When I found out I was pregnant for the second time, I was ecstatic. I was in shock because I was ready to just give up trying. Then the happiness and excitement started to dim because I felt sick all of the time. And then the pain came and I started to question why we tried to get pregnant so soon. It’s like my body forgot about all the shitty parts about pregnancy until I was reliving them again. Only being pregnant and a mom was so much harder. My pregnancy with Ian was a dream compared to how my pregnancy was with Jax. Once the morning, aka all day, sickness subsided, I was left to suffer with the horrible pain in my joints. I refused to take any pain meds and I just complained as my only form of relief.
When I found out Joey had cancer I knew that I could no longer complain about the aches and pains that carrying a life brought me. I had to focus on my husband, my son and keeping myself healthy enough to bring a healthy baby in to this world. My worries went from what is this baby doing to me, to what am I doing to my baby? I told my OB that I was no longer concerned about my pain but about making sure everything was planned around chemotherapy and recovery times. Did I begin to suffer from antepartum anxiety and depression? You betcha! I started to feel this tremendous guilt for bringing an innocent little baby into a life full of fear and sadness. I was offered so much help from family and friends but denied a lot of it because I just wanted to withdraw myself from human interaction. If they helped me, that meant I would have to see them or talk to them. And if I had to talk to them that meant I’d have to lie about how I’m doing and or pretend to be happier than I really was.
I didn’t want to tell people or have them figure out how scared I really was. Not scared for Joeys life or that he wouldn’t survive this. But scared as to how we were going to manage it. Scared that I wouldn’t know how to take care of him the way he needed me to. Scared that I couldn’t be the mother Ian needed me to be. Scared that my fears would jeopardize the health of my baby. Scared that this would be the trial that finally broke me. Scared that I wouldn’t live up to everyone’s expectations of “strong.”
Looking back now to Joey’s first chemo, to his first experience with anaphylaxis, to his first ER visit for pneumonia, it is literally a blur. I know the reason Joey survived those hard times because he had his family, my family, his friends and even strangers rooting and praying for him. But looking back to all of that, I don’t know how I survived it. I don’t know how I woke up every morning and fell asleep every night. It’s not Joeys fault he has cancer and it’s not his fault that I am so familiar with it. And it’s not his fault that my mind and emotions have taken me to a place that I’m struggling to come back from.
I’m going to talk about something I’ve only told to a few people. We all know how open I am about my lifestyle, my decisions and my past. But this, this is huge. I have never feared judgement more than I do about this. So if you are going to be a Judge Judy, just keep those comments to yourself. I watched my Grandpa die, I spent the last 48 hours with my Nino in his tiny hospital room, I watched my Aunt Becky die and waited for hours until the funeral home came to get her, I didn’t see my Nana die but I was there with her body for hours as we waited for the funeral home to come for her too. I’ve seen death, I knew how close it was from the smell and each time it happened, it killed a piece of me. When I was pregnant it happened the most. I suppose because I was the most vulnerable. Sometimes I couldn’t tell the difference between real life and my past experiences. I would find myself doing things that I’ve done before for other people, but I was doing them for Joey. I used to wake up in the middle of the night checking to see if my Aunt Becky was still breathing because I didn’t want her to die on my watch. But then I would realize it was joeys nose that was breathing and that Becky was already gone. I would hear monitors going off and thought it was my Nino’s morphine drip and got scared to see him get aggravated again but it was just my alarm to give Joey his medication. I would re-live these moments and believe they were really happening and then all of a sudden I was back in real life. I would dream of those experiences vividly but sometimes my subconscious would make it worse. Sounds a bit like PTSD right? At least that’s what my group therapist thought. I just dont understand why it took so long to surface.
Let’s fast forward a bit to Jax’s birth. Joey was 6 days post chemo and it was his 8th infusion. So his body was taking longer and longer to recover, his fatigue was more intense, his weakness was at an all time high. Plus, the day that Jax was born, Joey had to prep for a PET scan the next day. My OR nurses, doctors and anesthesiologist were all aware of Joeys condition and they were watching him as well. He made a huge turn around when Jax was born but then he started to fade fast in the early evening. I had a c section and still had a catheter so I couldn’t get up on my own yet, I was very sore and had no abdominal strength to get through the night alone. But thanks to my nurse for the diaper changes and the snacks, I managed to get thru the entire night without having to wake Joey up to help me. The next day he was gone.. All day. Pet scans require you to stay away from pregnant women and small children for at least 8 hours. So that plus recovery time from the day before, Joey didn’t get back to me until the evening and I survived another night without having to wake him up. Let’s say the 7 days I had Joey to help me with Ian was like living in paradise. And then he went back to chemo and that’s when shit just started hitting the fan for me.
