I just want to complain for a minute.
Most of the rumors are true.
Third trimester is filled with all the same yuck of the first, but with added shittiness for flavor.
You lose your lungs, you lose your vagina.
You can't tend to your feet so those turn into hideous, dead skin bird claws.
Your Nugget grows and pushes your ribs out and heat and ice soothe none.
It's exhausting just to masturbate so... yeah, no.
You pee on your hands every time you're asked for a urine sample, which is now weekly.
Your face swells and the glow you had turns into sweat. And more sweat.
Your gums NEVER STOP BLEEDING.
Sleep. Ha. That's a fucking joke.
You can't even bring yourself to leave the house to pickup more antidepressants.
Your joints weaken and every little thing is amplified into a world of discomfort and awkward.
Nothing stays clean after you clean it so you just keep cleaning things again and again.
You fret over every movement the Nugget makes.
You fret over every movement the Nugget doesn't make.
You're tired of belly touches and unsolicited advice.
Heartburn. All of the heartburn. Torches. wildfires, burning everywhere all the time.
You have no income and haven't had any for a long time which is ridiculous.
You've had no contact with FOB and haven't seen the man IN TWO MONTHS who so convincingly dumped you to be friends to be there every step of the way by your side through this pregnancy.
Your back hurts from building the high road, being uncomfortable, and sleeping akimbo.
Your arms hurt from holding you back from every run away thought you want to have, but shouldn't.
Your heart hurts cuz it still hasn't forgotten anything.
Your mind races after every weird dream you have, admiring all the things still undone.
And seven weeks left.
Until you become a Mom.
Whatever that is.
Aside from a big, dark unknown blank spot.
I don’t know if you’ll find this entertaining...or astounding... or embarrassing...or a sign of our ridiculous health care times. Probably all of the above.
In short and as I've stated....this pregnancy has not been easy.
Where I’ve lucked out on the physical front—very little discomfort, no morning sickness, not a ton of weight gain, I suffered threefold in the mental health department.
I am an artist. We are bizarre, moody creatures filled with turbulent emotion and social anxiety. That’s how we roll. I’d learned to roll with it for thirty years.
Until, like, October 2017.
I had these panic attacks in September and October, the third and fourth months of my pregnancy, where my mind wouldn’t stop. I was bombarded by intrusive thoughts, plagued by uncontrollable insecurity, and I spun out like a motherfucker for days unable to pinpoint or halt the physiological or emotional insanity that was each panic attack. Over the course of that time I stopped painting, stopped playing guitar, stopped seeing family and friends, and basically halted everything that made me. The worst part was that... I could see it. I was atop myself, outside myself. I was split into pieces and each one was fully conscious and aware. In those moments, the new panicked driver of my body and mind was this omniscient entity that I had absolutely no control over. Like a cowboy on a bucking bronco that longed for death so at least the ride would be over.
Before I was pregnant I was paying an assload of money a month for catastrophic insurance that I’d been grandfathered into keeping through the last ten years. This shit-tastic insurance apparently didn’t include maternity coverage. Not one...bit. Well, one bit... should I have a complication during birth, it might consider covering that complication if it fit in the standard.
Assload of $$ for shit-tastic.
Considering FOB has/had/will have amazing insurance.... and absolutely no intention of marrying me, I am still slammed with first trimester bills from my fancy insurance and have only found relief through Medicaid.
Health Plan of Nevada.
I picked the only plan my OBGYN accepted and just went with it. I really reeeeeally like my Doc and it’s been really important that I get to keep him as my provider.
I remember the first appointment I told my Doc I was feeling blue. More blue than normal blue. Payne’s gray and constantly sobbing with thoughts of self-harm as a matter of fact. He told me to find a therapist and I agreed. He told me we could handle it and I believed.
Wouldn’t simple be nice?
So I began the process...
I started with the list of therapists and offices my Doc gave me.
Three “no, we don’t accept that insurance” and one “we aren’t accepting new clients.”
I continued on...
I asked friends for references, posted on social media, went through the virtual phone book that is Google...
”No new clients/not that insurance” every time.
I called Medicaid and was pointed to mental health care offices of Las Vegas... which transferred me to the Behavior Institute of Reno... which rattled off a list of names. I called. I left messages. I emailed.
One even had the answer, "we are only accepting new clients if there is a substance abuse problem." I briefly considered fibbing myself into addiction just to get the help I needed.
Days and weeks passed and the sheer embarrassment of having to constantly ask for help, beg for help, summarize my sicknesses in voicemail after voicemail... it all wore on me as I continued to suffer.
I was so full of self hate.
I was so full of hate for FOB.
I hated this baby.
I hated asking for help and I hated being turned down.
Finally, I called the lowest name on my list. A name I’d never heard of at a practice I’d never seen in an area of town I’d never associated with medical professionalism or fine mental health.
They could see me on Friday.
She could. Whatever her name was. Her. Yes. Thank god.
I cried tears of joy. I thanked the receptionist profusely and felt hope. Hope. For the first time in months.
