New Orleans, we have a problem.
July 10th 2013
20 weeks pregnant.
This past week has redefined my definition of emotional breakdown. It hasn’t been an easy one, ladies and gentlemen. At all. But thankfully I’m here to tell you all about it. Let me begin by saying that whenever things are going well in my life, or at least outwardly appear that they are, I feel a tremendous sense of guilt for any personal depression or struggle I may be facing. I think this has a lot to do with the unhealthy amount of Catholic guilt my mother experienced while growing up that she quickly passed onto me. Most discussions with my mother when I was upset would invoke the obligatory reaction, “Well, you think you have it bad, but poor so and so…” This response robbed me of my ability to justify why I was feeling the way I was, or that I deserved to be validated for those feelings. Old habits die hard, and often when I hit a patch of depression or anxiety, I withdraw because I find that to be the easier solution as opposed to trying to justify my feelings to others.
On the 4th of July I celebrated my personal independence from renting by moving all of my things out of my place on N. Rampart. I actually did very little of the moving, but managed to stay completely busy all day with last minute packing. I was very fortunate to have an entire team of people show up to assist us. Immense gratitude to: Andy, Lee Kyle, Clint, Chris Lane, Cody, Ellen and Daphne, who all helped to get the job done. I actually remained on N. Rampart all day. I figured I wouldn’t be much help at the new place and had resolved to not allow myself to micro-manage anyone for the entire day. I think it was in the best interest of everyone, mostly myself, that I stayed away from all the heavy lifting. The fellas were able to completely empty the house in record time and, with the help of the ladies, I was able to get everything packed and ready for transport. The guys had run into a bit of a problem at the new place when they arrived with the first U-Haul full. The company installing the central air conditioning was supposed to begin the job on Friday but had decided to start a day earlier. This meant the guys were unable to access all the rooms in order to place boxes and furniture in the right destinations, resulting in a lot of things being stacked on the first floor.
I didn’t leave N. Rampart until after 8 pm that evening and I was terribly exhausted. When Andy brought me to the new house I opened the door to find not only two rooms filled with boxes and furniture but a hefty layer of sheetrock dust covering practically every surface. I sat on a box and started to cry. I felt completely overwhelmed and fairly devastated over the fact that my freshly cleaned house was now a construction zone. To make matters worse I headed upstairs to shower and slipped in the tub. It turned out to be a restless night as both my dogs, Brando and Harlow, were also having a rough time acclimating to their new surroundings.
I returned to work on Friday feeling sore and tired. The day went by slowly and I was anxious to return home to try to begin unpacking some necessities. Arriving home once again to a construction zone was not easy. The a/c guys worked full days, arriving at 8:30 am and not leaving until after 6 pm. Because the house is a multi-level maze, installing the central system was not happening quickly. Thankfully all the workers were very nice and pleasant to be around, but that only slightly made up for the lack of privacy and inability to access the complete house to get things put away. I started feeling very depressed about the move. I know this was due to my sheer exhaustion, but at one point I actually proclaimed, “I hate this fucking house.” Now nothing could be further from the truth. Amanda had to come over on Friday night to help talk me off of a proverbial ledge. I had called her just to talk, but the minute she answered the phone, I completely lost it. I was sobbing and snotting everywhere. She didn’t even ask what was wrong, just said she’d be over in a few minutes. I had calmed down before she arrived and we unpacked the kitchen together. I am so grateful for good friends.
My control issues tend to work overtime in stressful situations. Andy and I spent the past weekend dancing around the workers and trying to get some things unpacked. We managed to make the first floor of the house look decent. While I was happy to have a few days off from work, I still felt as though I hadn’t accomplished as much as I would have liked to, simply because of the work going on in the house. By Sunday night I was exhausted again and feeling a new anxiety regarding our 20 week ultrasound on Tuesday the 9th. I didn’t sleep very much on Sunday or Monday night because I was consumed with worry about the ultrasound. This was the first time during my pregnancy that I have experienced this degree of concern. Although I had opted for additional, expensive tests to determine if the baby was indeed okay, and they had come back fine, I was still uptight. I was also very nervous because we were going to find out the sex of the baby. I know that for most parents this is one of the most exciting points of their pregnancy, but I found myself filled with an unexpected trepidation over the revelation of the gender. It wasn’t until later, when I really gave myself some time to explore these feelings that I began to understand them.
