April 28   So, I have news…

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I’m snuggled into bed at Tehani’s house and am so so tired but so happy to have been to Conflux 9 this weekend. After half a week living with my friends, they’ve got my morning sickness figured out and my Crohn’s sorted and I’m feeling halfway decent after weeks and weeks. I’d been looking forward to this weekend for lots of reasons – seeing my friends all in one place, getting to launch Asymmetry, and FINALLY being able to tell people that I’m having a baby!

I’m having a baby!

I’m not very good with keeping my own secrets and I’ve been wanting to explain the loooooong period of sickness and redeem my very unreliableness. It’s been a really interesting process, both I guess, internally and socially. And I’m sure I have more of this “interesting” to go.

I’ve had a pretty rough time of the first trimester. If I knew it would be like this, I’m not really sure I would have signed up. Some days I was really quite immobilised by it. I quit my job 2.5 weeks early (went part time for one of those weeks) because I felt so ill and because I needed to sleep 3 hours at lunchtime after coming home from work about midway into my first trimester. I had days where I had about 1 hour to check emails and work on my press outside of my day job and needing to sleep (and I HATE napping). Morning sickness kicked in at about lunchtime to 2pm ish and increased steadily by bedtime. I’m still pretty much worse in the evenings and just not interested in life (generally) after about 7pm. That made being at the bar at the con til late an impossibility for me this con. But c’est la vie. I also have been suffering some side effects of Crohn’s which have been very painful, and interfered with any joy in life including sleeping. So it’s been a fun time (where fun is the opposite of a good thing).

I think this weekend, we’ve pinpointed some symptoms that are not morning sickness but Crohn’s related on top of it and so managing those as well as the other seems to be helping.

It’s been interesting how people are so quick to judge, though, how I’m going in relation to their own experience. The one thing I’ve learned so far is absolutely guaranteed that my experience of my pregnancy, and how it tracks, is going to be informed in no way by any one else’s. At all. And I’ve pretty much stopped listening. But it’s still *really* irritating how people have a need to share.

As well as my Crohn’s, I have a couple of other issues to manage through this. I have an Rh negative blood type so there’s stuff for that – that whole thing all my life where doctors and my mother have said “you know you have negative blood, right? And that that will cause problems when you have your babies” has finally arrived. But luckily they have antibody injections you can have now so that just seems like a monitor and manage situation.

The other is a bit more serious. For the last 8 years or so, I’ve had an anxiety disorder. It’s manifested in the OCD but also in mild panic attacks and depression. I’ve always been aware that depression can be exacerbated by the pregnancy/birth process and I’m aware of issues with my anxiety that may magnify through this and beyond. So I’ve been really managing my mental health with this in mind – mostly sticking with monthly visits with my counsellor, whether I really needed them or not, just to have someone really know me and be able to monitor me when I may not be able to. And also … just in case … etc.

But I’m quite fascinated by the number of people who feel a need to … is initiate the right word? … new people on this path. The number of people who feel a need to make comments like, “your life is over/going to change now” or “you will never sleep again” or “it’s going to be so much worse than you can imagine”. It might make them feel somehow triumphant, that they survived this death defying obstacle course but it’s really not a nice thing to do to someone with an anxiety disorder. I mean, really? You think I know nothing about pregnancy and child rearing that I haven’t been stressing about this for the last 5 to 10 years and that’s why it’s taken me this long to do this? I mean, really? What? I’ve never known *anyone* with a kid or just ignored *all these really obvious things about kids*? I’m a pretty organised, plan oriented, research gathering kind of person. You’d have to not know me very well to think I just woke up one day and thought “hey this’ll be fun” and leapt in, feet first, with no preparation whatsoever.

I’m going to start being much much more assertive (I was going to write “rude” there but actually, it’s them who are rude) about patrolling my boundaries. I need to for my mental health and there is going to be NO touching my stomach without asking, I am stating that now.

