Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Questions Answered

I got a few emails and comments re: my last post, so I figured it was best to clarify. I'll start with a timeline.

College: Seasonal Affective Disorder. This pretty much goes undiagnosed for my college years because I figure out a way to live with it. I know that I'm grumpier in the winter and I tend to sleep in more and get lazier, but I found that it was easier to attribute all that to just typical college studentness than to actually deal with it. By the time I graduate from school I'm formally diagnosed with it but I don't want to say it out loud or admit it for a lot of reasons: the acronym sucks, saying it out loud makes me feel weak, it's not worth mentioning because it's only seasonal and there are real, legitimate health concerns in the world, admitting it and sharing the news with my parents would make my mom unbearable....I used every excuse I could find.

December 2008: We land in Hawaii for Liz's awesome wedding. We spent Christmas and New Year's in paradise, and even though we weren't with family for the holidays it's still my favorite Christmas to date.

January 2009: We come home from paradise and land in the middle of a craptastic Midwestern winter. My mind and body definitely did not take this transition well.

February 2009: At this point I am stuck in an all-out war with my S.A.D. but there's not much I can do about it. I spend as much time outside as is possible, but that winter was especially rough and we had daily highs of -30 and wind chills of -50. Outside was definitely not my friend that winter.

Winter/Spring 2009: We had a late, long winter. Spring arrived, but it was cool. Even June was pretty wet and cool. I didn't mind the cooler temps, but they also kept me from breaking free of FunkFest 2009 until May or so.

Late summer 2009: We decide that the time is ripe to buy a house. We start looking and life is happy.

Late October 2009: We realize that our loan officer is a nice guy but his foolproof plan is taking forG--damnever. Combine that with the cooling temperatures and it was practically a perfect storm. I'd also become stressed out and disillusioned by my new responsibilities at work and I started to lose interest--I guess that tends to happen when you share a job description with someone and your Commanding Officer doesn't take charge; Instead, you're told to "figure it out" and the two of you divide your job duties. Not awesome.

November 2009: Target closing date comes and goes. By this point I was pretty gone. I'd dealt with depression before, but not like this. I was miserable and Graham was basically stuck in an apartment that was shrinking by the day thanks to the packing that I had started to feel was pointless with a wife who was essentially useless. By the end of this month he had forced me to see my doctor (PCP) and she put me on antidepressents just to get me through the closing, the move, and the rest of the winter. I'm supposed to stay on them for 6 more months.

December 2009/January 2010: Moving was stressful and I was sick the day before and the day we moved. The holidays, S.A.D., and the stress at home and at work made me pretty useless to all of humankind.

February 2010: Still on the antidepressents but I'd thought I was getting better. I had been feeling better, I was feeling capable and useful at work (the first time I'd felt that way since the start of the year) and even though things were stressful at work I'd somehow managed to make some pivotal allies; things were looking up(ish). I foolishly--really, it was a dumbass move to make--thought that adjusting the dosage of my meds was the right thing to do. I was over it, right? Wrong-o! Call me a big ole hypocrite because I have openly judged friends for choosing to self-medicate, but "this time it's different; it's me! I won't make their mistakes."

Ugh, yeah. Heh...::sheepish grin:: About that....

Wrong move. February to March was a rough transition because I was definitely not well at that point. I made that classic mistake: choosing to forget that it was the medication that was helping me out and making me better and choosing to believe that it was, in fact, ME! I was better all on my own without the help of those happy pills. Bad Angie! Bad Angie! This mistake was corrected and I was back on my meds. I hated that I needed them to feel at least 50% human most days, but I was glad I had them.

March 2010: Sperm meets egg. Game On.

April 2010: Things are going swimmingly. Clearly. This spring was a lot nicer than the previous one and on especially nice, bright days I noticed that I was MUCH happier and peppier. This time I felt that my meds were responsible for the upswing in my moods, but I could also feel things adapting and changing for me emotionally. I was feeling ready to come down off my meds and I was looking forward to my doctor's appointment in May.

