We made it! We’re starting to believe we might all be okay and to look to the future and make longer term plans.
I keep trying to blog but frankly I’ve been so sick I haven’t been been able to put together a coherent post. I’ve had a few windows of feeling better which I’ve put to good use by catching up on 6 months of business admin, various bits of housework, and baking my Mum a birthday cake. Mood wise I cope with a day or two pretty well but by the end of day 3 of feeling horrible, Rose tends to take a very teary person to bed.
As far as we know, everything is going brilliantly with the pregnancy. We’re hoping like crazy that the second trimester might start to be a bit easier on me, currently I’m still losing weight and struggling to eat. We have another ultrasound later this week which is nerve wracking and exciting. Hopefully this time we’ll get to hear a heart beat.
I had a brilliant day today, after a rough morning Rose took me to meet a friend of hers who works as a doula (a pregnancy and birth support person) and we had a great conversation. Funnily enough we found parallels between her work in changing experiences of childbirth, and my work in changing experiences of psychosis which was really inspiring and gave us something of a common language. It was exciting. We also share some experiences around health problems and chronic pain, which is brilliant for me because I’ve struggled to find other people who are going through pregnancy and parenthood from these backgrounds and who can understand some of my particular concerns.
I am so excited to be pregnant, but I also have a tangled relationship with pain, hospitals, working with medical people, being given intimate exams by strangers, being told not to worry, being called a good girl by patronising people who are wearing all their clothes when you aren’t, and many other common aspects of pregnancy and labour. I have past bad experiences of not being taken seriously, of being misdiagnosed, of suffering from intense pain that wasn’t believed, or wasn’t able to be medicated, or was thought to be psychosomatic. I feel very anxious and out of my depth facing labour at times, and my usual approach to feeling this way is to do some research. I’m keen to find safe places and people to dig into this territory with and start to find my own path. As much as possible I want to feel skilled, competent, resourced, and informed. I’m scared and I don’t expect to stop feeling scared, but I don’t want that fear to run the show or limit my choices.
This isn’t the pregnancy and experience I might have had if things had gone according to my original ‘plan’ and I was starting a family much healthier and younger. It’s also not the same experience I had being pregnant with Tam. I find myself grieving for those at times, and struggling to figure out how to turn my longer, more complex history into a resource rather than the mixed bag of hopes and triggers I’m currently dealing with. I want to untangle things enough that I can begin to see the possibility of good outcomes as clearly as the bad ones – most nights I still have nightmares where the baby dies. A friend gifted us their cot and I’ve been frozen with distress at the prospect of an empty cot in the house. I cope okay with the clothes and toys and carriers and so on, but the thought of facing another loss and coming home to an empty cot is simply unbearable to me. Rose took over thankfully, and it’s been dismantled and packed away into the shed.
There’s a fair trauma history here like scar tissue all over my heart. I most hate the feeling that pregnancy is a kind of ‘winner takes all’ situation, that at the end of all this bravery and misery all is made right if we are given a live baby, and all is shown to be hopeless folly if we face death again. I’m trying to find some way to make my choices and our journey meaningful, whatever the outcome. Isn’t that always the way, with life? The challenge for all of us?
So today it was exciting to feel like I’m finding what I need! The services of a doula are sometimes seen as a kind of luxury, but right now for our family this feels like exactly what we need – support that is informed, non-judgemental, and open to the grief and trauma Rose and I are carrying as well as the joy and opportunities we might otherwise miss. And it was exciting to talk shop with someone who was interested in my ideas and experiences too. When I’m a bit better I’m looking forward to doing more writing and giving talks again, and a little work is trickling in again which is making my heart sing. I wish I could be a doula too, but for people in mental health crisis, to help them deal with a first psychosis or navigate being diagnosed with DID, or a severe dissociative episode. That would be brilliant.