The Darkness Cometh

May 29, 2009

More than a week has passed since I last wrote. My state, both physical and mental, seems to deteriorate by the day. This has been my life everyday for the past ten days or so:

1. Get up around 10:30 a.m. My husband has already left for training hours before. I could get up with him, but I've discovered that my stomach doesn't bother me as long as I sleep.

2. Eat a light breakfast around 11 a.m. and pray I keep it down. I adjourn to the couch in the living room to rest while my breakfast settles.

3. Eat lunch around 12 p.m. and snack at 2 p.m. I have to eat this often to stave off sharp hunger pains that somehow contribute to my nausea.

4. My stomach has usually settled enough by this time so I can take a shower.

5. I then try to accomplish something in the afternoon--change the sheets on our bed, vacuum, clean the kitchen...something. I usually have just enough energy to do one thing.

6. By 4 p.m., I'm back on the couch. I stay there until 6 p.m., then get up to cook dinner. This is a challenge.

7. My husband arrives home around 7:30 p.m. We watch a show while we eat dinner.

8. By 9 p.m., my husband is ready for bed. He convinces me to tag along. He doesn't like going to bed alone.

9. I usually fall asleep by 10:30 p.m., which means I will sleep about 12 hours.

On any given day like this, the only person I see or talk to is my husband. As appalling as I find this routine, any deviation from it at all is nearly unthinkable. Phone calls, trips to the grocery store, keeping appointments--even taking short walks around the block--all require effort beyond my current capability. Needless to say, I'm extremely frustrated. I've been so frustrated, in fact, that I haven't visited any of my regular websites in several days...or written anything for that matter. Bear with me. The darkness has descended again.

As a Dog

May 21, 2009

I haven't posted anything in three days because I've been sick. Two days ago, I came down with a terrible migraine. Of course, because I'm pregnant, I couldn't take anything for it. So I laid in the floor for a couple of hours, holding a damp towel against my head in an attempt to keep my brains from slithering out through my temples. My head hurt most of the day and night, and I ended up tossing my dinner in the bathroom.

By the next day, I was completely wiped out. My head had finally stopped hurting, but my stomach still felt queasy. I slept until noon, and then spent the whole afternoon and most of the evening in zombie mode.

Today, my stomach still hurts. I can hardly eat, and everything I do eat manages to give me gas, which just makes me even more miserable. I've probably only gained three pounds in the past three weeks, but I feel like I've gained 20. I feel monstrous. I can hardly bend over without feeling sick or getting cramps. My allergies have started going nuts, and I can't take a single &*%damn pill for that, either. To top it all off, I haven't had sex with my husband in over a week.

Needless to say, I'm starting to crack. I just can't go on like this for another seven months. I'm already having trouble getting comfortable in bed at night. What am I going to do when my belly is poking out halfway to my knees? My husband might have to hide the guns.


May 18, 2009

It's Monday, and my husband is back to training for the week. Another day alone for me.

I'm not a very popular person, so people don't usually stop by to visit when I'm alone. Aside from being unable to connect well with others, I can be a bit offensive. I have what you might call "unpopular opinions" and ways of debating them that drive most people insane. For instance, I had this conversation with a coworker:

Woman: "I think outlawing abortion would be wrong. I don't think its right to tell women what to do with their bodies."

Me: "But the law already tells people what to do with their bodies. Running around nude in public, taking drugs, and committing suicide are all things you can do with your body, yet they are illegal. You're not even allowed to drive a car without wearing a seat belt. Banning abortion wouldn't be any different."

Needless to say, she wasn't thrilled by my comeback. (Actually, I don't think abortion should be outlawed. Some women need it for medical reasons. I just like to pick apart the supporting logic.)

Nothing today is more volatile, though, than the subject of gay marriage. Say anything against gay marriage and you might end up Miss California. The funny thing is, I actually agree with people on both sides of the issue. Under the U.S. Constitution, gays should have the right to marry, and the government should protect the speech of those who disagree with gay marriage. You can imagine the type of response this statement draws from both sides of the line, especially from those who view any type of disagreement as "hate speech."

Of course, people might not consider me offensive if they weren't so easily offended. You can hardly have a civil public debate these days without someone getting his panties in a twist. Really, it scares the crap out of me. I don't mind being friendless, but I do mind raising my children in a police state.

