It took me until my third child to realize that I’m not a baby person. Some people love the baby snuggles and that phase of life, but I do not.
I felt a deep connection to my children when they were born. They all held the same pattern, though- they were sweet little babes that slept and loved being held until they were about three-to-four-months old. After that, the dreaded 4-month sleep regression snuck in and I felt like I didn’t sleep again until any of them were well over 15-months-old.
On top of horrid sleep deprivation, I also experienced extreme postpartum depression and anxiety. With my third, some might have classified it as postpartum mania. I was constantly worried about the baby waking up or having to tend to another one of her needs. Even laying my head down at night was anxiety-inducing- will she wake up? How much sleep will I get tonight?
I love babies themselves. Even now, with my youngest being three-and-a-half years-old, I see babies wrapped up against their mamas, and the baby fever hits me. I would love to have another child for our family. My three girls would love to have a baby in the house, and I have never really felt like our family was complete with just three children. I would love to have those moments where all you do is hold your new little being while they sleep.
But babies don’t always sleep. In fact, the lack of sleep makes me question whether having another child is good for our family. As much as I would love to add to our family dynamic, I think back to those days of postpartum depression and realize that I might not actually survive another baby phase.
In fact, research shows that mothers who have experienced postpartum depression are 50% more likely to experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety with subsequent pregnancies. There are several other risk factors that increase the likelihood of a recurrent episode including lack of support, antenatal mental health disorders, and socioeconomic status. With this in mind, I know that recurrent postpartum depression is something that would likely happen to me again if I were to have another child.
Motherhood at every stage comes with its own set of challenges. Some moms love the babyhood but can’t stand the toddler stages. Some love all the little stages, but struggle the most when they are pre-teens. And some super moms just love every single second of every stage. There are things to enjoy at every stage of motherhood, but there are also challenges that are unique to every mother. We all handle things differently, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Related: New Recommendations For Doctors To Combat Postpartum Depression Even Before Childbirth
So, as much as I would love to grow our family, I don’t want another baby. I can’t. It would send our current family dynamic into a tailspin of depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and heartache all over again, and that is something I can’t do to my three girls, my husband, or myself.
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