Think Before You Ask This...

People seem to love asking me when in the world I am having more children. At first, it just made me cry when I would get the question. And then I tried to come to grips with it and settle on "I don't know" as the answer. While I still don't know, [read that post by CLICKING HERE] I have come to a more definitive reason as to why I don't know. I'm writing this because the reason I don't know if I want more children actually makes sense, and applies to many mothers.

The thing is, by asking, assuming, or (worst of all) judging moms about the number of chicks in their pen, you may be opening up an emotional can of worms for her. I think you should know about it because if you did, maybe you wouldn't ask it as much...or at all.

After my daughter was born, I was relieved. I was relieved that the pregnancy was over. Relieved that she was here, healthy and safe. Relieved that I was able to have a vaginal (natural) birth. But what happened after that relief ended, and the true experience of motherhood began, was difficult. In fact, it was almost entirely in hindsight that I truly understood what the definition of that difficulty was.

The long and the short of it is that I had a pretty significant bout with postpartum anxiety. Not depression. Not hopelessness. But anxiety, which included a loss of appetite, dizziness, panic attacks, nausea, and intense fear (which included a fear that I would die or that someone would drop my baby.) The people around me who are close to me knew that I was having trouble. I tried to be open. It was hard to ask for help, but I did it.

The good news is that I did ask for help. Things did get better, and I am now fully enjoying motherhood. The bad news is that it was scary, and it puts me off having more children for several reasons, the first and foremost being my concern about my ability to care for my current child should I have another postpartum issue. Sure, it was all well and good when she was a tiny baby; she didn't know the difference. But what about when she's bigger, more perceptive and verbal?

When well-meaning people ask me whether or not I want another child, and I say that I don't know, I wish that they could just respect that. I would love it if they would refrain from judging me, or telling me how much better it is for her to have brothers and sisters. I've heard it all. From the "but you make such cute babies" to "only children are lonely children." It's unfair to put that on me, or try to guilt me into having more kids. If I don't have more children, my daughter will be fine. She will not be alone in the world, and certainly that is not how I want to think it will be for her.

There are days or nights when I cry about the fact that I may not be able to mount the mental hurdle of having more children because I am afraid of another postpartum episode. My mental health is no small thing. My ability to care for myself and my family depends on it. Sometimes, as an adult, you have to make tough decisions for yourself based on what is best. I haven't come a decision yet, but while I am, it's a process.

Having the question of children constantly thrust upon me, especially on days when I am feeling particularly vulnerable, is difficult and, at times, insensitive. So next time you ask a mom if she's planning on having more children, and she gives you any answer other than "yes," maybe back off. Don't talk her into more. Don't judge her. Don't try to guilt her. Because maybe she can't have more. Maybe she had a postpartum issue and struggles with whether or not she can.

You just don't know what a person is going through.

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