When it rains it pours. Or so they say.
I haven’t written in a while.
I don’t have a really great reason except I’ve been beyond overwhelmed with life. So I’m just going to lay it all out there – here is what the last 5 months have looked like in my world.
For the past year I have been struggling with post-partum anxiety and depression. I’ve tried to write about it a million times, but if I’m honest with myself I have been too embarrassed to open up about it. Because despite people’s attempts to normalize it so women don’t suffer in silence, there is still a huge stigma associated with it. It still makes you feel like you are somehow inadequate, unable to cope and fills you with guilt over not being able to exist in a new mom blissful state of sunshine and rainbows.
I had postpartum with Avery, but with Luca it was so much worse. I don’t know if it was because I was more overwhelmed with 2 kids, or if it was his horrible colic and screaming all day, but either way, it has not been rainbows and sunshine. After months of not feeling like myself while suffering silently with crippling anxiety, very little energy and unexplainable anger, I finally decided to stop breastfeeding in hopes of finding some sanity and sense of self.
After returning from a month at my parents’ lake house in Upstate New York, I started weaning in September. And in the process of weaning, I got pregnant…again. Apparently natural family planning and weaning are a risky combination.
After the initial shock wore off, the fear set in. Fear that I would have even worse postpartum after my third. Fear of how on earth I would manage to take care of three kids all by myself with no family within a 6 hour plane ride. Fear of a third c-section. Fear of pregnancy complications from having 2 babies and c-sections so close together. Fear of having to drive a (shudder) minivan. Fear of my inability to handle it since I was barely hanging by a thread to begin with. And alongside the fear was the endless list of unanswerable questions. Where are we going to live? Where can we afford to have more than 1 br? Where are we going to put another crib? What on earth are we going to do?!?
Amidst the morning sickness, exhaustion and overwhelming panic was joy and appreciation at the tiny miracle that God believed I could handle even if I’m not quite sure how. And honestly, that’s ultimately what I’m clinging to – the hope and faith that this baby is a blessing and we will figure it out (I mean we don’t really have another option – this baby is coming out in June whether we are ‘ready’ or not). I’ve always dreamed of three kids, but after two wasn’t sure I would do it – I guess God felt otherwise. And I’m glad he did – however…the timing…well…I’m working on accepting that.
As if a new baby wasn’t enough of a massive life event, in October our 9-year-old English Bulldog started getting sick. And then she got more sick. Thousands of dollars and countless veterinarians later, she was diagnosed with a severe intestinal disease that I can’t pronounce. It has caused severe protein wasting which in turn has caused a host of other problems. When we first met with the specialist we were told 60% of dogs respond to change in diet and medication and go on to live happy normal lives. About 10% have a stroke or other blood clot that causes sudden death. And the other percentage…well, he didn’t really talk about them…until Riley became one of them.
She hasn’t responded to medicine or diet changes. As a result she is emaciated, full of fluid in her abdomen and legs, has lost almost all her muscle and now barely eats. We carry her inside and out, clean up accidents multiple times a day and spoon feed her when she doesn’t want to eat. She takes a cabinet full of medicine including shots of steroids every other day.
We had an appointment with the specialist today because she spent the weekend in the hospital after taking a turn for the worst. We have one more ‘hail mary’ of medicines to try. If we don’t see improvement this week, we were told to start thinking about ‘humane euthanasia’ which I don’t think anyone is ever ready to do.
If you have never experienced the loss of a pet to a devastating disease that causes a slow and miserable death, I hope you never do. It’s gut-wrenching. At what point is being hopeful and trying everything to make them better just torturing them. At what point do you stop the treatment? At what point do you let go? At what point is keeping them alive a selfish choice?
So, yeah. We’re having a baby. And our dog is dying.
Oh and did I mention that the week before Thanksgiving my husband was laid off abruptly leaving us pregnant, during flu season with 2 kids and no insurance or income.
Post-partum. New baby. Dying dog. No jobs.
Life is really not helping the post-partum anxiety.
They couldn’t write this story into a movie because people would critique it as unrealistic.
But alas. Here we are. A New Year with a whole lot of living ahead of us. I have no idea what this new year holds but it is undeniable that there will be change. Heartbreaking change. Life altering change. Heartwarming change. All kinds of change. There will be lessons in letting go, faith and perseverance all with the hope that these changes good and bad will bring us closer as a family and stronger as people.
Fortunately, my husband starts a new job tomorrow. We will have insurance again, and income coming in. But he had to take a pretty significant pay cut in order to get a job right away.
We are 17 weeks into a healthy pregnancy where my anxiety still looms, but my first trimester fog has lifted.
Our beloved dog is still dying and sooner than we want, we will have to make the first of many very adult decisions that even at 35 I’m not prepared to make if she doesn’t respond to treatment.
Life has many seasons and we have weathered a lot, my husband and I. But right now it feels as if we are being tested beyond measure.
So that’s it. The last 5 months in a nutshell. My new year’s resolution is acceptance. Instead of changing or wishing to change myself or my life, I am resolved to ‘love the one i’m with’ and by the one, I mean myself, my life, my situation. So here’s to a year of finding the light through the cracks and the stars in the darkest of skies.