Doing it afraid

So close to the end of this particular part of the journey, I’m realising more and more that just about the only part I’m not afraid of, or stressed out about, is the actual birth. I know I can do that.


1. The house isn’t ready. I know there are different degrees of “readiness”, but there are certain things that really need doing around here, and they’ve been on my list for months.

2. The more I think about how the house isn’t ready, the more I’m frustrated about how little I’m getting done - at the moment, my main excuse is that I’m feeling exhausted and frequently light-headed. While I prefer my lowish blood pressure over high and I’m grateful that I usually don’t have to worry about that, it’s still annoying, and my brain wants me to sit or lie down more often than it’s happy for me to stand.

3. I “can’t” ask for help. This has always been a problem of mine, but when I think of the people I would ask, already quite a short list, they all have their own lives, problems and things to deal with. And I’m scared of rejection, or plans changing when I think they’re in place.

4. I haven’t yet organised anybody to be with the kids while I’m concentrating on labour and birth. See #3.

5. I haven’t organised Godparents. This might not seem like a big deal to everybody, but it’s up there for me. See #3.

6. I had postnatal depression last time. I’ve already felt the depression trying to creep in this time, and I’m not confident that I have the support systems in place. A lot has changed since the last one.

7. I’m stressing out at the drop of a hat. OCD is frequently finding ways to mess with my head, I’m crying over nearly nothing and there’s nobody to talk to about it. The Man is tired too, after working fulltime and then coming home to an emotional wife, and kids who have been waiting impatiently for him to spend time with them. While I’m spending less time on facebook, the time I spend on there seems to be mainly talking to myself and being depressing. No wonder there’s not much response. Who wants to read that??? Who wants to read this? But I’m also afraid of cutting ties, as there are a few people who I wouldn’t normally stay in contact with in other ways, and I seem to be cutting myself off a lot lately.

I’m not worried about where baby will sleep, what it will eat, what it will wear (although sorting what we have, washing it and putting it somewhere would be nice).

We have a car seat for the baby, and pretty much all the physical essentials, at least for starting out.

I was hoping I’d have it all together by now - mentally and physically. I know it’s normal to be more emotional and feel less than ready. But I don’t have to like it.

Permalink Friday, 17 September, 2010 12:54 am, by Mamma Email , 501 words, Categories: Anxiety & stress, Pregnancy, OCD ,

Logic vs instinct vs OCD vs paranoia vs fear

And the winner is… nobody.

I have a problem. I admit it. And it isn’t getting any better.

I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It’s been “diagnosed” for about fifteen years, but looking back, I know it was there a long time before that - we just didn’t know what my little idiosyncrasies meant. I have actually come around to the way of thinking that OCD - along with most other “diseases” - isn’t, in itself, a diagnosis, but a symptom (or set of symptoms) with another underlying cause. But that isn’t what this post is about.

Today, I had another OCD “attack”. I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy (hormones, extra nutritional demand/deficiencies) or just the course of things, but the attacks are happening more regularly. I won’t describe every attack. And I’ll try to summarise today’s.

The Boy and I went to the shops. We went to a salad place we like to go to when we’re at that shopping centre. They have “toasties” - sandwiches heated in the sandwich press - that come with a coffee deal (depending on the sandwich, the coffee works out free - and the coffee itself comes from organic sources, but not the milk). We’ve probably gone there once a week, on average, for a while now. Today, I ordered the food, with a coffee for me and a bottle of juice for The Boy. As the server gave me the change, I thought I noticed a dark red-tinged spot on the side of a fingernail - on the ungloved hand. I told myself to ignore it, but of course, my brain doesn’t listen. How many people would have noticed that, honestly? Additionally, at places like that, they generally have a gloved hand and/or utensil to handle the food, and the other hand deals with the money, so as not to contaminate said food with whatever everybody’s hands are carrying.

