Pregnancy

Baby Blues: PPD Is Tricking Me Into Wanting Another Baby

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baby feetBaby Blues is a column about raising my daughter in the windstorm of postpartum depression. Though discussing the dark spots of postpartum depression, I also share my successes.

Months ago, when we were going through a very rough patch in our relationship, my husband and I made a pact to not have any more children. Although our marriage has drastically improved, nothing major has changed in our situation to make having another child a viable option — we still have barely enough income, physical space and emotional energy to adequately care for the child we have.

So why, a few weeks ago, was I begging my daughter to give me some sign she wants a sibling? I blame it on my PPD.

I was carrying her through the grocery store when I saw a gorgeous pregnant lady. Just minutes earlier at daycare, I’d seen another pregnant woman with a toddler my daughter’s age. So as I toted my daughter down the coffee aisle, I whispered, “sweetie, do you want a little brother or sister?”

Her daddy, who is still staunchly opposed to having more children, must have been conditioning her for this moment. She stared blankly away from me, refusing to give me even a smidgen of a sign, even after I asked her again and again. A nod or a smile would have been enough to make me reconsider everything. I suppose this speaks volumes about my resolve.

But during my bleakest depressive episodes, what I’m really longing for is joy, and seeing my newborn baby for the first time was the most intense joy I’ve ever felt, like taking a hit of the world’s most powerful drug. If The Business Of Being Born was right, I suppose it is literally a drug: oxytocin is the “love hormone” that floods the body after giving birth and takes away all the pain and fatigue. And for a depressed person, nothing is more tempting than a shot at pure joy. Well, that and the idea of a really awesome drug.

However, I seem to grow more logical with each passing year, and my logic keeps me from begging my husband for another baby. Not to say that anyone who has more than one child is illogical, but I wonder if some people continue having kids because they’re simply chasing that high of bringing new life into the world. For other parents, I think it’s about perspective, that maybe they can remedy some of their first-time mistakes with a new kid. There’s also the fact that first-time parents are often giddy about milestones, pushing their newborns to roll over and their babies to crawl and their toddlers to talk, and suddenly they realize they didn’t relish each moment enough. A new baby is a golden opportunity to savor babyhood.

I am guilty of feeling all of those things. I’m also compelled to give my daughter a sibling because my little sister was (and is) a real companion to me, someone who can process every story I tell her within the context of my whole life.

But yes, a huge part of wanting another child comes from wondering where the time went with my first. I wonder why I didn’t use the Baby Bjorn more, take more videos, create more handmade baby clothes or keep a journal. Would I be less depressed now if I had savored my daughter’s babyhood more? Would having another child be enough to snap me out of my blues?

Then I stop and remind myself: having another baby won’t bring back my daughter’s babyhood. And that ecstatic “hit,” that burst of joy at having a newborn, it doesn’t last. The love does, but the insane drunken feeling doesn’t.

There’s also the worst case scenario — that having another baby would deepen my depression, that the added responsibility would be too much for me. I think I’d rather continue coping with life as it is than risk my health. It makes more sense to be the best mother I can be to the only child I have than lusting after the possibilities of having another.

So for now, even though the depressed addict part of me is rooting for that high of having a new baby, I’m putting my foot down. I may be depressed, but big life decisions shouldn’t be ruled by my depression.

(photo: djedzura / Shutterstock)