Tag Archives: depression

So As You Can Tell, I’ve Been Listening

My therapist and I spend one full hour discussing motherhood, and my difficulty in finding balance in my life. We discuss strategies for coping with the mom-related anxiety. We talk about how to feel less overwhelmed by the huge responsibility of raising a child. We come up with a schedule that will allow me to spend quality time with Nora but still be able to do things for myself. We discuss the utter importance of carving out time to write, because writing provides immeasurable benefits to my mental health.

Therapist: “I’m glad we have a plan for you to find more balance. Motherhood can be hard, but you’re doing great. Now before the session ends, is there anything else going on that you think I should know about?”

Me: “Oh, yes– I stopped breastfeeding. So we’ll probably have to keep an eye on that, from a hormonal standpoint.”

Therapist: “Yes, definitely. And I think with stopping the breastfeeding, you’ll find you have a lot more time to do things for yourself, which will be wonderful.”

Me: “Totally.”

Therapist: “Is that why you decided to stop?”

Me: “Well, no, not exactly. It’s more that with all the crazy hormones that go along with breastfeeding, I really just wanted to get my body regulated again and back to baseline…”

Therapist: “I think that’s a great decision.”

Me: “…so we can have another kid.”

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Where DO They Go?

Me: “I think I’ve been a pretty reasonable parent so far. I just really want to avoid being the parent who cares TOO much– who hovers and obsesses and worries about every little thing her child does. But I definitely catch myself acting that way sometimes, so I fear I’m totally becoming that parent.”

Therapist: “You said you have a nanny part-time. Do you find it hard to relinquish control when the nanny comes to take care of Nora?”

Me: “Oh my god, NO. I count the seconds til she gets there and it’s an immediate hand off, as if we’re in a baton relay.”

Therapist: “Ok. And are Nora and the nanny always in sight when you’re home?”

Me: “What? No! The nanny immediately takes her out of the apartment.”

Therapist: “And where do they go?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

Therapist (10 second silence): “Yeah I don’t think you’re that parent who cares too much.”

Me: url

Therapist: “You might want to ask the nanny where they go.”

 

 

That IS Fair

My therapist and I discuss the experience of depressive episodes now that I’m a mom.

Me: “I’ve only experienced one depressive episode since having Nora, and luckily it was brief, but I’d say it was still miserable, just with a different twist. Like I always feel an immense amount of guilt when I’m depressed, but this time the guilt was mom-focused. I wasn’t able to really engage with Nora in the same way, and that made me feel like a terrible mother.”

Therapist: “When you say you couldn’t engage, what do you mean?”

Me: “Well like for example, she was just starting to roll over for the first time, and I couldn’t really connect with the experience in the way I wanted to. Like she was doing it and I was there witnessing it, but I just wasn’t…interested.”

Therapist: “Well, to be fair– that’s not interesting.”

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Waiting For Godot

Therapist: “So you haven’t really been blogging?”

Me: “No, not much since Nora was born.”

Therapist: “Well, it’s worth remembering that writing and blogging is your emotional and creative outlet. So that might explain why you’re feeling a bit stuck right now.”

Me: “Yeah. I know. I guess I’m just kind of waiting.”

Therapist: “Waiting for what?”

Me: “Like…waiting to feel like myself again. My normal self. Waiting to get my old groove back after having had a kid.”

Therapist: “I see….”

Me: url

(10 second silence)

Therapist: “That won’t happen until you die, you know.”

 

We Named Our Daughter After a Mouse

(Note: This post was written while still pregnant, lest you think I just shot a kid out of my baby-cannon and now have any ability to construct a coherent sentence, much less a mini-memoir.)

Yes, a mouse.

But stay with me. We have a rational reason for doing so. Well, maybe not a rational reason (not sure how anyone can expect me to be rational right now, as I am currently in month 9 of having two vaginas), but a reason that will at least provide some context for my desire to name our child after an animal that most people try to kill with strategically placed snap-traps.

Ten years ago, I suffered a deep, terrifying, paralyzing depression. I’ve written about it and referenced it many times on this blog so I won’t re-hash the details in this post, but needles to say, it was my darkest hour. What I haven’t mentioned before is a somewhat interesting (and now extremely relevant) aspect of this terrible time in my life– my obsession with mouse-kid Noisy Nora.