My aunt gave me some really great advice which was to pick one or two good friends who’ve had babies and follow their advice and ignore everyone else. And I think that’s really wise. Her other piece was – you’ll discover you’re not superwoman but you’ll also discover you’re the only one who cares. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I’ve been really struggling with this for I guess 2 months now. I had pregnancy brain really really badly. I’m not used to not being able to rely on my head, in the face of anything. And here I was doing shit like making a cup of tea, carrying it out of one room and appearing in the next without it and no idea why. I lost words, they were just not there when I went to use them. I forgot how to do things. I became very clumsy. And it was *awful*. And then I resigned from the day job and it almost all went away. And I thought … shit, I was trying to do too much, I have a limit. And I did not like that. And, between you and me, so far, I’m not really enjoying being pregnant. I’ve kinda hated it, to be honest. And by extension, the world (more on that tomorrow). And I’ve been thinking that maybe I’m not going to be one of those women who love pregnancy and can hold down a day job and clean their house and cook dinner and run a business and be sweetness and light to everyone and everything. And I’m thinking that I might have to come to terms with being ok with that.



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28 Comments

  • By Grant on 28 April 2013 at 8:23 pm

    All I can say is that you and Chris are wonderful people, and that’s the only requirement anybody needs to be a wonderful parent.

    Congratulations again.

  • By Melina D on 28 April 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Your aunt is pretty much the greatest, and her advice should be shared by everyone!

    I got a lot of ‘scare’ advice (even from medical professionals – like the midwife who believed that IVF and breastfeeding weren’t compatible. Tell that to my milk monster!) and almost everything has turned out differently for me. I’ve (finally) learned to get my advice from where I think I’ll be most comfortable with the answer – since there’s almost always more than one way to do things!

  • By Callisto Shampoo on 28 April 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Oh dear, you are having an absolutely terrible time of it.
    :(
    Hope things improve soon, and yay boundary setting. You have some really awesome friends who are also parents, so sticking to their advice and setting fire to every one else sounds like a great idea to me!

    Er… um, ignoring every one else I meant! Really!

    :)

  • By Tansy Rayner Roberts on 28 April 2013 at 8:46 pm

    I’m sorry you’re having a rough time of it!

    The best thing about pregnancy is that it is temporary. A small part of our lives overall, though when you’re in the middle of it, it’s hard to imagine anything else.

    (mine was pretty reasonable, but all the bad parts of it have been nicely whisked away by time and fuzzy memory)

    Your pregnancy & your baby will be like no one else’s! And even when you feel completely lost, you will know more about them than anyone else does. If you come away at the end of this experience with a greater confidence in yourself, even if it’s a confidence in knowing when to SIT DOWN AND REST DAMN IT, that’s enough.

    You don’t have to love pregnancy! Especially not when it kicks you around like this. But I do hope the later trimesters are a bit better for you.

    A scary, confusing, wondrous, inspiring time! I know you’ll be a great mother. But it’s perfectly fine to sometimes be just an okay one in between bouts of being great. The secret is in forgiving yourself every day for all those little things that don’t matter.

    HUGS. Looking forward to seeing you sooooon.

  • By Thoraiya on 28 April 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Cabbages, 99c.

    (Hahahaha)

    Forgive us for the advice. Everyone has that one burning piece of knowledge that they wish they had had as prior warning for themselves. As you have observed, however, the thing you wished you had known for yourself is pretty much never the thing the next person needs to hear.

    Although I’ve found “This, too, shall pass” to have a pretty high hit rate ;)

    Xxoo

  • By Bec on 28 April 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Congratulations and hoping the sickness eases.

    Like most big things in life, everyone has an opinion, but no one really knows how YOU feel.

  • By Carly on 29 April 2013 at 5:15 am

    I’m very impressed by your openness. And I completely agree with the superwoman comment. It was especially relevant for me after I gave birth, when my mother reminded me that from now on, my kids are more important than the housework, and not to feel guilty about not finding the time for cleaning/ironing/(fill in the blank) because all those things are really less important than the kids. And with time I realized that she was right. So now my bathrooms are not spick-and-span, and my iron almost never sees the light of day, but my kids (and husband) are clean, they have clothes to wear, and they never go hungry.

    I hope you start feeling better and are actually able to enjoy your pregnancy.

    **Sending good vibes**

  • By Jo on 29 April 2013 at 5:53 am

    As a chronic pregnancy over-sharer who hated it when done to me and can’t seem to stop doing it to others, I’m sorry :-D Your Aunt is very wise!

    Congratulations again on your wonderful news!

  • By Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) on 29 April 2013 at 7:08 am

    Wow, congratulations, Alisa!!

