Thursday, February 16, 2012


 {First snow}

Paranoia is my psychosis of choice.
This morning while lying still in bed, I thought I couldn't feel the baby move. Concern quickly catapulted to panic (my personality finds the two emotions remarkably interchangeable). I shifted my belly and poked and prodded until finally...after what felt like an eternity (9.5 seconds)...I felt a kick and tug in response. If she wasn't injured before she certainly is now after the beating this poor babe took through the womb as I pushed and jiggled and belly bumped around trying to summon her movements.

I can no longer pretend like this is not happening: Crazy is settling in to stay for these last few weeks till push-day. I can sense it as my emotions go into high alert and I am often reduced to tears by 7pm daily. I cant ignore feeling it, the achy sensation of a body in constant expansion. I'm slowing down, irritation levels are rising, and the novels in my head are in full force. 

Years ago, shortly after the birth of Lily, I decided I needed to see a therapist. Just one appointment, I told Tyler over the phone, I just need to sort this weird anxiety out. The influx of completely paranoid thought over this babe had started to overwhelm me. I wanted so badly to protect her and consequently found myself noticing every possible threat lurking, whether real or imaginary. Never before had death and pain seemed more possible then after the entrance of this new life and joy. While showering I would picture a killer breaking through the window and harming her. While cooking I would foresee the pot of boiling water sprouting robotic legs, walking 25 feet across the room, and dumping itself all over her little fragile body. While walking outdoors I'd anticipate a wild mountain lion springing out of the suburb edge, bounding forth to devour a meal of fresh human flesh. And the images were always vivid in detail, so detailed that when I would try to paint the picture to Tyler illustrating the horror of this thought process that left my heart pounding and knees quivering, he would respond with "AAAA!! Stop telling me's freaking me out!!"
Imagine how I feel!
I was in a constant state of survival preparation mode: escape routes, fire exits, stocking a lower cupboard with self sustaining Gerber veggie puffs and a blanket so the baby could survive inside when I was forced to hide her in it so I could  fight off the house intruder with a butter knife and pepper spray. I figured Tyler would eventually arrive home to find me beaten and bloodily martyred but least the baby would be safe.

Yes, Tyler agreed,  $200 was but a small price to pay to a therapist devoted to one hour of rediscovering sanity. 

After listening to my rambling, the therapist felt confident that this was most likely a hormonal issue sorting itself out in the postpartum phase, and medication wasn't necessary. However, he did provide information that put me at ease and summed me up perfectly:

You write novels.

he said.

In your head. 
When you worry, in this very normal stage of parenthood when you experience so much love and hence feel vulnerable, you begin composing a story. A BIG story, full of lots of chapters.

It was so true. And that single bit of information has made a world of difference as I've consequently experienced the same waves of paranoia (and amazingly at the same intervals in each cycle/stage of pregnancy and postpartum phases...he was right about the hormones too.)

I notice it frequently and often command myself, Rachel: stop the novel.

This morning as I unnerved myself over the imaginary doom that had befallen my unborn child, the script was legendary. It was dramatic and upsetting and full of sweeping trauma unlike the world had never seen before.    Small details, big details: the despairing saga ran relentlessly through my head until I ordered myself again to

Stop the novel, Rachel.

Or better yet,  rewrite the story.

I imagined instead her healthy body kicking and her first screams as the doctor holds her up. Her pinkish warm body and crinkled face, grumpy with the world for disturbing her warm enclosure inside of me. 

I fast forward sometimes even further, imagining weddings and the four of them in old age encircled by hosts of happy grandchildren and blissful contentment. There are big oak trees and family reunions with red and white checkered table-cloths strewn with chicken and pies, a summer breeze blowing through as a large family photo is taken.

So maybe the whole paranoid hormonal novel writing disorder isn't always such a bad thing.   


                                                             Heaven bless therapists. 
Angels equipped with comfortable sofas, those people.
{Now if only I could find myself a free one.}


Kayla said...

Oh my goodness! Ever since our little guy was born, I have been paranoid about EVERYTHING. I thought I was the only one who made escape routes or scanned the parking lot at the grocery store to make sure there weren't any bad guys around who would steal my baby. Glad to hear it's normal :)

I love your blog and your girls are DARLING!

rae said...

Oh Kayla dear,

So sooo normal. Good luck and I promise it gets much better with time. Congrats again on your cute boy.

Joan said...

Ahh, the joys of motherhood, hormones, neurosis, and paranoia.
Raising our little ones brings us our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows (or our worst case of the crazies, anyway-hahah).

Alexis said...

Motherhood is the single most life, mind, and emotion bending experience on the planet. How fortunate we are to have the opportunity. This kind of love can never be explained to someone that hasn't experienced it.
MOM (my favorite name:)