Tag Archives: anxiety

#23 2017

Seeing friends  and acquaintances listing all their accomplishments on their social media feeds made me feel inadequate.

Last year started off with me trying to survive being back at work after returning from maternity leave. I was dealing with hormones, missing my baby, an unhealed coxic bone that made the daily commute unbearable, bosses who were worried I was not committed to my job and a president I didn’t vote for. The only thing that helped was vicodin but I was afraid to take it. The last thing I needed was to add addiction to the depression, mourning and post-partum that lurked not so deep inside me.

My mother passed away in November of 2013. She had been battling a metastasized cancer since 2006. In that time, she saw my life fall apart at the hands of an abusive husband, she saw me  leave that relationship, thrive on my own and  meet the man I would marry. She saw me go through a miscarriage and battle infertility. Prior to her dying, I started looking into IVF, crunching the numbers and seeing how unaffordable it was, I was ready to give up.

“Take out a loan, worry about paying it back later, once you have your baby it won’t matter.” She said. But I am practical and instead of taking a loan for IVF, Matt and I took out a mortgage.

Before she died, Mami came to visit, she stayed with my sister in North Hollywood. I should have taken time off from work, spend as much time with her but all I did was spend an afternoon with her at my sister’s house and another one when she came to visit me in the new house. I couldn’t watch her die, I don’t feel guilty about it, I know she understood. It is because of her that I am the way I am.

She left me some money with the specific request that it be used for IVF. In April of 2014, I did my first round. In May, I did the 2nd,  followed by a mock transfer in June to send the tissue from my uterus to a lab at Yale University so they could test the timing of the embryo transfers. The third transfer was in September of 2014, nothing, zero, zilch. My doctor nicknamed me “The Purple Zebra,” because in his years of working with infertile women, he had not seen a case like mine.

On the first anniversary of my mother’s death, there was no baby that I could take comfort in. The money Mami worked so hard to save and leave to me, gone. Nothing to show for my efforts other than weight gain, anxiety and pain. I had been so consumed with the IVF that I did not properly grieve my mother. Grieving meant admitting she was gone. Every time I used the money, I felt she was still here, taking care of me.

I felt Mami’s intervention when my husband switched jobs and his new insurance offered fertility coverage. In 2015, I consulted with a reproductive endocrinologist in NY. Seventeen vials of blood revealed all potential future illnesses and that I most likely had endometriosis, which explained all the back problems that no musculoskeletal doctor or MRI could confirm and the painful periods. My husband’s magical insurance covered what would have been about 15k of lab work.
I was impatient and I asked the NY doctor to put me on a medicated cycle that included blood thinners and steroids in addition to estrogen and progesterone. The doctor agreed but said that if it didn’t work, I had to agree to a laparoscopy to get rid of the endometriosis.

In March of 2015 I got a positive pregnancy test  followed by a miscarriage, bloodier than it should have been at five weeks because of the blood thinners .

Two months later I had the laparoscopy, instead of endometriosis, the doctor found three fibroids hiding behind my organs that were undetectable through a vaginal ultrasound.

I gave birth to my daughter in June of 2016. I thought that once I gave birth to a healthy baby, the depression would go away, instead, I missed my mother immensely. I was grateful that I listened to my OBGYN and had my placenta encapsulated, she said it could help with postpartum depression which I feared.

Whenever I felt the blues come on, I popped a placenta pill. I don’t know if it was a placebo but it worked for the post-partum. It didn’t work for grief, the lingering effects of Infertility PTSD or the anxiety caused by the country’s new president.

***

My mother in law passed away in March. My daughter will grow up without grandmothers, both my grandmothers are still alive. I did not grow up with my grandmothers. I don’t have that connection many people have to their abuelitas, now, my daughter won’t either.

I went on a family vacation to the Dominican Republic in early July. It’s the place I was born, where my first memories with Mami took place. I was hoping to reconnect with a mother that has been dead for four years. As the plane landed on the island, the cabin filled with humidity, the smell of palm trees, ocean and wet soil. Tears I was not expecting suddenly cascaded down my face, gasping noises that took a few breaths to realize were coming from me, I felt Mami’s aura, I knew for those few seconds, she was with me, I could almost touch her. I let her know how grateful I was for everything she had done for me, I thanked her for my daughter, whose due date was on her birthday. I spent the rest of the trip trying to find her. Maybe I shouldn’t have been looking so hard, I should have let whatever it was I needed, find me.

