Category Archives: babybabybaby

It’s never what you’d think.

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When I was eleven, my dog Jubilee was put to sleep.  She was …. a bit overprotective.  Over the years she tried to protect me against a toy poodle, a passing car and then a horse … You get the idea.  She protected us right into a lawsuit.  But she had such soft ears, and she loved me.

They gave me her collar, and I hung it from a nail in the back of my closet.  I didn’t cry.  Not at the empty yard, not at her chewed up yellow food dish.  A few months later, I was rumaging for something at the back of my closet and bumped her collar.  The so familiar clink of her license tag hitting against her id tag set me suddenly sobbing.

I can still conjure up that little sound in my head.

I used to go to summer camp every year.  I have letters from the friends I made, I have tshirts signed with “Keep In Touch” and “Don’t Ever Change!”  I spent a fortune in film.  And nothing has ever ever conjured up the memories of that place like the day I was in a diner and I wiped a napkin across my face.  That napkin must have been the same brand as the kind used in that camp cafeteria.  Isn’t that just the strangest thing?  Napkins having a smell?  And yet suddenly I could remember the black metal chairs with the red padding, wondering if I’d have any mail from home…

I make it such a point to capture the moments when I’m truly happy.

That vacation in Hawaii?  I daily, faithfully stole hotel wifi to document it.  Post cards, that magnet on my fridge, that local handmade Christmas ornament.  And then one day dry skin has me rummaging in my travel bag and there’s that mostly empty lotion sample from the hotel.  One whiff and I’m back between those yellow walls, watchin my little brother practice magic tricks.

Sometimes I think souveniers are useless.  Memories pack themselves in your luggage, and unpack themselves when you least expect it.  When you most need it.

I was sorting my laundry tonight.

I’ve been cautious around anything baby related since my miscarriage.  Everyone warned me, and I think expected me to dissolve around Drea’s perfect little daughter, Audriana.  And I didn’t.  I’d given myself all the permission in the world to choke up around my pregnant friends and instead found myself only sharing their joy.

I almost wondered if I wasn’t a little bit cold.  Compartmentalizing my memories so neatly.

And then, tonight with the laundry, I was matching up pairs of socks.  And there was the black and blue pair of Betsy Johnson socks.  Sharp as the lightning bold down the back of the ankle was my memory.  Brady’s mother gave me these socks.  They were the first contact we ever had actually. 

Brady, newly armed with the knowledge that he’d accidently knocked up yours truely, got on a plane to visit his family for Christmas.  And when he told his mother, she scrambled to assemble a gift to send home.  She read my facebook page where I mentioned my love of cute socks and so on New Years Eve I found myself unwrapping some several pairs of glittery, outrageous socks.  I felt so overwhelmed, so welcomed into their big, loving family, suddenly a part of something much bigger.  I cried into them, my excuse at the time that I was pregnant and hormonal.

I cried over them again tonight.  I was thinking of all that was best of that wonderful phase in my life.  Funny that family was hiding in a pair of socks.

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A new life.

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Several months back, my friend Drea’s husband sent her flowers, and as I snapped this picture, my favorite picture of her, I remember thinking that I’d never seen her look more beautiful and content and ….. womanly.

And there was something to the sparkle I saw that day.  40 weeks later, yesterday, the first day of spring, Drea gave birth to little Audriana Casey.

“Your body remembers,” she said.

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My therapist had remarked that it sounded as if there were suddenly a lot of babies and pregnancy in my social circle.  She sounded concerned.

I told her I felt encouraged by my interactions with pregnant friends.  That I DID think of Sadie, but that that thought wasn’t dominating my reactions, that I could feel the appropriate joy for my friends.

I haven’t forgotten, didn’t want to of course, but my emotional state seemed stable.

She smiled and told me not to lose that encouragement if the anniversary hit me hard.  “After all, your body remembers.  And it’s going to have to process that.”

