Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Darker Shade of Gray

Not to state the obvious, but the title of this blog is "Shades of Gray." The purpose of this blog is stated as "my effort to make sense out of a world that think's its black and white but never can be... etc. etc." - an exploration of space in-between, if you will.

In general, my posts lean towards the positive, the comical, the sentimental, and occasionally the lightly sardonic. However, let's face it. I wouldn't have a blog called "Shades of Gray" if I didn't occasionally go through periods in my life that were a bit darker (otherwise this blog would be titled Sunshine and Puppies). In the past, this has been a significant issue for me (us). There have been periods where depression has had a rather severe impact on my life, my health and the lives of my loved ones.

I think we all have periods of darkness and periods of light. The goal, which is easier for some than others, is to keep the darkness from suffocating and the light from blinding. For me, it has been almost two years since I've really struggled with depression in a way that has left me feeling, in hindsight, terrified. Its been a gradual process, painstakingly gradual really, but over the years, with maturity, love, support and a little perspective, I've (we've) managed to get a decent handle on my emotions or brain chemistry, or whatever you want to call it.

(side note on the 'us' and the 'we' above - I have an incredible spouse/partner who has been with me through every single up and down as though he were experiencing them himself... He has done so with a level of patience, understanding, unwavering clarity, and devotion that defies comprehension. Without him.. well, there is no 'without him'.)

One of the key components in this delicate balance between light and dark has been to recognize the path that you're on, acknowledge it and find some diversions to keep you from going too far down the path and getting lost. One of those outlets for me is and has always been writing. Its undoubtedly a form of therapy - an anonymous ear whose soul purpose is to listen while I talk myself into making sense again. All this said, I'm using you as an outlet and a diversion today... its been a rough couple of weeks.

So, I mentioned above, we feel like we have a better handle on my depression than ever before. I think we understand it better, we have more coping mechanisms and we're better equipped to deal with the blah days. For me, this was a critical component in our decision to go ahead and have a child. Don't get me wrong, its not like the thought process was "hey, I'll never be sad again, lets have a baby and live happily ever after." It was more "I am confident that I am emotionally equipped and stable enough to be responsible for the emotional health and well being of another person forever - wow... holy crap that's huge." With that realization, I knew that there would be new emotional challenges on a level of which I was incapable of even beginning to comprehend. She's not even here yet and I'm getting a taste of that dynamic.

Gestational Diabetes (yes - I'm back to the GD Dilemma), in the scheme of life and pregnancy, is really NOT A HUGE DEAL. Its not. I'm not just saying that. I know this and tell myself this hundreds of times a day, I could be dealing with issues so very much more significant and severe. At the end of the day I have phenomenal medical care, this baby is being monitored twice a week and all of the odds say everything will be absolutely fine. The problem is, I have been tasked with the responsibility of monitoring this dilemma and keeping it in check and I am starting to feel like I have been given a completely impossible, truly insurmountable task. Not a good feeling under any circumstances - but really not a good feeling when the well being of your own helpless child is involved.

When your boss gives you a completely impossible, truly insurmountable task, chances are you start muttering obscenities, call your friends/family, vent about what an unreasonable (-insert your favorite derogatory name here) he/she is, suck it up, do your best, and at the end of the day it works out. Other than elevated blood pressure, loss of sleep, and perhaps an unexpected deficit in the liquor cabinet, no harm, no foul. When its your unborn child, however.... well for one thing, you can't go near the liquor cabinet. You feel like its life and death, there's no one to blame, there's no one to call names and no one who can really step in and help you own it. Maybe its just because I tend to be a little type-A and can be a little extreme but at the end of the day its like having a gun pointed at your child and you either pass or fail.

