Imagine something your heart always wanted. At worst, it could threaten your life.
Would you do it?
My first instinct would be to say no. What could possibly be worth that?
Yet here I am, taking that chance. After nearly losing my battle with postpartum depression with my first child, my husband and I have decided to try for another baby.
“Are you sure you want to go through that again?” is usually the first thing people ask when I say we’re trying. Of course I don’t want to. For almost two years we planned not to try. My PPD had effectively ended any plans to grow our family. We had one happy, healthy baby and I was starting to reclaim my life.
Then something happened. I grew stronger and was able to recognize my triggers. Medication and therapy helped me build an arsenal, and any time I felt the PPD begin to creep back in, I nipped it in the bud. I’d watch my son and knew, contrary to what my mind used to tell me, that I’m a good mother.
I want to try again. I’m ready. Sure, I might have to battle PPD, but I’ll be doing it with knowledge, awareness, and tools I lacked the first time. My husband and I have a plan in place should my PPD come back. The first time around we spent weeks not knowing what was happening or what to do. This time we’ll be ready to fight back.
I spoke with fellow moms who experienced PPD and now face the same decision: Can we, should we, try for one more? The answers were mixed. Some, like me, felt empowered by a greater understanding of the disorder. Others didn’t want to risk going through it again.
“I was pretty certain I didn't want any more children prior to having PPD, but after it we are definitely done. I don't want to experience it again, and feel happy with my life and family as-is,” said Brittney Grieser.
Like me, those who are planning to try again have thought a lot about how they'll do things differently. “Instead of having a birth plan, I’m going to develop a postpartum plan,” Kirstie Berdeja said.
For many, like Denise A. Hernandez, currently pregnant after having PPD, being prepared also means an open dialogue with doctors. “I’ve asked my doctor and nurses to please make sure to ask me how I’m doing, because I had PPD after my last child.”
While the thought of getting pregnant again excites me, I’d be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. Jana Martin's experience gives me a glimpse of a possible future: “As soon as I tested positive I freaked out. I cried because I finally felt normal, and feared it’ll all be destroyed and I’ll go backwards.”
On a hopeful note, former PPD sufferer Brittany Rodella had her second child a few months ago, and she’s already noticing a difference.
“I embraced the postpartum period the second time around and gave myself more love and grace. Also, focusing on resting seemed to keep me out of the woods of PPD.”
It sounds simple, but sleep is key. I thought I had to do everything myself, and resisted help – and rest.
While I was struggling through my own PPD, my husband and I vacillated over him getting a vasectomy. We held off and ultimately decided to try to conceive again, but I learned our thoughts weren’t uncommon.
“My number one fear was that I would get PPD again,” said Stephanie Turipn. “We decided that there weren’t any more children in our future, so my husband got a vasectomy.”
There are also those who’ve yet to make a final decision. “I have high hopes of becoming a mother again. Sometimes that idea gets clouded by the thought of getting PPD again,” said Marissa Wiggins.
Nicole Pinheiro echoed her sentiments. “As of now, I don't know if I'll be able to go through it again. But my heart tells me it isn't quite full yet. We'll see, only time will tell.”
For those of us planning to try again, Kathy Kruk summed up the “why” perfectly: “There are times I’m afraid that with my next child there could be worse symptoms – but they could also be better. I'd rather not live in fear."
Yes, I’m scared. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. But this time I’ll know what to do.
"If you even have the tiniest inkling that something is off, seek help. It never hurts,” suggests Lauren Webb. Which is great advice for all moms.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.