The physical changes during pregnancy are completely overwhelming. But they are so in your face that it is easy to write and talk about them. The emotional changes are a bit more tricky and, of course, unique to each person. Successfully capturing the emotional toll of pregnancy has been alluding me. I’ve tried to write this post several times, and I’ve really struggled to get it right.
During T’s pregnancy my state of mind really bothered me because I had no idea what would happen when the baby came. I felt no connection to him. The only thing that comforted me in the “am I fit to be a mother?” department was I knew despite my reservations I did not want to lose the baby. I knew a miscarriage would be devastating, so on some level that meant I must want the baby. Several friends had warned me that I might not bond with him immediately, and judging from my prenatal feelings I was sure that would be the case. It was a delight to fall deeply and immediately in love with him.
When I got pregnant last summer it didn’t bother me at all that I felt no connection to the baby, I knew I would when he or she got here. To find out there had been two embryos and that I’d lost them both was even more devastating than I anticipated. So in a really straightforward and predictable way this pregnancy has been difficult emotionally. I’ve wanted this baby so intensely, but the experience with the miscarriage has meant I’ve lived in fear that something terrible is going to happen. Other moms who have had miscarriages have told me the fear passes when the baby quickens, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I’m scared I will hemorrhage, he will be stillborn, I’m slowly leaking amniotic fluid and don’t know it, and a million other things each more far fetched than the last. I don’t know if my fear comes from my anxiety disorder or not, but it has been my constant companion. I still don’t feel bonded to the new guy. But that doesn’t bother me at all. I will fall in love with him. Even if I don’t immediately I trust that I will eventually.
All that emotional garbage feels pretty normal. The frightening part about this and the other pregnancies is how isolated they make me feel. It is very similar to how I felt when I was in the middle of my breakdown. My limited comfort in my own skin has been removed. I’ve never been good at sharing, the truth is I really resent it when someone else is relying on my internal organs. My body no longer belongs to me, and I feel very stingy about it. The only control I have it how the rest of the world interacts with me. I don’t like to be touched by anyone and the feeling intensifies as the day progresses. In the morning I seek Z out for our hugs, but by the evening I actually shrink away from being touched.
I hate it. Because if I am comfortable with the person I adore physical affection. And with Z it is more like a necessity. A basic part of what makes me me is gone. But the thing that scares the shit out of me is I don’t feel like a stranger. This is what life was like when I was rockin’ that borderline personality disorder. I feel like that girl. And let me tell you what, things were pretty bleak then. Thankfully, it isn’t all the time, and it isn’t anywhere as severe as it was. Every morning I wake up in decent shape and my emotional state deteriorates throughout the day. By the time I go to bed I feel like I’m becoming that person I used to despise. In the morning she’s gone, and if this transition to postnatal is anything like last time she’ll be gone for good after I get the hang of breastfeeding again. Except what does gone for good mean? Gone unless we decide to have a third? Gone until I relapse? That’s my biggest fear, especially now that I’m a mom.
I don’t have the ability to describe how awful life was in the middle of my breakdown. When I got better, but I was still so close chronologically to the events that nearly destroyed my marriage, I would get the cold sweats every time I thought about how things had been. How could that have been me? How do I make sure I never ever go back there? The longer I’ve been better the less I think about it, but it is always there. I will never be free of the fear that I’ll suffer a clinical depression because if it happens there is nothing I can do to prevent it. Mental illness isn’t something you can control or completely prevent. The only thing you can do is manage it. I do not believe it will ever be as bad as it was. I don’t believe I’ll regress into a borderline personality disorder again because we know better. We would get me help and we would never let it get to the point where I would be so desperate.
I do wish that pregnancy didn’t bring me so close to who I used to be. But the absolute truth is it’s temporary and it’s completely worth it. I love being T’s mom. And I can’t wait to be a mother to New Guy.
Today was overwhelmingly humid, and little man’s curls were going crazy. As a stick straight hair gal I was green with envy.
I was doing some hardcore cleaning in the kitchen (nesting, nesting, nesting) when I heard the dulcimer. I’m still not sure how he got the thing on his lap, but I advised Z to put it somewhere T couldn’t reach it in the future.
My boys clinking glasses and saying “Cheers!” Z and I have a million little unobserved traditions like the frequency with which we toast each other. The thing is, they are observed now. And T wants to take part. It’s pretty damn cool.