Andy and Lee Kyle both accompanied me to the ultrasound on Tuesday and I think it is safe to say we were all a bit nervous. We were seeing a Perinatologist for the appointment, which is simply an obstetrical subspecialist who deals with identifying and treating high risk pregnancies. These are the doctors who basically tell you if your baby has a flipper. The ultrasound tech was a small Asian woman who possessed no emotion whatsoever. She began moving the wand across my belly and proclaimed in a monotone fashion, “Leg, arm, heart, want to know the sex? It’s a boy.” We had all been so excited to hear about our baby and this experience left much to be desired. She didn’t even pause for our reaction to the discovery of the baby’s genitalia. She quickly moved on and I felt cheated and sad. Only moments later, Andy and Lee Kyle got into a small tiff over Lee Kyle taking photos. I lied on the table fighting back tears, because while I knew that this should be one of the happiest moments of my life, I felt nothing but sadness. I wondered if this would be the rest of my life, listening to others bicker, while feeling cheated and uncomfortable. I managed to keep my composure until we were almost home and then I really lost it. This was by far the worst emotional outbreak of my pregnancy and perhaps of the last year. I don’t know what exactly set me off, but I was quickly heading down the dark, ugly spiral. I admit that I was a bit shocked to discover that the baby is a boy. I was so convinced, using my “womanly intuition,” that I was having a girl, that I had a hard time believing I was wrong. Andy was confused and worried that I was angry about the sex. I tried to explain to him that I wasn’t but he just kept saying “I’m so happy and you are so upset, I don’t understand.” He wasn’t the only one who didn’t understand.
Arriving back to a house filled with workers is perhaps the absolute worst when you are experiencing a very dramatic break in your sanity. I felt physically and emotionally exhausted and was smart enough to realize that my lack of sleep was only contributing to my emotional upset. Unfortunately there was no rest in my near future as the workers wouldn’t be leaving for another several hours. Andy tried to rationalize with me, but I couldn’t find the words to express my emotions, so that just ended in frustration for both of us. Sometimes the combination of his rationality/lack of empathy and my emotional reactions leave us in a non-communicative scenario. After many failed attempts to get me to snap out of my depression, Andy left for the bar (where he works) and I cried mercilessly alone in the shower.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was forcing myself to go to work that I began to consider my reaction the day before. My emotional response to the ultrasound came from a place of relief and fear. I was unbelievably relieved to learn that there was nothing wrong with our baby. Although I had strongly asserted that if faced with a child who had a chromosomal abnormality, I would chose to terminate the pregnancy, I know a decision of that type would be heartbreaking. I felt an immediate reprieve when the tech and doctor assured us that things looked great. My new fear developed over the announcement of a baby boy. While I wasn’t particularly wishful for a girl, I had begun to convince myself that having a girl would be “easier” than a boy, especially because of our particular situation. I figured that three gay men and a little lady would go over a lot easier in more conservative social situations than three gay men with a son. I have since stopped giving a fuck about worrying about other people’s opinions, and now wonder why I let that get in my head to begin with.
I think my main fears were much more rooted in my past relationships with men in my family. My brother and I had a mostly strained relationship and he died of a drug overdose in my home in 1999 at the age of 22. In 2011, I gained full legal custody of his 16-year-old son who also suffered with drug addiction. Last summer he also overdosed in my home and if I hadn’t found him, he too would have died. My relationship with him quickly fell apart after that experience and the last time we spoke was nearly a year ago, the month he turned 18 and was no longer my ward. I have struggled with feelings of guilt, anger, and inadequacy concerning my tenure as my nephew’s parent and I know this has affected my feelings of raising my own son. In fact, up until this pregnancy, I had always proclaimed that I would rather have a son than a daughter, if I was only going to have one child. It took some serious introspection to identify the underlying causes for my two-day massive depression. I also found myself feeling unable to talk with others about it, for fear people would judge me. I think that isolation is one of the most dangerous things that can be coupled with depression. It is important to for anyone who is suffering to know that they have support. Although Andy had tried to help me, he was of little comfort due to our differences in handling stress. I began to withdraw and knew I needed to do something before things became more serious. I texted Jackie and she assured me that I wouldn’t always feel the way I was feeling. Sometimes, that is enough. Luckily for me, it was. I know my reaction may not have been the “right” or socially expected one, but I experienced it all the same. That being said, I am very excited about our son, and I have been in love with him since he was just an idea and a hope in my mind and my heart.