April 2010, continued: BFP. Holy whoa. It actually happened.

I dropped my antidepressents like they were stolen goods. I'd figured that I had done enough to my developing fetus at that point and for some reason thought that stopping the drugs cold turkey would somehow fix or undo any potential damage to my baby.

Note to self and all other moms-to-be: Going gold turkey on your happy pills? NOT a good idea. P.S. Don't do your own pregnancy research and for the love of all that is good and holy--STAY AWAY FROM ANYTHING THAT GIVES YOU INFORMATION ABOUT NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS.

"Neural Tube Defects": This phrase has haunted me since the spring. I will most likely not be completely convinced I didn't somehow further damage my child until she's born healthy, receives an APGAR score of 293573, meets all her developmental milestones on time or ahead of time, and gets a scholarship to Harvard.

Spring 2010: I started to get excited about pregnancy and having a baby, even though I was nervous as hell. It was pretty cautious optimism for a while because I kept waiting for the other shoe to fall. I'm never this lucky--something had to give, right?

Summer 2010: I had a lot of free time in which to plan and think about the ways my life was about to change. This was a bad thing. In retrospect, going off the antidepressents was a bad move. My doctors supported that decision, but ultimately it made this summer a long one. I wasn't productive with all the work I needed to do, my hormones were seriously whacked, 20 weeks of morning sickness made me a huge bitch to pretty much everyone, and I found that it was a lot harder than I anticipated to "say goodbye" to a lot of my hopes, dreams, and plans. A lot harder, honestly. I don't know why....I guess part of me wanted to believe that I'd be 20 something forever and that we could deal with my uterine and reproductive issues in my 30s when I was less selfish and more mature. I figured that by 29 or 30 I'd finally be ready to have a child--emotionally speaking, that is--and that I'd be in a good mental state of mind where I could deal with the realities that we were facing. I fully indulged in my selfishness. I had a glass of wine almost every night. I slept late all the time. I made plans to travel and wanted to go to grad school and pay off my student loans before having a baby. And why not? Deep down, I knew that it wouldn't be easy to conceive. Why not be selfish and make plans and live it up? My friend Jess told me earlier this spring, "We're running out of time to be young." I didn't see any reason to not make the most of all that time. The end result was that I started to feel pretty ambivilent, and sometimes even angry about my pregnancy. I spent a lot of time crying.

On top of that I felt (and still feel) tremendous guilt for even being pregnant. Everywhere I went I felt like I needed to apologize to people. Having so many friends who struggled and are struggling to get pregnant really made me feel....unworthy. I was so glad that one of my best friends wasn't around this summer. Much as I would have loved to be with Liz because she's been there and she understood a lot of what I was going through, I was glad that she was thousands of miles away and stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean because I couldn't face myself everyday knowing that my just being pregnant was probably causing her (and others) a lot of emotional grief.

I felt--and feel--guilty. I felt like I did when I was 7 and I stole a Snickers bar from a gas station. I felt like I needed to run back and apologize to the guy behind the glass, but I couldn't return the Snickers bar because I'd already eaten it and I couldn't pay for it because I was 7 and didn't have any money. I started to beat myself up emotionally for somehow ending up with a uterus that could carry a baby. Here I was, petty and selfish and pissed off that I couldn't have a daqueri when I wanted one, and all around me are women who would give their left leg to be in my position. That just made it worse. I felt like I'd gotten trapped somehow and in the process I made sure that no one was happy--except for our mothers. I was tired of it. I AM tired of it. All I wanted was one frigging day where I was left alone. I was tired of hearing, "So how's my grandchild?" and "How's the baby?" and "Are you taking care of the baby?" and "Tell me about the baby." All I wanted to do was just start screaming, "LEAVE ME ALONE! I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE BABY!"

Constant vomiting for 20 weeks makes a person cranky. It's hard to stay excited about something that ruins all food for you. I was throwing up so much that I was losing weight and I wasn't able to keep anything down.