However, she used the ungloved hand to dip into the bag of ground coffee (decaf, so not dispensed from the usual grinder) and my brain would not get off the subject. Everything she touched made me inwardly cringe. But I couldn’t ask. I tried to convince myself, logically, that it was food she had been preparing (but I hadn’t seen any obvious beetroot in her area), or that it was an old, sealed, dried up wound, and that I should trust that she was taking all necessary health precautions. And then I would counter with “but what if she didn’t even know about it, and wouldn’t realise until later when she had already handled however-many customers’ food, drinks, money"… Which led me to wondering if she had a regular hangnail problem, and I just hadn’t noticed this before, and had consumed food and coffee prepared by her, blissfully ignorant that there may be something bad about it. Which, of course, led me to wonder how many other places I’ve bought food where I hadn’t even seen the person who prepared it, or looked at the hands of those who gave me my change, or… or… or… If I hadn’t seen it, if somebody else - somebody normal - had bought the food for me and handed it to me without seeing anything wrong, I would have just eaten the stuff without questioning it. How far does one go with this thought process? I ended up ditching my “free” coffee. I took the (not free) food home, and then ditched mine anyway. The Boy ate his, after I double-checked for dodgy-looking stains on the paper bag (and on the outside of the bread). Seriously, if dodgy food places were going to spread diseases that easily, wouldn’t we all always be catching stuff from our food? Even in places that are super-vigilant, how often do people hurt themselves while preparing food, and how far do they take the cleanup if they realise something is amiss later? Don’t even get me started on the cringing I have done while watching hospital staff in action.

The Boy thinks I’m nuts. I always worry about this. I want my kids to grow up normal. I respect his instincts and normalcy more than I respect my own. I want to believe that I still have some sort of instincts. I love the way Gavin de Becker writes about fear vs logic, and how we need to respect our own intuition - and especially that of young children, who haven’t yet had it beaten out of them. I just can’t trust my own, because I know how much my thought processes are fed by paranoia and OCD.

I think I should just become housebound. I don’t even want to think about how I will handle leaving the house with a new baby. I’ve done it before, but I’m struggling to remember how we all survived.

Permalink Wednesday, 25 August, 2010 12:57 pm, by Mamma Email , 808 words, Categories: Anxiety & stress, Health, Food, Pregnancy, OCD ,

"As long as it's healthy"

A quick internet search reveals that I’m not the first person to blog about this phrase, but it has been bothering me for some time, and a conversation this morning reminded me how much it bothers me. It invariably comes after the question “do you know what it is?” or “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” or even something along the lines of “you already have two boys, let’s hope it’s a girl this time” (of course, last time it was often “let’s hope it’s a girl, so you can have your pigeon pair and be done” ). When I state that we don’t know the gender yet - waiting until we meet him/her in person, just as we did with the others, the “old-fashioned” way - or that we don’t mind either way, the other person usually agrees, adding “as long as it’s healthy”.

Don’t get me wrong; I used to say it too. And usually I automatically go along with it, nod and smile, even now. But I inwardly cringe. From the most personal standpoint, knowing that there’s a very real possibility that our child with the brain tumour has had it since birth (or earlier) and was possibly not as “healthy” as he looked, I hesitate. Knowing people - friends - who have had babies who were not “healthy” at birth, I hesitate. What does that phrase even mean? Basically, we’ve just implied “we will love the baby whether it’s male or female, but only if it’s healthy”. Will we not love her/him if s/he is not healthy, if s/he is “faulty” in some way?

I know it’s simply expressing a hope, a desire. We hope that, male or female, the baby will be healthy. We want a healthy baby, and to know that we did our best during the pregnancy to produce a healthy specimen. I know that nobody really means you’re not supposed to love an unhealthy baby. But I still hesitate and feel awkward at the utterance of that phrase, no matter how well-meaning the intent. And I’m not quite sure what the “right” response should be. For me, it definitely depends upon the person who says it, which usually means I just let it slide.

I already love this baby, and I hope for the very best outcome we can have. And yes, I hope that it is healthy.

Permalink Tuesday, 24 August, 2010 11:55 pm, by Mamma Email , 403 words, Categories: Thoughts, Pregnancy ,

Publicly noticed at 31(ish) weeks

[Please note: it’s winter, I’ve worn a lot of “looser” clothing, I tend to be - ahem - larger to start with, and I’ve really just now reached the point where the pregnant belly is pretty much undeniable. As little as a couple of weeks ago, I’ve still received some brand-new congratulations from people who didn’t know yet, and were probably too polite to ask, just in case.]

