The Real Reason I’m Not Having Any More Kids
It's difficult to explain why my last pregnancy almost killed me. I had no medical complications. Let's be real: mental complications are every bit as scary, even if no one wants to talk about it. So, let's talk about mental health and how it intersects with pregnancy and motherhood...
When Are You Going to Have Another Baby?
Our extended family has stopped asking if we plan to give Sarah a little brother or sister. They haven’t asked in a long time. It was always pretty easy to tell them no anyway. My husband no longer talks about it. But in his heart, I’m sure he wants another son or daughter.
It’s a lot harder to tell Sarah no, when she asks. It’s not often, but she does ask. She’s six years old, and I know she’d love a younger sibling. It hurts to tell her no, to try to explain why Mommy can't have another baby. She doesn’t understand.
Most days it feels like no one understands, except me. You see, I’d love to give Sarah a sibling. I’m approaching 42, and if it were going to happen, it probably would have by now.
But I can’t have another baby, raise another daughter or son because I’m afraid it might kill me. Literally.
My Story (A bit)
It felt like I’d already lived one lifetime, by the time my husband and I were married. And in a way, I had. My oldest daughter is now 23, married with two sweet little ones. I raised Leandra by myself, before my husband entered the picture.
Hell, most days it felt like we were raising each other. In a way, we were. I was only 17 when I had her. I was a mommy-in-training, and I have so many regrets about those years. (She knows this, and in her lovely way, she says she wouldn't change a thing.)
My youngest, Sarah, was maybe a month old, when Leandra was moving out of the house. It was strange to hold my new daughter, while watching the other one load her things into a moving truck. In a way, I was cushioned from the blow of the dreaded empty nest, broken mommy syndrome. Still, I was crushed. Leandra and I were best friends.
Crash and Burn
It was inevitable. The bottom falling out. Of course, it was. I’d had bouts of deep depression frequently, since I was only 12 years old. I’m not entirely sure I’d even call it postpartum depression. It was my normal, only amplified.
All I know is I sank to the bottom of myself. I often thought about ending my life, leaving my pain and my sweet family behind. But I stayed. I struggled and stayed. I never asked for help. I never told anyone how bad it was until now. I’m not sure how I survived.
Where did it go so wrong? During my pregnancy, I switched my antidepressant medication to something less risky during pregnancy. After giving birth, I switched again to something less risking during breastfeeding. Although I never imagined it this way, Sarah was not weaned until she was two and a half years old.
Let’s not forget every mom’s body-wrecking favorite—a lack of sleep. Oh, I also threw a job change in too for good measure.
Looking back, the breakdown makes perfect sense, and I feel compassionate toward myself, instead of critical. Existing clinical depression plus medication changes plus lack of sleep plus stress equaled me almost losing my damn mind. It was not a fun ride, and I don't recommend it.
things got better
I made it out. Once Sarah was weaned, I started on a medication that works well for me. I get eight hours of sleep most nights, and I’m managing my depression fairly well. I can’t exactly say all is good because it might not be. My mind is tricky like that. Life is far from perfect, but it is manageable.
I’ve felt those familiar pangs, when holding one of my precious grandbabies. I've felt a twinge of guilt when Sarah asks for a little brother, or preferably sister, who lives with us. I want to give her that gift, but I can’t.
I’m tired. My mind and body are done with pregnancy, childbirth, and those difficult first months and years. That season of my life is over. The best thing I can do is listen to my body and mind and embrace the rest of Sarah’s childhood.
She’ll be raised as an only child (essentially), with an older sissy who loves her very much, and a niece and nephew, who will be more like cousins to Sarah. It’s the best I can do and still stay sane and alive. I’ve come to terms with it. Maybe someday others will too.
What dream or desire have you let go for your own good, even though it hurt? Tell me in the comments.