Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't worry, I'll still be insane in the morning.

The first hint I had that I was insane was in January, 2001. I was under a lot of job stress, supervising a night call center at a busy catalog retailer. Also, my infant nephew had suffered a near-SIDS experience just weeks before, he and my niece were the lights of my life, being unable to have children of our own. I had a feeling that my nine-and-a-half year marriage was, and had been, hanging by a thread for several months. So when I walked into the call center one afternoon for work and felt unexplained grief welling up inside me, I assumed it was a nervous breakdown. I begged my husband to go to the doctor with me. I hadn't seen a physician for years due to one of my many phobias/anxieties. John went with me and I tearfully explained to this near-stranger that I was losing my mind. I had seen the commercials for Zoloft and my sister seemed to be feeling somewhat better since she started it, so why not?

Well, the Dr. gave me a prescription with a stern warning that I was not to even consider filling it until my period began since I was a day or so late. After a week, I couldn't stand it any more and decided to take a pregnancy test to prove that I could take my much-needed medication. I was falling apart! My period was never regular anyway so I wasn't worried about it since my husband had become sterile from cancer treatments received as a teenager. Or had he??? After ten years of marriage, the stick turned pink. What the heck??? Well, the box did say that the test was only 99.9% accurate and there was a .1% chance that I had a rare form of tumor causing the increase in HGH levels in my urine instead. With that hope in mind, we went to the doctor who began to try to convince me that I did not have a tumor. I disagree. That tumor is GIANT now. It weighs 54 pounds and is 50 inches tall. It's growing and learning and doing and talking even. Talk about rare! One in a million, I'd say!

I did my best dieting while pregnant, I followed the low-sodium, low-carb diet to a T. Oh, how I suffered without my sugar and Pepsi! Oh, how I wept for pasta! I kept losing weight, but the baby was healthy and I was following the instructions of the dietician with whom we had consulted. I walked daily, and - thanks to my job being coincidentally eliminated after the anouncement of my pregnancy - read parenting books, and bonded with my also-pregnant friend via telephone and e-mail. I bought baby things, decorated a nursery, bought a breast pump, went garage-saling, cashed out my 401K to pay off some debt, and learned to be a stay-at-home mom. This had always been my dream growing up. I wanted to be a mom.

As a senior in high-school, I was told by my teachers and counselors, as well as my boyfriend's (now husband) parents that I should do MORE with my life. I needed an education and could attend college for free. It would be a shame and a waste if I didn't at least try. His parents never imagined him being with somebody who wasn't college-educated. Whether or not these were the exact words spoken, the message was clear: My well-paid Kroger job with chances for advancement was not enough - I must train for more and be more. So, I went to school and tried to build a career in business and marketing. I was never comfortable in college. I got good grades, but had no social life except waiting for John to come home on weekends. I lived at home with my mother, oldest brother, and my sister; but these were the loneliest years of my life. Eventually, I graduated early with my Associates in business and moved from small-town Defiance to Toledo, Ohio after marrying John on August 17, 1991. I worked in business for many years, finding some good fits and some not so right. I most enjoyed helping customers with their disputes and making things fair. I knew by that time that we wouldn't have children and that this was my life. I had a niece and every intention to be the best aunt ever. Even if we wanted to adopt, I wouldn't because I knew in my heart that I had chosen a career over having a family of my own. I always believed, and still do, that a person (man or woman) cannot have two jobs and do either one to the best of their ability.

Ten years later on our anniversary, it hit me that this would be our last one celebrated "alone." The following year we would be parents to a baby. Hoping to cram in a lifetime of togetherness into our last few weeks alone, I am sure my clingy-ness nearly drove my husband to the brink! Wow, was I losing it or what? If there was any question of my sanity, it flew out the window the day of my scheduled C-section when I saw that real live breathing squirming helpless baby. I quote myself when I say "Oh. god. Oh god. What?? god. god. No,oh god!" What a great welcome into the world for my little girl! Complete denial by her mother. I had been overwhelmed before but this was SERIOUS. Why would anybody in their right mind leave me alone with somebody so delicate and vulnerable? I couldn't even take care of myself! What in the world would make anybody in their right mind make me think I could handle this?

Why they didn't commit me, I'll never know. The only thing I can think of is that I must hide my feelings better than I think that I do. I did try to go through the motions and do all the right things, nursing, cuddling, changing diapers. I had the great recurring fear, though, that somebody would find out my deep-seeded self doubt and take my baby away. I did love her and feel protective of her afterall. That is, when I didn't want her to vanish and leave me alone for ever. I couldn't possibly tell anybody that I often had the overwhelming urge to stick her in a box and leave her somewhere like I had heard recently on the news. I had heard of a woman drowning her kids in the bathtub. I could totally empathize with that woman! In doing so, I disgusted mysef - there was no way I was going to tell anybody of my evil impulses. I knew that impulses were one thing and actions were another. Impulses must be overcome, actions were to be controlled. I was doing fine. Unless we were alone. Or, God forbid - if she woke me up.

My mother was there to "help" us but nursing meant that only I could feed her. Why didn't I stop that nonsense when I realized that it was a big part of what was making me mental? Because my relatives, again, were so gung-ho about it, I didn't trust my heart. I was convinced once again that I was wrong, and to do what everybody else was so sure was right for me. My torment of having my flat nipples munched on for 20 minutes every 2 hours or so was definitely contributing to my mental collapse. Why couldn't I see it then? I wish I would've had the confidence to do what I felt was right for me, for us, instead of listening to all the propoganda that was being pushed at me. At least, I wish I could have expressed my torment openly and gained the positive feedback that I now know would've been there for me.

After several days of almost no sleep, it really started getting bad. When I would sleep, I would dream about the doctors and social workers coming to my door to take my baby. Then I would wake with a jolt with the urge to go check on her. I was so exhausted that the only way I could deal with it was to tell myself "If the baby is dead or kidnapped, she will still be dead or gone in the morning: now go back to sleep". The scary thing is, it worked. It is absolutely amazing what things your brain can come up with when you are fighting for survival. To this day, when I am being completely bizarre, my best friend will make a comment about "yeah, it'll still be dead in the morning" to show me how I am putting off things that need to be dealt with n-o-w!

When baby was eight weeks old, luckily, I had a medical emergency. I ended up with a gangrenous abdomen that could've killed me. Instead, I had a lovely stay at the hospital for about a week. My husband and mother in law would bring the baby in to see me almost daily, and they brought me my photo albums to look at the hundreds of photos I had already taken. I missed my daughter soooOOOooo much. I just wanted to hold her and snuggle her.

This was a big turning point for me. I promised myself that I would do things my way. After all, I had always followed my heart and done the best I could with all my other jobs, why should I take so much criticism and advice on this job when I never had needed it before? My new motto became "This is my kid; my one and only chance - I may end up screwing her up, but I'm gonna do it MY WAY!" After letting go of what I thought were everybody else's expectations of me and finally after many years being my true self, I found acceptance and confidence and courage to be a good mom - a good me. But yeah - I'll still be crazy in the morning. Hopefully, just a little less scary-crazy and more funny-crazy now!

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