Saturday, March 21, 2009

How to Accept Help when You're Pregnant: On Being Pregnant and Living Far from Family

Helping others during difficult times is not easy. I know there have been many times that I have offered to help when I knew a friend was going through a tough time. "Let me know if there is anything I can do to help." "You are in my thoughts." That type of sentiment. And it is always sincere and heartfelt. But whether they come from you or me, they are just words.

In the past when I have been going through a rough time, I didn't really need help. I needed words and supportive energy, but not actual help. With the nausea pregnancy sickness I have been enduring for the past few weeks, I need help. It may be one of first times I really needed help from others in my life. It may be the first time I don't feel able to handle a situation. But help isn't easy. It's hard figuring out how others can actually help and what is helpful.

(Here are the keys to HELP:)
I have found that the most important thing in asking for and obtaining REAL help is to be SPECIFIC. I need to be very specific in my requests. I also need to figure out, for myself, what I actually NEED. And then - this is hard, too - I need to LET GO of control and ALLOW others to do their job: to help.

It can be a process of trial and error. Some people will end up being more helpful than others...depending on my preferences and needs and their abilities to fulfill my preferences and needs (personalities definitely affect helpfulness). Sandy, as my wife, has been the greatest help. Naturally, she would be. She knows me and she knows what to do and she knows what I need. And she also happens to be the most practical and able person I have ever met (she could fix anything that needed fixing...she could do anything that needed to be done...she is one hundred times more practical and able than I will ever be). She helps.

But she also needs to go to work every day and cannot be with me to help all the time. The easiest thing would be to accept help from family members, but all of my biological family members (minus Darah) live thirteen hours away. Still, I have tried. My first response when I started feeling sick was to come up with various ways to get my mother to come to town for a couple of weeks to help me. I could pay her traveling costs and a the cost of child care! I had to get her to come here ASAP. However, while that was my first anxiety response, it didn't work. My mother and whole family - almost every time I spoke with them - tried to urge me to come to them (their reasoning: so they could help me and still lead their normal lives). Well, of course they wanted me to come there.

They want me to come there all the time. They want us to move there. They want to have Darah around. I understand their desire. But this isn't a time for a vacation. The reality is that I am sick and need help. And, really, how much "help" would it be for me to either have to fly with Darah while I am holding back the vomit or for me to make a thirteen hour drive in the car with her? And how much "help" would it really be for me to be stranded thirteen hours away from Sandy smack in the middle of the chaos of my family members and their busy lives? Since I am a high-stress (and I stress the high in high-stress) person, I don't always fit smoothly into my family's way of doing things. I tend to want to have a plan and to follow it.I also have less stamina, and need to have down time; whereas they all seem to do well with a busy schedule and unpredictability. I can get very stressed over small things. Right now is probably not the best time for me to put myself in a situation that could potentially be stressful for me - just being sick every day and having to take care of Darah is stressful enough. But I was feeling desperate there for a while, and so I gave my mom a couple of options - in one of the options, I would agree to stay with her for two weeks if she stayed with me for two weeks. Time passed, though, and my mother kept putting off coming.

Every time I talked to her, it seemed like she was only willing to stay for less and less time but that she wanted me to still hold up my end of the bargain and travel to stay in Buffalo. Once she was cutting it down so that she would only be here for a week and two days, I decided that the two week compromise would not work for me. It's true that my mother has engagements and that it would be difficult for her to leave. I knew that. I was asking her to sacrifice some of her time to help me because I really needed it. There is no one else that I would ask to make that sacrifice - only my mother. But it also had to be on her terms, and that complicated things. She doesn't like to fly on planes, so she had to figure out a way to drive. My father doesn't want her to drive alone. There are a million complications that keep coming up every time I think she is close to coming. I thought I could get her to stay for two and a half weeks and that she could come early this week but she informed me that two and a half weeks wouldn't work. She wants to drive with my Nana who cannot leave until the 29th because she has to go to a lunch in her honor the day before. I thought my mother was telling me the only reason she couldn't come earlier was because Nana could not so I told her "Please, just forget Nana then. I need your help. I would rather have you come earlier." And that's when I found out that Nana was just an excuse - my mom just does not feel she can be away for longer than twelve days. My father and brother are going to meet her and my Nana here for Easter, and then they will all drive home together. So then I was getting very frustrated because I didn't feel like I was getting straight answers from anyone.

And me -a somewhat controlling person, who would love a plan to cling to right now in the midst of this time in my life when I have very little control over my body and physical health, just wants a date and a plan. I finally got my Nana and my mom to agree on the 29th and that is the plan. Sure, I would LOVE it if they came earlier but I know that won't happen. I have a week ahead of me. You wouldn't think that would be a big deal, but for me it is. Every day is a big deal. Every day is a struggle. Help is on the way, but I wish help would arrive. The one thing that does strengthen me mentally is to know that I ALREADY have survived four weeks of the sickness. I am probably half way through. If I got through the first half, I can get through the second. With or without help. At least that is what I have to tell myself.