Yes, I’ll explain (because who? And huh?).

In the months I spent depressed living in my parents’ home at age 26, I was unable to do virtually anything. One day, while robotically eating breakfast and staring blankly at the Honey Nut Cheerios box, my mother put a pencil in my hand and suggested I draw something. Not only did I think this was pointless, as EVERYTHING was pointless, but I thought it was extra ridiculous given that, a mild talent for photography aside, I had never at any point in my life shown any kind of visual-arts ability or interest.

But I had nothing to lose (and nothing to do), so I grabbed the pencil and started drawing what I saw on the cereal box in front of me.

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Looking at it now, I think “Not a bad little Cheerios bee!” At the time, however, all I could manage was, “Well this drawing sucks.” Because, you know. Everything sucked. But what I did notice was that for the brief time I was immersed in the sketching process, I wasn’t, for once, writhing in despair and wondering how the minutes of life could possibly be ticking by so slowly. I was able to escape my agony for a short, precious time, and that alone was enough reason to keep drawing.

So I did. Basically, I stuck to sketching images that were on the boxes of the food I was eating:

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As you can see, I was really into carbs.

Then one day, in a further desperate attempt to pass the interminable minutes, I began sorting through mountains of crap in my parents’ storage room. To my delight (delight is a strong word– I hated everything) I stumbled upon a box of my most beloved childhood books. They were all there: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Doctor De Soto, The Snowy Day and, finally, at the very bottom of the box– Noisy Nora.

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GOD how I loved that book as a kid. It’s about a very endearing yet insufferable little mouse-kid who is jealous of the time her parents spend with her siblings, and therefore seeks attention by being a destructive little pain in the ass. I adored her, because I was her. No one could yell, stomp, and slam a door (then open it and re-slam it) for NO GOOD REASON like kid-me (and, ok, teenager-me. Adult-me…).

And for reasons I could not articulate, I suddenly became OBSESSED with drawing Nora. So obsessed, in fact, that I purchased a separate sketch pad solely for Nora drawings, where I could practice sketching her over and over again until I had her every tiny little detail perfected. (Side note: This genius separate-notebook idea backfired, as somewhere in the five times I’ve moved residencies since then, it got misplaced, while my notebook full of meaningless cereal box characters has somehow stood the test of time Face_With_Rolling_Eyes_Emoji_large ).

I sketched these Nora drawings in the privacy of my own bedroom, and kept the special Nora notepad under the bed where no one would find it. Unlike my Cheerios bee and Keebler elves, I was very protective of my Nora sketches and did not want to show them to anyone, even my mother, who was always so delighted and impressed by my cartoon drawings– so impressed, in fact, that she suggested I pursue a career in comic-strip writing (she was pretty desperate to give me purpose. She was also, understandably, drinking a LOT of wine during that time).

Nora was my little secret. I was never really able to articulate or explain to myself why I was so obsessed with her. Sure, I loved the book as a kid, but I loved lots of books and characters and wasn’t obsessing over any of THEM. At the time, the infatuation made no sense. But then again, nothing made sense, so I didn’t spend too much time or energy trying to figure it out.

Eventually, with copious medical interventions and the unwavering support of family and friends, I began to heal in early 2009, and life restarted again. I moved back to NYC, got a teaching job, found my marbles, and was functioning like the human I had forgotten I was capable of being.

And in the process, I let Nora go. Not completely and not forever– after all, she was there with me for those lonely, agonizing months and got me through a truly hopeless time– but now that I was able to participate in life again, the inexplicable obsession subsided and found a cozy spot in the back recesses of my mind, rather than in the fixated forefront.

Fast forward 9 years and I’m pregnant. As soon as we learned we were having a girl, out of (seemingly) nowhere, the name Nora came to my mind. I casually mentioned it to Eric as a name I liked, and he agreed it was nice, but suggested we keep thinking. He liked it but didn’t necessarily LOVE it, and maybe there was something out there we’d both LOVE. That was fine with me– I wasn’t even sure in that moment why I liked it so much, or why it came to me so suddenly, so I agreed to keep thinking. We looked through list after list and flirted with other names, many of which I did really like. But at the end of each day when I put my head to my pillow, I kept coming back to Nora.