At the same time, talking about it kept me from pushing it out of my mind. It sometimes helped to make me excited, but most of what I felt was guilt. I mean, what are you supposed to say when someone asks, "Are you excited?" "No" isn't exactly an answer that inspires confidence. Sure I was excited....kinda. "Terrified" was closer to the truth. Christ on a bike, I can barely dress myself. I forget to shower sometimes. I've been known to eat Oreos for dinner. How in the hell am I supposed to take care of a small, helpless human being when I can't decide if wearing black and brown together is a fashion no-no? While eating chocolate pop tarts for breakfast? All while feeling like I'm still 16 years old?

All of that: the guilt, the hormones, the stress, the non-stop chatter, and of course the morning sickness resulted in a pretty serious case of "Bump on a Log". I was sad all the time, and that just made it worse. Why the hell should I be sad? I have a great life! On top of that, I felt selfish and childish. I felt like my emotions took on the role of a lion that was playing with its prey before it was devoured.

I tried. I tried so hard to get past the crap and get over myself. I tried to be stronger than what was beating me up. I tried to not let the littlest of things get to me. I tried not to beat the shit out of my laundry baskets when I was upset. It didn't work.

Our trip to New York helped a ton. I was still being chased by work while I was there (aside: Summer 2011--you're all mine and no one else's!) but I was 1,000 miles and another time zone away. Oh well! Once I came back it was the same old crap.

I was documenting everything--every episode--and after a long discussion with my doctor (it took me a lot of strength to even bring it up because I felt like the words were getting stuck in my throat and the only thing I could squeeze out was, "I'm fine.") we made the decision for me to see a counselor. All my issues make me a pretty great candidate for post-partum depression, so it makes sense to get me in now while I'm still somewhat mobile and the seasonal depression hasn't set in yet. Part of me just doesn't want to. It makes perfect sense and I need to do it--for me, for my baby, for my husband...but I just don't want to. On the otherhand, part of me is looking forward to it. I'll feel more like a human being again. I'll feel normal. I won't feel quite so stabby when I see someone spell 'postponed' like this: post pond. (It's a work thing.)

I need to do it. I know I need to do it. I'd rather stay in bed. I'd rather spend all day in bed in my pajamas watching SVU on USA. But I need to. I need to. If I don't, then my maternity leave will be a waste and I won't get to know my daughter. I'll be in worse shape than I am now and the end of my academic year will be a waste. As if it wasn't already a countdown to My Last Day, if I don't figure my shit out it'll be a long, long few months.

If we get in soon, I'll maybe even feel completely excited about this for the first time since July. Part of me is still so nervous and hesitant. Maybe it's silly, but I know that things go wrong and I know what can happen. I know a perfectly healthy pregnancy can take a sudden and unfortunate turn. I want to enjoy this, but I'm afraid to give in completely. What if the unthinkable happens? What if that person everyone suddenly feels pity for is me? I love watching Graham get excited and I love seeing everyone happy, but I'm so afraid that something terrible will happen. Depending on the day or the hour, I sometimes find myself pulling back. I'm calling her, "The baby" instead of calling her by her name. I don't refer to her in the present tense (and it pisses me off royally when people refer to "the three of us" as though she were in the room). Even though I'm 35 weeks, I'm still hoping that my next trip to L&D is on December 6th, even a little later. I want to meet her, I just want to meet her a little later rather than sooner.

That being said, I can't wait for her to get here. I want to see her face. I want to know if she looks like me (I'm terrified she'll look nothing like me). I want her to be born a little later because it means I won't have to go out and celebrate the holidays with big groups and I can respectfully ask that people stay away from the house for a while. I can't wait for it to be just the three of us--finally. I can't wait to be able to rock her to sleep and read her books and share things with her.

I walk a really fine line most days. I can't explain it. I just wish I could settle in firmly on one side of the line or the other. This back and forth isn't fair to anyone.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Angie! I know the last few weeks before delivery are an emotional rollercoaster as it is, and I wish there was something I could do or say that would make you feel better. Just know I'll be praying for you.


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