Archive for Trying to grow a person

Be careful what you wish for

I complained last week that my life was no longer eventful enough to be blog-worthy.

This week I had a miscarriage.

I’m actually pretty sanguine about it though (heh, sorry). I didn’t know I was pregnant, and as I’ve posted here before, there isn’t a whole heap of difference between a ball of cells a few days before fertilization and one a few days after (or four weeks, in this case).

I’d suspected I was pregnant but the test came up negative so I guess the embryo was never viable. Then when I was two weeks late I haemorrhaged all these big clots, and that was it. No physical pain, and not really any sadness. The only sucky bit was having to go for an ultrasound to make sure there was no ectopic pregnancy or bits left behind.

Up to that point I’d felt like my body was doing its thing and following the best course of action at that time. But being poked and prodded by a technician made it seem more serious, made me feel broken rather than functioning normally.

I’m supposed to take it easy for a while, which is just what doctors say about anything involving female reproductive health, and I’m not supposed to try to conceive again for three months, which is roughly how often I manage to get laid anyway. So all in all not much to report.

Oh, except the GP got her words muddled and kept calling it a missed abortion instead of an early-stage abortion and it took all my energy to keep from saying “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Doctors hate when you say that 😀

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On postpartum depression

It takes a village to raise a child.

I see this phrase a lot on birthing and parenting blogs, testament to the fact that everyone with children needs help from time to time. We turn to family, friends, experts – Jonty and I didn’t wash Isaac for three days after he was born, until someone showed us how. Our tribe and its collective wisdom is there when we need to learn new things.

But my tribe is scattered. Singapore, Scotland, Spain, Sss-London. Always at the end of a phone line, but not necessarily on hand for a cup of tea and a hug.

This isn’t to say I’m alone and destitute in Singapore; Isaac has a rockin’ little hamlet contributing to his up-bringing. But we lack the knowledge of bigger numbers (and different generations) and the past seven months have been lonely and tough at times.

Hiring a nanny was supposed to make it better. Someone who knows lots about babies, someone to give me a break when Jonty’s work means 12 hours alone with the little fella. I had a list of indulgent things I was going to do once the nanny came: yoga, massages, pedicures. But it didn’t work that way.

I used the breaks from caring for Isaac to sit alone in my room and feel sad. I’d guessed I was struggling emotionally for quite a while, but I hadn’t really had the time or space to recognise it. But there’s no denying it now, my brain chemistry is baffled by its current predicament and that means it’s time to go to a doctor and get help.

When mothers struggled in the 70s the solution was to view their children through a valium haze – the wrong end of a telescope keeping life at arms’ length. Today the drugs are kinder, less intrusive, so here I am, prescription in hand.

It takes a village to raise a child. But sometimes you need Prozac too.

Raw

“I hate you,” I hiss through clenched teeth, while he wails back at me.

I feel instantly guilty, and hope he didn’t hear, but the words still came out.

His crying unravels something deep in my soul. I want so desperately to fix it, to make it stop, but at the same time I resent the cries for even existing. If they could be sucked back into the void, and that meant taking the baby with them, so be it.

I tell Jonty in the morning that I’d fantasised about running away in the night. I’d imagined finding someone who could love Isaac and take care of him, and I’d give him to them and just run and run.

The confession opened the floodgates and I’ve been crying ever since. I know these feelings are normal, I know everyone struggles at first, but I feel so desolate; so small and full of fear.

The pregnancy felt so easy, everything fit into place and made me strong. And the labour and delivery even more so. I’d never felt more aware, happy and certain of who I was and how I fit into the world.

Three weeks later I feel the exact opposite. I thought becoming a parent would be the same – not that it would be easy or I’d be perfect at it, but that it would feel right, feel like something I was meant to do.

I knew there would be sleepless nights and lots of feeds, but I was prepared for the physicality of it because that would fit into the framework of my new identity. I would be A Mum, and those are things mums cope with.

Except I don’t feel like a mum at all. I feel like a lost little girl who cries when her baby cries because she doesn’t know what else to do.

I can’t understand any of the things he tries to communicate to me. I constantly second-guess myself. I feel like any way I respond to him is wrong, and worse, I worry that my poor responses are somehow damaging his development or making him more likely to get upset.

