It’s my fault for being happy for 30 seconds

When you’ve been a victim of abuse, you build a pretty strong wall to protect yourself.  You learn quickly that expressing emotion can get you punished, so you hold it in.  If you’re lucky enough to get out of the abusive situation, that wall stays there.

When you meet new people, the wall strengthens.  Or at least it does for me.  I could meet the nicest person in the world and it will go one of two ways:

Scenario 1: There is no way this person can be this nice.  It must be an act.  They’re going to charm me and disarm me.  I better run before I see their true colours.

Scenario 2: There is no way I deserve someone this nice.  I’m not worth it.  It’s only a matter of time before they realize that I’m not good enough for them and they leave.  I better run before they see my true colours.

 

Unfortunately, I succumbed to a new scenario.  One that I didn’t know existed, and instead of ending with me running it ended with some serious heartache.

Yep: I’m talking about you, Coffee.

The self-proclaimed “nice guy with asshole tendencies.”  I tried to keep my wall up and I did a good job at first.  You didn’t pry, which was so wonderful.  I felt safe with you, and special.  You kissed my forehead and you tucked my hair behind my ears.  You told me that you hoped that eventually I would let my guard down with you.

The first time I relaxed a little around you, you said how nice it was.  You would text me all day, telling me that you really liked me and if we hadn’t seen each other in awhile you would say you missed me.  I actually felt this going somewhere.  I’m an idiot, I guess.

Last weekend you invited me to stay with you.  This was a huge deal for me.  Since leaving my husband, I’ve been with people but I’ve rarely slept with them.  There are very few people with whom I have actually spent a night.  Of course my first reaction was to run.  Alert, alert, too nice.  Scenario 1.  Get the fuck out.

But you know what? I really fucking liked you.  With an exclamation point.  And I thought you liked me too.  So I agreed.  You sounded excited to have me stay over.  You bought mugs, and a kettle, and coffee.  You made me breakfast.  I was with you…maybe 20 hours? 22? I had such an amazing time with you.  I loved the way you made me feel.  I fucking opened up to you.

I guess that was my mistake.  I talked about my ex.  I talked about my dad.  I’m not going to lie: I verbal diarrhea-ed all over you.  It’s a lot to take and I get that.  My life is not perfect or wonderful; it’s been shattered and poorly glued back together.  But it’s my life and it’s part of me and I thought that you liked me.

When I left your house, I was happy.  I was fucking happy.  This should have set off warning bells, but it didn’t.  I went home and I talked to my friends about you and I smiled like an idiot and gushed like a teenager.

It wasn’t until the next evening that it came crashing down.  An innocent text to you asking if I would get to see you this week.  An innocent enough non-committal answer from you.  A jokey response from me, poorly disguising my disappointment.  A sinking feeling that the end had come.

It’s been a few days.  Communication has slowed right down to nothing.  I wish you would at least tell me that you don’t want to see me anymore.  I know it’s hard to hurt someone but saying nothing hurts a lot more.  It would take you twenty seconds to pick up your phone and say something like, “I’m sorry but I don’t see this going anywhere.”  Or, “I had fun but I think we should stop seeing other.”  Anything, really.  Just something to provide some sort of closure and to make yourself a little less of an asshole.

I was talking to my friend about ghosting yesterday.  When someone ghosts us we should know that they are the ones with the problem.  They are the ones who are too cowardly to send a simple text.  It really takes no time out of their day to be a decent human being.  But instead we blame ourselves.  We wonder what we did wrong.  We wonder if we aren’t pretty enough, or funny enough, or smart enough.  We wonder what part of us isn’t enough for them.

I hate this feeling.  I hate sitting on my couch crying.  I hate feeling bruised and broken and alone.  I hate that you made me feel like you were worth it.  I feel like I was a game to you.  I was closed off and it was a challenge.  You got in and therefore you won.  Game over.  I’m left in pieces behind you but you won.  Congratulations, I guess.  I’m not sure how many times I can glue myself back together, but I’ll try.