What Dreams May Come

May 15, 2009

I've heard that pregnancy can cause weird dreams, but some of the ones I've had lately have been downright bizarre. Early this morning, I dreamed that Afghanistan nuked Washington, D.C., instantly vaporizing the President, the cabinet members, and all the members of Congress (a pretty amazing feat considering that Afghanistan doesn't possess nuclear technology in real life). For some reason, I felt compelled to assemble a new team of leaders for the U.S., who looked like Hollywood actors and quickly decided we should nuke the Afghanis in return. They also ordered the Navy into the Arabian Sea to supervise the bombing. Again for reasons unknown, I accompanied the Navy.

However, a surprise awaited us in the Arabian Sea. The Afghanis had already bombed themselves and completely destroyed their country in anticipation of U.S. vengeance. All that remained of the country was several large life rafts full of Afghani refugees, who begged for rescue and shelter within the U.S.

Soon after came an argument between me and a Navy sailor who was being a major jerk. He made this speech about how he had survived so many wars because he looks out for himself first and so on. I'm sure I called him a coward and spewed some other equally harsh insults.

At least this dream was better than the one I had about a week before I found out I was pregnant. I dreamed I gave birth to a baby boy so hideous, I couldn't stand to look at him. In fact, looking at his monstrous face made me angry, and I tried to kill him. My husband had to snatch him away to stop me from bashing the baby's head in. That dream left me in a cold sweat.

The rest of the pregnancy seems to be going well. I spent a few days nauseous beyond belief, but that seems to have subsided. Now I get sharp hunger pains around meal times; they come on suddenly and seem to drain all my energy. I've definitely had to step up my calorie intake over the past week. I've added applesauce, cottage cheese, and salads to most of my meals as fillers (I tend to be a "one-dish wonder" cook). I'm also starting to put on weight. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to have to buy new clothes. What's growing in there?

The best thing about pregnancy, however, is how I feel. Although I've had two small episodes of panic since the news, I haven't experienced that all-consuming darkness that I was fighting before. I think the pregnancy hormones have somehow evened me out. Life, despite the crazy dreams, is surprisingly brighter these days.

Oh, Husband!

May 14, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went hiking in Congaree National Park, a protected swamp near Columbia, SC.

Last weekend, we took some kayaks back to Congaree and paddled the river that runs through the park. The scenery was more beautiful along the river than on the park trails, but because my digital camera would never have survived all the water I splashed into the boat, I don't have any pictures of our kayaking trip.

As I watched my husband paddling ahead of me, ducking under trees that had fallen across the river and skirting logs barely submerged in the coffee-colored water, I realized I probably wouldn't do this sort of thing without him. In fact, I know I wouldn't. If there's anything I can't stand, it's creepy-crawly creatures, and Congaree is full of them. Cottonmouths and Water Moccasins glided through the water between banks, and spiders waited in webs spun out over the river. I nearly threw myself in the muddy water desperately trying to kill an enormous spider that had landed on the back of my kayak and was crawling toward me. No way could I have handled being on that river alone!

However, I would have missed out on all that beautiful scenery had I stayed home. That thought made me realize just how much marriage has enriched my life. My husband often gives me the confidence to do things I would normally shy away from. And while he's far from indulging my little phobias, he graciously killed the spider on the back of my kayak. :-)

I sometimes like to imagine that I could handle anything on my own if required. However, I certainly wouldn't have a child, or consider jumping out of an airplane, or paddle murky rivers full of dangerous animals by myself.

Yesterday, while driving to the bookstore, my husband took my hand and kissed it. He's usually doing such things. But at that moment, the gesture seemed extra-special. I felt a reverence emanating from him--reverence for being the mother of his child, for cooking and cleaning and loving him the way I do. I was totally swept away.

He's not perfect, of course. He throws his dirty clothes all over the bedroom floor. He leaves a mass of crumbs on the kitchen counter when he makes toast or anything else involving bread. I have to remind him a half dozen times to pay certain bills every month. Yet, I don't care (at least, not that much). What he gives me in return is far more valuable to me than a clean house. His love is the essence of my happiness. Without him, my life would have no light. After nearly two years of marriage, we are more in love today than we were on our wedding day.

Do other women see their husbands in this way? Sometimes, I wonder.

Some Thoughts on Happiness

May 12, 2009

I have learned that happiness is...

...choosing the path less traveled.

Happiness is...

...being continually awed by beauty, no matter how often you find it.

Happiness is...

...having someone special to love, and being loved in return.

Happiness is...

...a big, fluffy cat snuggled on your lap.

Happiness is...

...waiting to see what's around the next bend.

Happiness is...

...the ability to look up.

May you find some happiness today.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 10, 2009

Blogging about anything other than Mother's Day today just didn't seem right. So, I thought I'd write a little about my own mother.

