Chapter 4: A Family in Bloom
When my partner David and I found out we were pregnant with our second child after a year of trying we were overjoyed. I had gotten pregnant with my daughter Zoe by accident and we assumed having a second child would be just as effortless. Trying to get pregnant started out exciting, but quickly felt like a job we were failing at. I carefully tracked my cycle, used a home ovulation predictor kit, and took folate supplements. Every month, I would end up in tears when my period arrived despite our careful planning.
When I was late one month, I tried not to be too hopeful and waited a few days before telling David. But after a week, I took a test and couldn’t believe it was positive. We danced with Zoe in the kitchen even if we didn’t tell her yet what we were celebrating. After an excruciatingly long 12 weeks, we begin telling our friends, family, and then Zoe who was 4 at the time. David carefully researched how we should explain to Zoe that she was going to be a big sister. He picked out a book, “Babies Don’t Eat Pizza,” which we read to her together before bedtime. And again and again. We involved her as much as we could in the pregnancy. Zoe loves flowers so we made the nursery garden themed. Together we planted daffodils in the garden outside our kitchen window. It was Zoe’s job to water the seeds every day.
Daffodils are a March birth flower, the month the baby was due. We didn’t know which would arrive first. On the morning of March 11th, Zoe checked the garden before heading to school like she always did. The daffodils were budding. That evening my water broke. When I came home the next day with our son Mattie, the daffodils were in full bloom. They kept me company as I washed bottles, savored morning coffee, and cleaned out my pump.
However, springtime, daffodil time, and new baby time were not always happy for me. While David was overjoyed, Zoe became needier, and I felt sad. I couldn’t explain why. My mother-in-law said it was just the baby blues. I didn’t want to worry David so I tried to hide it from him. At first, I thought I was just emotional and exhausted. But as Mattie started to sleep through the night and Zoe got used to being a big sister, I was still bursting into tears constantly, uncontrollably. I didn’t feel as bonded to Mattie as I had with Zoe, even when Mattie was so wanted. When I finally confessed to David the extent of my negative feelings, I felt horrible. I didn’t want him to think I was a bad mum or ruin the happiest time of his life.
Together we went to see my doctor who put me on an antidepressant. David took extended parental leave and I confided in my friend Jane. She told me she had also had postpartum depression after the birth of her first son. I never knew. She checked in on me and dropped off food from her restaurant. Now, almost 6 months later I’m feeling more myself again even if I still have waves of sadness sometimes. There have been some blessings, David is more sensitive to how I’m feeling and I can be honest with him when I’m having a tough moment.
Mattie’s first birthday is a few days away and everyone is excited. Zoe has been helping me plan a small party for our family and friends. I want to celebrate the first year of Mattie’s life and also the incredible support system that has helped us get through it. Spring came early this year and the daffodils are budding just in time. To say thank you for all of their help and support, I am going to give a bouquet to everyone at the party. They brightened my life during a difficult period, and because of them, my family has blossomed.