My Disability Could Lead To Pregnancy

“Congratulations,” the doctor stuck his head in the door. “You’re pregnant.” He shut the door.

18, straight out of the mental hospital, barely able to take care of myself – and now this?

I had never had anything close to a pregnancy scare. Always responsible, I carried around condoms in my purse just in case. But something had happened when I went manic. I was reckless, irresponsible and well, crazy. When you’re seeing stars fall from the sky, when you’re knitting them into patterns with your hands, safer-sex doesn’t seem as important as it usually does. I don’t even remember having unprotected sex, but it obviously happened.

It was a hot day and the heat made its way indoors. I met an exuberant worker while I was checking out of the clinic who was so excited about my news that she rambled on and on about her midwife who I could hire. When I just stared at her in disbelief she muttered, “You are happy, right?” I didn’t answer. She got very solemn and drew hearts around her midwife’s name. They were the saddest hearts I ever saw.

At home my mom called my psychiatrist who said I’d have to get off all my medication to have the baby. (Now, in my 30’s, I know this isn’t true. There are a lot of options for a medicated pregnancy, which is the only kind of pregnancy I have.) The medication I was finally adjusting to, the medication that kept me from harming myself. I couldn’t imagine getting off of it. Nine months was a long time. Even if I wanted to give the baby up for adoption I doubted I could make it nine weeks without trying to kill myself – again. 

We decided as a family that the best thing for my health was to have an abortion. I don’t remember much of it but what I do remember feels close, like it was yesterday. I remember the nurse being very sweet and at some point during the procedure “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” played, which at the time I thought was very cruel. The procedure was uncomfortable, but the morphine made a painting of roses look like it was swaying in the wind.

The morphine really got to me. When we got home Gabby Giffords was doing her first on air interview after her shooting. I noticed that our voices were about the same pitch, so I imitated her. For the entire interview. I had no idea I was being offensive. Later, after hearing about my impression, it seemed like that was the second worst thing I had done all day.

Now I’m a sane-ish woman in her late 30’s. I’ve had two babies, both of their pregnancies were complicated by a painful pelvic disorder I have when pregnant and, of course, my bipolar disorder. I went to the hospital often and had to take oxycodone everyday while pregnant both times. I had severe post partum depression for about one year after the birth of my second child. She is now only one year and four months old, so, I remember that horror show vividly.

Now, along with worrying about covid and – fucking everything everyone worries about in life, I worry about getting pregnant. Fear it. Knowing that if something happened to my sanity and I slipped again — or just an accident happened with my husband – or worse – I might not have the support and help to have a safe, legal abortion. My grandmother’s sister, Leona, was murdered in a back alley abortion and we are still suffering this loss, generations later.

I can’t take birth control because of the hormones and my bipolar disorder, I can’t have a copper IUD because of my anemia, I can’t get my tubes tied because it might complicate my PMDD. Safer sex is just that – safer. Not completely safe.

My youngest child plays with my hair as I type this. I’m so happy I’m a mom, I’m so blessed and lucky, but I can’t go through another pregnancy.

I do not think I would survive it.

The Haunted Room

Because of my eccentricities (including a mental illness or two) I’ll never be a reliable narrative when it comes to the world of ghosts and aliens.

However, my bedroom is haunted.

I hear music playing in it all the time and when I leave the room to see if it’s a neighbor blasting their jams, the music stops. Once, Matt heard the music, too. He searched the room for the cause of it, thinking it was coming from my phone, but nope – ghost!

Last night after getting up to use the bathroom I saw a dark figure walk from my left to the foot of the bed. He was all darkness with the outline, defining his shape, of stars. He reminded me of a friend from high school so I didn’t panic, I just watched him softly shifting his weight until I fell asleep again. When I woke up, he was gone.

I’m aware that all of my other issues make this a pretty unbelievable story. When Elro was a baby we were taking a bath and she, way too early for her age, said in a monotone voice: “Hello.” I freaked out. What if I had a demon baby? No one would believe me and I’d be locked up if I said anything. So, I’d have to try to live in harmony with my demon baby, try to keep it from doing anything too dastardly. Thankfully neither she or her sister were possessed. Crisis averted.

#

Bad news. It wasn’t a ghost, I’m hallucinating. I saw two figures last night. Nobodies room is that haunted. I don’t remember the first one, but I know I shone my cellphones light on it and it disappeared. The second figure was a skinny man – lanky – with glasses, sitting in a chair. I took a long time to really look at him. He was fidgeting. I shone my cellphone’s light at him and he disappeared, chair and all.

#

Hallucination number four was the upper half of a basketball player, in uniform. He was floating on the ceiling and had to do a move like he was swimming in the air to stay up there. My husband walked in. “Do you see that?” I asked. “I see the smoke detector,” he replied. “Oh,” I said, “So you don’t see that man swimming across the ceiling?” Because one look at my husband and the basketball player made his way across the room. There are different theories as to why this is happening. One, I’m super stressed. My 3 year old daughter was exposed to covid and we can’t find any tests for her. Two, I’m not on enough seroquel. Possibility. Three, I take my ambien at a weird time. Everyday at 6:30 I take it and don’t pay attention to how much food I eat or anything. My father says that just taking the ambien with food can cause hallucinations.

