“What if it happens again?”
That’s one of the biggest question on the minds of many mothers when they find out they’re pregnant after postpartum depression or other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. They remember the struggle and want to know if they’ll be okay.
Having a perinatal mood disorder after one child doesn’t mean a mother will automatically suffer a relapse after subsequent deliveries. In many cases, suffering the first time allows mothers and their support teams to better prepare for future pregnancies so that they don’t suffer again.
I’m happy to welcome Warrior Mom Alyssa to Postpartum Progress today to talk about being pregnant after postpartum OCD and how she’s preparing for life after her second child is born.
We had been trying for six months, so this was no surprise. We had wanted to expand our family not long after our first daughter turned two, and we are on track to do just that. Due on May 24th. Ready for go, number two.
If I want to I can focus purely on the joy and excitement that come with that. Another baby! Teeny newborn squeaks and coos. Nursing again! Snuggling and seeing my little girl become a big sister. There’s a lot of joy to be had.
There is also some worry.
After my daughter was born, I suffered at the hands of various perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I had a traumatic birth that left me reeling, and PTSD became my daily life. I was afraid of everything. I had terrible intrusive thoughts. I was on edge 24-7. This caused postpartum anxiety, of course, which also trickled into some postpartum OCD.
I spent a few months ignoring the reality and being afraid in silence. Finally, with the help of my intuitive husband, I faced my issues and got into therapy. I was able to manage my issues without the use of medication, and after a good year in therapy, things started to go back to normal.
And then? Things went from normal to amazing. I felt better than I had in years. I realized that I have had anxiety issues for some time, and dealing with my birth helped me manage those issues, too. My life fell into a perfect balance of motherhood, teaching, being a wife and a good friend. I have been truly and purely happy.
So. Despite how good things have been, I have to face the truth: In late May, I could end up back at square one.
I have had a few people ask already how I am feeling about labor and delivery. Not in callous ways, but from friends who know and love me.
My husband broaches the topic routinely to keep it fresh, to remind us both that we had been incredibly hopeful and dreadfully let down before. I think that having a continuous dialogue about it is the best way I can think of to prepare because we are keeping our feelings and thoughts and worries out in the open.
I was going to title this post “Pregnant. And Afraid.” But to be honest, I’m not.
I recognize that things could go wrong again. I embrace that as a likelihood. I have accepted it and moved on. There is nothing I can do to control what “could be” aside from preparing for it. We have a plan for a VBAC, and it might not work out. Should that occur, we will at least be armed with knowledge and prior experiences—to know that an epidural will not allow complete pain coverage for me, that I will need something stronger, and maybe this time, because of that, I can stay awake for the surgery.
Still though, I have moments. I have had more intrusive thoughts in the last eight weeks than in the previous four months combined. When they happen, I worry for a while afterwards: What happens if this happens again? What will I do?
If this happens again, I will have the same husband, friends, and family to support me, and I will get through it again. I know I will. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders did not end my life, and they will not stop me from growing our family.
Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your story! If you’d like to read more of Alyssa’s journey, you can find her at Everyday Isha.