I’ve spent the past few blog posts talking specifically about how my OCD and anxiety intensified when I was pregnant. Several years ago one of my psychiatrists determined that my mood issues were highly effected by hormones. I believe they said I had an estrogen sensitivity. Maybe this explains why I was more balanced when pregnant with Jack and more unstable when pregnant with Claire? I don’t know if that is possible or if it has anything to do with it at all but …all I know is that emotionally, pregnancy number 2 was much harder.
I got pregnant with Claire a few months before Jack was to start his first year in preschool. As I’ve mentioned before, it made it SO hard to take him to school each day and leave him. The emotions were high, especially being so hormonal. In a way I felt guilt. I told myself that I was “shipping him off” while I stayed at home with the baby (obviously, as I was pregnant). When I look back on my feelings at the time I know this sounds completely insane but I think that I started to feel a little guilt the minute the stick showed two lines.
I think that this is somewhat normal? I know that all mothers feel a little guilt when realizing that their only child won’t be their only child anymore. I think you feel emotion for your child and know it will be an adjustment. I think that when you have anxiety that is intensifying by the day, you feel this so much more intensely and irrationally.
Several months into preschool Jack got hit with one illness after another. It is truly unbelieveable. He went from never getting sick to catching EVERY single illness anyone thought about getting. He had an upper respiratory infection that made him cough to the point of throwing up. He had a crazy throat infection that made his nodes swell, gave him a fever and just generally made me lethargic and not himself for days. He then got a stomach virus, etc. The list goes on. With each illness he got, I lost myself a little more. I wish I had a better way of writing this …or explaining this but I don’t know that I can in a way that will accurately convey the fear. The paralyzing fear I felt with each new symptom.
When Jack got the stomach virus I witnessed him throw up for the first time. I witnessed his fear. He stood there.. pale, shaking, crying. He didn’t know what was happening. I was 34 weeks pregnant and I didn’t know what to do. I was torn between trying to protect the little one inside of me and the little one standing in front of me, so sick. I had a panic attack. I stood there, covered in his throw up and sat down on the edge of the shower. I started shaking uncontrollably. I started crying. I couldn’t talk. Thank God my husband was there to comfort our baby while I got myself together. When he had the throat infection I stayed up all night several nights monitoring his temperature. Recording his medications. Inspecting him for new symptoms. Each day I prayed that he got better but feeling let down when he wasn’t. It was so hard to see him sick… and the hardest part was knowing it was my fault. Or so I thought.
My anxiety decided to tell me that this all could have been prevented had I not been pregnant and distracted. If I hadn’t made the selfish decision to have another baby…I could have made sure Jack avoided more germs. I could have paid more attention. I could have caught these illnesses earlier and prevented them. I could have done something. This was my fault. This was my reality and this made me feel like a horrible, selfish mother. I was scared. I was depressed. I felt like I had to make up for my mistakes. My OCD went into overdrive. I took his temperature a million times a day. I felt his head. I took him to the doctor a million times. I felt his lymph nodes. I looked at this throat. I couldn’t stop. I flashed back to my parents illness and the guilt intensified. I was becoming my parents. I was going to make my child fearful. I was going to make him a checker. I sobbed every night. The guilt was too much.
I look back to this period of several months when Jack was so sick and I feel like I was a shell of myself. I feel like my emotions were so intense and out of control that they left me in a sense. I felt like it was too much to deal with so I merely existed while they floated off somewhere to get away from everything. I woke each day dreading each moment, fearing that it would be filled with something terrible. I feared sleeping at night because I felt like I needed to monitor Jack, or myself and my pregnancy. If I wasn’t ALWAYS on guard, everything would come crashing down. I would lose everything that I loved.
Living your life on guard is not living at all. It is existing. It is running a race that you are never going to win..mainly because there is no finish line. You must always be on guard. Around this time, my third trimester of pregnancy, I accepted that this was my life. I’d accepted this many times before. I became numb because I had to. Each day was about making it to the next while hoping I didn’t collapse in the process. Each day was filled with terror and fear and checks and tears that I was doing my BEST to hide from my husband and my son. I didn’t want to be this person. I didn’t want to fall apart. Inevitably, I would.