Thursday, February 16, 2012

irrational

I have always been a worrier. It’s a part of who I am. I deal with it. Growing up, one of my biggest fears was that my parents were going to die. In middle school during the moment of silence, I would silently pray every day that my parents would make it home from work OK. I have no idea where this came from.

 Before I even hit my teenage years, MTV started airing The Real World & one of the cast members had AIDS. Just from seeing this on TV I somehow thought that all of a sudden I had AIDS. Seriously…did I think I could catch it from watching a show?! It was completely irrational for me to think this. But it was still my thoughts & feelings & it frightened me. 

My parents were in the kitchen one night after dinner & I broke down crying to them telling them I was scared I had AIDS. I can only imagine what my parents must have thought! My poor parents! UMMMM, no your 11 year old daughter is not having sex!  I just thought I had aids & that I was going to die & that was that.

Fast forward 15 years later. Here I was, pregnant again a month after miscarrying. Alone in the bathroom I sat & stared at those 2 pink lines. Confused because I was not feeling as excited as I had been the first time I was pregnant. Instead, this time around my head was filled with what if thoughts…what if I lose this baby, too? Afraid to fall in love with my unborn child in fear that I would lose her & my heart would break again. I was cautious in feeling too much love too soon. I knew that losing a baby could happen in a split second, it wasn’t a given that this baby would be OK.  

I never once thought that I had an “eventful” pregnancy. I was healthy, my baby was healthy. I had a great husband, support from family & friends & a pretty good job. Life on the outside seemed pretty perfect. But my worrying became worse than ever. I didn’t see it during my pregnancy but this constant worrying was probably a huge sign that something was off. I either chose to ignore the possibility of there being something “wrong” or I just didn’t know any better & thought it was completely normal to be a worrier. I think it was a little of both.

In the beginning of this pregnancy I had morning, afternoon & evening sickness. I didn’t mind it one bit. To me, puking my brains out every day meant that I was in fact pregnant with a healthy baby…bring it on! 

Throughout the pregnancy the morning sickness started to subside & then came more worrying. I didn’t think of it as being normal for the morning sickness to fade away & to be happy that I wasn’t up-chucking everything I ate anymore. Instead, I decided to torture myself by thinking since I wasn’t getting sick anymore that must mean something was wrong & that I was losing my baby. The fear was again irrational, but throwing up was somehow reassuring to me that everything was fine.  

Worrying and what if thoughts were constant during my pregnancy. If I didn’t feel her tiny little legs kick for even half of a day, I would end up getting in my car & driving to my doctor’s so they could reassure me that she was OK. 

When I was 6 months pregnant Josh & I spent the night at our favorite casino over an hour away from where we live. That entire day I hadn’t felt the baby kick. So we checked into our hotel room & drove to the nearest hospital so I could (again) be reassured that she was just fine. I can bet that was not how my husband planned on us spending our night away! 

Besides the out of control worrying, during my pregnancy a friend’s father passed away unexpectedly when I was about 6 weeks pregnant. Two short months later in September, My best friend's father suddenly became extremely ill. From the day I found out he was sick I was up at the hospital with her & her family almost every day after work. I literally watched her dad struggle to take his last breaths, sadly he passed away too. It was heart-breaking.

It was very late at night when he passed & she called to ask me if I could come over to watch her 2 little girls for a few hours. I wanted to say “yes, of course, I will be right over.” But all I could think about was taking care of this baby in my belly. I was about 3 months pregnant & for some reason all I could think about was how late it was & I had to work in the morning. In my mind, if I didn’t get enough sleep or became too stressed out something awful could happen to the baby.  I didn’t go, I couldn’t go. I wanted to be there & be the friend I needed to be but I was literally filled with thoughts that something terrible could happen to the baby.

On a chilly Sunday November morning, I was walking Dakota in the neighborhood where we had our 1st condo. There was an abandoned building up the road & I saw 3 tiny kittens. Being a ridiculously huge animal lover there was no way I could just walk by & not take them in. Fortunately, we had worked with an animal shelter & fostered before so they agreed if we took these kittens they would take them once they were old enough & adopt them out. I was only 5 months pregnant at the time so we hadn’t set up the nursery yet so we kept the kittens in there. No big deal right? Wrong! For me, I actually felt guilty that we were keeping the cats in our baby’s room (unborn baby’s room, mind you). I felt that it was somehow wrong by having them in that room. I remember thinking if they had some disease that it was now in her room & would affect the baby when she got here. Absurd I know!

With all the irrational things I worried about throughout my life & pregnancy, for some reason I never worried about the serious or “real” stuff. I never worried about labor & delivery. I never worried about the epidural needle or what contractions would feel like or if I would suffer any excruciating pain & scream like those women I had seen on TV. 

I never once worried about what was going to happen after the delivery, about postpartum depression or how life would be different with a screaming baby, being up all hours of the night, not showering for 3 days or being on lockdown in our own home until someone came to rescue us to babysit! I am thankful that none of these issues worried me at the time. Oh my gawwwd could you imagine the wreck I would have been?!

Josh & I had a conversation during my pregnancy that I will never forget. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this conversation was probably the most important one I should have had with someone. We were talking about having the baby & he told me how his friend’s wife had gone through depression, had suicidal thoughts after having their child & will never have any more children. He said to me “that better not happen to you.”

 At the time, this didn’t frighten me one bit. Hell, I didn’t even know what she went through was called Postpartum Depression & I never even gave a second thought to it. My words to Josh will stick with me clearly forever. I told him “that would never happen to me, I would never get depressed, I am such a happy person & I have always wanted children.” 

I didn’t know any better than to say what I said. 

Not once in my 26 years had I ever heard about any postpartum mood disorders. I can’t even recall being given any information about postpartum mood disorders by a nurse or my doctor. They only had 9 months to give me a heads up…but nothin’! 

I wonder if maybe a pamphlet was thrown in our “congratulations you’re pregnant” bag. You know the bags you get when you go for your first pregnancy checkup that is filled with goodies like a diaper bag, samples from baby companies & little booklets on how the baby looks in your belly & how they develop each week during pregnancy. With all this fun stuff to look at, I sure as heck wouldn’t have noticed the “if you are worried you may hurt your baby or yourself call 911 right away.” Or “if you are sad, depressed, can’t eat, anxious or having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind, these could indicate a postpartum mood disorder.”  

IF we even received info on postpartum mood disorders, I most likely saw something that looked extremely depressing & tossed it in the trash without ever thinking about it again. 

Nothing could take me down. I was happy, remember?

2 comments:

ivyshihleung said...

Hi Andrea,
Glad to have found your blog! I see you are up in Massachusetts, which is where my alma mater is. Speaking of which, I will be headed up to S. Hadley in April to do a book event with MotherWoman! Will let you know more when things are finalized. I read this post....so much of your experience--and even your worrywart nature--reminds me of me. Looking forward to keeping up with you on the blogosphere and Twitter!
Best,
Ivy

Andrea said...

Hi Ivy!
I would love to come in April! Make sure you let me know when! I just went to a training with MotherWoman and I loved it.Look forward to keeping up with you and meeting you in April! :)
Andrea