And slowly, I began to realize why. Now, bear with me here– I’m not typically a hokey, whimsical or overly-spiritual person. But I am a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I do think “the universe,” however one might define that, plays a role in the direction our lives take. And in that time when I felt I truly had nothing to live for, I feel that maybe, just maybe, the Nora obsession was the universe’s way of saying “Do not give up, Emily. This darkness is temporary, and light awaits. There’s something big coming, and you’re going to want to be around to see it.”

Now I don’t want anyone to interpret this as me thinking that having a child is the only, or the ultimate, thing to live for. It has been 10 years since that depressive episode and my life has been beyond full of reasons to live– from big reasons (family, friends, major accomplishments both personal and professional, fabulous travel, discovery of new talents and interests) to all those little moments that make up a full, meaningful life  (a burst of uncontrolled laughter, hearing Journey’s “Faithfully” and remembering every single lyric to your camp alma mater, a post-run nap in a shaded hammock, the satisfaction of finally killing the pesky fly that’s been occupying your apartment for a week– sorry, that last one just happened like 5 minutes ago and DAMN it felt good! Anyway, we all have our things.)

There are trillions of reasons to live, big and small, but when you’re severely depressed, you can’t access any of them. So I think this Nora obsession, for which I had no explanation at the time, only an intense and seemingly primal NEED to draw her, was the universe desperately trying to shove hope in my face– to tell me that if I could just hold on and get through this time, I would rediscover all the reasons to be here, and come to see that I still have so much important work left to do in this life, including (but certainly not limited to) becoming a mom.

So I kept coming back to the name Nora, and although Eric liked it, he still wasn’t totally sold. I wanted to disclose the reason I was so attached to it, but I also worried he might think I was nuts (not sure why I still occasionally fear this. The guy has witnessed some pretty emotionally ape-shit moments and he’s still here, inexplicably, with bells on). For months, I kept pressing the name on him, with no explanation other than, “I just really like it,” only to get a non-committal, “I like it too, but let’s keep thinking,” in response.

So eventually, on a particularly hormonal day, I explained my reasoning. With tears in my eyes, I cautiously relayed the story of my Noisy Nora fixation, and how in hindsight I think it might have been the universe giving me a reason to hold on.

“Oh,” Eric said. “Well then that’s it. That’s her name. Why didn’t you just tell me that? Of course that’s her name. And now I love it.”

And that is why I married him.

And why we named our daughter after a rodent.

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Getting Our Ducks in a Row

Last year, while on our annual family vacation in the Outer Banks (moment of silence to mourn the fact that we will be missing this year’s trip, which of course makes us sad but it’s obviously for a very good reason– so my vagina can be torn in half), Eric stumbled upon these two ducks in a novelty store.

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Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before (every third post), but Eric loves animals. Obsessed. The obsession is mostly focused on dogs, but he really does not discriminate. Just yesterday I was forced to watch a minutes-long video of a kangaroo on a golf course, sniffing a ball and then slinking away, which elicited a slightly amused chuckle from me, and a maniacal cackle-giggle from Eric, who couldn’t help but repeatedly yell, “I mean, just look at him hop! Look at him! Hoppin’ away like a little hoppin’ machine!”

So he came across these ducks last year and, as you can imagine, absolutely could not in any way control his excitement because a) THEY’RE DUCKS! and b) they happen to have our names. Without even thinking to look at the price tag he grabbed them and declared, “This probably goes without saying, but we need these.”

Now, sometimes I am wiling to be indulgent of this animal addiction, such as last week when I purchased this giraffe toilet paper holder for our bathroom and named it Jaben, after our South African safari guide, for no other reason than I knew it would make Eric smile and think of me with gratitude every time he sits on the pot, which is important in a marriage.

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Other times, such as when he purchased this Corgi welcome mat without my knowledge, IMG_0530.jpeg, I threaten to burn the product should it be anywhere in my direct line of sight (rug has since been moved from front door entrance to his side of the bed, halfway tucked under the bed frame. I can technically still see it when I use the bathroom or clean the bedroom (once a year) but placing his feet on that rug first thing every morning makes him so happy that I don’t quite have the heart to burn it, so it stays. For now.)