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The Guilt

I always wanted a big family.

I used to joke with my ex husband about how many kids we would have.  I wanted 4; he wanted 2.  So I said that we should have 6! That way if we get divorced, he can take his 2 and I will take my 4.  If we ended up not getting divorced, then we would always have an extra gift lying around if we forgot someone’s birthday.  “Oh, it’s your 30th? Here, have a baby!” And also we would have spares if any of the children needed a liver.  Win-win-win.

When my oldest daughter was about a year and a half we decided to start trying for baby number two.  The process was delayed a bit by the fact that it took three attempts in three different appointments to remove my IUD.  Let’s just say I am no longer afraid of Hell.

I was excited to have another baby.  I wanted to give my daughter a sibling.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t have my big family, but two would be enough.  I was excited for number two.  Until I got pregnant.

I peed on that stick with such vigor.  I couldn’t wait for the results.  With my first, it took awhile to determine pregnancy because my body is all kinds of fucked up.  But with this pregnancy, that line showed up as soon as my pee hit the stick.  My eggo was completely preggo.  Exciting, right? Well, no.  I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw those two lines, my heart sank.

All of a sudden I was filled with so much guilt.  I run a home daycare, so my daughter has to share me with five other kids for over 50 hours a week.  By the time all the other kids go home, it’s a rush to eat and bathe and get to bed.  In the mornings there are often kids here before she wakes up.  She barely gets me to herself at all, ever, and now I’m going to make her share me with another child 24 hours a day! I felt terrible.

I also felt like I was cheating on her somehow.  This was her womb that I was using to grow another life.  My belly would swell with a child that wasn’t her.  I would use my breasts to feed a baby that wasn’t her.  I would carry another child, I would kiss another child, I would love another child.  And I immediately began to resent the life that was growing inside of me.

I had terrible morning sickness with both pregnancies.  I was on medication for it and I was still throwing up a ridiculous amount every single day throughout the entire nine months.  With my first, it was somewhat manageable because when the kids went home at the end of the day I could rest.  I could spend my weekends napping.  I could enjoy silence once in awhile.  This time, I had a spirited two year old with me throughout the pregnancy.  I couldn’t relax at all.

As a result of this, my stress levels were high.  I was being monitored constantly.  I was told repeatedly by my midwives to “take it easy.”  Ha.  Yeah.  That’s not something I do.

I ate really well during my second pregnancy, but I was terrible with my prenatal vitamins.  If I took them, I would throw up within five minutes.  So sometimes I didn’t take them.  I tried to make sure I was eating well enough to make up for that fact, but I was also constantly nauseous so eating wasn’t always my top priority.  I also drank coffee.  Not a lot.  With my first, I abstained from caffeine completely.  With my second, that wasn’t an option.  I couldn’t function without a small cup of coffee in the morning.

I couldn’t feel a bond with my unborn child.  With Iz, as soon as I found out I was pregnant I was in love with her.  With this one, I couldn’t feel a connection.  I told my husband that if it was a girl, I was going to name her Anna.  Ever since I was really young, I wanted to name a daughter Anna.  We found out the gender and it was a girl.  But I couldn’t bring myself to name her Anna.  She didn’t feel like an Anna.  She didn’t feel like anything.

I went into labour two weeks early.  I was completely not expecting it.  Iz was late, so I assumed this child would be too.  We had nothing ready in the way of a hospital bag.  My water actually broke, like really broke, so I was running around wrapped in a towel trying to get stuff ready.  When we headed to the hospital, they hooked me up to all sorts of monitors because I was trying for a VBAC.

After many, many, many hours of active labour and pushing, my blood pressure dropped; my temperature went way up; and Ab’s heart rate went way, way down.  They rushed me into the OR for a c-section.

My husband was not allowed in the room, because neither of us were doing very well.  It was pretty likely that they would lose both of us, so my husband had to wait in the hallway by himself.  They cut me open and they couldn’t get her out.  She was pretty far down the birth canal and the two OBs working could not get her unstuck.  So they kept pulling.  There’s also this thing they do when the baby is too far down where they, um, try to…push them back up.  Yeah.

