Surviving Postpartum Depression & Having Another Child

Vanessa, Postpartum Support International co-coordinator for the state of Nevada, sent me this lovely letter she wrote on her daughter's 3rd birthday:

My little girl turns three today. While I was getting ready this morning, tears filled my eyes. They were tears of joy. The celebration of her birthday is much, much more to me. With her birth came the gifts of knowledge, love, understanding, bliss and so many more things.

You see, she is not my first child. She's my second.

Almost six years ago I had my first child. With his birth, I experienced panic, fear, anxiety, sorrow, depression and an almost attempt at suicide. I had postpartum depression. But I made it through. I survived. I never wanted to go through an experience like it again. No more children. He would be an only child.

Then when he was two, I found out I was pregnant. I cried and cried and cried. My husband was in shock. Neither one of us wanted to go through it all again. I had suffered, he had suffered, our marriage had suffered. We were finally in a good place.

However, this time I was prepared. I knew what to expect. I also began antidepressants before the delivery. It was the right decision; no one needed to relive that horrible nightmare.

And no one did. Having our second child was a dream. It was perfect in every way. I loved every moment of her newborn life. Instead of dreading nighttime feedings, I cherished them. I held her, loved her, sang to her — it was magical.

This is why I silently give thanks and celebrate in my own way each year for her birthday. I can have more children and be happy. It is possible.

Thank you for coming to our home little girl. Your birth brought me more joy than most will ever know or experience.

Vanessa Delorenzis

April 29, 2010

I know exactly what she means. Exactly.

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Tell Us What You Think

Comments

  1. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    Well, if that isn't an answer to prayer, I can't say what is! (See yesterday's post on my blog about my trepidation just considering #2 after PPD: http://atlantappdmom.blogspot.com/2010/05/should-… )
    THANK YOU, Vanessa!!!

  2. Colletta says:

    My oldest was going to be an only child. I had made my decision. I couldn't do it again.
    When she was 3 I finally sought treatment for my anxiety/depression which brought out ocd. After 2 years of feeling pretty much myself again, I thought, I think I could handle it again. I needed to feel the joy of motherhood as opposed to what I had felt the first time around.
    I made it through the pregnancy. In hind sight, I would have stayed on meds the whole time. After birth, I got my meds straight away and found a working dose for me.
    I was worried and scared but it worked out.
    That being said, everyone needs to decide what is best for them and not let outside pressures make your decision.

  3. I know her pain. Maybe one day, when I find the right words, I will blog about it. What I will say is this, I didn't have PPD with my second, I cherished every minute…I also feel cheated and angry that I wasn't able to enjoy my son the same way.

  4. After my first daughter was born I had intrusive thoughts, mainly visions of throwing my baby off the top of our two story staircase. I didn't dare share these thoughts with anyone. My mom came to stay with us for two weeks postpartum. Every night before it was time to go to bed, I feared carrying my baby upstairs thinking I might act on these thoughts. Needless to say I thought I was going crazy because I was a first time mother and had never heard of such things. One day during first week postpartum I decided to confess these thoughts to my psychiatrist (who I was seeing throughout my pregnancy because of issues unrelated to my pregnancy) who immediately told me to start taking zoloft. Soon after starting the meds the thoughts were gone and I can look back and say I nipped PPD in the bud before it reared its really ugly head. I was on zoloft until 6 months before I got pregnant with my second child (my first child was nearly four years old at the time). I weaned myself off zoloft because we were trying to get pregnant, and despite evidence to the contrary, I didn't want zoloft to negatively impact my pregnancy or my new baby. I knew that if anything was remotely wrong with the baby I would blame it on zoloft, even if there was no evidence of causation. Anyway, my second pregnancy, like my first, was a piece of cake, really uneventful. The birth was quick and uneventful, I "braved" it out without paid meds. Which I believe is total BS but I bought into it. After the birth of my second, my in-laws came to stay with us this time for a month postpartum. I didn't consider resuming the zoloft after the birth of my second child, even though the same intrusive thoughts I had after my first child came back soon after. I denied the thoughts trying so hard to push them out of my mind. I stupidly denied that I needed any medication –maybe because my PPD was so mild (relatively speaking) with my first. I guess I didn't realize the magnitude of this disorder. I was so determined to stick with breastfeeding that I couldn't see clearly (I only breastfed my first child for one week). Plus, I didn't want my in-laws to know that I needed medication, or that I had taken medication after the birth of my first child. Prior to my in-laws leaving, I noticed a change in my mood for the worst but I thought it was a fleeting emotion. Before I knew it I was two months postpartum and struggling with breastfeeding and hating myself for being, what I thought, was a failure. In addition I cried all the time and believed my children would be better off without me — yes, I considered suicide. I was really sleep deprived because (despite what the pediatrician told me) I wasn't producing enough milk to satiate my baby. Maybe it was the stress, lack of sleep and the crying that reduced my milk supply. I then realized insomnia had set in. I never before had trouble sleeping and low and behold, there I was, my hubby offered to do the night feeding and I could not for the life of me fall asleep. We tried again the next night, same thing. I then knew we had a problem. I knew about PPD after my first child but I never experienced it like this. The insomnia and crying coincided with a loss of appetite. I was losing weight like never before, and for the first time in my life I didn't think about food. I always hated people who say they forget to eat but now I was the one who not only forgot to eat but didn't care to eat. I was down to a size zero and couldn't give a crap — I cried when I looked in the mirror, when I looked at family photos and wondered why I had another child. I also began having hot flashes which I never experienced. Not sure if the hot flashes were caused by hormones or anxiety. My husband was shocked that this was happening to us. My pregnancies and births had been textbook. I was doing so well while his parents were staying with us. Plus, I had done so well after the birth of our first child. What could have gone wrong? DING, DING, DING!!! Looking back, I should have not given a damn about what anyone thought, and gone back on the meds. Once I went back on a therapeutic dose of zoloft I began to feel better, too bad it wasn't before I ignorantly allowed myself to go thru a few looong months of pure HELL, to go to a very dark place that I'd never been before. To make a long story short, I beat myself up for not having gone back on the meds soon after the birth of my second, even though I should have been wiser the second time around. As for a next time, there is no next time. My hubby and I agreed long ago, before PPD, that we wanted only two children — which we now have. However, even if we wanted a third, I'm afraid my second bout of PPD put that idea to rest. Perhaps taking medication soon after the birth would help but I'm not willing to find out. PPD was an extremely scary place the second time around, a place I never wish to revisit. I think of PPD as my wretched, ugly fire-breathing dragon, who was sleeping and I stepped on its tail and woke it up. I'm thankful my dragon is asleep once again and this time, I'd rather let sleeping dragons lie.