It's a funny thing how the human mind works. Or at least how my mind works. The last time I was feeling stressed the last thing I wanted to do was blog about it. But today was a rough day, and I almost could have begged Greg to go pick up the girls by himself so that I could be alone with the laptop. Why this time? For attention? I doubt it, I don't think that I am that kind of person. It's not to avoid crying, I have done that several times today, mostly randomly, when trying to finish a sentence, which is really annoying.
So, how stressed am I? Lately life has been pretty stressful. I would say that on a daily basis I am quite tempted to crack open a bottle of wine, and go to town, glass or no glass. Both Greg and I are technically unemployed; besides making huge strides with our financial security, it always seems like it is one step forward and two steps back; my brother is in Iraq, everytime I hear a news story about a soldier with local ties being wounded or killed my heart sinks, and then I feel guilty for being relieved it wasn't him; the girls' mom is in jail for 2 felony counts of Rape of a Child, we will find out what the sentencing is for her plea agreement in May, and I am still having a really hard time accepting that essentially I am going to be putting my career on the back burner to be a stay at home mom.
Well this morning ratcheted my stress level right over the top. I am no longer rational. If I was ready to polish off a bottle of wine before (pregnant or not) right now I am considering hopping on the next flight for a weekend away in Cancun, swine flu be damned. I don't care that Tessa's social worker is coming over tonight for a health and safety visit. I don't care that Greg has a job interview tomorrow, and I don't care that Bella has a T-ball game on Saturday morning. Game over. Who ever is pulling the strings, you win. I give up.
I spent most of last Friday morning being irritated with Greg for opening his big fat mouth and telling my ob-gyn that his mom is close to having to inject herself with insulin to treat diabetes. Especially after I had assured her (falsely) that there was absolutely no history of gestational diabetes on my side of the family. I have drank that nasty ass stuff twice before and "obese" or not, I was not signing up to do it again. The day of the test I woke up mad, and hungry, and went down stairs to drink the foul, but chilled, version of sprite necessary for the test. I made it to the doctor's in time, they were taking blood for the gestational diabetes test, and for an alpha fetoprotein test screen that they offer all moms. Apparently the CVS test I took doesn't screen for neural tube defects as this one does. Whatever, take the blood. My blood is not easy to draw. Most of the time I go straight to the lab @ the hospital, because as sweet as the nurses are at my obgyn's office, I often end up walking out with multiple poke sights, and bruised up to high heaven. This time only took two pokes, one in the arm that failed, and one on the top of my hand that worked. Wahoo!
Today started out like any normal day that both Greg and I are home on a weekday. He woke up, panicked that it was 7:30 and we hadn't delivered the girls to daycare yet. I told him to shut up, we had nothing pressing to do anyway, and rolled back over. He continued to cuss and thrash about and, in my opinion, hurry for no reason at all. While I was in the shower, he came up to tell me he was leaving to take Tessa, and would be back in a bit. Bella was set up downstairs with a tivo'd Imagination Movers, pop tart and milk. Whatever.
Greg came back and we both took Bella to daycare, then headed over to Carol's for breakfast. Probably a waste of $$ for me, as I haven't been feeling great lately, but I was hoping eating would make me feel better. I had skipped dinner the night before because my stomach hurt and I was busy researching all the different types of cloth diapers. Exciting times.
While at breakfast, Greg got a call about a job interview for tomorrow. Yay! He so needs to find something, if nothing else to boost his self confidence, and to get him the hell out of the house while I am home. Hopefully I will be able to get him to finish all the projects I have in mind before he has to start something.
I don't quite remember how the next couple of hours went, Greg researched the company he was interviewing with, probably spent some time bsing on the phone with his boyfriend Ken, and I laid on the couch catching up on episodes of The Real Housewives of New York, along with the sneak peak of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. That looks like it will be a good one!
