I have two heavy subjects rattling around in my brain and will take today to share one. Since my “baby girl” turned 4 this week, it seems fitting to reflect on how she came into this world. She was planned. Intricately planned in every detail. Around the holidays in 2002 I cut out caffeine. I started on Weight Watchers. That Christmas I sang about Mary and her pregnancy and the virgin birth. I prayed to be connected, in a small way, to Mary and all other mothers out there and to be given the gift of being able to have a child.
During the “two week wait” I was infinitely good – no caffeine, no alcohol, ate right, exercised, everything. In May, I hit my Weight Watchers goal. I was skinny and allowed my husband to take pictures of me in a bathing suit. A week later we found out I was pregnant.
Immediately after the two lines turned blue, we hit the floor and prayed. The pregnancy went smoothly. Very few, and only minor, problems. I was happy and overjoyed. I prayed all the time, read my Bible multiple times a day. My husband and I would gather in the soon-to-be nursery and read out loud while I rocked in the chair. We would read our Bible, tell stories, read about what was happening inside of me. We read every book, planned every detail and were happy and joined together in a common goal – to have a healthy child.
Betrayal and shame are two “key” words in abuse. You find them in every book on the subject that has been published. Abuse victims often suffer with eating disorders, self-injury, poor self-image and other body-related issues. I know I did. I have a very poor body image. My body is just a vehicle I travel around in. I don’t like it. My body betrayed me during the abuse. Self-injury became a way to “cut out” that bad part.
During pregnancy, I began to see my body differently. It had a purpose and a plan. My body did what it was designed to do. It reacted the way it was “supposed to” react. Pregnancy brings on a whole host of body-related symptoms, but they didn’t worry me or seem strange. Because what happened to me was part of the pregnancy plan.
I was a much different person while pregnant. I was relaxed. I was joyful and optimistic. I giggled and smiled. I prayed. I felt connected to my body, the baby, my husband and God. My friends commented on how serene I appeared.
When my daughter was 6 months old, I needed to be put on anti-depressants. Those serene, peaceful feelings didn’t last far beyond pregnancy. When my daughter was a little less than 2, I noticed that I was not happy, was disconnected, didn’t like my body and was just not doing well all around. My husband and I have always wanted 2-3 children and so we began thinking about another one. I became convinced that pregnancy would give me back what I was missing. I wanted the serenity and connectedness I had experienced while pregnant.
God has different plans than us sometimes. We didn’t get pregnant in 4 months like we had before. Actually we tried for a year and nothing. Around the same time, we began to have issues in our marriage. We started marital counseling. I started with the resurfacing of panic attacks and into individual counseling and started dealing with the abuse issues. And so, here I am years later. Having worked through a whole host of body issues, including self-injury.
This time the pregnancy was not planned. Actually it was a huge surprise. In the 5 weeks before the “two blue lines,” I attended a few holiday parties and at some had a glass of wine. I took antibiotics and pain medication. I took lots of other medication. I ate way too much junk food, drank a ton of coffee, and am 32 pounds heavier than I was when I got pregnant with my daughter. We just moved into a new house, stretching our budget. We paid off our two vehicles, which is a great feeling, except that neither will accommodate two car seats. We were gearing up for only one more year of daycare, and now will have two in daycare next year. Our medical insurance just changed and this pregnancy will cost triple what the last one did. My husband and I’s marriage is not serene and wonderful – we’ve been struggling.
This was not in the plans. This was not how I, the control freak, plan everything out to the last detail, need to have it all lined up in advance, wanted to do this. It’s okay though. I’m happy – overjoyed really – to be pregnant. I can see the advantages in spontaneity. But I’m scared. Because this time I feel out of control. I feel overwhelmed. I have no idea of the answers to all these questions. My body is not reacting perfectly this time. It’s causing me great worry. This is not a textbook pregnancy. There are complications and issues.
Pregnancy hasn’t answered all my “issues.” I’m more disconnected from my husband. We both handle stress and worry differently and have gone to our own corners to deal. I’m not doing my Bible study. When I started bleeding, I got mad at God. My husband and I both discussed how it wasn’t “fair” to find out we were pregnant at 10:30 am and start having fears of losing the baby at 7 pm. We would have preferred not to know at all. My husband called it “cruel and unusual punishment” and then he told me a short time later that he felt at peace with whatever happened. My husband is over his anger. I’m not. I’m distancing myself from God. I know I’m doing it and I know why. Because if this ultrasound on Thursday (or later) reveals a miscarriage, I’m going to be pissed. I’m going to feel as if my prayers were ignored and I’m going to feel betrayed by God, my body and everything. Maybe those aren’t rational thoughts or feelings, but they are mine. I don’t want to have that closeness to God and then be “stabbed in the back” – especially by a Father figure. (I do hope that God understands this, and will be patient with me).
Pregnancy sure hasn’t helped the body issues. I don’t like starting out pregnancy this overweight. I’ve struggled off and on with weight issues and gaining weight on top of being overweight is going to be difficult for me. I wonder when the first medical professional will notice my legs and the scars and ask. I wonder how I’m going to deal with triggering things like doctors and dentists and orthodontists, without anxiety meds. Coming off this medicine has done weird things to my body and I feel “out of body” and disconnected a lot.
I don’t know what the next days, weeks, months hold. I know I’ve got a long road ahead of me. I just hope there is a “pot of gold” at the end.