Wednesday, July 30, 2014

And with that, it feels like it might all be ok

"Maybe there's something you're afraid to say, or someone you're afraid to love, or somewhere you're afraid to go.  It's gonna hurt.  It's gonna hurt because it matters." -John Green

It's funny how sometimes you're going about your day and you find yourself doing something mindless, like surfing the internet or scrolling through Pinterest and then....bam.  The thing you needed reveals itself to you.  In all of my trepidation, all of my nervous thoughts on this process, all of my fear about what happens and what will happen, I've constantly found myself wondering why I have all of these fears and hesitations.  I've felt like maybe I shouldn't be having these thoughts or feelings about any of this.  Then, tonight I came across this quote from John Green and I realized that it's ok to have all of this fear, all of this hesitation, all of these feelings I'm struggling with.  It's ok to have them because this matters.  All of this matters.  This whole process of becoming a parent is something that matters, and because it matters it's ok to be afraid, and nervous and everything else.  Even if, over time, there are things about this that are hard, and that hurt to go through, and that scare me, it's ok to feel all of those things because if I didn't, it would mean they don't matter.  And being a parent should, if nothing else, matter.  So now I feel like maybe if all I ever felt was over the moon excited, maybe it would mean that to me it doesn't matter in the same way.  Suddenly, that makes me feel better.  I'd rather be afraid and know it's because it matters than be over the moon excited and realize later it's because I didn't realize at the time how much it mattered.

And maybe, the next time I start to get nervous about all of the ways I keep imagining things will happen, I'll have to remember another little piece of wisdom from John Green:

"Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will."

Thanks for the wisdom, John.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sometimes the walls close in...

This past week has had me feeling very conflicted.  More than my usual "am I really cut out to be a parent" conflict, which pretty much wages war in my mind on a daily basis.  This past week, the theater company my husband and I started had its summer performance.  We've been working on the show since the end of May, and we've spent almost every night this summer working on rehearsals, and weekends working on production stuff.  It's no small task.  It takes hours of time and prep.  Rehearsals are nightly from 7:00 until 9:00 and then production week is even busier.  It's going straight from work to rehearsal, staying there until 9:30, going home and managing odds and ends before collapsing into bed by 1:00 a.m. if you're lucky.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  How can I do all of that next year with an infant in tow?  I can't rush from work straight to rehearsal if I have to pick up a baby from daycare and make sure it's fed and diapered.  I can't stay at rehearsals until 9:00 if I have a baby who needs to be in bed by 8:00.  I can't rush home from rehearsal at 9:30 and handle odds and ends if I also have to worry about bathing and putting a baby to bed.

Last night I sat on the sofa and did absolutely nothing.  I made dinner, did the dishes, and then watched 3 hours of television.  I can't do that a year from now.  I will have to come home, make dinner, feed a baby, do dishes, bathe and put the baby to bed, and if I'm lucky I'll be done by 9:00 and have an hour to myself.

It's when I think about thinks like this that the walls start to close in on me.  I start to wonder if I'm too selfish to do this.  If I'm too set in my ways to change much at this point.  Is it terrible of me to think of parenthood in terms of what I have to give up instead of what I'll be gaining?  I think it's unrealistic to not think of all of the things you'll give up.  It's not all sunshine and roses.  Will I have to stop working with the theater company entirely?  Is that something my husband gets to carry on with while I sit at home like a 1950's house wife, doing nothing more than taking care of the baby?  Is this how those obnoxious mommies are made?  By slowly giving up everything they enjoyed or had going on outside of the kid until there is nothing left but being a mom?  It terrifies me.

