“I’m fine,” She Lied: Part 4 – Kid Things

Note: If you haven’t guessed, all of my titles for each entry (except for the first) are song titles. I may post the songs, we’ll see.

I was 25.

IMG_1737.JPGWe moved into our new home, bought new living room furniture (which I hated as soon as the pregnancy hormones wore off. Do not make major furniture purchases while preggo. Just don’t), and I convinced Scott we needed a dog. Specifically, we needed a basset hound because I’d always wanted one, since the days of The Dukes of Hazzard and Smokey and the Bandit. I found a breeder in the Atlanta area and we stayed with Scott’s brother Chris and his wife, Candice, in Marietta while we picked out our new puppy. We picked out this almost all black puppy I named General Beauregard of Atlanta ( I like our animals to have titles, like our current basset, the Former Governor of the great state of Mississippi Lucille Brown). Beau was adorable and tripped over his ears a lot. He was our first baby. Our practice baby before the real one came.

We traded in my Corolla for a Ford Escape, my favorite of the smaller SUVs. It was big enough to accommodate the dog’s crate and baby’s car seat, stroller, and everything we’d need for a road trip. We were doing everything right.  One day while getting gas, a seagull flew into my car, flapped around for a few minutes (it seemed like an eternity) and then flew back out. I have never quite gotten over the seagull incident.

Beau liked to sit on the sofa and rest his head on my belly before I was even showing. He was something else. We were doing our usual wait-to-tell with the pregnancy and I was trying not to get too excited. I was working for this Christian Correspondence school that I thought was shady, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. A husband and wife team ran the school and it was like the blind leading the blind. When I came along, the owner was convinced they were upping their game since I had worked for the bigtime correspondence school. He had taken some courses and frankly, I thought they were laughable. They were the courses my old coworkers and I would make fun of that no one took. I’d written their typing textbook while I was there, which I thought was kind of cool. I would grade essays and do just about whatever they needed me to do at the new school. It was okay.

One night I was home with Scott and I started bleeding. My new OB/GYN knew my history and told me to call at the first sign of threatened miscarriage. I called or Scott called, I don’t remember – and got her service, it was after hours. Dr. G called me back pretty soon and assured me that I would come in the next day for an ultrasound and that she was pretty sure all would be well because the week before our little tiny thing had a strong heartbeat. I cried and Scott did his best to console me. The next day I  went in for an ultrasound, not knowing what to expect. Almost instantly we heard the woosh-woosh-woosh washing machine sound of the baby on the ultrasound and there Baby was – heart beating and very much alive. I was relieved. Beyond relieved. Dr. G put me on light duty and told me not to take it very easy. I listened. I started getting dizzy some days and would have to lie down. I missed work once. When I came back I told my boss I was pregnant and he asked if I planned to return to work after the baby was born. I was pretty sure he legally wasn’t allowed to ask this. I said I wasn’t sure (which was the truth). I did my job. I did my job well. I brought up things that needed to be changed in the school and my advice was taken fairly well. Their website was a joke. They still typed things on typewriters, with virtually nothing saved on a computer. It was like the stone ages and it was only 15 years ago. The boss’s wife began to hate me and I figured this was because she had graded essays before I was hired and my boss and a coworker fussed over me once they knew I was pregnant – getting me water, giving me a stool to put my feet up, bringing me the mail from my box. One day I called in before work and said I just couldn’t make it that day. I was too dizzy to drive. Later that day my boss called back and fired me. I was pretty sure this was also illegal. I had only missed one day of work prior to this. I went to the Department of Labor and found out nothing could be done because the business filed as a religious organization. I remember thinking how Christian it was to fire a pregnant woman.

