I'm participating in an online writing group hosted by Ann Dee Ellis. She gives a prompt and encourages 8 minutes of uninterrupted writing. Here's the most recent exercise:
I honestly didn't know if I would give Aspen a sibling. Post-partum was so debilitating and overwhelming for me emotionally. I suffered from anxiety without knowing what to call it. My depression deepened and I chose going to bed over eating, showering, answering the door, or pretty much anything else. It was years before I felt like I could actually parent with joy.
And then we moved to West Jordan for Kevin's work and I was so isolated and miserable. I spent those nine months solo-parenting and felt exhausted and stretched too thin. We had to drive at least 30 minutes each way for any play dates, and it was hard for me after being so used to our lifestyle in Ogden. I couldn't imagine having another baby when I had a husband who was so overworked. I don't know how he maintained the schedule he had, and I'm glad that chapter is over.
When we moved to South Salt Lake, I began to seriously consider having another baby. But I was still terrified. Aspen was three and I felt like the age gap would be manageable. She'd be more independent and possibly going to pre-school by the time a sibling was born. Our new community was welcoming and approachable. I felt like I'd have a village to help me.
But still, I wondered if I could really do it. I mean, obviously it was possible, but would it negatively affect my relationships with Aspen and Kevin? Would I finally have a complete breakdown and need to be hospitalized? I honestly thought it could happen if my depression and despair were any worse than the first time around.
And although I was SO EXCITED when Kevin and I decided to have another baby, and I was SO EXCITED when I found out I was pregnant, it honestly felt like a huge mistake after Lincoln came home with us. A few weeks in, I felt rested and confident in the adjustment to having two children. But then all hell broke lose. Linc was inconsolable unless I was holding him. Kevin started regularly working night shifts for a week at a time, leaving me with a screaming infant day and night, and a toddler who was sorely neglected. I couldn't do it.
I told myself all the hardship would be worth it in a couple of years when Linc was a real person who could interact with Aspen. I tried to hold on to that hope. But it wasn't enough. My meds weren't enough. The lack of sleep, and the mental fatigue from feeling like a huge failure nearly broke me. I thought it would be better if I died because I was so bad at figuring out how to help Linc stop crying and sleep for more than 40 minutes at a time.
Thankfully, now that Lincoln actually sleeps and lets other people care for him, I can see that it was the right choice to give Aspen a sibling. But, during the 18 months I didn't sleep, I wanted to give up. I wanted to stop existing.
Occasionally I get pangs of longing, and mention to Kevin that I wish we could have another baby. But it's not worth it for me. The quality of our lives suffers so much when I turn into a crazy person. I don't want to jeopardize my own health again.
Spending time with Julia and her newborn helped me process some of the feelings I have about a new baby. I know for sure I don't need to bring another one into my family, but I can help those who do. I can try to seek out opportunities to help other families adjust to a new sibling and get a baby fix for myself. And then I can go home and sleep for 9 hours straight and listen to the sounds of my two kids getting breakfast for themselves the next morning. I am fulfilled with the two children Kevin and I chose to have. I love that my relationship with him withstood the trials of the last two years, and that we're now able to focus more on ourselves. Our kids will have better lives if they see their parents loving one another.
Giving Aspen a sibling was so worth it, and I'm so grateful and relieved.
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