Someone else in our family announced a pregnancy this week, and every comment on Facebook was glowing congrats, and every reply from her was filled with five exclamation points to emphasize how incredibly excited she is about the whole thing.  I haven't been like that.  Most people would probably listen to me and say I'm not excited at all.  Maybe there's an element of truth to that.  Not an utter lack of excitement, but a lot of trepidation about what it all means.  What I'll have to give up and how my life will change.  Maybe that's me being a pragmatist, and not just thinking of this in terms of "Oh, I'll have this lovely little thing that I can dress up and show off and who will love me no matter what" like a lot of people.  I think of it practically, in very clear terms of understanding that things are going to change.  As much as we work to mitigate those changes and make them as minimal as possible, there are some things that will just change because they have to.  It won't be all about me, or all about my husband anymore.  We've had fifteen years together of doing what we want when we want.  Now we have to take someone else into account, and I'm afraid that's going to be an adjustment that will be harder than we realize.  I'm excited to see my kid for the first time (though, not so much about the whole bringing it into the world process) and to watch it become a little person, and hopefully guide it into not being a crappy little person, but that stuff is all a long way off in my mind.  In the immediate time frame I'm just afraid of every unknown that I can't plan for.  I'm afraid of losing myself.  I'm afraid of having to change too much of my life, which is at a place where I'm pretty comfortable.  I'm afraid of having a kid who screams non-stop.  I think about these things and it makes me nervous.  It makes me unsure of myself, and of whether I'm doing the right thing.  It makes me doubt even more that I have any business doing any of this.

And anything that's supposed to be "fun" about this process gets killed before it even gets off the ground.  All of that shopping/decorating/picking a name stuff is hard to get excited about when everyone wants to put in their two cents and tell you all about what you're doing wrong.  I never consider baby showers fun, but that's supposed to be a celebration, and the very idea of what mine will end up like is making me not want one at all because no one involved in the process will listen to me, so it won't be anything I want.  Even shopping with family will turn into everyone telling me what I should be doing or buying instead of letting me decide it for myself.

I am not sure how other people get over the moon excited.  All I feel is nervous.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lonely Island

No, I'm not talking about that lonely island.  I'm talking about another one.  The one I keep feeling like I'm on most of the time.  I know, maybe I'm beating a dead horse here, but sometimes it's lonely to experience something pretty much by yourself.  I know that lots of women will tell you all about this "sisterhood of women" that exists and comes out of the woodwork at the mere mention of the word "pregnancy" but I don't find most of those women either comforting or useful.  For the most part, from what I can tell, they all just want to share their stories.  They want to tell you what they went through without much interest in hearing what your thoughts are.  Plus, I find the women who are most readily interested in talking to you about baby-related things are also the sort of women who are a bit baby obsessed and think their children are literally the center of the universe.  I'm not really going to be able to relate to those women, because while I think that motherhood is probably a huge responsibility and raising people who aren't total assholes is pretty important, I don't think it's literally the most important thing I will ever do with my life.  I would like to think of my life as being made up of many important things, and motherhood will just be one of those things.  I want my life to be larger than just successfully getting a toddler to eat their lunch.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that right now, a lot of the time, I feel kind of lonely in all of this.  I don't relate to most other women.  I also don't have any "funny" stories about my pregnancy to share in this "oh, isn't this such a crazy trip!" sisterhood of growing a person.  I don't have stories about puking in weird places that I can laugh off and share with other women who can relate.  I don't have the "oh, I had to pee every ten minutes!" stories to share where someone else can say "I know, that's just the worst!" or whatever.  I don't have anything.  I have a stick that I peed on, and that returned a plus sign, and from there my life didn't really change.  Hell, I didn't even take a picture of the stupid pee stick.  I haven't scanned my ultrasound pictures into Facebook so I can make it "Facebook official", and I don't plan to.  Honestly, if I hadn't peed on the stick, I'd probably be qualifying for one of those shows where the woman doesn't know she's pregnant, because up to this point, nothing has really changed.  If it weren't at the back of my mind, where the nagging voice lives and constantly tells me that I'm going to fuck this up, and that something is going to go wrong, I'd probably be able to forget all together.

