Recently, more than a few clients have been raising a similar concern: the dilemma of whether or not to have another baby after they’ve experienced postpartum depression. A similar flurry of concerns compelled me to write a book about it a few years ago, but still, it touches me deeply when I hear women express this particular ambivalence. It’s so real. It’s so raw. It’s such a scary proposition for so many women. The deep and indescribable desire to have a baby meets the prevailing trepidation head on. Memories of the not-so-distant past crisis and fears of what the unknown future will bring can spin clear-thinking women around with such ferocity that the wisdom others may impart makes little sense.
It doesn’t matter how much I reassure them. It doesn’t matter how much their husbands cheer them on. It doesn’t matter how much they want another baby. It’s as if they are stuck in the backdraft of their previous depressive episode, starved of oxygen once more.
So again, we need to listen. And we need to listen carefully. What are they most afraid of? What piece do they continue to carry with them, buried beneath their recovered self? What information do they still need to move forward? What, if anything, are we missing? And of course, can we sufficiently create an environment where they feel safe enough to reveal the extent of their worries in an effort to surround them with the ingredients they need to make the best decision for themselves and their family.
In some cases, we find ourselves reassuring them that it will be okay if they decide to have another baby. Other times, we find ourselves supporting their decision not to have another baby. Either way, the decision is theirs.
It is a difficult, emotionally-laden decision that deserves precise attention and compassion.