I didn’t fully appreciate what she meant until I found myself suddenly sobbing, still feeling that year old sense of ….. bewilderment at how empty my arms felt, no matter how tight I clutched them around myself.

Due date.

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Today, I was supposed to be having a baby.  Instead I’m having a couple BuSpar, picking the cherries from a half pint of spumoni, watching airplanes swope in to land past my window and retracing the events that brought me to this warm white apartment with shifting palm tree shadows.

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I know what you’re thinking.  What sort of person picks the cherries out of spumoni?  Nobody wants picked over spumoni.  Only a bad person does that.  I know, and I guess I’ll just have to eat this whole thing.  You might also be wondering, didn’t I say I was doing better now, just a little more than a month ago?  Didn’t I say I wasn’t taking, and had a ingrained aversion to, medications?

Turns out that frantic feeling I described was the emotion version of that ominous clicking as you climb the first big incline of a rollercoaster.  And that brief feeling of weightless was the calm before the plunge into the loopdeloops of crushing depression, panic attacks and imobilizing anxiety.  I was no longer anything resembling OK.  I could go on at great length to describe just how really not ok I was, but I don’t think either of us would enjoy that.

Finding out last December that I was going to have a baby was a huge adjustment.  I knew what sort of mama I wanted to be, and I knew that would take a complete overhaul of my life, schedule, ambitions, body, and priorities.  But it was such a joyful adjustment.  It gave me a sense of purpose like nothing before.

Finding out last Febuary that I was not going to have my baby was all the whiplash, minus the joy.  Turns out it was more than my body could handle.

At times I’d try to comfort myself with facts that are certainly and quantifiably true.  I love this warm little apartment madly.  I have such a wonderful life here, one I’m more suited to than the suburban duplex inland I’d be sharing with Brady right now.  Being nine months pregnant in August would no doubt be a very uncomfortable experience.  Sitting here typing away on my feathery soft bed is nirvena compared to the natural labor I was planing, I’m sure.  I still have my cute little figure, and time to date and drink and dance.  Time to achieve my goals of New York City and a bit more in savings.  Anyone who knows me knows that if given the chance to plan the time and situation into which I bring my children, this would not have been it.  A few have kindly let me know that if I want to express relief, they’ll understand.  I nod, I understand the question, I don’t resent the question at all.  In fact I love them for it.  But ….

I don’t feel relief, at all.  I’d take bloated discomfort with a hard drinking republican boyfriend in suburbia anyday, if it meant I’d have my little girl.  And I think that’s what motherhood is really about.  I had a taste of the overwhelming love that makes motherhood so magical, and that can’t be taken away.  And that is also why I wouldn’t take back this whole experience, not one bit, even considering how it turned out.

I’d made all these little milestones when I’d first been given my due date.  We’d hear her heartbeat by Valentines Day.  She’d hear our Irish drinking songs by St. Patricks Day, etc.  And in a similar manner, I said after the miscarriage that if I didn’t feel like myself by today, that I’d seek help.  A book I read on miscarriage said to give it six months, and I remember thinking, good God, I have to suffer for six months before I should call a doctor,  Can’t I just call one right now and say I don’t know how but I know this is going to be hard on me?  Perhaps I really should have done just that. 

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Today, in the swirl of emotions, one one looming large is pride.  I’m proud of myself.  I did something that is difficult for anyone suffering from mental disease, and that is to recognize it.  I did something that is very very difficult for me, to admit I couldn’t heal myself this time.

I called a sexy-accented psychiatrist and made an appointment.  I brushed my hair in case he was as cute as his voice.  (He is.)  I rushed on the stairs to his office, my heel caught, and he opened his door to find me bruised and bleeding from the knees. 

“Are you ok?” he asked.

And in the most obvious statement I’ve probably ever made, I said, on the verge of tears, “I need a hand.”

He did his job, asked lots of uncomfortable but caring questions, prescribed a medication and some therapy, which seem to be doing their jobs, and I know that my job is to allow them the time and cooperation to do just that.