***

Within a few weeks of returning from our vacation, I got bronchitis that took me three months to recover from.  I developed allergic rhinitis; one of the illnesses I was predisposed to based on the blood tests from the reproductive endocrinologist. I spent July through December fighting the fatigue that comes with excessive coughing, sneezing, soreness and the runny, stuffy, itchy nose, caused by the post nasal drip.

My 2017 was spent doing my best not sink into depression. Daily baths with Palo Santo soap, praying, attempting to meditate, weekly hikes and running which I had to stop once I got sick but I plan to get back to it. I also managed to reach my weekly Fitbit steps. These were probably the main reasons why I didn’t go into the dark hole.

I’m not one to make resolutions but I plan to go back to therapy. I don’t have to carry all this pain and manage it on my own. I’m trying to stop being such a control freak and letting some things just be.

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#19 – Guilt Chronicles

This is what guilt looks like.

Last Sunday, my daughter began a new semester of music class. She has been going since she was six months old. In the class, parents and their children sit in a circle and we sing songs, play musical instruments and dance, all lead by a wonderful music teacher.

When we pulled into the parking lot, my daughter was squealing. Her little squeals are a sure sign of her love for whatever or whoever she is squealing at. I am greeted with this happy squeal when I pick her up from school, her school teacher gets greeted with the same squeal as does her father when he gets home.

When we got to music class, she was running around, being very vocal and loud. I did not once tell her to be quiet but I stayed on top of her because there were a lot of new babies in the class. She would run up to the babies but never touched them nor was she threatening. However, I am Dominican and my first thought was about el que dira, what will people say?

There was a kid last semester who had to be dismissed from the class because he made other kids feel unsafe. The class is mixed age, from babies to five years old. The little boy was three. He was being a typical three year old but his mother never disciplined him. He threw a drum at a baby that luckily the baby’s father blocked with his hand. He would trip kids, hug too tight or hug without permission and played rough. The child’s mother was spoken to several times and my husband and I judged, I think everyone judged.  It wasn’t the kid that bothered me but how his mother laughed off his behavior, was dismissive of people’s concern about the safety of their children and never once told him to behave.  It was hard to enjoy the class when you have to be on guard. When he threw a triangle across the room, his mother was asked to leave. I felt bad for the little boy and even for his mom. The triangle is made of steel and could have sent someone to the hospital. I try not to judge people’s parenting style but like I said, I am Dominican and that mother’s behavior does not fly with me.

My daughter was in no way harmful or made anyone feel unsafe but in my opinion she was disruptive. My husband thought she was being cute which made me fume. He suggested that if I felt so terrible about Hudson’s behavior in the class, I should email the teacher letting her know how I felt.  I was annoyed that he couldn’t see how his child’s behavior could possible be experienced as troublesome by other parents. Then again, my husband is white and not concerned with el que dira.

I don’t think there was anything to discipline because what was I going to say to Hudson? Be quiet or stay still? I am not about to start making my daughter feel self-conscious or giving her complejos that will follow her into adulthood. I enrolled her in music class so she can be creative and express herself.

And that’s when the guilt crept in. I had been too busy during the week trying to win a Fitbit challenge with some east coast friends. Instead of letting my daughter run and play in the yard like I usually do, I contained her in the stroller so I could get my 15k-20k per day.  Was it my fault that she was so hyper at the end of the week? This was not normal behavior for her but it set me off, blaming myself for her needing to run around the class.

I’m trying to be better, to chuck her behavior to a fifteen month old being a fifteen month old. This week I will let her run in the park and see how she does in music class at the end of the week.

# 15 – Pesadilla

My heart, fast beats punching my insides.

My body, a mixture of chills and sweat.

My breath, obstructed like someone holding a pillow over my face.

It took me a few seconds to catch up to my reality; my house, my baby and my husband next to me, sleeping peacefully.

Inhale, exhale, relax.

THANK YOU GOD.

My alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button. I gently pick up the baby, drape her on top of me and get lost in the smell of her hair as I stroke her back.

THANK YOU GOD.

Tomorrow is the seven year anniversary of the divorce from the ex.

April 27th, the day a judge in Santa Monica granted me my freedom.

