Am I Scared of Getting Postpartum Depression with Baby #2?
The hard truth is that women who've experienced postpartum depression in the past have a 50% chance of getting it again in subsequent pregnancies. I really hate this statistic. As silly as it sounds, when I think about the risk factors of postpartum depression with baby #2 I begin to visualize a little man in the clouds doing a coin toss in the delivery room to determine my fate saying, "May the odds ever be in your favor".
The other day I had an intrusive thought about hurting myself. In the depths of my depression, I was often overrun by these dark thoughts and would begin to experience physical side-effects such as panic, heart palpitations and feeling sick to my stomach.
Thankfully, as my recovery progressed I still got intrusive thoughts but I learned to be non-reactive. I no longer attached any emotion to the thought, and as a result, these awful thoughts would disappear as quickly as they came on, and I would forget about them with ease and move on with my day.
But the other day I couldn't help but notice a twinge of panic. My due date is exactly three months away and I thought, what if in three months everything I have worked for is taken from me? What if my depression and OCD comes back? Could I survive it again? Could my husband? My marriage? My everything?!
While I am so hopeful that if I start to go down that path I will get treated for it a lot quicker than I did the first time I had it. But to say that there isn't a part of me that is completely terrified would be a huge lie.
I want more than anything to experience a different postpartum story. I don't want to be angry, irritable, nor tormented by the thoughts of hurting myself or my baby. I felt like my depression robbed me of so much, and if I allow myself to lean into the fear of having it again, I feel utterly paralyzed.
My husband and I had many conversations about the size of our family. For months we even welcomed the thought of Winter being an only child. But as I began to recover, it was undeniable that we did, in fact, want another child, despite the risk factors of me getting depression again.
I have a motto I use during self-talk when the fear of depression creeps in. It goes something like, "I cannot let fear drive the boat in my life." I have to have faith that next time, depression or not, will be different. I am not that person that I was the first time. I have grown, overcame and learned so much.
Despite my struggles, in some odd way, I am insanely grateful for them. As a result of my depression beautiful things surfaced like my passion for mindfulness, advocating for mental health, normalizing postpartum depression and getting the opportunity to connect with other women around the world;
I am a lotus flower. I journeyed through thick layers of mud to surface at the top in order to bloom, and no 50-50 odds are going to prevent me from continuing to blossom into the beautiful human that I have and will continue to become.
So screw you, postpartum depression. You're no match for me. I'll bloom where I am planted thank you very much.
Photography by Kyla Fear