Now I have to go off the ambien 😦 and up on the seroquel to try and catch some zzz’s.

Hallmark Movie Day

I woke up, biked 20 miles on my stationary bike, listened to a youtube video of Sharon Olds and then wrote. I’m writing about my past, and admittedly it’s a little dark. So dark, in fact, it sent me into a major funk where all I wanted to do was watch Hallmark movies. A simple plot, true love, snow, a small town. Since this book is going to be a larger work am I doomed to feel this bummed out as I write — for an entire year?

Even if that’s the case, I’m doing it. I’m writing this. Maybe I’ll watch more Hallmark movies to balance out the darkness. ❤️

My Tree

I wanted to show you a few ornaments from my tree which is basically a love letter to my husband.

Here is a recent, professional pictures of our girls. They are our world.
We saw Dr Phil live one year. We were sitting in the studio audience when Dr Phil looks at me — and I mean he LOOKS at me. Longingly. There was a break between shows and we all changed seats and I told Matthew what happend. There was nothing I could say that would make him believe me. The next show started and we were sitting in different seats but Dr Phil’s gaze found me and there it was – the LOOK! Matt said, ”I see it. I see it.”

Ticket stubs from ballgames and museums with little love notes on the back..
Felt animals..
Our newest ornament.
Little memories.. This one is of Matthew getting up early on a weekend to carry a beetle to the park.
It’s Prison Mike from my husbands favorite tv show The Office.

That’s my tree tour! Happy holidays!

Truthful Holiday Greetings

I just started sending out holiday cards that read ”All is great here and we’ve just moved from the beach to a small mountain community.” I suppose it’s all true. We did move, and basically everything is pretty great most of the time. But it skips over the actual state of my mental health, and that’s unfortunate. I wish it said something like ”Rae deals daily with the heaviness of her thoughts during her postpartum depression. She’s scared it will come back somehow. She’s scared she didn’t bond with her youngest. She spends most days worried about the strength of her marriage. She does all this with a grace even she doesn’t understand.”

Yeah, that would have been better.

Driving Panic

Today I paced around the house, totally unable to complete basic tasks, because I was afraid I was going to get in a car accident when I picked my daughter up at schoool.

I’ve never been good at driving. I didn‘t get my driver’s license until I was 23. When I drive I always think the worse. The car that pulls behind me is going to rear end me, there’s a jogger I don’t see, someone is going to cut me off. Sometimes when I’m turning a corner I think of how I probably don’t know how to drive at all and I will lose control of the car. This thought fills me with dread. I tighten my hands on the steering wheel and wait to die.

Today my anxiety was so great I left the house two hours early, just to get it over with. I sat at Elro’s school, waiting.

When I got home I felt uneasy until my husband got home. Then I felt cozy. I turned on the tree and got lost in the world of potty training. Peace at last. Until the next time I have to face the open road.

I Finally Love My Baby

It’s taken over seven months, heaps of medication and an intensive outpatient therapy — but, you guys! I love her! For months I wanted her gone, but my brain is back. I’m functioning.

I have a little bit of disbelief and I worry somethings going to cloud my mind again and take me away from this precious girl. I wonder if my confusing thoughts will reappear. What would I do?

Fight like hell.

But right now? Right now I love her and that’s exactly where I want to be.

I Finally Love My Baby

What I Learned At Zoeglossia

“You are really, really, not alone.” — My Blue Heaven

This past weekend was full of zoom calls as I was accepted to be a fellow at Zoeglossia, a community of poets with disabilities.

It’s hard enough to find poets in your everyday life, more so other disabled people, so this combination rocked my world.

I was privileged to join the space and talk about literature and my place in the world. A day before Zoeglossia started I was planning on going outpatient because I had reached a point in my postpartum depression where I believed I needed extra help. After using my brain to think about poems, listen to amazing poets I relate to, I feel included and no longer feel I need outpatient therapy.

It’s still on the table but I think if I continue to read, write and talk to my new totally disabled totally talented friends I’ll be okay. As my dad says, “Writing is the way out.”

I purposely only read first drafts at our reading because it was “my way of crying in public in front of people I admire.”

Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible! I’m in love with each of you.

The Importance Of Baths

Yesterday I was too tired to do much with Elro. My sleep had been disturbed and I was feeling kinda crazy and overwhelmed. What I could do for her was draw her a bath, which she loves. So every time I drew her a bath I signed the word “bath.” Today I’m feeling great and much more capable. She grabbed my hand, took me to the bathroom and signed “bath” all by herself. I was so proud of her!!! Now she knows these signs: open, more & bath. I am so happy! Even though I had a tough day I was still able to take care of my daughter. I worried I wouldn’t be able to do that because sleep deprivation messes me up so bad!