**I'm also crossposting this is the Toddler Life forum**
This is all really new to me. I've always tended towards melancholy, always been one to feel lonely and sad from time to time for no apparent reason, etc. Thyroid issues and mental health issues run rampant in my family.
Anyway, 14 months ago I birthed the loveliest little girl to walk this earth but she is extremely spirited and has several food allergies which had her sleepless for at least her first year of life. That first year, and still now, has been the hardest time for me. I love my daughter with everything I have, but it's very draining just keeping up with her various needs, it's tough listening to her scream/whine, it was tough (back when she was little little) to do several total elimination diets, eating nothing while breastfeeding and enduring TRULY sleepless nights. I look back and don't know how I lived to tell about it!
Now, things have simmered down a bit and I've learned a few tricks for handling my spirited toddler.... but I'm left still feeling tired, drained, lonely, guilty, sad, and angry. I also have random aches/pains and random bouts of insomnia, as well as anxiety attacks. So, I went to my doctor to rule out nutritional deficiencies and thyroid issues and what they came up with is that they just think I'm plain old depressed.
I have an appointment tomorrow to discuss my options. And I think I'm going to go with meds. In the past, I've always been able to climb out of melancholic episodes myself with exercise and good food. Now, I'm not so sure I can handle the feelings of despair that overtake me sometimes.
I feel like I don't know where my life went. Everything is centered around my daughter right now and I don't have the money or time to take care of myself. My husband is in medical school, he's very busy and we don't have ANY spare funds. We live 2000 miles from our family.
To top it off, we'd always wanted a "large family" (DH says 5-7, I always said at least 4)... but this whole experience of being isolated from family, caring for a high needs kiddo, and going through depression, has me rethinking if I even want another kid at all. My husband says this makes him sad and that "I'll get through this tough time and then see differently". When he says that I want to scream because I feel like he's discounting what I'm experiencing right now. The combination of him being in training and having our baby be so high needs has put me through emotional/mental HELL. I don't know that I ever want to take the chance of feeling like this again.
I know that I can work through this hopefully and become the mother I want to be to my little girl (i.e. actively engaging her when she's moody/grumpy/screaming/tantruming instead of zoning out and letting her watch Pooh Bear). I want to be a good mother, and maybe that means limiting the amount of children I have. Clearly, motherhood is overwhelming to me.
So, the crux of the issue if you've read this far (thank you if you have!!) is that I'm not sure as a depressed mother, if having more children is right for ME. Or, maybe in a year or two I'll rethink things but I cannot see myself having the 4+ kids we "agreed" on so early in our marriage. Now, I'm thinking 3 kids will be the most I can manage.
What's been your experience, as a mama with mental health issues, choosing to "add on" to your family? Have any of you dealt with high needs kids AND a mental health problem? How did your spouse/partner respond to everything? I really really want to get my husband to understand my point of view- that just thinking about having another child makes me ill. (I know that sounds terrible, but it's the truth. My husband, I think, is just waiting for me to "get better" so we can discuss our original plans and I want him to understand that maybe this will always be a struggle for me and maybe we need to rethink our future.)
Anyway, thanks for reading.
Hugs Mama. I am also a mother with mental health issues and understand the struggle of parenting with them.
Like you, after my first child I questioned whether it was a good idea to have more children.Dd1 was so intense and spirited, that I found myself almost completely enveloped by her needs. To be quite honest, I thought it would be good for her--and me--to have a sibling with whom to share some of the spotlight. She would have to learn to share and wait and not have things her way all the time. The other sibling would be someone she could play and interact with to take some of the pressure off me needing to constantly be the play companion. And to be honest, I also thought a second child HAD TO be easier (LOL) because the first was so tough.
I don't think you have to decide right now. As your child gets older you may find things get easier. For me it did. Your experience will be your own. Enjoy your baby as much as you can. Take care of yourself. I applaud your willingness to look at a variety of self-care options, incl. medication. I also used exercise and supplements before having children to deal with mood issues. Finally, after having kids, that was just not enough anymore.
This is a difficult decision and not one that you have to make right away. Give yourself some time.
Just some thoughts.
I didn't even know dd had food allergies which she probably did. She had pretty bad allergy to one food which was never in her diet. But yes I had mental health issues and she was a demanding toddler that literally woke me up the 1st year every 40 mins. to an hr all night every night. She slept with me in a separate room until we both moved to a mattress on the floor and once we began co-sleeping it changed gradually. I wanted one more for various reasons and one of them being she'd have company and get less demanding but because of my age and dh finding me not coping well we kept changing our decision until my unsaid deadline (I had set in my mind and never discussed with dh.) I don't have more than one but I'd advice you to have at least one more. It would be physically less demanding than 3 or 4 and it might give you the opportunity to take care of your mental health needs when they are slightly older (and things do change but yes, it takes a lot of patience) plus there should be the advantage of them keeping each other busy or they might both end up keeping you busier. :) Either way your needs could be met 1/2 way without driving you totally up the wall.