I couldn’t be the caretaker Joey needed me to be. But in a way it forced him to fight harder through the pain and suffering because he couldn’t depend on me like he used to. Jax was a little newborn life sucking vampire. He ate every hour to two hours, he cried all the time, he never slept, he was gassy, he spit up often, he was everything he needed to be to challenge my inner strength and push me to my limits. Ian, although a very sweet and affectionate big brother, craved my attention and pushed me past my limits. Joey would be asleep and Jax would be asleep and Ian would cry which would wake Jax up and Joey would stay asleep which would bring me to my knees to ask god WHY?? It was just too much for me. But somehow I survived that newborn phase just don’t ask me how.
When I was alone, I would cry and cry thinking I was not the person people thought I was and that I could not handle this. I then questioned myself again, why did we want another kid. Which then reassured me that we would not be having any other kids after this. I don’t think I have it in me. I felt guilty for not being the mother that Jax needed me to be. I felt angry that cancer was doing this to my husband and my kids. I felt scared that my weakened mental state would cause life long emotional damage to my boys. After all, I believed and still do in a way, that Jax’s cry baby, grumpy attitude is my fault because that’s how I was when I was pregnant. He will not be the happy child that Ian was because I couldn’t keep my cool while pregnant with him.
But then, we got Jax’s tongue tie revised, I took him for chiropractic adjustments to help his gassiness, I started baby wearing to calm him down and slowly things started getting better with him. Joey finished chemo and he started to feel decent again. We were getting out of the house again and starting to see people again. We were starting to put the sickness behind us and we were starting to live again. And then the phone call came. The cancer is NOT gone and now we must prepare for a transplant. Which means I was going back to a life of fear, sadness, precaution and hospitals. And then that’s when the anger hit. Was it aimed at God this time? Perhaps. Did it put me back at square one? Without a doubt. Did it bring back the memories and re experiencing certain moments? Mildly.
Now, I’m in a new playing field. One that is built from fear and anger. That grows with anxiety and panic and succeeds thanks to luck and good timing. I know people are worried about me. I see it in some people’s eyes when they look at me. I hear it in their voice when I listen to their voicemails. I read it in their texts or social media comments. But I want everyone to know that yes, my emotions and my mentality might be a little fucked up but my life is not in any danger. I am too much of a chicken to try to hurt myself and I love everyone too much to leave them with my blood on my own hands. It is very obvious that I’m dealing with ppd and anxiety but I am NOT suicidal.
With that being said I’m asking my family and friends to be patient with me. You don’t even have to be understanding, just be patient. When I don’t answer your call, its because I don’t want you to hear the sadness in my voice. If I don’t respond to your text it’s because (either my baby is sleeping and my phone is on silent or..) I read it and it reminded me that I needed to get up and do something to take my mind off what you’re asking me and then I forget to respond once I sit back down. If you offer to help me with my kids and I don’t take advantage of the opportunity, it’s not because I don’t trust you with them or want you to spend time with them or let them get out of our little apartment. It’s because I need them, my heart needs them, my soul needs them. Even though they stress me out and they push me, they also keep me sane and alive. Jax is happier now, laughs more and smiles when I walk into the room. And my sweet Ian is such a nurturer and he keeps my heart full with his constant need for hugs, kisses and I love you’s. If you wonder why I’m not back to work yet, it’s because I will LITERALLY lose my mind if I add in the stress that my job creates. You may see the life I want you to see through snapchat, Facebook or Instagram and think, she’s not depressed. She’s smiling with her kids and she’s going out of state and doing these things that depressed people don’t do. Well, I will be the first to admit that I try to showcase the good so you can’t see how bad my bad really is. I try to go to my happy places or see new places with hopes that it will lead me back to myself.
I’m not as okay as I say I am. But I finally recognize it now and I’m ready to do something about it. October will begin a long journey for my mental health and I’m eager to embrace it. This was my first step at doing so. And all I want from this blog is for people to understand that I’m finally doing something about it and that I’ll be okay.