I don’t know where to go from here, except to see if I can find some help. I need to know that I’m responding in the right ways to him, or I need someone to show me how I should respond if I’m doing it wrong. I need to know that he’s normal, that he doesn’t cry more than other babies, and that he’s going to cry less with time.

I need to rediscover my self-belief. I know it’s in there somewhere still, it always is. I need to dig it out and dust it off and let it make some of the decisions, instead of letting self-doubt continue to call the shots.

I need to take a deep breath and look at the sunshine and the new day and my new baby and *smile*.

Even if it’s only a half smile, tears still quivering at the corners, it’s a start.

Down came the tears

I’ve never been much of a crier. Apparently it goes with the late pregnancy/early motherhood territory though.

It’s 7am and I’m sitting at the dining table sobbing and sobbing, little rivulets running down my neck and through the valley of cleavage to form reservoirs where they meet the big belly.

The reason? I can’t see how I can be financially independent AND be as good a parent as I want to be, and I can’t see how Jonty could pay my way and not resent it. (Especially when he said as much last night, albeit while he was drunk and angry at his nicotine cravings.)

It feels horribly tangled from a feminist point of view. I’m pondering the female version of emasculation (I found ‘exogynate’ on two sites online and quite like it) and whether such a word would even be applicable. I want to be independently able to fulfill a ‘typical’ female role, where I can dedicate myself to small children and running a home, but there doesn’t seem to be any way that adds up.


Edited to add:

(Especially when he said as much last night, albeit while he was drunk and angry at his nicotine cravings.)

This isn’t fair. We’ve since talked and we both imagined the other was saying “That’s my decision, not yours,” when in fact neither of us was thinking that. Sometimes it is good to go to bed angry, cos then you have time to re-approach conversations more rationally.

Sex dream

Woke up from a torrid dream in which I kept trying to kiss a friend of mine. I would put my arms round her and lean in, quite forcefully, and she would twist away and shout at me to stop.

I felt rejected and frustrated, and kept trying to force myself on her (IRL she’s someone who’s a mixture of comfortable and coy about that kind of thing). Back in the dream, she and her boyfriend then tied me by my wrists between two poles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Our baby has flippers!

26-30 days post-ovulation

And skin, apparently. And a wee heartbeat. And the fucker’s making me fucking suicidal.

The mood swings are tough. Tougher than the nausea, though thankfully there are touch points that remind me this ISN’T depression.

Depression for me becomes 24/7. I can smile though it, but it’s always there. The bad feelings become background noise – I hear them whenever I listen, and the desire to submit to them is strong – but life limps alongside as best it can.

There is no such constancy with the bad feelings I have now. They flare up bright and strong and unfamiliar and utterly derail me. I have moments when everything stops and I’m completely lost, flailing for a handhold – the sense is definitely one that’s desperate and grabbing.

But they’re over quickly and then I’m ok. The happiness in between is real, not a smile papered over the cracks to keep people distant. Adjusting to the choppy nature is hard, as is not panicking when the waves hit me but I think mostly I can deal with it.

Amazing that such big differences can be wrought by such small changes in chemistry.

Disclaimer

Received wisdom says you don’t tell people you’re pregnant during the first three months, because the chance of miscarriage is highest during this time (~80% of miscarriages occur during the first trimester).

This is psychological advice, of course, although people treat it like it has mystical, medical relevance. I understand that if I post on facebook or tell everyone in my office I may find I have to respond to countless congratulations with an awkward “Actually, we lost it.” That would be unpleasant so I’m choosing not to share yet in those settings.

But I also realise that facing pain and social awkwardness is my decision, not something a doctor can prescribe against. In simple terms, the post below is supported by the fact that if I do miscarry, writing here will be one of the first things I do to figure out my feelings.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, although I’ve been freaking myself out googling fertility stats. For my age group, 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies fail. Gulp. That’s much higher than I expected. In my favour: I not skinny, I’m not obese, I must’ve stopped smoking the minute I conceived (because it made me feel sick, our bodies are smart!) and for every 20 balls of cells that don’t make it, 80 go on to grow fingers and toes and force their way into the outside world.

Of course, all that forcing comes with its own set of worries… *frantically does kegels*

😀