As for the ducks, I took one look and said, “We really don’t need more clutter in the apartment.” He stared back at me, expression blank, and then, after 30 seconds of careful contemplation, formed his astute counter-argument: “BUT THEY SAY OUR NAMES!”

I was not convinced, and reminded him of the concerted effort we had been putting into de-cluttering our tight living space, already occupied by a ceramic hedgehog, a camel carrying a dowry, three llamas (two from Abu Dhabi and one Peruvian, and may god have mercy on your soul if you can’t tell the difference), four elephant figurines, a life-sized corgi pillow, and the aforementioned corgi mat.

“Ok, ok, you’re right,” he conceded. So I gave him a warm smile and soft kiss on the cheek to show appreciation for his sacrifice, directly after which he walked up to the cashier and purchased both ducks.

So fine. Now we have these ducks.

But ever since bringing them home, something has bothered me about them (like, aside from the fact that we have the world’s most unnecessary wooden birds taking up our tight, NYC living space), and I haven’t been able to place my finger on it. Then yesterday, almost a year after purchase, I finally figured it out:

THEY’RE WEARING THE WRONG NAMES.

Yes, those were the name tags they were wearing in the store, aka the names the artist thought were accurate and appropriate for each duck. But if you look closely, you’ll see this was a classic mix up.

The one wearing the Emily tag is a short, stumpy, spry little yapper. Literally has NO LEGS. Its lips are open, chatting away, likely about something related to a dog walking by or an hours-long, in-depth retell of “the weirdest dream I had last night.” Eyes are open wide with wonder, like it can’t wait to discover what the day will bring– a kangaroo on a golf course? A corgi playing in a puddle? A squirrel having a good scratch? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!

This duck is clearly Eric.

Meanwhile, who is this excitable little Eric duck yapping away to, and clearly being tuned out by? (And to be clear, it’s not a purposeful, spiteful tune-out–  this lanky duck is clearly involuntarily stuck in a thought-loop, berating itself for something embarrassing it did 12 years ago and wondering if the gaggle of geese who witnessed the transgression are still talking about it).

That’s right, this long, chicken-leg-limbed yet too-large-footed figure is clearly Emily duck, staring into the abyss, silent, minding its own business and probably confused about something. If you look closely, its dark, beady little shell-shocked eye screams inner panic attack and the stiff, craned neck says “Hi, I am uncomfortable.” This duck is also the color of pee, which more literally represents what I spend half my time needing to do.

So I switched the name tags and now all is right with the world.

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Best purchased we* ever made.

*we = really 100% Eric, against my will, but now that I’m amused by them, I will take half credit for their discovery and purchase because MARRIAGE.

 

My 21-Year-Old Self Was an Idiot. Here’s Proof.

We are moving apartments tomorrow, so the past week has been a lot of packing and cleaning out old crap. All of which has been done by a constantly sweating yet not ONCE complaining Eric, while I sit on the couch rubbing my belly, drinking ice water, and grumbling that I’m overwhelmed.

Yesterday Eric pulled this huge dusty box out of the depths of the closet and said “Hey, Emily from 1990, here are your files. Maybe go through them and see if this is something we can throw in the garbage, since we now live in the computer age, and have for 20 plus years?”

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So I just went through the box and he was right– I do not, in fact, need a paper copy of the 1-year-warranty for the Sony Vaio laptop I bought in college, nor a receipt for a Gap cardigan purchased in January. Of 2004.

It took me over an hour to go through, rip up, and discard all the blatantly irrelevant crap this box possessed, but my hard labor was rewarded when I reached the end of the files and came across THIS little gem, posted below (in the form of a PDF link. Sorry, after a whole 2 seconds of trying, I couldn’t figure out how else to post it).

It is a paper I wrote during my senior year of college, entitled “The (abridged) Autobiography of Emily Lerman,” and it is ABSURD. Absurd because it is exactly the kind of sarcastic, self-deprecating shit I would post on this blog, except I HANDED IT IN TO A PROFESSOR. AT AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL. FOR A GRADE. 

