Monday, November 01, 2004

Now I'm Really Feeling Sorry For Myself, And I Don't Care

I've been having kind of a hard time lately, and I'm not sure quite why. Specifically, I am having a hard time seeing other people's healthy kids. The theory I have is that when babies are 3 months old, there isn't much that any of them can do, so my daughter didn't seem a whole lot different other than the way her legs looked. But now, at almost 9 months, it is very apparent how far behind she is from other kids. The women I am closest to in my mother/baby group happen to have rather precocious babies--they've been pulling up and even cruising for a month or so. They've all moved on to bigger carseats, and are talking about babyproofing. My daughter still can't roll from her tummy to her back, cannot sit unsupported, and will not be walking until next summer at the earliest. I love my daughter beyond words, and I wouldn't trade her for any other. But it is getting so hard, so very hard.

I've been reading Julie's blog and she's talking about how she went through so much just to get pregnant, and now she can't even have a normal pregnancy. I think that is part of my problem too. It is this resentment that things just couldn't, for once in my life, be normal. I had a lot of health problems when I was younger, and wasn't able to graduate from high school, much less college. I missed Homecoming, the class picture. I failed out of one junior college and two regular ones because of my health. Didn't dare apply for a decent job because I was afraid I couldn't physically handle normal work. I started getting better, and dared think we could have a baby. Then I spent years off birth control, wondering what the hell was wrong now. I finally got pregnant, and instead of going for daily walks, doing yoga and eating broccoli, I was so tired I couldn't stay awake more than three hours at a stretch, and got gestational diabetes, and finally pre-eclampsia, necessitating bedrest. I didn't get to get those glowing pregnancy photos everyone else had, or get to put together my baby's nursery, or even a normal baby shower. We got a final ultrasound not of her face, but of "abnormalities" that they said meant she wasn't going to live. And I had a c-section, with the baby whisked off to the NICU after I only got a glimpse of her. I didn't get to hold her until the next day, after they'd already given her a bottle of formula. I have been trying so hard not to feel sorry for myself because at least she was alive, which was more than we were hoping for at that point, but dammit, this all sucked. It sucked really really hard. And it still sucks for my daughter, who will not have a *normal* life as most people define it. She will never move quite the way other kids will; will always have scars to explain, and will probably not like to have her picture taken. Whenever I would whine to my mother, "why me?", she would always answer, "why not you?" and it drove me nuts even though I knew she was right.

I don't care if I don't *deserve* things to go right. I want them to. I want Peanut to have a normal childhood with both her eyes and her knees moving in all the directions they should. I want me to be able to have another pregnancy that is healthy and glowing and full of yoga and spinach salads, where I feel the baby kick non-stop for months. I want T. to be able not to cry from fear when thinking about the pregnancy and delivery. I feel cheated. I also feel guilty for feeling cheated, as if to say so means that Peanut isn't good enough, that I am not grateful I have her. But that isn't what I mean at all. I am lucky to have her, to have a baby that makes total strangers smile when they look at her because she just radiates joy even at her most serious. Frankly, she is the only reason I have not become a completely bitter hag. We all have these expectations. I have said we're lucky, in a way, that we have thrown off a lot of expectations for our child early on because it will mean a lot less pressure for her. But that doesn't mean we can't grieve when we lose the dream we always had of what our lives would be like. So apparently right now I am in the anger stage of the grief process. I went a little out of order, with the bargaining phase happening the week before she was born, promising God everything in my soul for her to be ok, for it all to be a nightmare I was going to wake up from soon.

People have been telling me since the ultrasound how strong I was, what a good attitude I had about everything. I wasn't lying, or putting on a brave face. I meant it when I said I just wanted her alive, and I still do. I know rationally that things really could be worse. And it isn't as if I am not happy for my friends and their beautiful children. I guess sometimes I wish I could stop being so strong, and just rail at the world and feel better afterward. Or something like that.

We've been talking about when we want to try for another baby. I am both excited and terrified by the idea. What if Peanut's problem was actually genetic, and the next baby is even worse? What if the pre-eclampsia returns, earlier this time, and we lose the baby? What if we go months and years again with negative pregnancy tests? Can we handle these things? Why can't we just be happy and giggly and completely ignorant of these worries like most people? Why do they have to be considerations for us? I will never, ever be able to be pregnant without worrying about these things. I will never be able to blissfully assume that all is well and that all will be well. I know there is always adoption, but I don't want to adopt yet. I want to have a normal healthy pregnancy and delivery and a healthy baby, just once. Is that too much to ask?


Vystriss said...

