How to Cut the Cord?

My mom is beyond excited to be a grandmother. “Mother” has been her main identity in life, and she never quite transitioned back to regular “woman” after my sister and I left the nest. Maybe nobody ever does; that’s what she tells me anyway. She held tight to the label of “mother,” even when both her daughters were grown and out trying to make the mistakes that could never have been made under her close watch.

Needless to say, it was very difficult news when I, at 24, decided to move 2,296 miles away from the rural town where I grew up, where Mom has lived her entire life. I remember the months up until I left, and how she fell to pieces. I still feel the guilt as if her feelings are my sole responsibility, even as I try to understand her feelings from worlds away. How it must hurt when the person you love most in the world wants to be on the opposite side of the country from you. I’m sure that to her, my moving away from Kentucky felt like a personal affront, since it’s rare that anyone in my tiny hometown ever does such a thing. But I simply moved where I felt moved to be, and over eight years ago, I found that Southern California was the first place I had room to grow into the woman I was destined to become.

I needed the thousands of miles to escape the expectations that weigh heavy over southern girls: do your learning in church, don’t ask questions, start a family young or else you’re selfish, get a sensible job and keep your creativity separate if you have any. I needed to completely blow my life to smithereens to find out what I was made of—to understand for the first time ever I didn’t need anyone but me to thrive. And then to find my tribe: the people who really understand this “me” that was underneath the constructs of that southern girl, trying to emerge but not knowing how until I got away.

And now that I am who I am, I get to add the word “mother” to my identity, too. But for me, it’s an addition, not a trade-off for all I’ve become.

My mom also gets a new identity. She can finally put this ill-fitting “mother” label in the back of the closet and don the new moniker “Granny.” I am almost as excited for her as she is, and she can barely think of anything else besides her three grandchildren who are all going to arrive around the same time this summer. She told me that my sister’s and my pregnancies were quite literally the answer to her prayers. (No pressure.)

You see, I want my children to be close to their grandparents. But where I’m from, the gold standard is for up to five generations to live within a couple miles of each other, and for baby and mom and grandmother to see each other nearly every day. My mom sees our relatives living that way and it looks so perfect to her.

I talk to her on the phone almost every day. And almost every day she “subtly” suggests that we move from the beloved city Kai and I call home, and return to the state I escaped almost a decade ago. She suggests this not for her sake, she says, but for ours. We wouldn’t have to stay forever; just long enough to save some money! Then we could move back out here! But I’m no dummy. I’ve never seen anyone move back out here after going back to their hometown. It’s not that I don’t love Kentucky. I do. But the prospect of leaving all I’ve found where my soul is truly happy, and going back to a rural place where I feel like a kid again, where only a few people “get” me, where my children would be indoctrinated with philosophies Kai and I loathe—well, that is what I call a last resort.

And I feel selfish. I feel guilty and selfish for wanting to live where I have made a home, even though I know that living one’s life out of guilty obligation to someone else is always a mistake. So my choices are: give up my entire identity just to be “mother,” too, so my mom can have the identity she wants, or I can stay here, deprive my parents of their grandchildren, and feel like a bad person. But at least I’d be a bad person who is living as me. There is a lot more to question and a lot more to say about this topic, but I will save it for therapy.

RIP Hand-Eye Coordination

so don’t want to become a pregnancy cliche who uses annoying terms like “pregnancy brain,” but I have no choice. Pregnancy brain is real.  I have to constantly stop mid-sentence to remember what the end of the sentence was supposed to be. It hurts my brain. I commit so many scheduling snafus that I’m verging on just saying “no” to everything so I can maintain my dignity. But let’s be honest: my dignity is gone. Either I forgot to flush the toilet last week, or some ill-humored reverse-burglar snuck in and left poo in our bathroom. Twice.

And it’s not just my mental game that’s being affected. I drop everything I touch. I pour a cup of water and then immediately knock it over. I burn my face with the curling iron so that my cheek turns brown and people think I’m being abused. I lose my earrings under the car seat. I break the egg yolks when I’m trying to do sunny side up, and end up having to scramble them. Luckily, my stability on my feet hasn’t been affected yet, but my hands are as clumsy as my mind.