Now, granted, I got an A. So my professor was either awesome (don’t remember that being the case) or EXTREMELY bored (more likely). Or maybe she appreciated seeing something “different” come across her desk? Most likely she was just drunk. I don’t know, but there’s no doubt something was amiss, because this shit is less a paper for a college course and more a bad audition for Last Comic Standing that ends with the comic sweat-stuttering offstage to a chorus of “You suck!”

So naturally, I need to share it.

A few parts are redacted to protect the innocent, but otherwise I left it in its purest, this-was-definitely-written-by-a-21-year-old-moron form. It’s not even that the writing is that bad (save for a few blatant grammatical errors), it’s just VERY dramatic. Not sure if that was for comedic effect (important in a paper for HISTORY CLASS) or because I was a CHILD when I wrote it, but I do feel the need to clarify that I probably wasn’t THAT miserable as a kid, and Potomac was not THAT absurd a place to grow up (furthermore, the random unneccesary dig I took at my mom, saying she was a real estate agent “when she felt like working” was completely unfair. I can make that joke NOW, but back then, the woman hustled).

Or maybe I was that miserable and growing up in Potomac was that absurd but I’ve now had 15 more years of distance from the “trauma” (img_7593) and kind of just want to smack my young self across the head and be like, “Lighten up, Sassypants. Your life wasn’t hard. You drove a 4Runner.”

Anyway here it is. Enjoy. ( shrug_1f937)

Yes I wrote this for an academic college course

P.S. Future daughter– if I send you to college and this is the kind of shit you produce on my dime, you’re paying your own way.

 

My Pregnancy Journey is Less a Magical Beard Ride and More a Slow Death Trek on the Oregon Trail

I’ve gotten a lot of comments from friends saying that they expected more coverage of my pregnancy journey on the blog. This phrase, “pregnancy journey,” always makes me laugh.  To me, the word “journey” has a positive connotation, conjuring up images of a whimsical venture full of magic and wonderment, much like the beard ride Mio enjoys in one of my favorite childhood movies of all time, The Land of Faraway:

All I wanted was for a giant floating face to declare “Grab hold my beard!” and I’d be whisked away on an awe-filled, excitement-laden adventure.

So imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the pregnancy journey is no magical beard ride set to the delightful sing-song lyrics “Flying through the garden, garden of the roses!”

No. Fuck that. There are zero roses and not one oversized beard to grab on this helltrek.

For me, pregnancy has been more like the journey of the Oregon Trial– painfully slow, riddled with various disease, characterized by constant dehydration with a desperate search for the next water source, never quite sure when the diarrhea will strike, and with an overall looming sense of “Oh, so THIS is how I die.” All set to the soundtrack of Weird Al’s “I’m Fat.”

Much like an optimistic fur trapper of the 1830s, I set out on my journey as a bundle of excitement and nerves, only to find myself quickly acquiring various diseases that would put proverbial dead oxen in front of my wagon and test my will to go on.

Below I will detail the ailments I acquired on my journey because, well, you’ve wondered why I haven’t been posting more and THIS IS WHY.

No Yellow Fever or Dysentery, per se (although the chronic diarrhea that marked my entire first trimester had me googling “is Dysentery still a thing people get?” from the Cascabel Taqueria toilet. And before you say, “Well of course you had diarrhea, Emily, you were eating tacos!”, I was not. Cascabel Taqueria happens to be centrally located between most of my tutoring clients, and thus the not-exactly-public bathroom I ran to when danger struck between sessions. The first few times I actually pretended to be a patron and that I’d have a drink at the bar right after I “used the bathroom real quick- thanks!” By my 5th visit, the hostess took one look at me and said, “I’m sorry, the bathroom is for patrons only” to which I replied “I am pregnant, I am ashamed, and I’m sorry,” to which she replied, “Oh, come this way, hon,” and actually escorted me to the private stall. One time she even gave me a seltzer afterward. I don’t know much about heaven but I do know there is an extra special spot up there reserved for Consuela of Cascabel.)

