Article by Andrea Paterson
People generally try to comfort you by saying that your second pregnancy will be different, that your second baby will be different. My second pregnancy has certainly been different–it’s been worse. After suffering severe postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my son four years ago I went into my second pregnancy with a lot of trepidation. Everyone said “this time will be different” and I thought they meant “this time will be better.” So far, not really. Hyperemesis, painful acid reflux, the return of anxiety and some intrusive thinking…I can’t classify this as better and I want to tell you that it’s okay. I’m 18 weeks pregnant and I’ve had four hospital visits so far this pregnancy, I’m terrified about what’s coming postpartum, and I don’t know how I’ll handle my four year old and a baby, but I have about a thousand tools in my coping tool kit that I didn’t have before.
So far this has been a horrible pregnancy but the support I’m receiving is so much greater. I’ve called in the troops from grandparents to social workers to midwives to psychiatrists to friends. There is a team standing behind me that was completely absent my first time around and while the circumstances of my pregnancy have not been great, the support has kept me afloat.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that the decision to have another baby after PPD/A is a huge one, and a very personal one. It’s important to be realistic about the fact that the second time around might not actually be better. There is just no guarantee of smooth sailing, but you can go in knowing the risks and with resources in place to deal with challenges. While the hurdles may be great it’s probable that you have developed the fortitude to get over them, perhaps not gracefully, but without significant injury.
And I think it’s okay to say that things are just not fun, that some days you wonder why you’ve put yourself through this again. It’s okay to have mixed feelings about your second pregnancy. In my first pregnancy I was awash in a sense of idealism, hope, and love. This time I’m awash in worry, dread, hope, and love. The idealism definitely died. I know what’s coming in the early days of infancy and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not looking forward to all of it. I want to give myself permission to be ambivalent. Knowing that my days won’t be full of blissful baby snuggles and a sense of peace gives me the impetus I need to put together my survival kit. Hopefully I won’t need all of it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
This time I know that help, in a million forms, is out there and I’m not afraid to go out and get it. While I’ve lost my idealism I’ve also lost my shame. While I’m sick and exhausted already I’m also have the gift of awareness: this will pass. One day soon enough I won’t be pregnant, and my body will heal, and I will feel like myself again. My baby will only be a baby for a short time and then things will get better. I’ll have another independent four year old on my hands before I know it and I can let infancy go into a haze of forgetting. There is a light in the darkness that wasn’t there the first time around because I’ve already lived it once and I know that there’s an end.
Right now I can live in gratitude that my first trimester is over, that I’m no longer taking medication for hyperemesis every three hours, and that my baby is healthy so far despite the huge doses of drugs. It hasn’t been fun but I got through it. I’ll find a way through whatever is ahead too.
Remember that Pacific Post Partum Support Society Supports pregnant moms too! PPPSS is a great first stop in your journey towards healing. You can always call in to the support line on rough days and support groups are open to you as you approach the end of your pregnancy. The earlier you reach out for help the better off you’ll be!