A few weeks ago we shared a story by Liz Lian about having a second child after experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety. This week we have another take on that theme by Kelley Allen. Kelley has graciously agreed to share the story of her pregnancy journey with her second child. This will be the first in an ongoing series about her preparations and experiences.
Article by Kelley Allen
I am 14 weeks along with my second child after experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety with my first. It took my husband and I quite a while to get to the point of even considering the possibility of another baby. Once we both felt like we were ready, we were lucky to find out I was pregnant pretty quickly. With my first, I was very, very sick for the duration of the pregnancy. My nausea and sickness took over and I barely functioned. I was prepared to experience the same this time around, but so far have been feeling pretty good. I do have low-grade nausea but it is nothing compared to my first pregnancy. For this, I am so grateful. I have no idea how I would cope with the sickness and fatigue while also caring for a 3 year old. I feel blessed to write that my mood has remained good so far in the pregnancy. There are hard days, tiring, irritable days, and I see my patience running thin with my daughter, but so far it feels manageable.
I have been reading Karen Kleiman’s book “What am I thinking? Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression” – which I highly recommend to anyone considering another child after PPD/A. I recently finished a section on anxiety, which was my biggest struggle after the birth of my daughter. Kleiman states “Will you get anxious again? Unequivocally yes. You will. Most definitely. Anxiety and motherhood go hand in hand. Accepting a certain amount of anxiety is not only a healthy response, it provides you with the tools to cope. If the anxiety becomes excessive, that is, if it interferes with your ability to experience pleasure or becomes the focus of your day, then that’s too much anxiety and that is no longer okay. This is when you need to follow up with a professional.” What resonates with me about this is how Kleiman doesn’t sugar coat it. She doesn’t suggest that this time around everything will be wonderful. She keeps things very realistic. This time around, it won’t be a breeze. Adjusting to a new baby and such a huge change will always bring difficulties. Recognizing that, and giving myself permission to experience a certain degree of depression and anxiety feels comforting. The key will be to know what to do if/when it becomes excessive.
I keep reading and hearing from everyone that I need to have a plan. Although it is early on, I have started to develop one. I have connected with Reproductive Mental Health with BC Women’s Hospital, who will follow me throughout pregnancy and for a year after birth. I have reconnected with my counselor, and I have decided to remain on a safe medication for my pregnancy. I had lunch with a friend yesterday who recommended looking into postpartum doula services and meal preparation/delivery services. We live in Vancouver with no family nearby, so I am working to line up as much help as I can. My hope is that I line up many services and in the end don’t need to utilize them. I am trying to be realistic about how much work another baby is going to be, on top of a preschooler, assuming I feel like myself. If I experience PPD/A again, I will definitely need the help. I am okay recognizing and admitting this. My first experience of PPD/A helped me to see that it isn’t about pride, or some sort of weakness in asking for help. It is about taking care of myself and in doing so, taking care of my family.