So here’s a sampling of my ailments, in order experienced. Some of them I’ve mentioned in previous posts, others I have not. But there’s something truly delightful (re: horrifying) about seeing them all listed in one place:

Standard 1st Trimester Bullshit

None of these are particularly unique or interesting so I’m just throwing all of them into this hellparade-I-never-want-to-think-about-again category and moving on– nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, exhaustion, food aversion, increased sense of smell (this includes the heightened odor of things that already smelled bad, like the subway, and sudden gag reflex in response to formerly benign or even pleasant smells, like your husband’s head), caffeine withdrawal, excessive drooling (yup, a thing), frequent urination, dehydration, restless leg syndrome, your own heightened body odor (this one gets increasingly fun the more your partner chooses to be honest about it).

I have nothing interesting to say about any of these things other than when they are happening all at once, you straight up want to die, and if you don’t, well, fuck you, Mary Poppins.  

Perinatal Depression

Now, depression is nothing new for me, of course. I’ve been suffering bouts of depression since my teenage years, but let me tell you, perinatal depression is a very special breed of the illness, where you take the standard guilt, shame, self-loathing and hopelessness, and add to it a creature-fetus that you are not only responsible for, but societally expected to care for and be excited about. If you’ve ever suffered from depression, you know that caring for things becomes extremely difficult and the notion of being EXCITED about something is not only impossible, it’s literally not even a notion you can understand in theory. So the fact that you sort of wish you were dead but you have this thing you SHOULD be excited about just compounds those feelings of guilt, self-loathing, and hopelessness and sprinkles in a bit of “You are going to be a terrible mom, wtf were you thinking?” (that thought usually hits JUST as you’ve mustered the energy to get out of bed and brush your teeth, and sends you right back to the safety of your under-washed, tear-and-snot stained sheets.)

Luckily, for me, the depression lifted shortly after trimester 1. I expect it to be back in full force once the baby comes, but I plan to greet Postpartum Depression in the delivery room with a huge bottle of Prozac, a copy of Brooke Shields’ “Down Came the Rain” and my therapist on FaceTime, so at least that one I’ll be prepared for. The Perinatal came as quite a surprise. I knew it was common to feel physically shitty during pregnancy, but I was really caught of guard by the frighteningly dark nature of my thoughts. I kind of expected the “miracle” of conception to guard me from notions of despair and hopelessness. Cue Depression’s “Got ya again!” shoulder shimmy.

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Hypothyroidism

This one’s fun. So you know that whole shitstorm category of Trimester 1 symptoms listed above? Since they’re all pretty common, and most of them are exactly what one would feel if their thyroid just decided to up and die, hypothyroidism is commonly misdiagnosed or just missed altogether, but it’s a fairly common ailment acquired during pregnancy (which, bonus– then NEVER GOES AWAY! 52a0e87bb80b3b54af4cff0f2a2266bb.png). I pretty much had to diagnose myself, my main symptom being an EXTREME intolerance to cold. I’ve always been temperature sensitive (a polite way of saying I am either sweating like Rocky in round 12 or freezing like Rocky…in The Rockies? Whatever the point is I get cold.) I mentioned to my doctor that the cold felt literally painful, to which he replied “Well, it’s January,” to which I replied, giphy.gif, so he agreed to test my thyroid levels. And, as suspected, and because I apparently have to do all the medical work around here, I did, in fact have hypothyroidism, a condition that very commonly exists in women but remains “underlying” until a stressful event, such as sharing organs with a parasite, brings it to the surface. Once surfaced, however, it typically never goes away, which isn’t exactly ideal but the good news is that it’s a pretty simple fix– a daily dose of Synthroid, a medication with virtually no side effects– will pretty much entirely fix the problem. The downside is that it takes about 2 months to kick in, and when you’re feeling like the eye of a shitnado, that can feel like a really. fucking. long. time.

But anyway, yeah. Add “endocrinologist” to my growing list of docs I will have to see forever. At least he’s entertaining, and I imagine he will continue to be a featured character on this blog, as everything that comes out of his mouth is completely offensive and absurd, but in that adorable “It’s ok because you’re about 300 years old and might literally die as we sit here” kind of way.

