Dark with the Light

Today I’ve been having another of my existential crises. It came after a week of mostly good feelings, a week without facing the harsher parts of reality. And of course, it is a law that carefree times must necessarily be followed by a cold slap to remind us of the contrast that makes life interesting.

The easy week went thus: First, my mom and sister (who is, remember, two weeks ahead of me in pregnancy) came to Cali to visit. Mom is a fluffy ball of pure love, and my sister is a blessing, as she is a cohort in this strange, uncomfortable rite of passage. We didn’t do much when they were here: just ate at different restaurants and walked around Venice, binged all seven hours of Big Little Lies, and went shopping for maternity clothes. But it was effortless. No dwelling on impending futures and their scary prospects: just strolling along, enjoying each other’s company.

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My sister and me + 3 inside

When they left, Kai and I had a couple days of downtime, and then hopped a boat for Catalina Island, to spend a weekend honeymooning. Again, we didn’t do much; just what we felt like. We went snorkeling and hiking, we ate key lime pie and talked, and heck, one day we slept for five hours and then grilled hot dogs and watched a documentary about the Unabomber. It was as smooth and clear as the teal water by the docks, no agenda.

But then we got home.
Today was such a Monday. My stupid to-do list waited for me. There’s baby stuff to worry about, like scheduling all these birthing and breastfeeding classes, there’s writing and moviemaking assignments I took on for the love. I’ve still got to sleep, eat, and exercise so I can adjust gracefully to the feeling that, as my sister put it today, “my belly is falling out of my body.” But sitting heavily on top of all that, I HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY.

All my income-generating gigs are just too hard to do right now. I can’t go bartend when I’d pop the buttons off my black button-down shirt and can’t stay up past 8pm without slurring my words. I can’t chase toddlers around babysitting for more than a couple of hours, and a couple of hours isn’t really worth my time since what I’m looking for is MONEY. I do personal assistant things for a few hours a week, but I have a freaking master’s degree and I should be able to find a PAYING JOB I can do from home! So I spend hours on top of my to-dos, applying for all these stay-at-home jobs that may or may not be legit: writing, editing, grading tests, answering customer service queries, I DON’T FUCKING CARE, I JUST NEED MONEY.

We’ve gotten married, we’ve got two kids on the way, we’ve been on the honeymoon, we got a joint checking account. He’s working like always. I’m struggling, dying, begging the Universe to please guide me toward a not-awful job I can do from home that employs MY BRAIN to GENERATE INCOME. It’s something I’ve waited for patiently since I graduated from all that schooling, through the eleven years of doing creative gigs for free for the love of art, meanwhile making sheckles by serving hors d’oeuvres or schlepping kids around…BUT THE DEADLINE IS APPROACHING. IT’S TIME THIS SHIT PAID OFF. Yes, I am freaking out. Yes I am rethinking my entire existence. Yes I still would rather have this kind of freak-out than work in an office 9-5. But up until now I had the luxury of time because it was just me. Now it is me + 3. And I am a puddle of self-doubt and guilt and exhaustion.

Serves me right for having a low-stress week, I guess.

 

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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.

 

 

Rainy Day Twin Fears

My disposition has been much sunnier since I found out we’re having twins. It explained all manner of my crazy behavior and made me feel a little less inhuman. But it’s been almost a month since I saw the two little fuzzy black-and-white pictures on the screen, and the further away I get from that concrete evidence, my mind has become increasingly unsettled.

Every morning I wake up and feel my belly to make sure it’s still as big as it was yesterday. In my sleep and in those foggy hours before waking I worry about losing one of the twins. I have no reason to believe that would happen, other than that it has happened to other people.

But what if I’m depleting the twins of nutrients by sleeping on my back like they tell me not to? I just can’t sleep on my side. How the hell do people sleep on their sides? Where do you put your arm? It goes to sleep, and the curve of my womanly hips makes the whole side of my body uncomfortable as one side rests and the other sticks into the air, my torso in an “L” shape. I’ve tried propping pillows every which way, but most nights I eventually say fuck it. In concession, I prop the pillows like a ramp and lie with my head above my heart like I’m in a Craftmatic Adjustable bed. Hoping not to kill a twin, and waking every few hours trying to intuit if they’re both okay.

Before I ingest anything, of course, I Google it to make sure it’s not poison to babies. The real problem with eating is that it is of no interest to me. Food is still, for the most part, gross. Sometimes by the day’s end, I realize I’ve eaten nothing of substance. I was too tired all day to cook anything, and every time I opened the fridge for something quick, it looked disgusting. So I’m at the end of the day begrudgingly eating a bowl of cereal and some pea protein and yogurt to account for my lost nutrients.

I’m almost 16 weeks, and I did enjoy about one week of second trimester energy. But then it faded away with the sunshine that coincided with that week. It could be that my energy is boycotting me because of the fact that it rains EVERY DAMN DAY here in L.A. now, which makes me want to stay indoors and cover up with blankets. And the lack of movement means lack of motivation, and the lack of motivation means fear, and the fear means no food looks good, and generally life is a wet, gray, dismal, boring wash. I can’t wait until I can just take a damn walk! Or wear a tank top instead of the same five layers of clothes that make me feel like a fat eskimo.