So, the all-consuming help that I am waiting for with my mother hasn't arrived yet. Sandy and I have been on our own with this for a few weeks. But not totally on our own. A few of our friends have been very helpful. Darah's bio-dad, Adam, and one of his partners (he's Polyamorous) have been coming over once or twice a week to feed Darah. Elisa is a professional and knows what she is doing and Adam assists her (he's great with wagon rides!). They come in and feed Darah, and it's very helpful. What is most helpful is that Elisa is confident in how to feed a baby. Most people aren't and would need me to walk them through it step by step - which wouldn't be helpful and would defeat the purpose. We have also had a friend and her daughter come for a visit once or twice - they fed and bathed Darah. And another friend came over to feed Darah lunch a couple of times. A couple of friends of ours (who are also Sandy's colleagues) have watched Darah for short and long periods over the weekends. And one friend of mine made us a dinner (Indian cuisine - lentil soup, curry, rice...). I couldn't eat it and couldn't stand to smell it, which made me feel sad, but it was a very nice gesture. Sandy and a friend of ours enjoyed it.

So, yes, there have been people who have fallen somewhere along the continuum of helpfulness in their attempts to help. And I am very grateful. It's been a positive experience for me, in the sense that I have had to let go of some control in the process of "being helped." That's good for me. And for Darah, too. She's been great - so friendly with others and such a friendly little person. I cannot wait until I feel well and can be the Mummy she needs me to be.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting through the first trimester of pregnancy

Depending on when I *actually* conceived (either around January 23rd - pre-ovulation - OR on one of these dates that occurred during ovulation: January 30th, 31st and February 1st and 2nd), my expected due date will be around October 24th 2009. I haven't been to the first OB appointment to confirm this prediction; I have just been playing around on line with pregnancy calendars and due date predictors.

If I conceived on January 31st, then my due date is October 24th (a Saturday).
According to this, 47 days of pregnancy have passed. I have 219 more to go.
I am eight weeks pregnant and have 32 more weeks to go.
I am 18% of the way through this pregnancy. That leaves 82% left.
If this is all "correct" (which it may or may not be...but it should be darn close), then I will begin the SECOND TRIMESTER (woo-hoo!!! get me and my family out of this shit hole of a first trimester please...) on April 18th. I can only hope that the nausea will subside by the start of the second trimester.

There may even be hope that I could feel somewhat normal (not very normal, but at least not so nauseous) when Darah and I go to Chicago with Sandy for the MPA Conference.

My third trimester will start on or around August 1st.

I think that is as accurate as it's going to get. Maybe when the doctor measures things (i.e. baby, uterus, whatever), I will know more. But these dates matter very much to me right now.

By the way, today I weighed 104.5 and that was after I took a trip to the toilet - so I seem to have gained three pounds. Yay. I guess all my hard work (aka my efforts to eat and NOT vomit the food up afterward) is paying off. At least that is what I am telling myself. A nice morale booster as I eat granola bars and hope they won't produce heartburn and sick tasting burps. I have been going through six pieces of cinnamon gum a day. It really does seem to help hold back the puke but my jaw is starting to ache.

Everything is low calorie now. It is near impossible to find a granola bar that is not "low cal." It annoys me. I need to bulk up. I am trying so hard to eat this granola bar, but for what - a measly 90 calories? There is hardly any substance in it. Still, when Sandy comes home from work to feed us lunch, I bet she'll be proud of me. I am finishing my third.

Last night I woke up at 11pm with puke coming up my throat. I ran to the toilet but just tried to hold it back. I HATE PUKING. I HATE PUKING. I HATE PUKING. That was torture, but I did manage to crawl back into bed with my bucket and fall asleep.

I can make it to April 18th. And maybe a bit longer if I have to... AND THEN - poof - let the nausea be gone. Where is a fairy godmother when you need one?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chom, chomp, chomp: Weird Pregnancy Dreams, First Trimester

Oh, I am exhausted. I chew gum all day long to keep my mind and mouth focused on something other than gross tastes and nausea.

Sandy, poor Sandy. It's too much for her to have to care for Darah and me and work 40 + hours a week.

Last night I dreamed that my father was going to drive me to school (a high school dream). But on the way, he plowed through my Grandma Mel's house on Paradise Road and destroyed almost the whole thing (I think the house caught fire and exploded). No. 262, finis. He was happy that it was almost destroyed. My mother didn't seem to mind that much, either. Then I went to (high) school with my sob story about how my grandmother's house just exploded. After seeking sympathy, I went back to my grandmother's house. Half of it was still usable. Grandma Mel and her third husband, Paul, came in with groceries. She started ordering my mother to make eggs and bacon for Paul. I asked her why she did not care about the fact that her house was destroyed - but all she could think about and all she cared about was getting the bacon and eggs cooked for Paul RIGHT NOW. And that was the end of that.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fish Brains are Too Small for Pain...