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And so that is where today, August 16th, finds me.  Thinking of my little girl with more love and gratitude than pain.  Safe in the arms of friends and modern medicine and both Angels and Airwaves albums on shuffle and this very warm little apartment.

“Look what I found!”

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I rounded the corner to my Coworker F’s desk, holding Coworker K’s little boy, and when she looked up, I was treated to a slideshow of emotion across her face.

Delight at Baby D’s cuteness, a vague recognition, confusion as to where he’d come from, followed closely by aprehension as she looked around, hoping to see a parent, and not the police, in hot pursuit of me.

I giggled so hard at her horror that Baby D felt the need to join me, like he was in on the joke the whole time.

He likes my necklace and my hair.

And the presents helped.

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When I lost my baby, I braced myself for the grief.  This was an unfamiliar form, but I knew that not just my mind but also my body were about to face the pain that rushes in to fill the hole left.

Mental illness and depression specifically is a very real weak spot in my DNA.  Few in my family haven’t suffered.  I count myself among them, not in the sense that I am depressed, but that only a very careful regimen of proactive behavior stands between me and depression.  It’s always going to be out there waiting for me get lazy in my care of myself, or for some devastating event like this to knock a hole in my defenses.  To piggyback on to some temporary sadness and outstay it’s welcome.  I am very confident in my ability to fend off this disease and live a joyful life, specifically because I am so aware of my enemy.

Knowing the hormonal and emotional changes that were eminent, I’d have been foolish to deny the odds that I was about to get very sick.  I cleared my schedule, in a sense.  If I wanted to emerge victorious, I was going to have to pay a lot of attention to myself.

Right away was the franticness.  I thought it would fade within a week or two.  It didn’t.  It became less specific, “where’s the baby” and more general, “what am I supposed to do now?”  I embraced it in a strange way.  I didn’t try to calm down.  I figured that riding the wave of it might lift me over the dreaded rip tide of not being able to get out of bed.  It certainly worked, in that sense.  I went out way too much, spent too much money, lost too much weight, tore my way through a lot of men, and hardly recognized myself in the mirror.

This was all a preferable method of coping than the immobilizing weight that pinned me down and cost me a year of my teens.  But then the panic attacks began.  Particularly in the middle of the night.  This I could not manage alone so well, and I feared I would need medication.*  I wasn’t sure how to come back down off this ride, and it had outlived it’s usefulness.

Last weekend I was doing some stretching and meditation.  I threw in some new stuff that I hadn’t tried before, specifically working around my hips and first chakra, which is the seat of your feelings of rootedness.  Just that quickly, I had to stop, because I was sobbing.   By the end of the weekend I had the feeling that the wave had crested.

It’s a bit soon to be sure exactly where this wave is going to leave me.  I suppose that might be it, I might find my balance and continue on with my life.  It might drop me a bit lower than I’d hoped, and the ride may continue in a new way.  I simply find myself much more ……. still.

I’m telling you all this because I want you to know that my head is still very much above water, that I’m strong and ready for whatever comes next.  I’m as confident in my ability to heal as ever.  And maybe I’m as much telling you as reminding myself.

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*I want to be very careful about how I explain this.  Medication is a godsend to a lot of suffering people and I would never discourage the use of it, or consel someone to avoid something that might make a wonderful positive difference in their life.  My aversion isn’t any kind of sigma or thinking it’s for the weak, but rather being self aware about and experienced in MY body and how it reacts to anti-depressants.  Which is to say, not well.  It doesn’t flip the switches in my brain in the ways that are expected, and so getting the desired result requires a lot of trial and error.  For me the process of going on medication will most likely include getting a lot sicker before we find the way to make it better.  I’m willing to go through this process if it’s what I need, but I think you can understand why I try wholestic and lifestyle treatments first and reserve the pharmacy as a last resort.