My first taste of motherhood wasn’t what I hoped. My daughter is nearly 5 and it’s taken me the best part of 4 of those years to make peace with the desperate sense of loss I felt at not enjoying the first precious years with my baby.
In previous posts I’ve explained how postnatal depression and anxiety robbed me of the joy I expected to feel after my first child was born. Now another 2 children later, and possibly no more to be had, I have grieved for an experience I may never have.
I know I am truly blessed to have three wonderful children, but it doesn’t take away the fact I have been through a sort of grieving process over the past couple of years at the prospect of not having any more babies, and never experiencing a joyful start to motherhood.
When we had our third baby I had expected (hoped?) for a more positive postnatal journey. Especially as I had started to recover after the past bouts of PND with my first two children. However, after falling pregnant quickly after a miscarriage my anxiety kicked in and my pregnancy was fraught with worry. I didn’t enjoy any of the milestones, and my birth choice – which was a home birth – was taken away after being diagnosed with Group B Strep; I couldn’t wait to have my baby, and finally be free from my pregnancy worries.
Then I had my beautiful little baby, and while I felt completely confident at the practical side of being a mum of a newborn, (something I hadn’t with my first) I started to realise my anxieties transferred from my pregnancy to both mine and my babies health.
I felt my mood slipping back into postnatal depression, something I had become so well acquainted with. This time though instead of feeling ashamed I felt determined. I wasn’t going to fall back after coming so far. Having been on the brink of suicide and anxiety so crippling I wasn’t able to leave my home, to now going out without panic attacks and having increasing positive and uplifting moments – No I wasn’t letting this take away what I had worked so hard for.
I started my treatment, medication and therapy, and started to recover.
But I was still left with this lingering feeling. Yet another baby born and I didn’t have what I considered a positive experience…which was to simply have my baby and not be plunged into depression or anxiety.
Although I would desperately love to have another baby I’m not sure if we will be. Not only for practical reasons, such as money, new car etc but because I’m not sure if I can go through it all again. Although now I’m so much more knowledgable and have a really good support system, which I never had before – it’s something we have continued to discuss at length.
Something which I believed would be the making of me became something which nearly broke me. I had no goals other than becoming a mum so having the experiences I did really shook me.
Whatever the reasons, we will never know, my body and mind reacted to pregnancy and birth in this way. There are many women who experience mental illness after their baby is born and then go on to be fine in subsequent pregnancies – Maybe we could have another child and I’d be okay, it’s a risk we would have to weigh up and have been considering.
It took me a long time to make peace with the idea we may not have the much longed for fourth child. I truly struggled to accept it and I felt angry that I’d been cheated out of a positive experience. I would feel pangs of jealousy, I would envy those announcing their pregnancies and wishing I could do mine over with more knowledge. I would feel happy to see & hold new babies but I’d feel my heart ache at how I may not have that again.
Now though I’m okay with it. I allowed myself time to grieve and accept that it’s ok to feel sad. Then I collected my thoughts and looked towards my future. (After having depression thinking about the future with hope is a huge thing!) I have three beautiful children, we’ve now come out of the baby stage and I’m really enjoying life with them. I’ve gained some (albeit short!) ‘me time’, I’ve become extremely busy with my local work within perinatal mental health awareness and support groups. The baby chapter of my life is possibly over and it wasn’t how I’d hoped or imagined, we don’t know whether the future holds another baby for us, but if it does or not I’m ok with it. I now I look forward to a new chapter ready for what life has in store for us.