I'm not really part of the sisterhood.  I'm also not really sure that anyone I know really wants to hear all of the thoughts that I keep having on this subject.  I find myself increasingly worried that people are going to think I'm reacting wrong, or not being happy enough, or not being motherly enough in this process.  For the most part, I'm still scared about all of the unknowns that are coming up.  The fear makes it hard to be over the moon excited.  At this point, I don't even feel connected to this process.  It hasn't been a process.  For the most part, I just haven't been able to drink (which is a bit of a down side) but that's it.  I'm not sure what sort of mental bonding or connection I should be doing here, but when I read blogs by other women, they all talk about this sense of wonder and excitement they're filled with and I'm just filled with a bit of resentment about not being able to have a glass of wine.  Maybe if I'd been puking for 3 months, or insanely tired, or going through all of those early pregnancy symptoms, I might feel like at this point, I've worked for something and earned it and I'd be more outwardly excited, but in my case I haven't really done anything.  I mean, I guess I have since there's a human growing in there, but I feel like nature's kind of taken the wheel and I've just been keeping the car from veering off the road.  I'm waiting to feel connected.  I keep waiting and thinking "Maybe when I feel it moving, it'll finally seem real" or "maybe when I know if it's a boy or a girl, it'll be easier to picture it as a person".  It's why I feel like I need to find out the gender.  At that point, it begins to have an identity.  It becomes more real.  It becomes a tangible idea instead of this theoretical thing that I can't connect with just yet.

I feel bad for having these thoughts.  I feel like it's the least motherly thing I could be thinking.  I feel like it makes me a bad person, and proves I shouldn't be doing this.  I feel like even posting it here, I'm somehow admitting how awful I am.  I don't hate the tiny seahorse.  I just don't feel connected to it yet.  

And there's a part of me that is afraid I never will.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

So, I'm going to need you to be a Hufflepuff

According to the Harry Potter Musical, Hufflepuffs are extraordinarily good finders.  I'm going to need my OB to learn to be a Hufflepuff.  The two visits I've had with her have been pretty nerve wracking.  I'm sort of on high alert that something is going to go wrong in all of this baby growing stuff.  There's a lot that could go wrong.  You never know what kind of developmental stuff is going on in there.  You're always at risk that partway through all of this, the fetus could be like "Oh hey, I'm dead now".  It's a little stressful.  Even when everything is progressing exactly as it should, nature can come out of nowhere and just bitch slap you.  It makes doctor's appointments become stress filled experiences for me.  I don't actually look forward to ultrasounds.  Most people are like "Oh, I get to see my baby!" and I'm like "Great, this is probably the time they'll find that one terrible thing that they missed all the other times".  Pessimistic?  Yeah, probably.  But, it's sort of hard to be optimistic when no one else around you seems to be.  I'm still waiting to feel that "I'm so excited!" moment, because a large portion of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I'm not actively worried.  I don't sit around and constantly worry.  I'm just not ok with feeling excited either.  Why get excited when it could all be ripped away from you with one bad appointment?  I think that makes people think I'm not at all happy, but it's more that I'm not at all trusting.  I'd love to be happy.  I'd love to be one of those simpering women who says things like "There's nothing more magical than hearing your baby's heartbeat".  Ok, maybe I wouldn't love to be one of those women.  But I'd like to at least look forward to more things.  I'd like to not dread ultrasounds, or approach them with an extreme sense of trepidation.  I'd like to go in thinking "I'm excited to see what it looks like" instead of "What are they going to find?"

