Dear Third Baby,
When the news of your coming arrival came, your daddy and I were taken by surprise. You were unexpected but completely loved from the beginning. Your biggest brother had prayed for you for months. And when he heard the news, he squealed, “I get a baby of my very own!” and said to me, “I wonder why God decided to make me happy.” God decided that despite my history of postpartum depression and the possible objections from our families and relatives, you were just what our family needed. The (most likely) last little one to complete our family.
But this time, baby, I’ve decided things are going to be different.
I am not going to pay attention to those that aren’t supportive of my pregnancy. I don’t need anyone to tell me that adding a third baby will be hard or anyone suggesting that I should choose not to have you. I am an intelligent woman and am not oblivious to the fact that it will not be easy. I am well aware of what I’m getting into, and that is why, this time, I am doing everything I can to prepare for you. I have decided that my mental health is of the utmost importance and am very protective of it. I have said goodbye to some toxic people in my life, and that’s okay. I am surrounding myself with encouraging, loving individuals who speak life to me, treat me with respect, and are willing to walk beside me without judgment and criticism.
Most mothers (or at least first-time mothers) write out a birth plan for how they prefer their labor and delivery experience to go, but for moms like me who have experienced postpartum depression, I believe a Postpartum Plan may be even more important. There are so many aspects of childbirth and postpartum that we cannot control, but having a plan in place for after your birth to ease the transition may help me avoid a third round of postpartum depression this time.
I will take my medicine while you’re still in my tummy to help me be ready when you come.
When your second brother arrived, I planned on starting my medication immediately after he was born. Unfortunately, I did not have the prescription in hand, and the intense sense of guilt, failure, and crippling anxiety set in while still in the hospital. I did not start taking my medication soon enough to ward off the second debilitating episode of postpartum depression, which, this time, ended up with an in-patient hospital stay and partial hospitalization program. The night I spent in-patient was traumatizing. I do not want to go through that again. I want to do everything in my power to prevent the heart-wrenching pain I felt when he was taken from my arms.
Last time, my mother-in-law was off work so she was able to help during this time so I could get much-needed treatment to get well and take care of your brothers. My parents helped us pay for postpartum doulas. My mother-in-law’s service and my parents’ contributions were gifts for which I can never thank them enough. But this time, with your arrival in mid-November, we won’t have family who can help us the way my mother-in-law did. Last time, we had an abundance of support, but it came as a reaction to the postpartum depression; this time I want to have everything in place before you are born.
So this time, we plan to have my postpartum care arranged before postpartum depression sets in.
I am in counseling and have been since your brother was born.
Another part of my Postpartum Plan is to FULLY prepare for your arrival.
I plan to declutter our excess possessions and organize. I want to change the culture of our home and make our home more systematic and functional. This time we are enlisting outside help, instead of family, to help us prepare: different professional organizing services, including a Closet Cleanout, a Toy Edit, and a Fresh Start. Something we’ve been needing for a long time – YOU are the motivation behind this plan and this is a gift I want to give our family! Our goal is to regain structure before you come to give you the best possible start we can. Since you are coming before the holidays, we also want to be prepared so we can enjoy holding you and cuddling you in a more relaxed atmosphere and enjoy a quieter holiday season. You are already cherished beyond measure.