At age 19, my mom gave birth to me. My dad was just finishing up college at the time, but he wanted to be a minister. After struggling for a few years, my dad was finally hired to pastor a small, country church. Pastoring a small church, however, rarely pays well, so my mom managed the family's finances very carefully. She worked when she could with just a high school education, clipped coupons, learned to cut and style our hair, and rarely purchased anything for herself--though she very much wanted to.

My mother was never the easiest person to live with. She had suffered through a poor, abusive childhood, and thought that adulthood would eventually grant her all the things she wanted for herself. Therefore, it pained her to work so hard and still not be able to afford some of the nice amenities other preacher's wives enjoyed. As a result, she was often bitter and resentful. However, my mom decided that she would encourage her children to make better decisions than she made. And that's what she did.

Granted, my mother isn't the most understanding woman. A hard life has given her an extremely practical mindset, so though she recognized my ability to write, my decision to strive almost solely for authorship perplexed her for a while. In her mind, becoming a teacher or journalist offered a steady paycheck, which is the most important outcome of any effort. So you can just imagine her response to my brother, who said he wanted to forgo college to become a musician and has so far ended up waiting tables at a restaurant with a wife and baby girl to feed. (He's actually doing very well.)

Despite her shortcomings, my mother really is a loving, compassionate woman. For years, I watched her give to others, even when she had little herself. She is overjoyed to finally be a grandmother and loves to buy little outfits for my niece. She can also balance a checkbook to the penny and make almost anything with scissors, paint, construction paper, glue, fabric, and assorted cardboard tubes--including giant backdrops for church productions and beautiful wedding receptions. She can whip up a mean Hamburger Helper soup and make a budget stretch beyond belief. She can purchase a new wardrobe for just $250. She can out-wrestle most men. And she is always available when I need her.

Thanks, Mom, for everything you do. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!


May 8, 2009

Scratch what I said in my last post about my writing. Since I found out that I'm pregnant, I've done NOTHING. I've been lying around the house in a restless stupor, feeling vulnerable and anxious. I don't know what to do or think.

I don't even know if I can take an aspirin if I get a headache.

Yesterday, I pried my backside off of the couch long enough to buy some Mother's Day cards for all the special women in my life. I promised my mom several months ago that I would get her one even though I treated her to a shopping spree for her birthday, which was two weeks ago. Thankfully, finding the right card kept me out of the house for a good half hour. I went down to the mini Navy Exchange on base and was treated to the most retch-inducing Mother's Day cards money can buy. Thank you, U.S. Navy! Not only did the cards feature some of the worst sentimental embellishments in existence (i.e., "You are the best mom in the world!"), most of the drippy poems didn't even rhyme!

Being the closet feminist that I am, I don't exactly feel conscionable about telling my mom or anyone else that "motherhood was your greatest accomplishment." In my opinion, any fertile woman can squeeze out a baby. I guess if your influence inspires your offspring to cure cancer, you could possibly make that claim. I realize I'm being terribly cynical.

On a more personal note, I think my mom makes a better banker than a mother. She can balance a till to the penny any day of the week, but she can't always show understanding when one of her children does something disappointing or out of the ordinary. I've just learned to accept it and love her anyway. I have to find a card that expresses that sentiment.

As I began rifling through the awful cards, I was struck by the realization that I, too, am going to be a mother. Shocking, I know. Right now, I just hope these Mother's Day cards improve before my child has to buy one.

So far, I've only told some of my family and a couple of select friends--and you, dear readers!--that I'm pregnant. I'm still processing the news, and I don't want to get too carried away. After all, I'm only four weeks along. Something unfortunate could happen between now and January, and then I'd have to tell everyone about that, too. I think I'll just let the news leak out gradually.

When is my husband coming home today?

Oh, Boy (I hope)!

May 6, 2009

Well, today was definitely interesting...even life-changing, you could say...

I now have my referral to see a psychiatrist. The doctor said it should arrive in the mail in about a week.

I also have a baby in my uterus. The doctor said it should arrive sometime around my birthday in January. Hee, hee!

Oh, boy. And just when I had decided I wanted to put off motherhood a couple more years.

I guess I'm really fertile. My husband and I had halted our birth control methods for only about six weeks, maybe less. I guess getting pregnant so quickly makes a fair amount of sense to me now: women in my family have never had trouble producing. My mom had me when she was 19. Her mother gave birth to six children, my mom coming in her mid-to-late thirties. And my brother, the one with the four-month-old baby girl, told me when I called to break the news that his wife might be pregnant again. They are going to the store tonight to buy a pregnancy test. He's 19, too. I'm thanking my lucky stars right now that I waited until 24 to get married.