That brings me to my doctor needing to be a Hufflepuff.  Each visit, there's been an agonizing 30+ seconds where she can't find what she's looking for.  The first appointment, she seemed to have a hard time finding the seahorse within the vast expanse of my effing uterus.  It's not that big lady, and there's nothing in it except a grape sized blob hiding right there out in the open.  So why the struggle?  No idea, but she couldn't find it for a while and I sat there thinking the worst.  Then, several jabs later, she found it.  Great.  Now I can breathe again.  The same thing happened this morning.  No ultrasound this time, just a weird doppler thing that was intended to at least listen to the baby's heartbeat.  Except she couldn't find it.  For 30+ agonizing seconds, she couldn't find it.  I'm not expecting anyone to relate, but when you sit there hearing the sound of basically nothing but static for that long you start to think things like "Oh, awesome, it's dead".  No heartbeat, no baby.  It's that simple.  She moved the wand around my abdomen for a while, poking, prodding, adjusting, getting a lovely reading of my own goddamn heartbeat but nothing that sounded like the tiny seahorse was in there.  Then, after about 20 years, she found it.  Faint at first, but then as she figured out exactly where it was hanging out (really, kid, there's not much space in there, why the hell are we playing hide-and-seek?) she moved the wand and it got louder.  More strange sound effects like out of a sci-fi movie.  At that point she declared that it sounded "perfect" and proceeded to wipe gel off of me and wrap up the appointment.  That was a whole lot of fucking stress for such a casual wrap up.  Maybe in future we could not continue this tradition?

A Hufflepuff would never have had so much trouble.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I climbed a motherfucking mountain

Since we told people about the tiny seahorse (that's what I've been calling it) a few weeks ago, I've gotten a lot of positive responses, but a lot of them have been peppered with unsolicited advice, or unnecessary commentary.  I think the most frustrating thing about people knowing you're pregnant is that it becomes all you are.  You're no longer an individual to some people, you're suddenly just grouped together in this lump called "pregnant lady" and suddenly that's all you can do.  People will start telling you what/how to eat.  People will start making comments about what you can or cannot do.  People will start telling you should find out the gender, or you shouldn't.  The breastfeeding zealots come out of the woodwork to shame you if you're considering bottles and formula.  If you mention names you're considering, people will feel totally content to tell you how much they hate them.  And don't consider doing anything remotely strenuous.  It's like you're supposed to sit around and do nothing but grow a human, as if that takes all of your attention and concentration.  Last I checked, that thing seems to keep growing all on its own without too much effort or prompting on my part.  I think we're good.

I feel like I'm already slowly getting sucked into my worst nightmare about parenthood.  All along, I've been terrified that I'll cease being a person and suddenly I'll just be "So-and-so's mom" as if that's the entire defining feature of my identity and I did not exist as a person prior to being assigned that identity.  I feel like being lumped in as "pregnant lady" is just the first step in that.  It's sort of paralyzing to think about, because there is so much more to me than growing this fetus, and that already seems to be something that is slowly forgotten by my peers.  Just this last week, I heard a friend say several times "She can't, she's pregnant" as if that has taken away my ability to do normal things.

It's put me into this mental place where I want to defy those people.  I want to do what I feel like doing, regardless of whether there's a fetal parasite living off of me at the moment.  It's only been a few weeks and I'm already tired of being told things I can't do.  So, I decided to say fuck it and do what I wanted.  While we were on vacation last week, the national park we were in had a 500 ft cliff face that you could climb.  It was almost entirely vertical, with ledges no more than 3 feet wide in most places.  The cliff face itself was all granite, and in some places they had put metal bars into the granite to help you pull yourself up from one ledge to another.  I wanted to climb it.  Actually, everyone in our group wanted to climb it.  I decided if everyone was going, I was going to go too.  I did have a panic attack at the base, because all of the "you can't do this" voices popped into my head, and all of the stupid paperwork from my OB that said "consult your doctor before beginning any new activity" kept flashing in front of me and making me worry that by doing this, I was somehow going to just kill the kid on my way up.  I sat at the base for about 5 minutes trying not to cry, arguing with all the voices in my head, convincing myself that if I would have done it 3 months ago, then there's no reason I shouldn't be doing it now.  I'm healthy.  The seahorse is still really small.  My whole body is protecting it.  I'm not slamming myself into the rock face, or jamming anything into my belly.  There was no reason I shouldn't make the climb, except that I was letting everyone else get into my head and push the "me" part out so they could replace it with "pregnant lady".  So I did it.  I climbed the rock face.  Not only did I do it, but I kept up with everyone else pretty easily, and I made it all the way to the top without any real struggle.  14 weeks pregnant, and I scaled a mountain.

Who else wants to tell me I can't do something?