  • By Jo on 29 April 2013 at 7:53 am

    (D’oh, meant to be a full stop after the smiley face)

  • By stephbg on 29 April 2013 at 8:47 am

    I’d be surprised if anyone managed to get pregnant if they leapt in feet first, prepared or not.

    Not that you need either my opinion or my approval, but you seem to be doing a good job of taking care of things and most importantly yourself. It’s good to see.

    I’m also glad to hear you haven’t caught some horrible virus like Ross River Fever, because that’s what it was sounding like!

  • By Nicky S on 29 April 2013 at 9:42 am

    Once again congratulations and I am sorry you’re having such a rough time of it physically. That sucks and I hope it does abate for you.

    I think I was backward-fortunate for my sole pregnancy that I was too shocked at said revelation to hear a word of anything anyone said to me (and being “young” probably helped/saved me).

    Your aunt sounds like a wonderful woman and is spot on with her words.

    Plus, I second what Tansy *points up* has said.

  • By Shane on 29 April 2013 at 11:03 am

    Congratulations Alisa. I love your perspective.
    As a newish parent myself, we have a 2 year old after 20 years as a single cat family, I can honestly say she is the most wonderful, beautiful, life enriching thing that ever happened to us. So much so that number 2 is only 7 weeks away. We had to do it again. We have conversations now that start with “Can you even remember what we were doing this time 3 years ago?”. Only the cat probably has reservations. 12 years is a long time to be an only child. He doesn’t appreciate the extra attention only a 2 year old can give. :)
    I am really excited for anyone starting out on this journey. All the best.

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you. I hope that’s true – cause so far, I ain’t got nuthin’ else!

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Ugh. Seriously. As though you don’t know anything and the other person, cause they’ve done it once or twice, is the expert on you. So infuriating!

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks. I’ve been counting down to the 12 weeks in the hopes that it will be better. And it has a bit, so that’s something.

    And yeah, as long as I actually set the boundaries other than just talking about them, I’ll be ok!

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:11 pm

    It’s been in no way fun, yet. And I know it’s only temporary but 35 weeks is a REALLY. LONG. TIME. And I still have so much longer to go. And there is a level of claustrophobia about it which I haven’t spoken about yet. I don’t think I’ll forget how awful I’ve felt for such a long period of time.

    This is going to require character growth, I know this and I know it’s not beyond me, I’m just not that into the process, really.

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Ah yes, thanks for sharing that story :)

    Everyone has that one burning piece of knowledge that they wish they had had as prior warning for themselves.

    It’s also really unlikely to be the one thing that I will wish that I knew.

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you. And yes, so very very true.

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Luckily, I already got over any guilt at lack of housecleaning when juggling my press and a day job.

    But yeah, the being ok about not getting to everything or not being able to always do everything – that I’m still working on.

    Thanks for the well wishes.

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:25 pm

    You were fine! That was a genuine conversation we had between friends. And I love your being there at the end of my Twitter feed.

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you!

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I guess I decided in the end that you’d never really be fully ready and my time is finite.

    Thank you – yes it did seem to linger on, didn’t it, with very little concern about doing something about it! I’m not the best at taking care of myself, especially when I’m very sick, I tend to do nothing even when doing something will make me feel better. But I have a very caring husband – or impatient who can’t stand the whining, one or the other!

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:28 pm

    The not hearing the drive by advice is a good thing! I bet you did just fine without it!

  • By AlisaK on 29 April 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you and thank you for your well wishes.

  • By Ju on 30 April 2013 at 11:37 am

    *lovelovelove* Hoping that things improve for you in the coming weeks. I am tucking your Aunt’s advice away for future reference should I need it.

  • By Nicky S on 1 May 2013 at 9:57 am

    I suspect so (given my worry-heavy nature). I spent the whole time, even after he landed going “what in the heck just happened”.

    And yes, we did muddle along just fine – I’m sure my nearly 19yr old would have things to say, because all of us have something to say about our childhoods.

    An observation I made to a friend (who was/is extremely anxious over getting absolutely everything right at all stages of parenting) is you may think you know what will affect them, and stuff happens but it won’t be what you thought it was or when. Which my son and I’ve already discovered (as I have done with my mum about my upbringing).

  • By AlisaK on 1 May 2013 at 9:59 am

    There is no perfect.

    I suspect learning to be ok about not being 100% in control and not being perfect are going to be some of the lessons in all this for me. As well as knowing my limits.

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