Of course that is not to much to ask, and although it seems worthless coming from a complete stranger but, "don't stress yourself out about it so much". It's like the theory that says if you think you will get better, than you will; but if you keep dwelling on how sick you are, you won't get any better. Try your hardest (and I know it must be very very hard) to concentrate on the positive (what could, what will be) rather than any negative. You seem like the sweetest woman, and your baby is just adorable. You two (and any more that might come along) will do just fine. =)

Anonymous said...

Odd, I've been thinking about Julie's post as well over the weekend. The lost innocence of being pregnant is something I mourn along with my dead baby. It's as if one has stepped out of the sheltered life and is now facing harsh reality -- we know too much to live in peace.

I understand your longing to be back in that place -- or to be there once, at all. I want to re-capture this innocence as well.

Something I read lately came to my mind. Paraphrasing here: "As I came downstairs at 9:30, the last kid finally in bed, I realized my work was just about to begin - dishes to wash, laundry to fold, lunches to pack. I wondered if a grown-up would show up and relieve me of all this - and then I realized I was the grown-up."

I feel like that, often. Can someone come and help me? Can someone magically take the angst away, the churning feeling in my guts, the ever-present guilt?

Alas, no one can do that. So we just meddle through. You, and I, and Julie.

If I could magically bestow a healthy, happy pregnancy upon you, I would. World peace is too big for me, but giving you some peace of mind and happiness, I'd do that.

I'll blow a dandelion for you. Maybe it helps.


Anna said...

I haven't the time or brain to properly respond to this right now, but I completely understand, you are NOT asking for "too much", and I'm so sorry that you have had (and will have) to deal with this. To a much lesser degree I have the same issues with my boy and his developement, set back by the spina bifida. Obviously his health is fine now, but when he's not close to milestones that other babies have passed, it bothers me, because of what that took out of him, and also because I blame myself and my state of mind for every problem he has.

I too, look at other mothers and wonder why I can't be like that, so happy and easy. But I have never been like that in my life. Those people are aliens to me. It's just sticking out (and bringing on more guilt) much more so now that there's a little person I directly affect all day long every day. I fret all the time about inflicting myself on him and why I can't also have one thing be "normal" for me in my life.

I realize that the commenter who said "just think positive" was trying to help, but I find this the most rude and insensitive comment to hear. To me it says "you're not doing enough, if you just smiled it would be all better." The last thing I would need to hear at this (or any other depressed point in life) is "cheer up." Thank you, if it were that easy, don't you think we would do it? I can't even get started on this one.

Anyway, I didn't mean to make this all about me, but to say that even though my Pumpkin Bread doesn't have the same issues your Peanut has, _I_ have the issues _you_ are having. And clearly, for not as good a reason. I had an extremely stressful pregnancy the first time and it wouldn't get better with a second! It would be worse, because now I know even more what can go so horribly, horribly wrong.

I love you,'re my friend and I'm so sorry you're struggling. Please call if you want/need to vent...really. Anytime.

Carrie said...

Thank you all for your comments, I really appreciate them. I came from a very "suck it up" kind of household, and it is hard for me to have perspective about this sort of thing sometimes.

Vys, I know you've been reading my blog for a while, and I don't think anyone who sincerely is showing support and encouragement is anything but kind. And a few years ago, I would have probably said the same things you did to someone feeling the pain I am now feeling. I apparently did not get across in my post, however, that I have been trying to be positive all along, and I think that is my problem. I wasn't allowing myself to wallow in self-pity at all, to grieve for my dreams for my child and my family. There were too many doctor visits, a husband who felt even more helpless than I, a a new grandfather who couldn't talk about her without crying. So now it has kind of caught up with me, and I guess I need to be the one who gets comforted. You might be interested in reading some of the infertility blogs I have linked to, to hear some other perspectives on this sort of thing.

Claudia, you are one of the people who have gone through something so much worse than I that I get the guilty feeling for complaining about this at all. I appreciate you posting here, in part because it reminds me it isn't a matter of who has it worse, it is that we both had it bad and so it is okay to say so. If you can get through your son's death, I can get through this. It does suck to be an adult sometimes. And I believe a dandelion will help, thank you :-)

Anna, Honey, you are so hard on yourself. You and I come from the same kind of family, so I do know where you are coming from. And I know that you aren't giving yourself nearly enough credit. If things are wrong, it must be your fault, right? Your last couple of years have been way more stressful than mine, and you've done this with far less support. Your son is beautiful, and there is no finer mother for him than you, and he will know that. You are stronger than you know. Thank you so much for the virtual hug.

betsyl said...

i am a total stranger, reading your archives, several months late.

but peanut is a beautiful happy baby, and i am so happy for you that you have her.

i have rheumatoid arthritis, and i understand how you can be so very happy with what you've got, and still wish bitterly for something else.