I didn't do it myself but if I could turn back time I'd definitely read/watch material on positive thinking.
Cheerfulness enables us to remember no problem lasts forever ~ Unknown
You do not need to make a decision right now. I think you need to take the time to get healthier before you can even think about this issue. Do you think some marriage counseling might help with working things out with dh? Maybe a counselor would be able to get through to your dh. It does sound like he just doesn't get it, and that's incredibly hard when you are depressed, tired and feeling isolated. Also, I would ask your doctor if she/he knows of any groups for moms dealing with mental health issues. You seem like some outside support would really help, especially since your dh doesn't seem to understand what you are going through. Hang in there, WWW!
I didn't do it myself but if I could turn back time I'd definitely read/watch material on positive thinking.
Do you think some marriage counseling might help with working things out with dh? Maybe a counselor would be able to get through to your dh. It does sound like he just doesn't get it, and that's incredibly hard when you are depressed, tired and feeling isolated. Also, I would ask your doctor if she/he knows of any groups for moms dealing with mental health issues. You seem like some outside support would really help, especially since your dh doesn't seem to understand what you are going through.
Thank you all! It really means a lot to feel supported, even virtually. As an update- I was just given the official depression diagnosis from my GP, and she suggested (and wrote a scrip for) Zoloft. It has a low rate of transfer to breast milk. I namby pambied about the idea of being on medication, then decided to take it and muscle through the first few weeks of side effects. But, the side effects were more intense than I'd anticipated... and I realized, I don't really like the idea of being on them anyhow. So, I took that low low dose of Zoloft (25 mg) for a total of five days and then decided to quit in favor of other things.
Neera, I'm on top of that. I found an online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program called MoodGYM. I'm really excited to identify and hash out my negative thought patterns. So, between the CBT, increased daylight hours, improving my diet, and adding back mega doses of cod liver oil, I'm hopeful to kick this depression. Another factor to the whole not wanting to take meds is that I suddenly realized I could get pregnant- and Zoloft isn't approved during early pregnancy- and how would that work? I just don't want to chance it.
Queen, my DH doesn't have time for counseling. He's just a really really busy guy! He honestly tries very hard to understand me, but more importantly even when he doesn't understand me, he is supportive of me. When the doc recommended meds, he supported that. When I decided not to take them, he supported that. He supports me going to therapy and trying out this online CBT. He's really supportive. But it's hard for him, because parenting has been harder than we both thought. And it's heartbreaking to come to terms with "failing" your dream life- we wanted 6+ kids! And now we're getting our booty handed to us by ONE kid! It's humbling. And a little sad. And I think he has his own process to go through, because he still wants a big family but realizes it MIGHT not be feasible for us.
Time will tell.
I'm already sort of feeling like we can do this. We can get through tough times as a family... and add to our family, even. And I'll be okay.
Anyway, thanks again from the bottom of my heart.
It sounds like you've made some great decisions for yourself. I'm glad to hear that your dh is being so supportive. He sounds like a great guy.
I completely get where you are coming from about having a tough baby. My first son had numerous food allergies and sensory issues. I honestly don't think he slept more than 2 hours at a time for the first year of his life, not to mention breastfeeding every two hours for that year as well. He would only go to sleep if he was curled up tightly against me, usually with a nipple in his mouth. It can be so exhausting and overwhelming. He's 15 years old now and a great sleeper. We know his food allergies and he can deal with his sensory issues, but at the time, I thought I was never ever going to sleep again. His brothers were easy by comparison! So basically, it will get better. There will always be trying times, but it sounds like you've got the strength to help yourself and to ask for help when you need too. That is a huge step that many people can't seem to get past. You will make it through this and whatever the future holds. Good vibes coming your way.
I'll start out by saying I have seven children ranging in age from 12 to 5months. Plus two stepdaughters that I raised, so my husband and I have nine total :) I've had high needs babies and easy going babies. My fourth baby was an extreme co-sleeper. My fifth took it a step beyond and was affectionately dubbed the "cage" co-sleeper...you know, like cage wrestling? He is absolutely crazy now as a four year old. I'm constantly investing energy into redirection with him. My sixth actually put herself to sleep in her crib and slept through the night right away. I was in SHOCK after years and years of constant night nursing and co-sleeping. This last baby has been very hard on me though. Allergies, crying, winter birth, crying, depression, and did I mention crying? For both of us! For the first four months of her life I was DEAD SET against having any more. After all, SEVEN kids should be enough, right? But now things have settled down. I know she is going to be a handful as a toddler too...I can just tell. But I want to reassure you that not all your babies will be born with the same personalities. If you feel in your heart that you were meant to have a larger family, go for it. You will probably think at some point that it was a bad idea...I have said that about my own large family choice. But I promise, there are other times...and they far outnumber the bad times....where you wouldn't trade your crazy large family for anything!