The Honeymoon Phase

I feel like a totally different person than the depressed shell of a human I was during the first trimester. My mood on the whole has gone from bleak and dismal to relaxed and cheerful in the past month or two: I’m in the Honeymoon Phase of pregnancy, and boy does it feel better.

Factors that could have contributed to this miraculous change:

  • HORMONES: They say the first trimester hormones are the worst, and they level off during mid-pregnancy. I say that is 100% accurate. Most of my depressed days did not feel like they were happening for a concrete reason. I cried just because I couldn’t not cry, I couldn’t see the good in anything, and I didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I didn’t feel like me; I felt I was being controlled by some demon (hormones). After a few months, a switch flipped and I felt like my sunny old self again, complete with goals and interests.
  • TWINS: The anxiety and dark clouds didn’t entirely disappear once we found out it was not just a single baby inside…but that revelation was a huge turning point for my mood. I finally had an explanation for my out-of-the-ordinary emotional incontinence, not to mention my double fatigue. I stopped blaming myself and I actually felt excited for the babies.
  • GIVING FEWER FUCKS: Once I realized I am a human incubator of two lives, I realized that I am doing enough. This attitude is one I’ve been on the path toward for years, getting happier and happier the closer I come to not caring what anyone thinks. But now I’ve arrived. Yeah, we need money, and I need to fulfill my creative goals and keep my friends…but my first priorities are getting enough sleep, healthy food, exercise, meditation, and alone time, then, doing all the research, nesting, and procuring of items that will ensure these babies are safe and healthy once on Earth. That leaves me a mere couple of hours per day to do unrelated things. Does that mean I say “no” more often, and that when I do say “yes,” I am less fun, less accurate, and slower in every way? Yes. Do I give a fuck? No.
  • I’M MARRIED: I never thought I’d be so happy to be married, but this ties in with the previous bullet point. I have found the most amazing companion to help me grow, make me laugh, relax with me, and get me. And he has never been so into me as all the days since we committed our lives to each other. I know we’re in the honeymoon phase, but there’s nothing between us that isn’t real as real gets, and that makes me so glad I’ve long since left the days of running around trying to be as “sexy” as possible, exhausting myself with my “adventures,” smiling and trying to impress everyone around me. No thank you! Kai and I took a little honeymoon to Catalina Island a few weekends ago. We had such a great time. One day, we took a five-hour nap, then went to the grocery store and got hot dogs to grill at our hotel for dinner. We ate them, and some chips, in bed while watching a documentary about the Unabomber.

The fact that I don’t feel I have to search or strive for happiness is the most liberating experience. I’ve accomplished about four things today, so I’m not asking anything else of myself. I’m about to go to bed at 9:30pm and have one of those crazy pregnancy dreams, and just enjoy where I am.

I know that the third trimester is probably going to be a whole ‘nother story, and I’m going to have to learn how to live all over again. And same when the babies get here. I just hope that this ability to let it be will keep growing, and though I know it’s a possibility, I really hope the hormones will never again turn me into someone I don’t recognize.

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.

 

 

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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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.