There are jokes out there that talk about a person moving constantly so the past does not catch up with them. They usually involve some kind of guilt from the indulgence of a guilty pleasure, and are funny to think about. Then there are those ones that are poking fun at a deep down fear. Yesterday it seems I had a brush with a great big one of mine, and I realized I have been running from it for a very long time.
It started when I sat down to take a break from lesson planning to catch up with friends on Facebook. One of mine is a doula/midwife in training who blogs about birth options. She occasionally throws out questions for friends to respond to with their experiences, and such was the case of the day. Her question was "In honor of Halloween, what was your scariest moment involving birth?". I did not even ponder, but responded with "At the end of my first pregnancy my water broke, I went to the ER as it was before my due date, and was subjected to about a thousand tests. I was sent to labor and delivery, and in walked a total stranger who said "Good evening Mrs Balsamo. I am Dr ____. Your baby is dead and has been so for about a week. We are going to give you a pitocin drip, Prostaglandin 2 suppositories to bring on labor, something for the pain, and penicillin to bring down your fever which is now 106. You should deliver about 9 am and I advise that you hold the baby. I am going to go get some dinner and I will be back later to check on you." And he left, and I laid there terrified that I might die ". And with a few simple key strokes, a whole world of little horrors came out to play, once again. Not necessarily in the way you might think though.
As bad as that experience might seem , it was about mid stream of a river of self doubt, that I still do not know if it is the worst of it or not. It began when I was a young girl, and as much as I tried to rise above it , events keep rising to drag my attitude down. In adulthood it reared its head with the decision to have children right away and not conceiving for 8 years. Infertility can totally destroy your sense of self esteem. Every month you are given a biological reminder that something is wrong with you, and slowly that evolves into the belief that something has made you unworthy of the most basic biological adult function. You keep hearing reminders that babies are a blessing, and you still wait patiently to be blessed. In my case , I waited 8 years for that blessing ...but then...somehow I broke the baby. He died inside of me, and it affirmed my womb was a tomb. Talk about a kick in the gut ! That was bad enough, but then...7 months later later I developed the worst upset stomach of my life and extreme tenderness on my right side. For 2 weeks it was belived I had either the flu or a kidney infection, but then a catscan revealed two massive cysts on my right ovary. They were not sure if it was cancer or just cysts, so surgery was scheduled. Turned out not to be cancer, but then...it was revealed that the cysts were due to tiny pieces of my son's placenta that had somehow remained in my uterus , broke free, worked themselves into my fallopian tube and ovary and my body dealt with them through forming cysts. I told myself it was a freak accident , rejoiced that I could still conceive and moved full steam ahead on baby quest. Six weeks later , I conceived my son. But then...8 weeks into the pregnancy I began to bleed, and this began a nightmare pregnancy experience that involved total bedrest, specialists, too many doctor visits and 7 months of terror. It ended with a C Section because of my son being transverse, over 10 pounds ( he was 11 lb 14 oz and 23 1/2 inches at birth), with the inability to do an epidural because I could not arch my spine with my huge belly. ( They tried 17 attempts and then opted to knock me out fully). I woke up to learn I was at long last a mother. But then......at 7 months of age came the signs that not all was right with my little boy, and fights with our pediatrician to get to the bottom of it. That led to the eventual discovery of autism, and at that point I was too tired to fight and too shell shocked from everything to find my center.I let life bury me for a time.
I wish I could say that was the end of it, but it wasn't . Personal matters have entered into the picture that continued to make me say "but then". I thought about these yesterday after answering my friend's question, and I realized that through it all I never ate in order to isolate myself from the pain, but instead to gain strength for the fight , in agreement with a bad head tape that got installed when I was very young. I also realize that my most personal life seems to be about a continuation of but then that I neither need or want. She started dieting, lost some weight but then....