One of the OBs finally got her loose, but in the process tore my uterine arteries on both sides.  Apparently an epidural is not enough to numb that pain.  My blood pressure was almost nothing and my heart kept stopping.  They had to constantly inject me with medication to keep my heart pumping as I was bleeding out on the table.  I kept passing out.  My midwife was holding my hand and she would squeeze it and yell at the doctors every time I passed out.  I swear I saw myself on the table at one point.

When they got my daughter out, I heard a cry.  And then…nothing.  They have a sheet up so that you can’t see them rearranging your internal organs.  I’ve since watched videos of c-sections and I very much wish I had not watched videos of c-sections.  The sheet also prevented me from seeing my baby.  All I knew was that I heard a cry and then nothing.  I didn’t get to see her.  No one was telling me anything.  And there was searing pain, bright lights, and blackness.

I started screaming in pain.  Apparently I was screaming so loud that my husband could hear me in the hallway.  I started screaming for my baby.  What happened to my baby? Where was she? Why couldn’t I see her? At this point I thought they had taken her because I was dying.

The second I heard that cry, though, all my apprehensions faded.  All my guilt about having a second child melted away.  I loved that baby more that I had ever loved anything or anyone, save my older daughter.

Abby had cried once and then stopped breathing.  They rushed in a pediatric team who had to resuscitate her and then give her a breathing tube.  My pediatrician who brought my daughter back to life is the senior-most pediatrician in my city.  He said to me later that he had never seen a baby just stop breathing like that.

They took her to the special care nursery and I went into recovery.  I was by myself in a room.  I had no idea where my baby was or what was happening.  When they moved me into a regular room a nurse told me that my daughter would be transferred to the NICU at a children’s hospital nearby.

When the ambulance arrived, they took Abby.  I was allowed to go also, but I had to wait for my own ambulance.  It was late February and there was a snowstorm, so it was a few hours before my ambulance arrived.  When I got to the children’s hospital, the nurses in my ward wouldn’t tell me anything about my daughter because she was in a separate ward.  I couldn’t go see her because I had just had major surgery and I couldn’t move on my own.  I didn’t even know if my daughter was alive.

Abby was born around 8pm.  My husband arrived at the hospital just after noon the next day.  He went to the NICU to make sure my daughter was alive and then came to get me.  My daughter was 16 hours old before I got to meet her.

She was covered in wires.  Tubes everywhere.  Propped up so that she could breathe.  But she was alive.

They did countless tests and we still don’t know why she stopped breathing.  She had a cyst in her nose which could have blocked her airway.  She has a recessed jaw so it’s possible that her tongue flopped back and blocked her throat.  She had swelling in her brain.

She is 21 months old and we are still dealing with a slew of follow-up appointments.  She has developmental delays.  I don’t know if she will ever catch up.

And I feel so much guilt.  I didn’t love her while she was inside me.  I didn’t take my vitamins properly.  I drank coffee.  I didn’t rest.  I feel like everything she is struggling with is punishment for my behaviours.

I am still so afraid that she will die.  I spent the first six months of her life barely letting her out of my sight.  I didn’t trust anyone with her.  I wouldn’t even leave her with my husband unless I knew she would sleep the whole time.  I didn’t make plans in advance because what if I was planning a funeral.  I didn’t sign her up for activities because I didn’t want to have to cancel them.

Every night when I put her to bed I am not sure she will wake up in the morning.

That’s probably one of the reasons that I haven’t done much sleep training with her.  I would love to sleep through the night again, but at least when she wakes up 75 times a night it means she’s alive.

I still have frequent dreams about my c-section.  I remember every detail.  I wake up at night sweating because I feel like it’s happening again.  Sometimes I can feel the slow tearing in my uterus, so slow, again and again.  I see her little face, tubes and wire and cords everywhere.

I hear her cry and then…silence.  Nothing.  Blackness.