I have often heard "Every pregnancy is different," and "Every child is different." I was expecting to have a different pregnancy experience with my second child - after all, I had a toddler to look after while growing another human. Of course it would be different. And I could never imagine having two children with identical personalities - of course my son would be his own person, so very different from his sister! But what I had never heard - and could not expect - was that every postpartum experience is so very different, too.
Laura was not quite four months old in May 2010 when I admitted to myself that I was struggling with postpartum depression. I had been suspicious for a while that perhaps maybe I was having trouble adjusting. It was so easy to brush off my feelings and say "oh it was just one bad night," or "I will feel better when I go back to work." But I had more bad nights than good. I didn't feel better at work. I was angry all the time. I hated everyone.
During my pregnancy with Gavin , I worried some that I would suffer from PPD again. I prepared myself for the worst, ready to call my doctor at the smallest sign that I was suffering. I haven't had to make that call. Gavin is now four and a half months old - the same age as Laura when I started counseling - and I couldn't be feeling more differently. . Sure, I still have the occasional bad night. But the good nights far outweigh the bad. I don't catch myself muttering "I HATE YOU" under my breath while walking past my husband or certain coworkers. I don't see red through seething anger when something tiny goes awry. I am far more patient in general - but specifically with Laura and Gavin - than I have ever been.
I recently found out that for whatever reason, Gavin had not been added to our health insurance policy. If this had happened after Laura's birth, I would have flown into a seething rage, yelling and screaming and crying and freaking out over the $1,100 pediatric bill. I would have shouted into the phone, nearly broken the receiver while slamming it onto the cradle to hang up in rage. Instead, I choked out a small sob, took a breath, and then calmly asked the insurance representative if the problem could be fixed and did I have to call my HR rep, or would she? I was panicked and upset, but still able to function as a normal human being. The insurance rep could not have been kinder or easier to work with - she took care of everything and called me the next day to confirm that Gavin had been added to the policy. I took care of the problem without anger, hate, or tantrums.
I share this story to show just how different I am this time. I suffered from PPD and came out on the other side a better mother. I feel a stabbing guilt sometimes, for the months of happiness I lost following Laura's birth. I spent a lifetime trying to place blame someone or something for my PPD. But I'm over that. There is nothing to blame, really. I still have some bad days - but doesn't everyone? My bad days don't define me. I am a mother of two, and I am a PPD survivor.
Pouring my heart out