John and I are pleased to announce the birth of our son David. He was born last Sunday, measuring 22 inches long and weighing 7 pounds, 12 ounces. We are tired, but very much in love with our little guy. Thank you for all your kind wishes and support.
I started thinking about babies when John and I moved to the West Coast three and a half years ago. John wasn’t quite on the same page; he wanted some time to establish himself at his new company. He wanted some time to settle into our new life.
About two and a half years ago, we had a bit of a scare that left me thinking—briefly—that I might be pregnant. When I learned that I wasn’t, I was disappointed. I said as much to John, but once again, he wanted to wait. He wanted to make sure his company was stable and his future there secure.
To be honest, his reluctance to start a family pissed me off. It made me feel as though what I wanted was less important than what he wanted for his career.
So I got passive-aggressive.
In late 2008/early 2009, my husband spent a total of 16 days in a mental hospital due to a psychotic break. I recently came home after spending nearly five days in the hospital due to an emergency appendectomy during pregnancy. I feel compelled to share a few keys differences between our experiences.
- During my hospitalization, John was allowed to stay with me 24/7. The regular hospital makes it easy for family members to provide comfort and support to sick loved ones. Not only was John permitted to hang out with me all day, but my room even had a pull-out chair that transformed into a cot so that he could sleep over at night.When John was in the mental hospital, visiting hours were very restricted. I could only see him for 90 minutes a day, usually between 7:00 and 8:30 pm, or 1:00 to 2:30 pm on the weekends. I wasn’t allowed to join him in his room or even walk onto the ward’s floor. Instead, I was confined to the visiting room.
Although the limited access was almost certainly a safety precaution, that knowledge was cold comfort on the day John left the visiting room weeping and I couldn’t follow him to reassure him that everything would be okay. When someone is as confused and disoriented as John was when he first entered the hospital, having a loving spouse present would go a long way toward keeping him/her calm.
Last Sunday night at 11:00 pm, I woke up with a bad stomachache. I’d been having minor stomach pains at night for a few days prior to Sunday, but I wrote them off as some kind of normal, pregnancy-related thing.
Anyway, I got up that night and sat on the living room couch for an hour or so, to see if being upright would help the pain go away. It didn’t, so I woke up John around midnight and told him what was going on.
He phoned the on-call OB, who told us to go to the hospital to have everything checked out “just in case.” Before we left, I threw up.
On the labor and delivery floor, I got hooked up to two monitors: one to measure the baby’s heartbeat, and one to see if I was having contractions. Everything looked normal, and the nurse suggested it was probably just a case of food poisoning. Before she took us down the ER, I vomited again.
As soon as we got into the ER, they slapped a blood pressure cuff on my arm. My blood pressure was 70/35, and all of a sudden, there was a whirlwind of activity around us. People hoisting me onto a gurney, drawing blood, inserting an IV drip into the crook of my elbow. I threw up again, and then again.
A couple days ago, I ended a post with a story about how drowning victims sometimes fight their rescuers until they need to be knocked unconscious and plucked from danger.
Well, this is me, trying not to drown.
John and I went to see our baby for the 20-week anatomy scan on Wednesday. Everything looked great—baby is healthy and growing right on schedule. That night, though, I saw blood.
It was actually the second time I’d started bleeding. The first was about a month ago, after John and I went hiking in Palm Springs. That time, the doctor chalked it up to dehydration. On Wednesday, however, I was simply doing my desk job. No lifting heavy boxes, walking long distances, or forgetting to quench my thirst.
When we talked to the doctor about it on Thursday morning, he said it was my body’s way of saying, “Slow down.”
A recent post by Therese Borchard contained a beautiful Biblical verse, a portion of which reads, “To everything there is a season… a time to break down, and a time to build up…” It reminded me of something my mother said to me when John was in and out of the psych ward: “You take turns being strong in a marriage. This is your turn.”
At the time, I was scared that John would never recover, and that I’d have to be the strong one for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.
But looking back, I can see that as my husband was breaking down, I was building him up. When he was sick, I advocated for his recovery. I took care of paying the medical bills, scheduling doctor’s appointments, and communicating with his employer about his eventual return to work.
It was sort of a yin/yang kind of thing: I took care of the details of everyday life so he had the space to get well.
I was right: I am pregnant! And I’m excited, but I’m also scared. A good friend of mine had a miscarriage back in December, and I worry that it might happen to my baby, too. I find myself checking for blood every time I go to the bathroom, and wondering if we’re going to see a heartbeat with the first ultrasound.
It feels a little bit like it did when John was recovering from the psychosis. I’d wake up to check and make sure he was sleeping; I’d hand him his meds and watch to make sure he swallowed; I followed him to his day treatment program once to make sure he wasn’t skipping out.
The good news with him, though, is that over time, as he continued to choose recovery and take care of himself, the worry lifted. Is it always there for mothers? Will I always, from now on, be concerned that something with this child will go wrong?