A little after noon, I was toying with the idea of doing some housework, or even better, going shopping. The house phone rang, which is unusual, we really should cancel the land line, we never use it. Cascadia Women's Clinic. This time it was the Doctor calling, which is also unusual. Good news! Gestational Diabetes is negative. Damn you Greg Mongrain, I told you so. She kept talking, about how there was something that did come back alarming, and my ears started ringing. I was trying to get Greg's attention so that he could listen too. The alpha fetoprotein test came back positive. They are going to schedule an emergency ultrasound to see if they can see any birth defects in a Level II ultrasound, and then probably do an amnio right afterwards. The doctor asked about my schedule, and told me that she was going to have her assistant call maternal fetal medicine at Legacy and schedule everything and then call me back. I was not to worry, even though the test is postive, all it means is that there is a 1 in 100 chance that the baby has a birth defect.
Of course I was too stunned and mush mouthed to ask the millions of questions floating around my head, so I "uh-huh"ed and hung up. And then I did the most logical thing one can do. I googled neural tube defects. That was not a good idea. Even if you are in a competent state of mind, the pictures are not pretty. Even though I didn't think I felt like crying, I sobbed while scrolling thru all the WebMD and wikipedia pages. It's not good news. Spina Bifida, anencephaly, duodenal atresia, and so on. The pictures are graphic. I guess some moms believe ignorance is bliss, and decide to deliver their babies and let "nature take it's course". To me, that is selfish. But I am really starting to believe the ignorance is bliss part.
But most of all, I am really angry at myself. I have been feeling guilty for not enjoying this baby, and having my guard up. Over the last week, I began to let myself relax and finally started to plan the nursery, and argue with Greg about names. I should have known better. What was I thinking? Greg is mad at me for thinking the worst. Maybe he is right, maybe more positive thinking will make all of these issues and possible issues go away. I call bullshit. I feel stupid for getting excited about a baby I wasn't sure that I wanted. I feel like an awful mother for letting Bella get excited about a baby sister and letting her do cute things like talk to my tummy the week Babycenter.com said that my baby could hear us talking. I feel guilty for feeling sorry for myself, convinced that next week after finding out what I am already certain is the case, that I will have to pick what day to kill my baby. That's how they do it. You either go in and find out that your baby has no heartbeat and the doctor schedules the surgery to have it removed because the baby is too big to go away naturally, and I imagine that this time I will go there and see that my daughter has an awful birth defect, spina bifida, or anencephaly, and I will have to pick a day to have an abortion. I am trying to stay positive, my life is filled with blessings, right? At least since I only work 2 days a week, I won't have to worry about taking any time off of work. And the worst part? I am so fried, cooked, done, whatever, that I don't even feel like fighting with myself about thinking good things. I guess am lazy. But like I said, I am done. I give it up. I can't handle it. Maybe I am weak, but this is really too much for one person to have to deal with.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I have only seen my husband Greg cry twice in the 9 years that we have been together. Several times he has come close, like when I have come home from shopping, or when I have been driving, but seriously only "for real" twice, both times when we found out that the baby we were expecting no longer had a heartbeat. I think that Greg deals with grief in a way that most people do, mood changes, tears, and taking each day one day at a time until the shock and pain of the event eventually fades away.
I am not sure why I deal with grief the way I do. Maybe it was because my childhood was so volatile and erratic? All of us kids had to deal with my parents' issues, and so far we are all functioning somewhat well. In 31 yrs, I am not sure that I have had to deal with any more serious issues then most people, the death of a grandparent, a failed marriage, the loss of two babies, "losing" foster babies that I very much wanted to stay forever to other homes, and so on. I guess when you spell it all out, it seems lengthy, but really I consider myself quite blessed. I have a great husband, two beautiful daughters, a decent career considering my lack of education, great friends, and a happy home. At the end of the day I cannot wait to come home to my family and I think that for the most part they all feel the same.
When I am grieving, I am usually not a cryer. Typically the only time I cry is out of frustration, not because I am sad, but mainly because if I don't cry, someone will end up dead. I am very impatient with women who cry in public, or at work, to me it makes women look weak and incapable of controlling their emotions. It makes whatever awkward situation you are already in even more awkward.
I usually end up dealing with grief by focusing on the next thing/project, even if it is heart wrenching. No time to dwell on the bad event, there are things that need to be done, and no one else is going to do them.