Factor 11 Deficiency

This one is really not that big a deal, just kind of falls under the category of “ADD IT TO THE GODDAMN LIST.” When we first learned of the pregnancy, we immediately had genetic testing done (note: learn from our mistake and try to do this BEFORE you get pregnant– there’s no reason to have to worry about the small possibility of over 817 uncommon but possibly deadly ailments you could pass to your baby while your morning-sick head is in a toilet). Through this testing, we learned that I am a carrier of 3 rare diseases (imgres-1.jpgimgres-1.jpgimgres-1.jpg!!!). One, called Usher Syndrome Type 2A, would result in a perfectly normal, healthy baby at birth, but then somewhere around early childhood the kid would lose her hearing and go completely blind (imgres-2.jpg!). The other, Phenylalanine Hydroxylase Deficiency, can POSSIBLY be controlled and effects minimized with a very strict diet from birth, but will still most likely result in severe brain damage (imgres-2.jpgimgres-2.jpg!!).  The last was Factor 11 Deficiency, a blood disease that can lead to severe, excessive bleeding or potentially fatal blood clotting (imgres-2.jpgimgres-2.jpgimgres-2.jpg!!!). Now, the good news is that NONE of these diseases will be inherited by the baby as long as Eric is not a carrier of them as well (if he were, the baby would then have a 25% chance of actively having the disease). As it turns out (discovered three excruciatingly long weeks later), Eric is a carrier of nothing, which actually came as a surprise to us seeing as though he has Type 1 Diabetes, a raging case of Childlike Optimism, and Obsessive Corgi Disorder.

Side note: My favorite part of the genetic testing experience was my Mom hearing about all these terrible diseases and exclaiming, “WHERE did you get all this horrible stuff?!” Well, it’s genetic testing, so….YOU?!

Sometimes I just can not.

Anyway, this was all good news in the end, as our child will be safe from these rare monster diseases I carry, and being a carrier has virtually no effect on me– except, as it turns out, for the Factor 11 Deficiency. In SOME cases, even carriers can have symptoms, but, as a trip to the hematologist (more doctors!) confirmed, I have never had any history of excessive bleeding or clotting, so the chances of this affecting me during labor or later in life are slim to non-existent. There were a brief few days there where I thought I was not going to be allowed to have an epidural, but it turns out I can, so BRING ON THE BIG ASS NEEDLE AND ALLLLLLLLL THE DRUGS PLEASE! I have already devised a plan to arrive at the hospital with a huge platter of cookies for the anesthesiologist, because in case there’s any last-minute controversy over whether or not I’m allowed an epidural, I want that motherfucker on my side.

Gestational Diabetes

Ah, diabetes. Not just for spouses anymore! When I first met Eric, a Type 1 diabetic diagnosed at age 6, I had absolutely no idea what having diabetes meant, nor the slightest clue how to manage it. I sort of knew it had to do with sugar, but the extent of my knowledge on diabetic sugar management was, “So, like, you can have a SLICE of sheet cake, you just can’t eat the WHOLE sheet cake in one sitting like I do?” (He would later explain, to my horror and disappointment, that eating an entire sheet cake in one sitting is bad for ANYONE).

The one fun thing about pregnancy is being able to eat pretty much whatever the fuck you want, because you feel like shit and it’s your only comfort, and if someone tries to lecture you, you can just bark “I’m eating for two!” (not actually a thing), throw something against a wall, or just start crying. Any of those methods work for getting said person to back the fuck off and let you continue eating your bowl of GGMM cereal (that’s a pregnancy breakfast I invented. It’s Golden Grahams and M&Ms together in one bowl, with milk. It’s just like the very common practice of mixing two cereals, except one of the cereals is chocolate in a candy-coated sugar shell and not at all, by any stretch of the imagination, a cereal.)

So you get about 2 months of being able to delightfully indulge in all the crap you want (because the first 3 months you were too nauseated to subsist on anything but melba toast) and then at week 28 you take a glucose test. The doctor gives you a drink with 50 grams of sugar and tests your blood sugar levels 1 hour after consumption. If it’s under 140, you technically pass and can skip out of the office on your merry non-diabetic way. If it’s over 140, you have to take the more extensive 3-hour glucose test to determine if you have gestational diabetes.

I got a motherfucking 138.