I went into the dumpy office with so much hope... so much psychosomatic relief that finally FINALLY someone was going to help me understand, sharpen, collect, and utilize all the coping skills that I had somehow forgotten or didn't know existed.
How.... do I summarize this encounter? I really want to give it the narrative it deserves, but it's... so fucking preposterous... I just wanna hit you with all the highlights and punches and let you chew it up as you like.
We began with a family history, questions like ''what does your father/mother/sibling do and any history of mental illness?" etc. After every answer I gave, She had a comment.
"Oh, so you didn't grow up poor..."
"That must've been nice on easy street..."
"That explains a few things..."
We switched to my problems. I opened up, determined, about my panic attacks, depression, etc. and hat I was hoping to get out of this therapy...She replied,
"Well, if you're gonna reach for anything, reach for marijuana. Don't drink a drop. Not one drop is safe. Weed, the jury is still out on.... and it's great for anxiety."
We moved to current events. FOB had just dumped me, five months pregnant, the previous week and I couldn't stop crying hysterically.
"If he is the only male in his immediate family, he's been raised like a prince so be wary of that..."
"Oh, he makes good money, he should buy a duplex and put you on the other side..."
and to top it off
"I could start a separate thriving practice for white pregnant women who have been deserted by their baby's Latino fathers. It's just what happens... especially the first time Dads in the group...."
That was some racist, narrow minded, judgemental shit. I was astonished. I was baffled. I can't believe I sat there ten minutes more to pretend to make another appointment. I was offended. I was shocked. I was... deflated... after having so much hope for this help. This woman had sat across from me, summed me up in her eyes, judged me, ill-advised me, and then basically said FOB dropped me cuz he's Mexican.
I was outraged and still am. I have since reported this person anonymously to the appropriate board and who knows what's happened to her. Hopefully she's been put in check.
I never went back. What a fucking nutjob. Man, and I thought I was crazy.
In short, I stopped asking for help and began creating my own.
Support groups? Yes.
Prozac? You betcha.
Am I fixed and all better? Hell no.
Am I on the heaps and piles happier than I was the ass end of 2017? Heck yeah.
It's a new year according to the calendar.
I feel like we do it wrong and we should really start New Year on the winter solstice so we could all revel in the fact that the days are getting longer and the light is returning to life.
That's not a hippie thing to say--it's science, man.
I've got a lot of shit left to do to get ready for this Kiddo:
Oh, 2018, you even numbered tease, you.
Oh, 2017, you 'practice makes pregnant' rollercoaster, you.
2017 was a jerk. As much as it feels like looking the gift horse in the mouth cuz shit could currently be a crap-ton worse, it’s difficult not to mourn my hopes, dreams, and expectations of 2017. The last few months have been gravely overshadowed by heartbreak and loss and have felt like a cruel time puzzle. I keep flashing to that one part of Labyrinth where Bowie has crappy Connelly babysitter trapped in one of his fancy clear balls in a big pink poofy dress and is tricking her into wasting Toby-saving hours. It’s as if I have been living the same day over and over with no control over it’s improvement or outcome, floating forward-ish-ly through a hazy gray procession further into the unknown and alone. Each holiday... from Halloween to now...to today... being a reminder of what isn’t, what wasn’t, and won’t be.
Happy pills are helping me.
Thank you, happy pills. MVP of 2017. They help my brain douse each thought with slightly less kerosene. They give me the ability to ride atop each thought like a calm cowboy and decide whether to buck the bronc home. They also make my legs twitch in bed.
They don't keep me from all the thoughts, from sadness or loss. They don't keep me from reflecting, on retrospect, on hindsight.
Again, just sliiiightly less kerosene.
I guess I'd like to scribble an ode to those thoughts. Allow them the space they're so feverishly and diligently still fighting for in new hopes that they disappear. They say labeling a feeling (without judgement) is a good way to be rid of a feeling--and by 'they' I mean the leaders of all the pregnant and depressed groups I've attended in the last two months as well as the self-help book authors... and pinterest.
I'm to FLOW
L--Label it (without judgement)
W--Window to let it go
So.... let's crack the back door, shall we?
I mourn the loss of a big love, the one I chose to start a family with.
I mourn the loss of his friendship, his strength, his companionship, and his commitment.
I mourn the loss of a partner to walk through this pregnancy with, to hold hands and cling onto, and to bounce fears off and from.
I mourn the dream of our family, the three of us and holiday blessings that were to come with our future.
I mourn my concepts of self worth and the ensuing battle of feeling not only knocked up and unworthy to wed, but knocked up and dumped, discarded at my most hopeful and vulnerable.
I mourn the lesser than experiences of my unborn child, how Nugget knows little music nor the sound of her fathers voice.
I mourn the death of my maiden self and the wild, untamed female I was forever committed to be.
I mourn the unknown transformation of my art and my ability to focus and pickup a paint brush for more than half a year.
I mourn the freedom of those around me who love me and the future cost of this love as a burden to their wellbeings and plans.
I mourn my physical self and the future scars of this physical upgrade as I battle tokophobia, body dysmorphia, insecurity, and every other self-hating statement rambling under my skin about my bones.