The last time I saw the ex was eight years ago.

Unexpected sounds or noises still spook me.

I am anxious about running into him.

I still look over my shoulders because I don’t know where he lives.

The nightmares still haunt me.

# 14 – Infertility & Self Loathing

When Matt and I were in Sydney for our honeymoon in 2010, I told him that I wanted to go back to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary with our future 3 year old.

After a year of acupuncture and a paleo diet, I got pregnant in 2012.

I had a miscarriage.

I decided to deal with the loss by focusing on the positive. I was happy that I got pregnant when it looked like it would never happen. I was hopeful because my body knew how to make a baby.

After seven months of trying and no rainbow baby (a baby born after a miscarriage), we consulted with a fertility doctor.

2014 was the year that IVFs 1-3 did not take.

The 4th IVF in 2015 was somewhat successful because I got pregnant but at five weeks, I had another  miscarriage.

To deal with this one, I started planning where to go for our 2nd honeymoon/5 year wedding anniversary/vacation.  I broke down thinking of the three year old we did not have. I went in and out of my boss’ office every time the tears spilled, relieved by the lack of people at work that day.

I needed to do something to feel like I was helping the situation. I reached out to all my religious friends and had them ask their pastors/priests about adoption, in case they knew of anyone who wanted to give up a child.

I was desperate.

This was something so out of my control that not even two top fertility doctors (one in New York and one in Los Angeles) could  help me because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong either.

I needed an answer, a reason, even if it wasn’t a good one,  something to help me move on.

I threw myself into my job and writing. I took two workshops at once, my free time was to be consumed with reading and writing.

I did not want to cry or dwell on the recent miscarriage.

What would the boy or boys have looked like?

Why did this keep happening to me?

What was wrong with me?

I decided that I would try one more round and that would be the last time I would put my body and heart  through the rigors of IVF. I made it my goal to work on being happy no matter what the outcome of the fifth and final IVF.

I would not be bitter if it didn’t work.

I would be grateful for having the resources to try.

In the end, I wanted no room for regrets.

I was already on my journey to gratitude and contentment when Matt got a new job that interfered with my plans for a second honeymoon on our fifth wedding anniversary.

I didn’t mope or complain. I was not going to have a depressing, miserable summer. I was getting better at coming up with plan E when A-D didn’t work.

I went on vacation with my girlfriends.

I had nothing to lose by trying to be happy.

In retrospect, it sounds like a piece of cake to switch gears and decide to be happy. It was not an easy task. This being a shitty first draft, I see where I need to fill in the details of the pain I was in to properly illustrate it.

Below is an excerpt from my journal.

Anger Stage of Grief: This is what self loathing looks like a week after  miscarriage number two from IVF number four.

April 2015 – I am angry; at myself for wanting this so fucking badly, at my body for not fucking doing this for me, at the pregnant bitch showing me her fucking ultrasound picture. I don’t give a fuck, keep your enthusiasm to yourself you stupid hoe bag. To the other one, nosey fuck, it’s none of your fucking business when my IVF is, I fucking hate you. Most of all, I really do hate myself right now. My fucking sister is telling me how brave I fucking am, how awesome my fucking body is for trying and trying.  No, I’m not brave, I’m a fucking idiot who doesn’t fucking know when to quit. My body is not fucking amazing, all I’ve gotten is two fucking miscarriages. I am obese with a bmi of 30 from  the anxiety, eating my feelings and the fertility drugs. I don’t feel amazing or maybe I do.  You know what I think of the word amazing? It’s overused and most people don’t know what it means. They glorify things that are not amazing, like parents who call their toddlers amazing for hitting milestones they should have hit months ago. In that case, yes, I am absolutely amazing, an amazing fucking loser.

After I wrote this entry, I screamed into a pillow and cried for about three hours. I did not let Matt or anyone see me like this. My heart, body and soul could not take it anymore. The physical and mental pain was exhausting and would probably kill me if I didn’t do something.

My daughter is now ten months old, the fifth IVF worked. I don’t know if it was the change in mindset or the odds finally being on my side. I am beyond blessed to have her. I do not take her or motherhood for granted.

I would like to think that if things hadn’t gone the way they did, I would have found a way to be content. Happiness is a tall order. Even when you get everything you want, there are too many horrors in the world for me to be truly happy.