Okay - that is a bit extreme, no one is going to die here, but let me explain the analogy. I am maintaining an unbelievably restricted diet. I pour over nutrition facts, I keep a calculator in the kitchen, I keep a timer in my pocket, I have a color coded spreadsheet that would blow your mind. I analyse every drop of sustenance that I put into my mouth trying to find the balance between getting enough sustenance for the two of us and keeping my blood sugar low enough to keep her healthy. Every meal feels like a gamble. One hour after each meal I prick my finger, take my glucose levels, hold my breath and for the past two and a half weeks, 75 percent of the time, I have failed. I can not tell you how much stress and anxiety I have developed as a result of this insanity. Now, my logical mind says - you're eating a perfect diet and your blood sugar is still high, its not your fault. I finally came to terms with that this week, threw up my hands, acknowledged that I had done everything I could have done, and went on a low dose of medication. My doctor assured me it was safe for the baby, its only 8 weeks, it will lower my stress and anxiety (which is also good for the baby) its the right thing to do... not... my... fault. This morning I woke up and realized that I was in ketosis. For those of you who did not spend part of the last decade on the Atkins diet, that essentially means (in terms of pregnancy) I'm not getting enough sustenance. I'm eating what I'm supposed to be eating, my blood sugar is still high, and now, I'm essentially starving... all at the same time.

So I have a call into the doctor. I have my second weekly appointment this afternoon with an RN to make sure Moon Pie's heart rate, etc. are perfect. I know we will find a good solution for what I now refer to exclusively and not-so-affectionately as the GD Dilemma. I know, 8 weeks from now this will all seem like a distant memory and a whole lot of stress over nothing. Right now though, it just feels all consuming.

The point of all of this (if you're still with me, that is) is I just needed to vent.... to vent and vent and vent. I need to unload and not be consumed. I need to drop this burden off in the ether, take a hot shower, and go spend an hour in a local book store, treat myself to an exceptional cup of decaf (they do exist, you just have to really seek them out) and keep myself from diving down the rabbit hole.

I do, however, want to end on a slightly more positive note. So we had birthing class again last night. Hunter will be at a conference for the last session of class and won't be able to attend. We were trying to figure out what was on the syllabus for that class and whether or not he would miss the tour of the hospital. All of a sudden his eyes got as big as saucers and he got this panicked look on his face and said "Is there a test that night!?!?!? Am I going to miss a test?!?!". As if they're not going to let us birth the baby if we fail birthing class??? You'd have to know Hunter to really appreciate how hysterical this actually was. If you do know my brilliant, over achieving, uber competitive, professional test-taking, geneticist husband, you will understand why I started cackling and almost fell out of my chair. I'm pretty sure he gets to audit this one. Hope you enjoyed the chuckle and thank you for listening. I'm going to go eat a half a banana with a 1/2 a tablespoon of some all natural peanut butter for a total of 15 carbs, take a super hot shower and point myself in the direction of that book store.

So very much love.


kvlm said...

So half the battle is just saying "GD (either acronym meaning you want there), this sucks and I'm somewhat close to losing it and I need to get it out of my head and share with people who can help support me (beyond fabulous husband)." Mission accomplished there, and well done.

The other half of the battle is just taking it a day at a time, know that you are taken care of, that you are seconds away from a killer doctor and great hospital if you need them. That there are solutions and you are only 8 weeks away from the ultimate solution. And if you can't bear it, there are those of us who will figure out a way to come to your aid. No matter what. I can dial 1-800-SOUTHWEST at anytime.


KitschenBitsch said...

And we can bring a coin belt for labor bellydance and chocolate avocado mousse.

Lauren said...

I agree with Kara; and there is a reason your blog isn't called Sunshine and Puppies.

You are doing all of the right things and it is an incredible feat. I know you wouldn't think twice about doing anything and everything you could, but don't lose sight of just how meaningful that is. It isn't the easiest way to finish the last stretch of your pregnancy, but you can do it. Throw out a few GD's and get out there to that book store!

I am proud of you. And I'm proud of Hunter. And you both make me smile, especially when I think of you two together.

You've really never been one to want to do anything the easy way anyway, so really it's par for the course. And you've just got to keep taking it one day at a time.

Now go write Hunter a pop quiz on birthing class so he can get the satisfaction of acing the course!