I kept myself busy with painting the baby’s room a soft green with a white picket fence and decorated with a Beatrix Potter theme, putting up framed pages from her books on the walls. One day I had sciatica so bad I couldn’t get up from the floor for a few hours. Another day I was giving Beau a bath in our tub and couldn’t get up from the floor again. He and I stayed in the bathroom for a couple of hours. He, of course, couldn’t jump out of the tub. It was kind of funny except for the fact that I was in tremendous pain. Other than that, my pregnancy was going well. My mother told me that she saw in the newspaper that Will had married his girlfriend, Molly, he’d dated since before prom in 1992.  She and I had gone to middle and high school together and somehow never had a class with her, but I’d always heard she was nice. I was happy for them.

I craved IHOP all the time. And orange juice, which was weird because I hate juice of any kind. Still do. I found it had to dress my plus-sized preggo body because no one made cute plus-sized maternity clothes. I bought everything Motherhood Maternity had in a 2 and 3X. I worried about everything. What to Expect When You’re Expecting was my Bible and I consulted it daily, as well as Babycenter.com. And I bought What to Expect the 1st Year in advance and read the first few chapters. I watched A Baby Story on TLC everyday. I knew more about labor and delivery than most medical students, I’m sure.

My Shreveport baby shower, Aunt Kim, Aunt Darla and Uncle Chris, Mammaw Patsy, and cousin Peyton with Molly.

My Shreveport baby shower, Aunt Kim, Aunt Darla and Uncle Chris, Mammaw Patsy, and cousin Peyton with Molly.

Darla asked Kim and I to be bridesmaids in her wedding and I had to decline because I would be past the point of being able to fly when she had her Christmas wedding. I was so disappointed to miss it. She asked me to address her invitations because my handwriting is so purdy (ha) and I did. Dar came to Brunswick and we shopped for extra wedding things, hitting the antique store. We had a great time. Kim and I threw her a shower and I made a wedding cake shaped cookie cutter because I couldn’t find one for sale anywhere (remember, I was Martha Stewart in my head). Darla and Kim threw me a baby shower in Shreveport the same weekend as Dar’s shower. It was lovely. Lovely for the baby girl we were expecting. My sister was also pregnant with a boy. Peyton would come into the world six weeks before our Molly. 

I was due January 15th, 2001. Then Dr. G changed it to the 10th, then to the 20th. It was like musical due dates. I would be induced on the 24th. Kim came in, as did my parents, Scott’s mom and grandmother (complete with fur coats), and Scott’s brother and our sister-in-law. I was a nervous wreck. The hospital was nice. I was induced with a cervical gel. Later that morning, my doctor realized I had asthma and was not supposed to have the gel that made asthmatics have complications. So, that was great. They started me on an IV of pitocin and had me walk the halls. My mom walked with me. After our second of third time down the hall I felt like a bowling ball was going to fall out of my vajayjay. I spent the rest of my labor in bed or in a rocking chair, until I was finally given an epidural. Epidurals are great. I would have one right now if I could. Before the epidural I was craving Taco Bell and made Scott go to Taco Bell. By the time he got back, they had given me something to take the edge off and I was completely out of it. Kim made fun of me. I do remember that. The baby was being stubborn and I wouldn’t dilate. Finally at 6:14, Molly Kathleen made her debut to “Who Let the Dogs Out” on VH1. The funny thing about having a Birth Plan, which is what all the books tell you to do, is that everything goes out the window when you’re in pain and drugged and just want the baby out of you at 6am. We forgot to turn off the tv. While in the middle of a contraction, Dr. G asked me if I’d ever had a mole on my extreme upper thigh looked at. I’ll never forget that.

Molly and Marlaine, Donald, Jan and Scott with Molly.

Molly and Marlaine, Donald, Jan and Scott with Molly.