I do have an O.B. appointment tomorrow morning. I hope they do an ultrasound and make me feel better.

I’m heading now to buy a twin stroller from a woman on Craigslist who only used it once. Originally this thing is almost $700, and she’s selling it for $500, with an additional bassinet! It’s early, I know, but I need some concrete way to remind me that these babies will probably be okay, and my fears are just products of the gloom that will bring greener, brighter days.

 

Pregnancy as Crappy Air Travel (Extended Metaphor)

To me, being pregnant feels like being stuck on a commercial airline, on an 40-week one-way flight, in coach, in the middle seat, sitting between my partner and a very large person. Damn, this ride is uncomfortable.

For one, there’s that fog of fatigue that set in as soon as the hum of the jet engine started, back in December. No matter how much caffeine I ingest (and I’m only allowed up to 200 mg per day!), every time I lift my head off the headrest, it feels like it weighs 30 pounds. I’ve brought my computer, hopeful to get some work done, but I can barely hold my eyes open. I stow my computer under the seat and berate myself about the to-do list I’ve abandoned.

All I want to do is sleep. The problem is, I can’t for longer than an hour. There’s no leg room. And this fat man to my right is crowding me. I fall asleep in one contorted position until my neck aches and I wake up and have to readjust. I try again and wake up because my butt’s asleep. I lean forward and put my head on the tray table, but after an hour of that, my back is killing me. I’m trapped and growing increasingly cranky.

Also, it doesn’t help that I need to pee every 45 minutes. I have to squeeze past my zaftig neighbor and do the whole bladder-emptying routine so many times that I’m considering just peeing my pants. And when I arrive at the toilet, it turns out to be only about two tablespoons of urine that was making me so uncomfortable.

It’s getting difficult to remember what it was like to enjoy life as I knew it, to run around free in the sunshine, in total control. I hate the feeling of being a passenger, having to play by rules that aren’t mine. On this flight, I am allowed no wine or champagne, no fine cheese or sushi or even deli meat (though I see others around me enjoying all of the above). The flight attendants tell me I can eat as much as I want barring those items, but I don’t want anything. It’s a constant state of yuck in my tummy, like a bad hangover. I’ve opened my barf bag so many times, but I never manage to vomit. I’m starving, but all the options sound disgusting. I only munch on the carbohydrate-laden snacks to settle my poor stomach.

Since I’ve lost all my joy in food and drink and work and activities, since I can’t sleep and I can’t stay awake even long enough to enjoy the in-flight TV, I am losing touch with reality. The recycled air is pumping a certain amount of negativity into my brain, and because of where I sit, I can’t even look out the window to remind myself the sky exists. Luckily, my partner is sitting by the window and is willing to describe to me what he sees from there: a clear sky, a sunset, stars, a moon, pink and purple clouds. But sometimes even his descriptions aren’t enough for me. I want to see it too.

Because of my fragile mental state, I worry about every single bump or patch of turbulence. I sit and fret and ask the people around me if it’s going to be okay, if I’m still going to get there, and some tell me it’s fine. Others try to scare me.

All I have to keep me going is the promise of the destination. My groom-to-be and I are going to live here forever. Where are we headed anyway? Well, I don’t even know its name. All I know is that people who have been there tell me it’s the most rewarding place to live. Which is weird, because the brochures I’ve seen show mostly bleak areas. I realize this is an insane decision to have made, to commit to someplace sight-unseen, and I’m scared, but also excited…because why else would so many people never want to come back?

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Scary Pregnant Googling

Below is a compiled list of word-for-word Google searches I have done since I found out I was pregnant. Put together in this form, they’re kind of frighteningly beautiful. Maybe I’ll submit them to a literary magazine as a poem entitled, “Crazy Pregnant Lady.”

pregnant and feel useless
writing while pregnant impossible
how much caffeine while pregnant
first trimester no motivation
green tea while pregnant
guayusa safe while pregnant
raw eggs pregnancy usa
pregnancy cat litter
toxoplasmosis
first trimester miscarriage statistics
i am so stressed out about this pregnancy i am terrified
pregnant money worries
first trimester afraid of getting fat
prenatal yoga
stress hurt baby in womb
pregnancy brain changes
best cheap crib
diapers safe for environment
cute 1/4 asian babies
can i surf while pregnant
compostable diapers
wine while pregnant
marijuana while pregnant
women’s march safe while pregnant
matcha caffeine content
dull ache in lower abdomen pregnant
acupressure points to relieve queasiness
prenatal depression
tylenol autism
st. john’s wort safe while pregnant
acupuncture while pregnant
when will i start showing
too tired to exercise first trimester
where to find preggie pops santa monica
food cures for morning sickness
can’t stop complaining first trimester
jealous of partner for being not pregnant
learn to love yourself
nannying makes me not want to have kids
lazy pregnancy
how to structure days when depressed
pregnancy hypnosis
writing jobs from home
when is he going to propose
pregnancy model agencies
fisher-price vintage cassette player with microphone
california hospital delivery
best water birth los angeles
doula price los angeles
best midwives los angeles
should mom or in-laws stay with us after birth
quiet hands free breast pump
twins natural birth
do fraternal twins grow at same rate in womb as one
baby names japanese
sun baby names
water baby names
romantic getaways near LA
insomnia 12 weeks pregnant
melatonin safe while pregnant
foods that help regulate pregnancy hormones
How to get married Santa Monica
men’s platinum wedding band 4mm