Sandy is doing laundry and dusting (with a feather duster) and picking up around the house and wearing a French Maid costume. Well, all of that is true except for the FM costume. But we are French this morning; Edith Piaf is playing on our stereo. How we love her. It's my favorite day of the week - Saturday - when I have Sandy home to "do everything" for Darah and me. I cannot believe it has only been three weeks of this hell. I probably have five more to go, if not more. Each day is long. A week is long. Five weeks is depressing. Yesterday, Sandy did manage to get me out of the house. We went out for hair appointments. She saw Cindy and I saw Danny. I just had a trim and an angle put on my bangs to grow them out. I found out that my hair is probably too thin to me made into a wig. I was hoping to grow it as long as I could stand to grow it and then shave it off to donate it. I guess that's not realistic. I still, however, plan to grow it and then shave it (someday when I am not pregnant). This is the longest it has been in a long time.

I had a dream the other night that Sandy was a horse. She wanted me to ride her (yes, ride her) into an enchanted forest. I wanted to go into the forest with her but was scared of what we might run into. She gave me a very fun and entertaining (and bumpy) ride into the forest. We reached the edge of the forest, and at its edge was a cottage where Girl Scouts were residing. I wanted to rent the cottage for Sandy (my horse) and me. When I came around the front of the cottage, a bear was foraging for food. The bear saw me and came up to me (for food). It put its mouth around my hand (it had my hand in its mouth) but it was still just playing and was not sure whether it wanted to bite down or not. I called out for help, but my horse was gone. A Girl Scout leader opened the cottage door. I asked her to get help. I was begging for her to do something. She just stood there frozen. She did not want to get involved and risk being attacked by the bear. I panicked and started shouting commands. Then I woke up.

My dream last night was even more strange. Sandy and I were at a hotel together in a suite with three rooms. We were taking a shower together, but got out when I saw a giant silverfish-fly creature on the wall. There were more flies in the other rooms, but not big ones. Sandy left the hotel room and when she came back she was not Sandy anymore - she was Colin (a friend of ours). He told me he had a key to our room on the 65th floor. I told him that this was our room, on the 27th floor, but he insisted I go and see the room on the 65th floor. So we went up to the next section of the hotel, and it was a whole new world. There were shops and restaurants and elevators all over. Each elevator had a select number of floors to which it could travel. We had to search (it took a long time, too) for the elevator that would take us to the 65th floor. We finally found it and the room on the 65th floor. When Colin entered the room he turned into Brad Pitt who turned evil from entering the room. I didn't turn evil when I entered because I never wanted to travel there in the first place. Then Brad Pitt told me I had to have sex with my father (and an apparition of my father appeared). I cried and begged not to and tried to escape the room. He chased me out of the room. A while later I ran back into the room with my sister. My cousin's husband, Greg, followed us into the room. He suggested we all hide in the closet. So we did. Then Evil Brad Pitt came to the closet and picked Greg up and twisted off his penis. Melissa (my sister) and I ran out of the room while this was happening. Then we had to search for the elevator and the exit. We knew we had to get back to the room on the 27th floor to find refuge from the evil. We finally got there (or at least I did). I think the second part of this dream involved a high school band and violent witches.

I am sick, but I can still dream while I am asleep. The stories of our dreams are fascinating. And also strange and confusing.

Piece by piece.

Peace out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I am in Hell (or at least Down in the Dumps)

I feel horrible every second of every day. It's been going on for over a week now, and I expect it to last for the next two months. Every day is torture.

I feel nauseous.

My intestines are in knots and doing all sorts of strange things (things that feel sickening and creepy).

I have the chills. And sometimes my eyes burn and water.

I have a bad taste in my mouth that never goes away.

Brushing my teeth makes me gag. After I brush them, I have to do a lot of spitting in the shower.

The heartburn is very unpleasant. After I eat, my insides (stomach and intestines and chest) burn.

I cannot think about or face food. The kitchen is a Dead Zone for me. But I have to run in there sometimes. Yesterday, I tried to get some food out of the refrigerator. I almost passed out and vomited. I ended up crawling back to the couch and calling Sandy to ask her to come home from work to feed us lunch.

Sleeping is the only thing that feels good. Waking up is torture. Every morning, I dread that time - between six and seven - when Darah wakes up and I know it is time to feel the pain again.

I am congested and snotty.

I am tired and weak.

The nausea is the worst. Anything but nausea. It's hard because I feel sick when my stomach is empty. I get very sick on an empty stomach. But then when I eat, I feel sick (the inside of me catches fire) afterward.

All of this falls on the shoulders of Sandy. She has been doing everything. So we are both down in The Dumps. I don't know about Darah. I figure it must rub off on her. She's probably down in The Dumps, too, though I doubt she's in Hell. More television watching, less fun with Mummy J.

I lick salt off of pretzel rods for a tiny bit of relief.