I am becoming an invalid.

Domestic Hate Happens

The past 24 hours have been my definition of hell.

Without going into great detail, it is exactly one week until my beloved and I are supposed to get married. We’ve been vibing and on the same page when we get to see each other, which isn’t often with all the work we’re doing. Yesterday began as a beautiful sunny day in which we rode our bikes around our wonderful seaside city, making plans for that little wedding. And on a dime, through his misunderstanding, my words and intentions got twisted and I couldn’t possibly convince him of what he didn’t want to believe.

So I got angry. Quickly. Because nothing makes me angrier than not being seen or heard for who I am. And then I said so many things I didn’t mean. Mean things. And my hormonal, weak-minded pregnant self took everything insensitive thing he said deep into my three hearts and let it hurt as badly as it could. I cried for so long, hopeless and depressed, that I was dizzy with vertigo. He didn’t care. And then awoke this morning only slightly better, still crying, feeling like anything I ate would make me vomit. Not that we had anything to eat anyway. I had to make a trip to Trader Joe’s, looking like a monster.

And when I got back, he was still him and I was still me. He was still failing to say what he actually meant, and instead saying more and more insensitive things while I tried desperately to understand what the hell he wanted from me and choke down some strawberry O’s and not throw up. He’s freaking out about money, and from where I sit it sounds like he’s blaming me for all his fears. Me who is working while pregnant just to contribute, when all I want to do is lie down and do nothing.

(Me: “I’m pregnant with twins, I’m depressed, I’m working five or six days a week just to keep paying my half of the expenses, I’m getting together all the stuff for the registry and reading all the books, and I’m so stressed out and it can’t be good for the babies, and it seems like you’re telling me I’m still not doing enough and that I need to do more.”

Him: “I see you as an adult, not a kindergartener.What do you want me to do? Treat you like a baby?”

Me: “No, I want you to treat me like your wife-to-be who is pregnant with your two babies and is clinically depressed and needs extra care and love. I want you to acknowledge and appreciate what I am contributing.”

Him: “You need to love and care for yourSELF.”)

Needless to say, I have never felt such palpable hatred for the person I love most in the world. I felt so alone, so uncared for, so misunderstood. I’ve read many articles about pregnancy making women hate their male partners, and I never thought it would happen to me. But yesterday when he went to his hockey game, I literally said, “I hope someone punches you in the face.” And I meant it.

Do I like who I am or where I am or what I feel like or what my partner is acting like? NO.

Luckily I called and texted everyone in the world. Two therapists, my mom, his mom, four friends. I got a hold of one of the best friends I’ve ever had, and she showed me the light. Anything he was accusing me of slacking on, she said, was what he felt he needed to do. He is terrified–more terrified, even, than me. Because he doesn’t even have control over the babies or what happens to them until they come out. All he has control over right now, he feels, is the finances and our “readiness” in that way…and we are just scraping by as it is. He feels like figuring it out is all on him.

So I called him and told him I was scared, and I knew he was too. But, in these hellish 24 hours, I realized–and I told him–that I was willing to surrender to what needed to happen, whatever it was. Even my “worst nightmare” of moving back to Trumpmerica for a little while until we get on our feet. I just have to trust myself, trust him, and trust the universe.

 

 

Please God, Make It the 2nd Trimester

I am writing from inside a dark hole. The hole is my mind. I have been here for 11 Weeks, with a few escapes into the sunshine, thank God.

I’m 11 Weeks pregnant. And I want this baby. I’ve wanted to a baby for a while. My innermost desire had whispered the wish to the universe so many times that I know it heard me and sent me this gift. And I’m grateful, though it still doesn’t feel real to me. But the hormones that are pumping through my blood are not happy hormones.

