QUESTION: I'm very confused about
having another baby. I am 38 years old and have three children. I
am remarried and have one 18-month-old son with my husband. I experienced
postpartum depression after he was born and I'm still taking Wellbutrin.
I recently had a miscarriage. If I were to follow my heart I would
have another baby without question, but I am so afraid of having another
miscarriage or going through postpartum depression again. Should I
just stop and be happy with the healthy children I have?
ANSWER: Motherhood does involve some
sacrifice, which in the first two years of life may seriously curtail
answering your own needs. Postpartum depression is cumulative. Given
that you remain in the midst of great adjustment, it is likely that
you will experience depression brought on hormonally and situationally
by the demands of another child in the family.
The fact of remarriage, midlife and a previous miscarriage
may have played into the depression you experienced. You have traversed
many changes and are still not out of the woods in terms of your subjective
feelings of self-confidence. And adding a sibling before your daughter
is even two and a half would be another significant stress to your
already vulnerable sense of security. No wonder you are questioning
having another baby at this time.
Because your feelings of instability are still so
fresh, because you would be running after a toddler in the height
of her developing autonomy (formerly labeled "terrible two's") stage
of development, while adding a newborn (not to mention physical changes
and psychological adjustment in the family and stepfamily!) and you
are still on the wellbutrin, which is not thoroughly researched for
effects on pregnancy ... What do you think your chances of smooth
adjustment to another pregnancy and child are at this time?
You are right to be afraid of adding significant change
to an already full life. Perhaps your reticence and your previous
depression is nature's way of slowing you down.
Integrate your mind's wisdom with your heart's desire.
Check to see that you are not merely trying to replace your past family
constellation by adding a second child to your new relationship. Grieve
past losses before adding changes to the future. This will allow you
to construct a more solid foundation in the present on which to build
your family, whether or not you later decide to have another child.
Your fast pace may be covering previous loss which
gives way to depression when you push forward too quickly. Slow down,
take time to feel and enjoy your present family relationships. Your
life has taken some sharp turns. Adjust to the road's curves in order
to stay on it!