so overjoyed with this creature that fed on my soul. And yet being terrified that everything would kill him or hurt him, and that only I could prevent it. I had post natal depression and anxiety and that first year was the worst thing I have ever been through.

None of these things is my son’s fault. I was suffering from mental illness. I refused all outside help, not wanting to appear weak, and as a result made things harder for myself. By the time things got really bad I had given everyone the impression I was fine. I wasn’t. I hated motherhood. But because I have woven these events and my feelings together as one event, my idea of caring for an infant is inevitably tainted.

I have some gorgeous photos of my baby in that year which have been hard for me to look at. At the time I was snapping the photos, I knew he was being a cute little thing which is why my logical mind told me to record the moment: you’ll want to remember this. But on the inside I felt cold. It could have been any baby sitting in front of me, kicking his legs like a chubby frog.

A year later I looked at the same photos and felt guilt. I could see the cuteness, the development from one photo to the next, and the adoration in his eyes. And I remembered my numbness. How could I feel that way towards someone who loved me so much? An innocent baby?

I was still suffering though. I had moved my focus from my son to myself. I was usually angry, utterly exhausted and generally critical of myself. I was not being the mother I wanted to be. Or the wife, daughter, friend or human being…

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