At supermarket checkout, waiting for cashier - female, and judging by the conversation, childless at this point - to scan the groceries:
Cashier [nodding towards belly area]: how much longer to go? Note: not “when are you due?” or variations thereof
Me: about two months
Cashier [without comment or judgement about whether I look “big” or “small” for seven months]: boy or girl? Note: not “what are you having?”
Me: don’t know, we’ll find out on the day hopefully!
Then some chit-chat about how she “couldn’t do that” (leave the gender a surprise), how her sister has seven weeks to go with her second, how both her sister and I have just recently “popped” out, this far along etc.

I was pleasantly surprised. That a total stranger actually guessed I was pregnant, not just fat (finally! it’s showing! for real!) and that she seemed to know how to ask certain questions without pushing my buttons (maybe her sister has tutored her! and I acknowledge that others’ buttons may be pushed by those questions). Basically, just a somewhat light, pleasant conversation while she was scanning my groceries.

I said I hoped everything would go well for her sister, she wished me luck, and moved on to the next customer.

And she didn’t even ask why my (home educated) child had the day off school!

Permalink Thursday, 19 August, 2010 12:02 am, by Mamma Email , 291 words, Categories: Pregnancy ,

Why do you bother?

Yesterday, on the way home from church, we stopped at a local sushi place and treated ourselves to a sushi roll each (yes, mine was made from cooked seafood). I sent The Man and boys into the shop while I went a few doors up to buy myself a coffee. As anybody who has followed this blog (such that it is) will know, I have an ongoing, troubled relationship with coffee. I even managed to give it up completely for a while. At some point, I decided a little bit couldn’t hurt. At the moment, I’ve decided that as long as it’s decaf, it’s probably not the worst indulgence a pregnant woman could have, and the occasional caffeinated one won’t push the limits too much either. I ran out of decaf at home, and I seem to find an excuse to buy one made by somebody else, on average, once a day. When I can, I buy from places that claim organic, or at least sustainable/fairtrade sources, and if I know for certain that their chocolate is Nestlé, I won’t buy any coffee that uses it. Too often lately, I’ve simply gone to certain places because I like the service or something else about them. Which brings me back to yesterday.

My original plan had been to walk home from church, stopping at that coffee place just to sit alone, quietly for a few minutes, with a coffee in a real coffee cup, before returning to the usual craziness. It’s occurring to me more frequently that the “alone” moments will be harder to come by very soon. However, I wasn’t feeling all that well, and decided to just go home in the car with the others. So I bought a decaf mocha - the takeaway version (another thing I’ve done way too often lately, and which I need to rein back on). The Man looked at me and said something about the coffee, to which I replied that it was decaf. He said “Why do you bother?” - meaning that I’m not even going to get the caffeine kick, so what’s the point? I didn’t really have an adequate answer, and sitting here with today’s paper cup, I still don’t.

Why do I bother? Why buy a coffee, with negligible caffeine kick and from unknown sources, in a paper cup, with a plastic lid, complete with chocolate from unknown sources, sugar and pasteurised, steamed cow’s milk? The only thing I can really come up with is that it’s my little “escape”. It’s a guilty indulgence, but it’s a comfort treat. It’s warming and sweet, but not too sweet - I’m not a big fan of straight hot chocolate, but the little bit of coffee cuts through it just nicely. It’s milky but not too milky - if there were no chocolate in it, I would have a flat white with either an extra shot of coffee or half the quantity of milk - and it allows me to spend a few minutes just enjoying that mini time out.

But that’s just the logical list I can think of. There’s something about coffee that goes a lot deeper, deeper than a caffeine addiction, since I can get by now without the caffeinated version. Instant coffee feels like a complete abomination. It’s something about the coffee flavour itself. I need to be able to taste the coffee to enjoy it, but I can’t drink it straight. Still, it has to be strong in flavour without being drowned by milk or excessive quantities of sugar or flavoured syrups.

And I still don’t really know why I bother. Maybe somebody will read this and be able to offer some insight. :coffee1:

Permalink Monday, 16 August, 2010 4:52 pm, by Mamma Email , 618 words, Categories: Caffeine/coffee, Pregnancy ,

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