Carpe Noctem

July 31, 2009

Midnight shift. That's what my husband is doing this week in the Navy. He goes to work around 7 p.m., comes home around 8 a.m., then spends most of his time at home sleeping. Wouldn't you? I would. I did a brief stint in the Army after I graduated from high school, and I got a taste of the midnight training shift myself. It blows monkey chunks. (Obviously, things didn't work out for me in the Army.) But yesterday, a slight reprieve. He woke up early and I felt human, so we went out to eat before his shift.

I don't mind the long hours alone too terribly. I can usually find something to keep me amused. I can stream Netflix movies to my Xbox, read a book, or study Japanese. Oh, yeah. I recently purchased the Rosetta Stone Japanese language program, and it rocks! It's a great thing to do when I'm stuck on the couch. And, of course, if all else fails, there's always housework. (Today, for instance, I need to buy groceries--before we run out of food and starve.)

It's going to bed at night that's the hard part. Not that the bed is empty, but the house is. Empty and quiet. When I go to bed, I have to check the locks and turn out the lights. Walking through the empty house when it's dark outside can be a little creepy. (Welcome to the Navy.) Of course, the real bogeymen are all in my head.

Last night, when I laid down to go to sleep, a strange and wonderful thing: I found a sweet scent on my pillow, as if an angel had touched it. The smell was delicious. I don't think I have anything like it in the house. I buried my nose in it and drifted off to sleep. This morning, when I woke up, I couldn't find it again. I had smothered it in the night with my stink. (With my heightened sense of smell, sniffing around anything these days can be dangerous--for my stomach, anyway.)

Oh, sweet scent, where did you go? Will you return again someday?

Some Comfort

July 26, 2009

After 10 weeks of puking nearly every day, I was finally getting used to it. The sickness had finally reached the point of becoming tolerable. I'd roll out of bed, spend five minutes in the bathroom, then go to the kitchen for breakfast and get on with the rest of my day. I wasn't exactly jumping through hoops, but at least I could function well enough to wash my clothes and visit the grocery store occasionally.

That is, until recently.

A couple of days ago, I started feeling strange--fatigued, light-headed, almost shaky. I'd eat but feel little better. I went to bed with headaches. Then last night, I became sick to my stomach again. This time, the vomit scratched my throat--so badly that I couldn't sleep for hours. I felt so miserable, I thought about dying again.

This morning, in desperation, I pulled my Bible down from my bookshelf and read a familiar, well-loved passage: Psalm 139. I read it often as a teenager when I was trying to cope with some deep emotional trauma that had occurred in my childhood. That passage literally saved my life back then. It gave me hope when nothing else could. Today, I zeroed in on the second half of the last verse: "lead me in the way everlasting." I could really use some "everlasting" right now.

Reading the Bible isn't very popular today. Many scoff at having any kind of religious faith; they say the stories in the Bible are nothing more than fairy tales. Well, so what if they are? Even fairy tales have their use. Red Riding Hood warns children not to talk to strangers. The Three Little Pigs shows the importance of preparedness. The Frog Prince teaches the values of acceptance and gratitude. To be honest, I don't really care if Moses never parted the Red Sea or if Noah's ark actually refers to a dingy Noah built to save his sheep from drowning. I still find more hope and peace in the pages of scripture than I've ever found in any textbook or great work of literature.

Am I delusional--as Richard Dawkins claims--for believing in God? Maybe. But all of mankind is delusional in some way: we just choose our fantasies. Some women believe that marriage magically changes irresponsible men into responsible ones (they have yet to experience marriage). Others believe that a lifetime of hard work will pay off financially in the end (it doesn't always). Still others claim that, with the right parenting, they can groom their children into Harvard grads (until the children turn 13 and exhibit a little thing known as "free will").

And when life falls apart at the seams, we all--even Richard Dawkins--turn to something for comfort: family, friends, alcohol, sex, drugs, pills, music...the list is endless. I turn to my faith. After years of struggling against the pain and darkness of life, I can honestly say that my faith has never failed me. It has, at times, wavered and grown dim, but it has never failed. If that makes me delusional or ignorant, so be it. I'm no more delusional or ignorant than anybody else on this planet.

Karl Marx once said that "religion is the opiate of the people." That may very well be true. But worse things than opium exist in this world.