This is a really big year.
One I didn't see coming, one I never thought would happen, and one I can't control. My body is on autopilot, my future is multiplying, the '8' in 2018 reminds me of boobies, and I still wish I had a dog. Nothing will be the same ever again.
I mourn the illusion of control I once had.
I feel like I want to drive out to Pyramid Lake, light some shit on fire, and release the ashes.
That's some hippie witchy shit.
All the same,
May all these aspects, all these sides, all these part of me, all these thoughts of me, rest in calm peace and not stink up the future decomposing cuz I didn't dig a deep enough hole.
The anti-depressants I'm on have made an improvement in my mental health, but are doing weird things to my body. I've been on them near two weeks. Mind you, I've never taken any medication beyond the occasional pain killer for fun my entire life.
I've had morning nausea and bouts of vertigo and it's been really a battle to focus. My mouth tastes like metal and I've had to switch to taking pills at night to try to sleep through the feelings. Doesn't really help that my bladder and my brain wake me up at 3:30am with saturated fullness. I haven't painted at all, but I've managed to do these little blogs and doodles. That gives me some focus hope.
So I feel like I'm just walking around my house like a zombie. Upstairs, downstairs, this room, that room, shower, makeup, couch, food--no real fire, no real feeling, just... existing.
I'll also take this combination of feeling and emotion over the manic panic ones before. At least my brain is somewhat docile and it's my body that doesn't know what to do. There's less fuel to the self and world anxiety, less fuel all around.
It's not even 11am and I'm about to turn in for my second nap of the day.
Oh yeah, I'm still building a human inside me so... there's that, too, i guess.
Onward and outward!
100 days left of pregnancy which means Nugget and I have survived 180 days inside the same roof without killing each other. We're off to a good start, but I wouldn't say the road hasn't been paved without difficulty.
The last 5-10 years of my unmedicated womanhood (I stopped taking the pill in my late twenties and it was the best thing I've ever done for my own mental health and body), I'd been blessed with a light period--barely there crampy-ness, little to no PMS, and the slightest bloating. If I was acting the twat around my menstrual cycle I would call myself out on it and not let it rain down and ruin me. The men I dated actually thanked me. It was something I learned to not brag about at an early age because the looks alone from women I would mention it to could kill. I knew pregnancy and it's hormonal effect on the body was gonna be tough... but nothing prepared me for the dark, crippling hole of depression, violent pendulum-esque mood swings, and multiple day panic attacks I would endure.
Panic attacks would induce an out of body and mind experience that I still couldn't describe accurately if I tried. They would start with an intrusive thought and snowball from there. FOB would go out for an evening of friends and I'd be home pacing, sobbing, screaming, counting, circling, panting, panicking.
I couldn't control my thoughts, my heart rate, my words, anything. Everything came barreling out of me angry and forceful.
I could not physically exhaust myself in any way to make the feelings stop.
I didn't play (and haven't played) guitar in months.
I couldn't focus to paint.
I wrote insane rants in my journal.
I cut off all my friends.
I didn't leave the house.
Nothing brought me joy.
Thoughts of doom and dread were all consuming.
I looked to my FOB, desperately clung to him, for any source of happiness because mine was completely... and utterly gone.
I reached out. Many times. I was often met with dead ends and misunderstanding. FOB froze... and eventually broke up with me (we'll get to this later) in my manic state, leaving me even more in the ground... except now I was shitting water from stress and sobbing uncontrollably most hours of the day from the simplest of triggers.
I kept reaching.
My insurance made it impossible to find a GOOD therapist (lord, that's another blog all together... ) I could afford in my new, unemployed, single, poor pregnant state so I joined three weekly pregnancy circles. One, hosted by a dear friend and donated out of charity... another hosted by a local motherhood business and group technically meant for mothers suffering from postpartum depression, and another freebie at the same business on Saturdays.
I moved back in with my mother.
And, through persistence, my doctor finally prescribed an anti-depressant which... as much as I've pill shamed myself, I am glad to be taking.
It's been about ten days on the meds and... I'm nauseous, dizzy, my jaw is tense, and still struggling to focus... but the intrusive thoughts have weakened and lessened and I actually have some hope for my life. It could be psychosomatic this early in the game, but I don't care. Hope is hope.
I've got 100 days left with this Kiddo inside me and I finally feel pregnant. I think I might even be happy about it? I jokingly refer to the Kiddo as Lemonade cuz... man oh man I'm trying to make it.
FOB and I are still broken up and, as much as that haunts me... and all my dreams... I'm healthier for it.
I didn't give up asking for help. I asked reddit, I asked facebook, I asked my insurance, I asked my friends, I asked family, I asked my Doc and finally, through cumulative effort, I'm on the road to somewhere better than where I was.
Here are a list of links that helped me:
The Nurturing Nest Reno--Circles and Support
Ashley Hanna Morgan--LCSW
Sacred Pregnancy--Sheila LeDrew
Mallory Kate is a blogger, artist, single mom and funny girl outta Nevada.
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