Fear of Losing Myself

I grew up with a mom who loved me and my sister more than anyone could possibly love anyone. She would sacrifice anything for us, whether or not we asked for it. Even into our thirties we remain her reason for living, and she spends most of her mental energy worrying about us. I will never be able to repay her for her selflessness, and though I know I have done what is right for me and don’t regret it, I will always feel guilty that I left her and went to live my own life, thousands of miles away.

I hope that I can love my kids as unconditionally as my mother has done. But my greatest fear in having kids is losing myself in that version of love that dissolves my personhood.

The hormones have led to a lot of unnecessary worry about everything, and this has been one of the hot topics. My mom has told me over and over, “You’ll feel differently about your needs and wants after the baby comes.” And I know I will. But every time my mom asks if I need something, all I want to say is, “I need you to take care of yourself.” Seeing her excited about something, proud of herself, and healthy, would be the greatest gift she could give me.

Love manifests in so many different ways for different people. But for me, I don’t want it to manifest as protecting my child from every uncomfortable feeling. I want my version of love to be strong enough to watch them make painful mistakes and to be there when they need me.

My mom gave me every opportunity she could, from sports to art to music. She made sure I had more than what I needed. But I saw her deny herself so much. I want to give my kids those opportunities, too, but I also hope I can model self-love for my children, to show them what it looks like to be interested in life, what it looks like to grow and take risks. I want to continue doing what feeds my soul, and to encourage them to find their own passions, which may or may not be similar to mine.

I want to raise adults who feel empowered and ready to live their lives for themselves when it is time to leave me. I don’t want them to feel encumbered by me; I don’t want them to feel guilty for living their lives instead of mine. I want them to feel steady in themselves, to trust in what they learned because I trusted them to learn it.

I was so lucky to have the mom I had. I know I’ll make mistakes daily; I just hope I can strike a balance between being a mom and being me.

 

Why I Didn’t Go to the Women’s March (Fear of Miscarriage)

I’m suffering from a case of FOMO today, looking at all these photos of friends who went to the women’s marches across the nation with their signs, in droves, standing for something. What did I do today? So far I woke up, talked with my man, sorting out some things we had been arguing about (because I’m fucking crazy thanks to these hormones), and ate some pancakes. I did not take a stand, other than “liking” the photos of my fellow revolutionaries.

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Statistics I’ve read say that anywhere from 10-25% of pregnancies don’t make it past the first trimester. And every single pregnancy book reminds you of that. So I have to wait until the stroke of Week 13 to even feel a little relieved.

As yet, I haven’t made it public knowledge yet that I’m pregnant. A lot of women tell no one until the first trimester is over. I’ve told my family and friends. I couldn’t keep it to myself. Not because I’m bubbling over with excitement, but because I feel isolated enough already, living as a tired-as-fuck, sicky, emotional basket case who can’t join in the party or go on the ski trip or stay up past 7:30 pm. If nobody even knew why I was acting this way and I couldn’t even get any sympathy, I’d die.

So I take the risk. I tell people when I feel like it. It one of the few exciting things in my life right now. I look at my man and say, “Should we tell them?” and then he nods, so I say, “We’re expecting a baby!” and wait for the mixed reactions. Some people squeal with delight and jump up and down and hug us and say, “You’re going to be the best parents!” and others  are like, “Oh wow. Congratulations,” then go back to whatever we were talking about before.

And I don’t want to have to tell any of those people that it isn’t to be. I don’t want to even type these miscarriage fears because I’m afraid I’ll manifest them. But I think of it every day. I feel my belly, which isn’t even showing, to see if it “feels” pregnant. I look for blood on the toilet paper and I have a fright every time I turn over in bed and feel a pain in my side. I worry myself into a frenzy about nonsense, thanks to the scary American pregnancy books that ban everything from runny eggs to a bite of brie. I worry about my relationship with the baby’s father because I’m acting like a complete alien and I’m afraid he will leave me. And what would be worse than losing the baby? Losing it and then losing him, too, because what if he’s actually only with me because he has no choice? Then after all my crying and terror, I worry that my body is going to be toxic to my baby. Or even crazier, I worry that all my complaints over the discomfort and loss of sanity of pregnancy is going to get me in trouble with the Universe. I’m afraid God is going to punish me for not running around glowing. I’m afraid it will be decided, “If you can’t even handle the first few months, you are not a worthy mother.”

I know that the majority of these lost baby cases are due to chromosomal problems and they’re out of my hands. I know all the previous paragraph’s worries are pretty much bullshit. But that’s me now. I rarely used to worry. Now it’s the first thought when I wake up.

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.