Sunday, July 01, 2007

Baby Lovin'

My sister and her beautiful brood of children just left my house. What a great weekend. Chaotic, but wonderful.

That being said, I've had a lot to think about since Friday afternoon. Having a tiny, two-week old baby to cuddle and sing to was such a touching experience. My daughter, who is now just over two years old, no longer wishes to linger in my arms for an hour. She's happy to cuddle before bedtime with a story, but that's about it. I miss the days of rocking her, stroking her soft hair, singing lullabies...those early things moms cherish the first few weeks after a baby comes home.

My husband piped up late Friday night with, "If you want to have another one, we should do it now."

I froze. Not completely in amazement. More in panic.

Another one? Another baby, 24/7?

I've thought about it a lot. A LOT. Especially in the past six months or so. It's so tempting. I yearn to have another experience as a mommy, feel those old, good feelings, feel needed like no one else can make me feel needed. A baby. A baby. A little brother or sister for my precious, sweet little girl. I want to, so badly.

But after this weekend, I'm pretty sure that I won't. It has nothing to do with anxiety about whether or not I could manage. I'm sure I would be able to.

I worry about whether another child would have the same health problems as my first. I worry about the heart condition I have and whether or not it could really get me safely through another labor and delivery with no later complications. I worry about the period of dark depression that caught me in its claws right after giving birth.

It's that last one that scares me the most. I have only told a very few, select people about my battle with postpartum depression. Working in mental health, I knew what my symptoms were immediately when they occurred. I hated how I felt. And I felt betrayed by my own body and personal chemistry. It was so unfair that I was feeling so sad during what should have been the happiest time of my life. Even so, I was dishonest at my six week checkup when I filled out the postpartum depression survey. I was too embarrassed to admit that I spent hours each day crying, feeling worthless and hopeless, feeling like there was something wrong with me...feeling like there was something wrong with my baby. I remember dragging myself through the days, wanting to love and bond with my daughter, but still feeling like something was missing. Add to that a host of problems after I went back to work, and I was an emotional wreck. I said nothing to my doctor for months. And even when I finally did, I refused to take medication for it. She reassured me, reminded me that it was more important for me to feel good again, than it was for me to feel bad about needing medication. I still refused.

The depression lingered. And it only got worse as my marriage slowly disintegrated. And it got worse again when my husband and I started putting our marriage back together. When things were supposed to be feeling good again, I was lower than I'd ever been. I wasn't doing so good in the coping department.

I finally decided to try the medication. I noticed a difference after a week. After a month, I was feeling better. After four months, I started feeling a lot more like my old self. All in all, I spent seven months on an antidepressant. I still can't believe that I'm actually admitting that out loud--er, well, in writing--for a whole bunch of people to find out. Well, maybe not a "whole bunch." I don't have a huge readership here. (But, FYI, I'd love it if it got bigger!)

So, that's my biggest factor in whether or not to have another baby. I mean, if I'm meant to have another baby, I probably will somewhere down the road. If it's not in God's plans for me, well, that's okay too. I think about my heart and whether I would make it through another pregnancy. Truth is, I think I would, and honestly, if it's my time to go, God's gonna take me whether I'm in labor, five days after I have a baby, or when I go to the store for milk later this afternoon.

Becoming a mommy is the greatest thing I've done in my life so far. But, that being said, nowhere in my Cosmic Life Owner's Manual does it say that I have to be a mommy multiple times. I think women who have many children are awesome (kudos to you, Sister #1), and I think that women who have no children are just as awesome.

I suppose there will always be a part of me that will ache to have a tiny infant in my arms. I just feel, deep down in my soul, it doesn't have to be my tiny infant. So, to my gorgeous 16-day old, soon-to-be-godson, YOU will be the tiny infant I will be holding for now. Prepare to be spoiled rotten!

I feel so very fortunate to be able to say that even though I sometimes think my life is too crazy and chaotic, I love every minute of it. I really do.


Catherine said...

Please don't die when you go to get milk this afternoon.

And don't forget that there's a huge chance there will be plenty more tiny infants in the years to come: #4 and I are still young! ;-)

Cheryl said...

I love that you shared your story. Thank goodness you finally got the help that got you through your depression. I found your story to be very inspiring.

One was it for me. I started late, but I don't know if I would have done it differently. I miss the baby my daughter once was.