Monday, May 6, 2013

Beautiful Things



Thursday morning, I woke up like it was any other day. I got ready, looked over my lesson plans, taught my classes, and as I was erasing the board before leaving my last class to go home, my heart started to race, and it felt as if a malevolent force was destroying what had been a great day so far.  

I finished erasing the white board, grabbed my bag, and threw myself outside of the building at the corner of 32nd & Chestnut. I started to walk. Fresh air will help, I thought. Fresh air, going in and out of shops in Center City, and maybe treating myself to something nice would make it all okay. I kept walking with determination, but the more I walked the more I wanted to run. Run and hide. I dove into the first subway station I saw and took the train home. At home, I quickly changed out of my clothes and laid on the couch until Jeremy came home in the afternoon. When he asked me about my day, I started to cry like I've thought of my worst memory. He quickly pulled me into his arms as I told him that I didn't know why I was crying. He said he understood. When I say he understood,  I mean, he truly understood what was going on, because he studies neuroscience.  He didn't try to explain what was happening in my brain in fancy scientific terms. Instead, he kept whispering that he will always be there for me as he continued to hold me a little tighter.

On certain days, no matter how much I resist, my mind becomes convoluted with negativity. I know it's the pregnancy that causes me to feel this way, but it's nothing compared to some of the strange moods I used to experience before I became pregnant. It makes me feel like I no longer feel my body as my own but more as a foreign land that is slowly being overrun. So, I wonder in anxiety about how my body will make room for my constantly growing baby who is already kicking and moving around all day long. I worry if I'm eating right, sleeping right, and making sure that my daily routine won't potentially cause me or my baby harm. I wonder if I'm a nuisance to those around me and my husband. I fear that I'm physically becoming more dependent on others. Then, I fear the quickly approaching time during labor when I will feel pain, lose all physical control, and surrender myself to the help of doctors and medicine. I worry if our house is ready to accommodate our baby, and I worry if everything is organized. I feel alone. I worry that I don't know anything about breast feeding and bathing a baby. I want to cry. I don't want to cry, because I don't want to project the negativity that has its claws tightly wrapped around me onto my baby. I worry that I will leave an imprint of my negative feelings on my baby's psyche. I continue to worry about why I worry so much.

Then, these negative feelings slowly fade away like they never even existed. Afterwards, I feel foolish, exhausted, and relieved.

The next day, I called my mother in Turkey to explain to her the way I feel at times."Oh, I understand. I went through menopause," she said. 

"What?"

"Menapause!"

"It's not the same."

"It's more similar than you think. Well, let's see. I was pregnant with you thirty years ago."

"Twenty-nine," I said rolling my eyes.

"Almost thirty," she said."And I think I remember feeling that way when I was pregnant, but most recently, I remember feeling that way while going through menopause. It's the hormones!"

"Of course," I said with obvious pessimism.

"It's true! With pregnancy, you know you've nine months where you can expect to have really emotional days. Then, you've a baby and experience different kinds of emotional days. With menopause, you don't know when it will end, especially when you have to deal with hot flashes. Trust me. It gets better. It always gets better."

"Tell her beautiful things are waiting for her and Jeremy!" my father yelled into the phone.

"Did you hear that? Your father says beautiful things are waiting for you two! Beautiful things!"

When beautiful things seem so far away, I have to remind myself that life is already beautiful. With each passing day, it continues to become more beautiful. In less than four months, my husband and I will hold our baby in our arms. Our parents, siblings, and close friends will be there to give us their constant love, support, and advice. There will be plenty of surprises. Not everything or everyone will be perfectly ready, because nothing is perfect. We will make it work. We always make it work. We will make compromises to maintain our baby's health and happiness. That's what great parents do. That's what our parents did, and we will try our best to be great parents. It gets better and bad days don't last forever. It always gets better. 