I have worried. I have shaken with terror. I have cried bottomless toddler-style screams. I have lain in bed all day and all night on end. And what’s wrong with me? That’s what I want to know. I got what I asked for. I get into specifics–I didn’t say, “Universe, please send us a baby when we are financially doing great and feeling personally successful and at peace and everything is perfect.” I just quietly asked for a baby once in a while, indirectly, while writing in my journal or something. I’d just write how I wanted to have children, just sometime down the line, with this wonderful man who has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

So why do I find myself yelling “I hate you!” to this man?
Then directly after, why do I find myself yelling “I hate myself!!” Crying, begging, screaming, over and over, “I hate myself! Help me! Help me! Please just connect with me!” to a man who is standing here, not even looking at me. All I can think is He doesn’t love you. You’re not good enough. He regrets this pregnancy. He wishes he could find a way out. And none of this is true. I know none of it it true. But it comes and runs over me like a truck, and I am at its mercy, and I can’t save myself because my “self” is gone. Where has she gone?

First of all, who was she? I would describe that self as such:

I was a very active, energetic, ebullient gal. I smiled at everyone. I ran, surfed, hiked, skateboarded, biked, and loved the sunshine. I would try anything once. I meditated daily, did yoga often. I was loving. I was a writer and an actress. I wrote almost every day. Acted as much as I could in little films and sketches.  I was fearless. I left my small town and everything I knew to follow my dreams in California. I committed to things I loved and saw them through. I spent three years working on a novel and published it! I had tons of friends of all ages. Smoked weed once in a while or had some wine. Was kind and fun with kids, who loved me to be their babysitter. I was blunt and said what I was thinking, often with no filter.

And of course, like everyone, I had a darker side. It only surfaced about once a month when I was hormonal. This is what it looked like:

I had a temper that flared up, when I was being ignored or felt small. I needed to feel loved because I didn’t love myself enough, and when my needs weren’t met, I said things I didn’t mean–hurtful, cruel things to the man I love. And when I made these mistakes, I beat up on myself, punished myself for days, hated myself because I couldn’t control these outbursts. I felt like a child, and began to blame the overprotected way I was raised, or the fact I was adopted, or anything I could blame for my self-doubt, for my neediness and tantrums. I found it difficult to forgive myself, even though forgiving others came easily. I never felt like I was as good as others. I wasn’t as “worthy.” Something was “wrong” with me. None of my accomplishments were “real.” I felt like an awful, evil person, masquerading as someone kind, accomplished, and carefree.

But I was working on that. I was going to therapy weekly, getting acupuncture, doing yoga and meditation, journaling, talking, going deep to find why I somehow didn’t find myself as worthy as other people. And I was making progress, since the symptoms of my affliction only showed up around PMS time. The rest of the time I was the positive, active, happy version of me.

The problem is, when I became pregnant, my entire life became PMS time. On bath salts. I read somewhere, and I don’t know how accurate it is, that the first trimester of pregnancy is the hormonal equivalent of taking 40 birth control pills per day. Personally, I went off birth control years ago, because ONE pill per day was making me crazy. So where does that leave me now? Just multiply all my bad qualities by 15, and imagine being trapped inside that person’s mind 24 hours a day.

Self-hatred is my new M.O. Now, I’m hating for two! Because what’s worse than feeling like an unworthy piece of shit? The guilt I feel for feeling that way in the first place, for not being joyful and “glowing.” I’m now, as my brain sees it, an unfit mother in the making, heaping worry on top of worry. Not to mention, my body is stuck in an eternal hangover. In addition to sleeping an average of 12 hours per night, plus naps during the day, I wake up every morning not knowing if I’m going to feel able to eat anything, and what I can eat without feeling sick is mostly carbs which leave me feeling bloated and disgusting. My brain is a pile of mush. I have no drive anymore because I feel like I have the flu or something. So I can’t write, which is the one thing that brought me satisfaction. I can do about one thing per day. I take a walk and watch a movie and stuff my face with carbs, hoping to feel better.

My poor partner bends over backwards to try to make me feel better, to try to understand what he can never understand. I thank him and do what I can to show him my appreciation, but at least once a week, I go off the rails and begin freaking out, sobbing, and inevitably blaming him for something he didn’t do. Which adds to the guilt-shame cycle, which adds to my self-hatred and feelings of being less-than, which makes me feel temporarily suicidal since I see no way out, which makes me flare up even worse, since I feel guilty and shameful and sick and nasty all the time.

It’s the stuff of nightmares. Many new parents fear losing themselves. I fear I’ve already lost myself.