After she was measured and weighed and cleaned off and the family all got their chances to hold her and left the room and I was alone with her, I unwrapped her swaddled little self and looked my perfect baby, formed in my womb, finally in the world when I thought I would never have a baby of my own. I would do that with all three of my babies.
We went home, family left after a few days, and it was mainly just Molly and me at home. Scott was learning the business of being a daddy and I was settling into a routine with our little munchkin. We would figure out the mommy thing together. I would make lots of mistakes. All of the fears and anxiety that I had at the beginning of the pregnancy came back once she was living and breathing on her own. I had read too much, seen too much online, heard too many horror stories of things that had happened to a friend of a friend of a friend. There was a line in What to Expect that said if you couldn’t figure out why your baby was crying, look to make sure a hair wasn’t wrapped around one of her tiny toes that could be cutting off her circulation. This became something I would become obsessed with when she cried. If she wasn’t hungry or wet, I checked those toes – just because of one line in a big book that I was fairly sure was written to scare new moms to death.

My grandparents, Glenn and Patsy; Scott's - Mike and Miriam; Scott's - Francis and Shirley, our little family.

My grandparents, Glenn and Patsy; Scott’s – Mike and Miriam; Scott’s – Francis and Shirley, our little family.

The anxiety got worse. I didn’t let on to Scott that it was going on. I was scared she would drown in the baby bathtub if I looked away for half a second. I was terrified of SIDS. I would go into check if she was breathing at night if her baby monitor was quiet. I would check on her during naptime. I wasn’t sleeping. They say to sleep when the baby sleeps, but you can’t do that when your anxiety is telling you something is wrong with that perfect baby.

And she was perfect. She was easy going and breastfed well, slept well, napped well, tolerated going places well, did fine in the church nursery (when I let her go to the nursery because what if something happened there?). I stayed terrified something bad was going to happen. Until now, I have only told one other person about the feelings that I had, only AnnaBess. Not even my husband knew of the anxiety I had. I couldn’t explain it. It sounded crazy. I would sound like a crazy person. I stayed up nights thinking about how I would tell my parents that something happened and Molly was dead. This played through my head constantly. There was nothing wrong with her. Our pediatrician said there was nothing to be concerned about other than she was in the 25th percentile for growth. The pediatrician said this was nothing to worry about, that she would probably catch up during a growth spurt or over a couple of growth spurts. I was not at ease. I didn’t believe him.

I was 26

IMG_1750.JPGThen we got news that KBR was moving us to Houston. Baytown, specifically. Molly was 9 months old. We were warned that few apartments would accept dogs and I now had that to worry about. A friend of Scott’s offered to take Beau, but something about them didn’t set right with me. Then Darla and Chris said they’d always wanted a basset. I warned them that Beau was extremely protective over his food and had bitten Scott, but otherwise was a great dog. I loved him. He was sweet and would take Molly’s socks off her feet when she was in the baby swing. He was silly and would roll over in clover when Scott walked him. Dar and Chris said they would love to take him in. I cried when we they met us at Scott’s mom’s house to take him, but I knew they would give him the best home possible. Dar and Chris loved Beau and a couple of years later would get another basset named George. There’s just something about a basset hound.

A moving service packed all of our things and our things went into storage while we looked for an apartment. KBR put us up in a very nice executive apartment in Clear Lake while we apartment hunted. It was a nice apartment. Molly slept in her pack and play and played in front of a big floor length mirror. We had only been in the temporary apartment for a week or so when I was watching the Today Show one morning and they said a plane flew into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Shortly after that the second tower was hit. Suddenly, America was not the safe place I knew it to be and the anxiety over something happening to my baby girl became anxiety about everything. I called my grandmother. She said President Bush was headed to Barksdale (where I had hung out for a few months when I dated this pilot named Fred while I was in high school) to address the nation. This was all too close to home.

The nation went about getting back to normal and we found an apartment in Baytown. We found a pediatrician and started going to a local church. It was all very normal. Until one day when I went to the Super Walmart while Scott was home with Molly and had a panic attack on the bread aisle when there were approximately eight family members arguing in Spanish near the hamburger buns. Everything felt like it was closing in on me. The aisle became very small and narrow. I started to sweat. I could feel my heart beating hard and fast and I knew I had to leave immediately. I left my basket and went to my car. I couldn’t get out of the store fast enough. Once in the car, my racing heart started to calm and tears flowed from my eyes. The radio was on, but I couldn’t hear it – I could only hear my heart beating loud in my ears. And then it went away. This was the first time I knew it was a panic attack. I’d read online about them while I was in the middle of the move.

