I’m now 24 weeks pregnant and as the anxiety about the pregnancy itself begins to ease I allow myself to imagine life as a mum of two. Unrealistic expectations were a big trigger for my experience of PND & Anxiety when I had my first child and I’m only too aware of managing those expectations this time around to try to avoid a second painful experience. However, at the same time I’m truly excited and want to be as positive as possible! If I’ve learnt one thing in the last five years it’s that positive thinking goes a long way.
So this leaves me in a bit of a pickle and today’s post is mainly just an excuse to braindump my feelings and hopefully make some eventual sense of them.
Before Caterpillar arrived I imagined a truly blissful new mum experience. We’d spent a very long time planning to have children and, not being much of a career girl, I assumed motherhood would be the making of me, the pinnacle of my life, the best decision I ever made. Any vaguely anticipated difficulties would surely be obliterated by the love and joy I got from caring for this tiny human, wouldn’t they?
Sadly, and I suppose inevitably given that high pedestal, my actual experience was less than perfect. The birth was hard. The sleeplessness was hard. The sheer relentless of parenting was hard. At least it was for me. And I wasn’t ready for difficult. I wasn’t prepared for doubt and fear and overwhelm. My mind rebelled and panicked, and Postnatal Anxiety was the result.
This time I’m more realistic, or at least the rational part of my brain is. I’m ready for the stress of sleeplessness. I’m able to accept that I may not fall in love with her the minute I lay eyes on her. And, although I pray every day for the opposite, I’m prepared for the possibility of being unwell again.
But that’s my head. My heart still longs for the fairytale. I’ve discovered that hopeful part of me from six years ago is apparently still alive and kicking and wishing to be heard. I long to feel relaxed and blissful after birth. I long to be free of fear and able to enjoy each and every one of her early smiles and giggles with unbridled happiness. I’m optimistic that I have too many tools and too much knowledge to be assaulted a second time by the crippling anxiety that steals and masks our other emotions.
Is this optimism and positivity a good thing? Or am I headed straight for the fall I took before? Should I lean blindly towards the potential happiness or tread cautiously and, perhaps, realistically?
Honestly, I have no answers. I have no clue how to feel or what to hope for. I’m confused and sometimes overwhelmed by what’s to come. So instead I’ll reach for my age-old soother – being present. Taking each day as it comes. Attempting to release all expectations – both optimistic and pessimistic. This isn’t easy, it never was, but I’m trying. Every day.
Have you had another baby after a perinatal mental health problem? What was your experience? I’d love to hear from you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can follow my whole #PregnantAfterPND journey here or by following my Insta Stories.