With my first pregnancy, I remember coming back from house hunting in Vancouver and Battle Ground to Las Vegas and excitedly getting ready for my obgyn appointment. I was about 19 weeks along and there was a good chance that the doctor would be able to tell me the sex of the baby. Greg wasn't able to be there because he had to work. I was laying on the exam table, and the doctor wasn't able to find the baby's heart beat with the doppler, so he decided to do a vaginal ultrasound. I was even more excited, with a vaginal ultrasound, there was an even better chance that we would be able to see the sex. The picture of the baby came up on the screen almost immediately. But the first sight that struck me was not whether it was a boy or a girl, but that the area where the heart beat should be was blank and empty. I starred at the screen until the doctor turned it off. The doctor put his hand on my shoulder and said "I will call your husband and have him come get you." The most eerie thing was sitting in the waiting room waiting for Greg while the office was closed. Even though I knew that my husband was coming, I felt like the loneliest person in the world.
I had a D & C surgery the next day. The doctor was kind, but told me that he would not be able to see me for my next pregnancy because I was now considered "high risk". Honestly, that was the farthest thing from my mind.
My sister was pregnant at the time, her baby girl was due in September, and my baby wasn't supposed to be due until December. The weekend following my D & C, I threw a baby shower for her.
With my 2nd pregnancy, Greg and I were living in Battle Ground. We had begun participating in the foster care system, and had been placed with our first placement, a little boy named Schuyler. We were very excited, and had no reason to think anything would go wrong. It was a fun but busy time for us, we had our hands full with a toddler, Nautilus was keeping Greg quite busy, and I was working evenings and nights in La Center. A little after the end of my first trimester, I had a strange feeling that something was wrong, I went to the doctor, and again no heart beat. The doctor was convinced that I was just nervous, and scheduled an appt for me at radiology the next morning so I could have and ultrasound that all was well. I had never had an ultrasound at the radiology clinic, and it was high tech. Flat screen tvs on each corner of the room so that you could see everything. Pretty cool. Except that again, there was no heart beat. The icing of going to radiology for an ultrasound, is that even though it is obvious that your baby has died, the tech has to complete the exam that the doctor ordered, measuring the baby, I remember sitting there, numb, thinking how ridiculous and cruel it was. The other thing I remember was that while I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for Greg, I couldn't believe how sunny it was in Vancouver while I felt so grey.
The week after I had my 2nd D & C surgery, I called the placement coordinator at the DSHS, and increased our placement capacity to 2 kids. Greg thought I was insane, but I was moving on and I knew that they were going to call me about a baby. My scheduled due date had been early March, and Bella came home in January.
Greg and I have been fostering for 5 years this July, and we have had a variety of children placed with us. Some we have been very anxious to find other families for, and a few we have wanted to stay with us very, very much. Every time we have had a placement move to another home, my reaction has been to call the placement coordinator, often on a daily basis, to receive another placement. There are always more kids out there who need a home, right?
After being placed with Bella, I was content with my position in motherhood. I had come to terms with my two failed pregnancies. Having Tessa come home filled in any remaining blanks in that area. Two beautiful daughters, sisters at that. Both came home when they were three days old. We had essentially hit the foster care jackpot, and weren't foolish enough to not realize it.
Maybe because I never really allowed myself to completely deal with the losses that I have experienced, maybe because I am just neurotic, but I am having a really hard time believing that this baby is for real. We have completed all the necessary testing. We know the sex, we know that her chromosomes are the exact same as mine (besides being slightly ocd and bitchy, she will function just fine) I am almost 16 weeks pregnant, still feel like crap, and every doctor's appointment is going fine. I am even down to only the occasional blood draw. So why on earth can I not relax and enjoy this pregnancy? I have even been able to hear the heartbeat on the doppler, something that I have never experienced before. I am not excited to argue about names, decorate the nursery, and so on. I guess part of me just believes that the next time I go to the doctor, her little heart beat will be gone, and it will be back to life as usual. How crappy of a mother am I? When will I stop worrying about protecting my own emotional state and start being happy about my baby?