Did you experience mood swings while you were pregnant? How did you deal with them? xo

(Photo: Our newly painted nursery)

7 comments:

  1. Funny enough, I felt happier when I was pregnant. I was probably the cheeriest I've been my whole life. It's the rest of my life that I'm moody and anxious and depressed. lol Just keep telling yourself it'll all be okay. You will put your baby in a little baby bathtub and pour some water on him and he'll get clean. It's terrifying at first but it'll be okay.

    You may want to read some articles about PPA (post-partum anxiety, PPD's sibling). I had evening anxiety attacks when Nate was an infant because I was so overwhelmed at the long night ahead of me, waking, feeding, not sleeping because I feared he'd stop breathing - all while my husband and the rest of the world slept and I felt all alone.

    So much of it is normal but it doesn't mean you just have to take it or that it can't get out of control. Take care of yourself.

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    1. Thank you! You always have great advice to give me. xo

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  2. I know therapists have different opinions on this, but I always think it's better to cry for a little while and get it all out than to carry it around with you all day long. That being said, you also need to know when to stop crying and move on.

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    1. I used to be able to know when to stop crying and move on when I had bad PMS. This is certainly a different ballgame, Yarduni ;) xo

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  3. Oh, Nagi, you are not alone. I think I have told you of the maniacal rages I went into in my first trimester (and how my poor husband hid from me behind large pieces of furniture). But I also felt moments of paralyzing fear and anxiety for many of the same reasons you so eloquently describe. And, yes, much of it was from hormones. But much of it is also a rational response to what is happening to you. I used to joke that I was being taken over by a parasite. Terrible, I know. Poor taste. But, I often felt like my body was turning against me. Like I had no control over my body, my emotions, or my mind that exhibited ever-increasing Alzheimer like symptoms. I delighted in the first flutters of motion in my belly. Shawn and I cuddled with hands on my belly to feel Tristyn's in-utero dance. But, I also was sure that I didn't have an instant connection to the child growing inside me. That he was a mystery that I might never figure out.
    You are, right now in this moment, creating a life! If there ever was a more appropriate time to feel anxiety I don't know what it might be. It's more than natural to feel terror at the proposition of bringing a new life safely into this world, and then safely into adulthood. It is the greatest responsibility you will ever feel, and rightly so. So, yes, it is hormones, but's also a very human reaction to the miracle you are experiencing. And, it doesn't end here!
    The fear and anxiety, the feelings of inadequacy, they change but they don't go away. How could they? You will soon see the beautiful face of your child staring into your eyes and fall so completely in love that you will see the whole world and every decision you make in an entirely new way. Scary, no?
    But...your father is right. Beautiful things. I am sure you are already experiencing some of them, and many more are coming your way. With every fear and anxiety, every new crazy lady moment you have, comes a wealth of awe and overwhelming joy. With every moment of thinking you can't, of wanting to hide somewhere far away, comes a moment of extreme pride and a discovery of a strength you never knew you had.
    Just remember, you have a friend only blocks away who will talk you through the post-birth baby blues, give you the best breast feeding book there is, and the number of a lactation consultant extraordinaire, and listen to all the questions and anxieties you have. One of the most important supports I had during my pregnancy and especially immediately after, was the support, kindness, advice, and love of other mothers. We gals are lucky enough to do the impossible, grow a new life inside is and bring it into the world. (When I was pregos, lucky was not the word I always used;)

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    1. Janel, you're amazing! It's always amazing to hear moms like you giving great advice. I'm very lucky to have you in my life :) xo

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  4. Hello Pretty Lady!
    First let me say, I am so sorry for being such a stranger. Life has been busy, but I've missed your stories... So here I am, back in action with lots of catching up to do!
    Second... I loved this post. Funny, it actually brought a tear to my eye! Without boasting, you showed us how loving and supportive your family are and you really opened up and shared some dark thoughts, thoughts that I am sure are VERY normal for a pregnant gal...
    The very moment that little bundle is in your arms, it will all make sense, it will all come clear, and it will all be worth it. You sound like you're ready and I have no doubt you'll be a wonderful Mother.
    Rach
    XO

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