I'm not sure how I feel about all of this. On the one hand, I'm intrigued. A baby: a combination of my and my husband's very different genes. (For starters, he's blond and blue-eyed; I look like a Native American.) What will our baby look like? What color hair will it have? Will it be cute? What kind of personality will it develop? Will it be smart? Will I enjoy feeling it grow inside of me?

On the other hand, I'm a bit nervous. I'm not sure what the psychiatrist will say about my current mental health. Now isn't necessarily the best time to be trying different medications. And with my husband in the Navy, we're scheduled to move sometime in October. We could very likely end up in Japan, because that's one of the bases we requested...when we thought parenthood was a distant scenario. I've been to Japan before; it's a wonderful country--if you don't mind living in a space the size of walk-in closet. If we get stationed there, we'll be living there for four years. How will I deal with raising a two-year-old in a walk-in closet? In a country where you can't buy macaroni and cheese?

At least my writing is going well.

Reading That Brings Happiness

May 5, 2009

I don't have much to say tonight, so I thought I would highlight four good blogs I've recently started following.

1. My Turn to Rant []
Really, this is probably my favorite blog so far. The author, a liberal woman living in ultra-conservative Texas, shares her wickedly funny views on current events. When I need a laugh, I pay a visit.

2. The English Muse []
Designated a "style blog," this little nugget features beautiful photos and thoughts from a Los Angeles celebrity columnist. The English Muse was recently featured as a 'Blog of Note,' and makes for a good, quick, light read.

3. wIeRd BiTs N pIeCeS... []
This blog just got up and running recently, but I'm already impressed with what the young author is putting out. She has a way of evoking emotions through introspective writing that few others can achieve. I'm anxious to see if this blog will go the distance.

4. The Sweet Life []
Another new blog that features interesting confessions of a 40-year-old mother in an open marriage. What makes this blog stand out is its subject matter involving a non-traditional marital arrangement. Potential readers be warned, though: this blog is intended for mature audiences only.

Happy Reading!

Conclusions on a Look Back

May 3, 2009

Dear Readers, please forgive my brief sabbatical from writing. A couple of nights ago, for reasons too personal to disclose, I became too depressed to write. Whatever is going on inside my mind and body exhibits very little rhyme or reason, and it often affects me in bizarre and strangely different ways. One day I feel like crying; the next day I'm on edge; a week later I come somewhat back to normal, except that I can't focus on anything or conjure up emotional responses to any sort of stimuli; and then I spend another week feeling about as energetic as a dishrag, struggling to roll out of bed before 11 a.m. Fortunately, I finally got through to the doctor's office and made an appointment for this Wednesday. I've hopefully taken the first step back to sanity.

The thought of taking pills to cope with any sort of mental or emotional problem used to disgust me. I knew a few people in high school and college who took Prozac and other such medication, and it seemed to me that they only used pills as a way to avoid dealing with their own issues.

Looking back, I believe some of them really did. The most memorable was a female college classmate of mine who sank into a mentally paralyzed state because she was doing poorly in class. Soon, she was using nearly all of her precious study time brooding and crying alone in her room, ignoring repeated invitations to join a study group another friend and I had formed. Finally, frustrated by her daily moaning and her refusal to study, I practically barged into her room one night and confronted her.

"I can't help it," she said. "I take medication for depression."

"So?" I said. "What's that got to do with anything?"

She gave me a bewildered look. "It means I just can't cope. I look at the material, and all I can think about is how I'm going to fail."

"Well, you're certainly not going to pass by not looking at the material," I said. "You don't need to let your depression control you like this. Instead, you take control. Make yourself do."

"That's possible?" she asked.

"Of course it is," I replied. "Right now, you're just trapping yourself in a bad cycle. If you don't study, you'll do worse in class, and if you do worse, you'll only feel worse about yourself and become more depressed. Soon, studying will seem even harder to do. Your only option is to crack open those books now and get busy."

Although my beloved friend resumed studying before I left her room that night, I realize now that I was probably wrong for saying what I did. My manner that night could only be described as completely insensitive. At the time, I didn't fully appreciate the debilitating effects depression can inflict upon a person. However, I will never forget the look on my friend's face as I spoke. It was one of epiphany. No one had ever told her that she could deal with some of her feelings on her own! How terrible!

I think the problem is that a fine line exists between the emotions generated by chemicals in the brain and the degree to which people immerse themselves in those emotions. One part can be controlled very little; the other, a great deal. But in the throes of intense feeling, how can anyone tell which is which? I think it comes down mostly to knowing one's self. I think I'm still learning.


May 2, 2009

I'm actually too consumed to write at the moment. My emotions are in knots.

Forgive me. I will try again tomorrow.