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Baby Matters

Preparing for Round Three

March 1st, 2015

By Amanda Matwie

My first pregnancy went beautifully. I conceived within two months of deciding to try. I was healthy and the baby was healthy. I developed an ovarian cyst that never became problematic and resolved itself a few weeks after I gave birth. I gained more weight than I would have liked to, thanks to being pregnant during a cold, icy winter, and staying inside far too much, but I my blood sugar and blood pressure were both perfect throughout the 38 weeks that I carried my baby. I gave birth to Abigail Noelle on March 3, 2012. My first weeks of motherhood were overwhelming and beautiful. I was exhausted but blissfully happy. Until my hormones started playing games with my brain.

I was irritable and moody and just plain grumpy a lot of the time, for no apparent reason. My husband could do no right and I had terrifying thoughts about ending my life or just somehow walking away. It got better and worse. I attributed my emotions to the stress of wedding planning. It took me until after our wedding to realize that what I was feeling was not just stress. I was to the point of feeling nothing but guilt.  I was positive that I had developed postpartum depression. I finally went to my doctor, told her what I was feeling, and asked for help. Fortunately, a low dosage of antidepressants quickly took the edge off of the dark cloud that I’d been dwelling in. After that it was only a matter of months before the symptoms of my postpartum depression eased off. As my PPD went away, I realized I was ready for another baby. I was briefly concerned that my depression would return, but was comfortable with my chances and knew what to do if my dark cloud came back. My second pregnancy went just as well as the first

When my depression came back, I was expecting it, waiting and watching for signs. I went to my doctor immediately and got a prescription for antidepressants again. Again, they helped, though we had to raise the dosage slightly. This time, however, my lows were lower than they had been the first time. I questioned my right to be a mother. I questioned my ability to raise children. I struggled with my desire for more children, believing that if I could not take joy in every single moment then I didn’t deserve to have babies at all. I told my husband that I wasn’t sure we should have more babies, even though we both wanted more. I wondered if nine months of emotional torture after each birth was worth it. I wondered if it was fair to our kids, to my husband. I wondered if I should just give up on the concept of having a houseful of children. As I let my emotions loose and allowed the medication to chase away the dark clouds, I began to enjoy my children more. I felt alive again. My depression wore off right around nine months again.

All of the negativity, all of the pain and guilt and frustration and anger that I wish I could wash out of my head as easily as it settled itself in, is nothing compared the sheer radiance of the love that I feel for my daughters. Every time they smile at me, every time Abigail tells me she loves me or needs me or wants hugs, every time Alexis asks to breastfeed and curls her warm little body next to me, every time my husband and I stare at the girls in wonder and whisper, “We made those,” I am reminded that every second of pain was worth it. I would gladly go through it all over again, as many times as it takes, to complete our little family, because it’s temporary and when it’s over there is so much joy to be had. In a way, for me, PPD is like the pain of childbirth: a temporary experience that leads to a permanent happiness.

I get pregnant easily. I carry pregnancies easily. I birth well. And then my hormones torture my brain for nine or 10 months. It doesn’t seem fair. As we plan for our third child, I’m excited to be pregnant, even excited to give birth. I’m not scared of the pain of birth, or of the aches and pains of recovery. I am, however, terrified of the months that will follow. How withdrawn will I be? How much yelling and cursing will I do? How will I give my kids enough love as my hormones regulate? How will my husband cope with such an angry wife? How will I fight off that damn, dark cloud yet again? I’m hoping that encapsulating my placenta and taking the pills along with antidepressants will keep the anger and guilt at bay. Unfortunately, I won’t know until that day comes. So for now, I wait.

If you’re experiencing PPD, call the Crisis Support Centre at 780-482-HELP (4357). Alberta Health Services also provides postpartum mental health services; call 1-866-408-5465 for more information.

Amanda is a breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, and co-sleeping mother of two rambunctious and affectionate toddlers. While raising her daughters, Amanda has obtained a communications degree and is working to further her education in an effort to begin an editing career one day. Sometimes, she has time to write.

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