Will I experience postpartum depression a second time? was one of those frequent questions that swirled around in my head during my second pregnancy. Jumbled somewhere in between will sushi actually harm the baby? and how will I function on a newborn sleep schedule again? I was terrified that I might end up in the black hole of postpartum depression a second time.
I set up as many safety nets as I could possibly imagine. We arranged for Cory to have a full week + the weekend at home this time, unlike last time when he went back to work 4 days after we got home from the hospital. I took my mom up on her offer to come stay with us during the week that Cory went back to work, and I let her help me while she was here. I didn’t fight it like I normally do. I took (and continue to take!) my in-law’s up on their gracious offer to have Jack one day a week, and I made sure I was going to get out of the house with my girlfriends and our kids as much as possible during the week.
Even still, I braced myself.
What if it happened again? What if I slipped into that darkness where it physically hurt to be a mother, a wife, and functioning human being? What if it came back and robbed me, yet again, of experiencing the joys of a newborn?
What if? What if? What if?
When I came home from the hospital, I was walking on eggshells, as if the Postpartum Depression Monster was going to pop out from behind a dark corner and suffocate me.
The moments when I would cry, normally out of sheer exhaustion, I would think is this it? Or when I felt overwhelmed and out of my league, I’d catch my breath and wonder, is this normal?
But now that it’s been over two months, I can honestly say that this time around, I’ve had a drastically different experience. There hasn’t been any despair, overwhelming anxiety, or crying spells that last all day.
It’s been happy.
When the baby cries, I normally don’t. When the sun starts to set, panic doesn’t set in. When I’m alone, I don’t always feel lonely.
Yes, there are hard days. Days when I sincerely wonder if I’m cut out for motherhood, and days when my patience is paper thin. Days when I’m jealous of my husband who “gets” to be gone for 12 hours, and days when I wish for do-overs by 9am.
But this time, those days are few and far between. This time, those less-than-stellar days don’t carry with them the weight of the world, and there is much more light than dark.
I say all this for two reasons: one, if you’re currently in the dark space of postpartum depression, you’re not a bad mom, and it gets better. Did you read that? You are not a bad mom. It gets better.
The second is, if you’ve been there and the thought of it happening a second time scares the shit out of you, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone; and while I certainly cannot guarantee a thing, it is possible to have a different experience.
And trust me, it’s everything you’ve hoped it could be.