We have been getting asked the question a lot lately of whether we are planning to have a second child. And despite all of the innate problems with that question in general, I generally don’t have the heart to say to people I don’t know if I can do it again.
As I speak to other moms about having children, be it their first, second or seventh, what often comes up is their fear of PPD. For some, they may be having their first, but their predisposition to depression makes it a concern they have to consider. It is probably the biggest factor for me when deciding if we plan to try for a sibling for Ben. I know how I felt, and even though I know that I would have a plan of action in place, that dark and scary place is not necessarily some place I am willing to visit again.
And then, because we are mom’s or want to be mom’s the worry spreads to what we may pass onto our children.
I was incredibly lucky, because minus the usual pregnancy woes, my overall pregnancy and delivery was pretty standard. Ben was born and has been incredibly healthy. I am not religious, but I do acknowledge every day how lucky we are that this has been his health story so far.
But sometimes, as I gaze at my incredibly smiley, sweet, funny boy, I think to myself, did I give him any of what I have? Not my smile or my eyes. Not my pension for smartassery or weird ability to remember mundane facts. But rather, will he grow up with a leaning towards depression or anxiety? What about alcoholism or addiction. All of which run in my family. These are not things I am ashamed of, since they make up only a small portion of my family story, but they are some of the toughest to work through.
The question of our own mental health, and how we handle our children’s future mental health has not always been a topic of regular discussion. It seems that it is only now we feel somewhat ok talking about it publicly. I can’t help but occasionally grimace at the thought of what I am putting out there on a public forum. I have to power through the words Post Partum Depression, in order to say it so it does not betray the lack of confidence I feel in saying it out loud.
So I stand at a crossroads, as I did a couple of years ago. A few years ago I decided that I had found a man that would stand by his family no matter what traits I passed along to our future child (smartassery included). He would love our family if our child had blue eyes or brown eyes, was short or tall, had anxiety or depression or smiled and played all day or a combination of both.
And to the women who worry about what they may pass on to their children, remember all that you are. You are not defined by your depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues that you work through. You are so much more. You are funny and smart. You are beautiful and strong. All of that will also be part of your child’s future. Make that your mantra, as I work to make that mine. You owe your family and yourself that.