Week 15

July 20, 2009

I'm still puking. Fortunately, the nausea is now mostly confined to mornings and not nearly so debilitating. Yesterday, I wrote a review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for my mother-in-law's wonderful book blog. (You can read it at I also said "screw it all" and went fishing with my husband on the beach. The evening was gorgeous beyond belief, and I had a blast--despite the aching joints in my backside.

I swear, my spine is gradually coming unglued vertebrae by vertebrae. Thank you, Relaxin.

My areolas are also gradually darkening, turning from light pink to soft brown. They will never go back to being pink again, even after I give birth. And even though I like the change, I also realize that I will forever be physically marked as a mother. The thought is sometimes distressing.

Sometimes, I want my pink nipples back. And my small, size B breasts. (Shh! Don't tell my husband.)

What I really can't stand is all the women who keep telling me that the discomfort of pregnancy is worth the trouble to have a baby. I know that. Otherwise, I wouldn't continue to put up with it. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me sane (other than the Prozac) is imagining the smiling face of my precious little boy or girl.

At my last OB visit, I saw my baby on the ultrasound. At twelve weeks, it appeared almost fully formed with flailing arms and legs. Occasionally, I take the picture out of my purse and look at the tiny gray body, wondering if the legs are really as long as I think they are, or what he (or she) will look like next time. In those moments, I find the determination to push through to the end.

You must understand: I'm not much for nostalgia or romanticism. I'm more of a realist, and I'm happier for it. But despite my rather harsh view the present, I know I will love my baby. I love it even now. I just don't love being pregnant. Is that so wrong?

A Light in the Darkness

July 16, 2009

Someone turned on a light. At least, that's how it feels today. About a week ago, at my wits' end, I called my psychiatrist and told him how bad I was feeling. He immediately called in a prescription for me, and I started taking it the next day. I didn't know 10 mg of Prozac could make such a difference in such a short time. My outlook is definitely brighter. I haven't wished myself dead in the past few days. Of course, the medication hasn't miraculously erased all of my stress. That's still there, and I still have to deal with it. But at least I can deal with it now without wanting to tear out my hair and run away screaming.

You have to know what a huge change in perspective this is for me. For a long time, I believed that people only took pills to avoid dealing with their own problems or emotions. I avoided getting help when I needed it as a teenager because my parents discouraged secular counseling. But something changed in me during my senior year of college, and I realized that if I didn't get help, I would end up hurting myself or someone else. I will be a mother in a few months, and I want to love and enjoy my baby. I am much happier and more confident getting the help that I need.

And I didn't mean to imply that my husband didn't care about my mental state. He cares. He just doesn't know what to do about it. He believes he should be able to do something special to help me on his own, and he can't--at least nothing more than he already does. Between my pregnancy and his very demanding training, he has more on his plate than he can probably handle at one time. I actually feel sorry for the guy. He still isn't thrilled about me taking medication, but I think he'd rather see me smile when he comes home from work.

Through the Crack in the Door

July 8, 2009

I'm back. I'm not sure why. These past few weeks have been hell. After throwing up seemingly countless pills and home remedies for nausea, I finally found something that at least keeps the sickness at bay. Unfortunately, I still have very little appetite. I struggle to force food down my throat. It's a wonder my baby is still living.

A couple of mornings ago, I woke up so weak that my whole body felt like tissue paper. I felt like I could have crumpled or floated away on a stiff breeze. If only I could have.

I keep fantasizing about my own death. I was so sick recently that I wished I would pass out face-down in the toilet and drown. I don't know how people with cancer and other hideously painful diseases continue to live. If it were me, I'd probably eat a gun.

This is why I haven't written in weeks. It has all been too much to express.

I visited my psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago, when I wasn't quite this far into the dark. He told me he wanted to put me on Prozac right away. My husband became upset when I told him the news. He thought the shrink should have at least offered me some alternatives to medication. He asked me what I thought of going on medication, and I didn't have an opinion. I said I just wanted to feel better.

What would my husband know about it, anyway? I tell him about wanting to drown in the toilet, and he doesn't seem to take it seriously enough. I probably said more to my psychiatrist in that 30 minute session than I had said to my husband all that week. His mind is so wrapped up in that damn Navy training that he might not notice if his hair were on fire. It also doesn't help that I see him less than two hours a day. And half the time he falls asleep during one of those.

I'll be glad when this shit is over.