“Wahoo– you passed! Good for you!” was my first thought, as I poured myself another bowl of GGMM. But then the doctor called and said that 138 is pretty borderline and raises slight concerns, so I better do the 3-hour test just in case. This was a huge wakeup call, enough for me to stop mid-shovel and put down my spoon.

So I could go get a bigger spoon.

As far as I was concerned, a 138 was a passing grade.

The 3 hour test is a blast. First you fast for 12 hours. Fun for ANYONE, but particularly fun for someone who has a human living in her. Then, at the ripe hour of 8:00am, you drink 8 ounces of what can only be described as lukewarm liquid shit (orange flavor!) that contains 100 grams of sugar. Your blood is drawn right before you drink (to determine your “fasting blood sugar”), and then once every hour for the next 3 hours. “But what do you do during those 3 hours?” you ask. Oh, you sit in the waiting room starving and hating everyone, including yourself. And if you’re lucky, like me, you watch a woman go into what looks like extremely painful labor 5 FEET AWAY FROM YOU, which just gives you more to look forward to.

So just like the first test, this one came back pretty borderline, but it was determined that yes, I do technically have gestational diabetes. If 2 of your 4 blood sugar readings are too high, you are diagnosed. For the record, 2 of my readings were perfectly fine, one was 4 points too high, and one was ONE MOTHERFUCKING POINT TOO HIGH.

So I’m a diabetic. (Eric gets annoyed when I say this, because I’m totally not, but it’s my ailment and I’ll phrase it as dramatically as I damn well please). I don’t need insulin or anything, I just have to control my diet– no added sugars and a reasonable limiting of carbs, or at the very least a sensible carb-to-protein balance. Basically no eating of blatantly terrible shit that will spike my sugar and take my body hours to regulate. I check my sugar 4 times a day (easy peasy, as thanks to Eric we have about 10 meters and 3 million testing strips in our household) and as long as it’s in range (which it completely has been), I’m totally fine, and so is baby. And odds are, this condition goes away right after birth, as it is caused by hormones in the placenta slowing down my insulin production (one friend asked, “Wait, diabetes? Is this something you can blame on Eric?” Unfortunately, no. His having Type 1 Diabetes and me having Gestational Diabetes are entirely unrelated, just coincidental, and if anything, his having diabetes has actually made all this easier for me, as I am already overly armed with the equipment and knowledge to care for myself. I’ll probably still blame him, though.)

So again, not the end of the world, just a fun little extra pregnancy perk that robs me of my one enjoyable lifeline: unabashed eating. I suppose in the end this is GOOD for me? Because I’m guessing that, pregnancy or not, a daily dose of GGMM cereal is still going straight to my ass. And from what I hear, your ass does not magically deflate when the baby comes out.  (What’s that? Neither does your stomach? SHUT UP, I’M HANGING ON BY A THREAD HERE.)

And lastly,

Standard 3rd Trimester Bullshit:

Nora Ephron once said, “If pregnancy were a book, they would cut the last two chapters.”

Amen, my sassy soul sister. Much like Trimester 1, there is nothing particularly interesting about Trimester 3, just a lot of back pain, shortness of breath, indigestion, waddling, groaning, general slowing down and constantly questioning how your mother did this FOUR FUCKING TIMES, and wondering if you should call her more (you don’t, though).

Trimester 2 was actually at times enjoyable– I did have a rush of energy and was able to get to the gym every day for a substantial workout. Now I waddle up there and pray that the one back-supported cycling machine is not being used by the 90-year-old lady in 12C, because I have literally no other options for exercise other than cruising that bad boy for 20 minutes at level 0.

So no, my pregnancy has not been a magical beard ride. It’s been a long, slow, disease-ridden trek on the Oregon Trail. But the good news is that those who survived the Oregon Trail eventually made it to the paradise of Willamette Valley (thanks, Google), where they lived an idyllic life and all their hopes and expectations came to fruition.

Oh, what’s that? Life was still really fucking hard once they got there, with no guarantee of safety, comfort, prosperity or happiness? In fact, the adjustment to life in an entirely new place, under entirely new circumstances and with no creature comforts of their old life, was almost too much for some of them to bear?

Cool.

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