Now, looking back I can put check marks by all of my early panic attacks: in the Student Center while eating my taco salad at Tech; the time we were at an Olive Garden on my birthday and the servers started clapping and singing for someone else’s birthday and I was terrified they were coming to our table; when I had to leave a Saints-Falcons game in the dome in Atlanta because it was so big and there were little blimps floating around and I thought I was was going to die in our upper mid-level seats. All of those times I was convinced I was having a heart attack, but my doctors all said my heart was fine when I went in. All of those were panic attacks. I would not be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder until 2006. I tried my best to manage the panicky feelings and racing thoughts and did a pretty good job of it for a while.

The anxiety about the baby grew worse. Our pediatrician’s office was on the second floor of a medical office building where the center was open. Once upstairs, there was glass that went up about four feet for safety. Every time we went to the pediatrician I was terrified somehow Molly’s stroller would go over the glass. Terrified she would fall. She wasn’t walking yet, she was crawling, but I would have never let her crawl around the track-like area around the glass. Still, I was unbelievably anxious every single time we went to that office. The glass scared me like nothing had before with my anxiety. Before an appointment I would think of how I would word telling our parents that their granddaughter fell from a second floor office. It became the white elephant of my nightmares. And it was completely illogical.

It didn’t help that it was the summer Andrea Yates was on trial in Houston for drowning her own children in a bathtub because of her postpartum depression/psychosis. Is that what I had? A pediatrician had mentioned “Baby Blues,” but this was something else. Did I have postpartum depression? I didn’t want to harm my child, I was simply terrified something would happen to her – something I couldn’t control. I could no longer go to Walmart. I could only go to the regular grocery store. And that was when I would leave the apartment. Most days Molly and I stayed in or went to the pool, but just the beach entry part where we could sit on the sand colored concrete and barely feel the water. I wouldn’t let her get in past her knees. I couldn’t let anything happen to her.

Then it was Christmas. Then it was January and I tried to plan Molly’s birthday party. But my grandmother was in the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer. We were told she wouldn’t have long. I loved my grandmother dearly. More than dearly. More than anything. When Molly was itty bitty I would nurse her while chatting on Yahoo messenger with my grandmother. She thought it was funny. Multitasking. I talked to her about a week before she died. She said she couldn’t go yet because too many people needed her. I couldn’t imagine my family without her. She had been sick when my grandparents and my parents came to help me unpack in October. We didn’t know it then. We didn’t know we only had a few months with her. And then it was January and Molly’s first birthday and then my uncle called to tell me I needed to get to Shreveport because my grandmother was dying. We went straight to the hospital after the almost 5 hour drive. She was still lucid and could see Molly and could tell me she loved me. I told her I loved her. We all did. I don’t know of anyone more loved that my Mammaw Patsy. And then she was gone. And we had to go on.

Molly started to try to walk, but wouldn’t master it until 15 months. I joked that she didn’t have to let go of a piece of furniture from her bedroom to the living room to our room. Finally she let go. And she was okay. And she would be okay.

And then I was 27. And Scott’s company started talking about sending us somewhere else. And they took our photos and we had to get passports and they sent Scott and I to visit Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada, where the sun was still up when we came out of a movie theater at 11pm in August. Molly stayed with his mom. It was our first trip without our baby and I was terrified something would happen to her. We went to a restaurant that spun at the top of a tower in Calgary. I had a panic attack in the bathroom. I was not getting better.

“Kid Things” by Counting Crows

Comments

  1. Just a few weeks ago the parent of my patient was changing her 3 month old baby’s diaper. When she pulled his foot out of the footie pjs, there was blood everywhere. At the hospital, they found a hair wrapped around his toe, which had cut into his skin almost to the bone. So way to go with the watchful eye and obsessive toe checking!

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