Friday, August 17, 2012

Growing Wings: Part One

I've been getting the strangest feelings.
Something has been telling me:

I need to share my story.

So, here we go!

Four months pregnant. I lay on our living room couch.
My tears would not stop.
My husband was at work, at the new job we'd moved to San Diego for. I'd left my friends and family behind in Utah.
I knew no one.
I was alone.

I knew I should get up and figure out something to feed my husband when he got home, but I just couldn't will myself to do anything.
All I could do was lie there and cry.

That's how most of my days in San Diego went.
I tried to distract myself by running errands, but driving around an unfamiliar city filled with strangers only intensified the empty feeling that was my constant companion:

I was completely alone.

Of course, I had my husband. But he had to work. A lot. Even though it was only a part-time job.
Yes, that's right. We'd moved to San Diego for one part-time job, with no insurance, when I was prego.
Later, it would turn into a full-time position, but for now, we couldn't afford to pay all of our bills.
I shake my head now. What were we thinking?
My husband desperately wanted me to get a job, and I made genuine but feeble attempts to do so.
I'd do my best to put on a happy face, but it was like they saw right through me. That something wasn't right.
(Either that, or they noticed a subtle bulge in my stomach.)

After a short time job hunting, I gave up. I couldn't do it. I couldn't be pregnant in a foreign place, knowing nobody, having nowhere to go, unable to get a job, and depressed as all get-out.

Even now, I can remember what it felt like to feel those feelings of deep sadness.

I had no idea that I was going through what's called "prenatal depression".

My husband tried to be patient with me, but nothing he could do helped. We usually spent our time fighting about me getting a job or me being unresponsive and distant.
One evening after a crazy fight where I almost walked out the door, I collapsed into despondency. I literally could not function anymore. I needed someone to take care of me. I needed help, badly.

That night, I emailed a desperate plea to my parents:

"Please help me. Something's wrong with me. I need to come home."

My parents responded right away:


They weren't trying to rescue me or take me away from my husband. We'd been in contact, and they knew I was going downhill.

I spoke to my husband about it. We both cried.
We knew the challenge it would be to be apart, and I felt so guilty leaving him alone in this place. But I knew that I needed some serious medical help and I was ready to do whatever it took to get baby and I better.

We agreed that I would go back home to Utah, live with my parents, and they would help me get counseling and medication.
Once I was better, I'd rejoin my husband in San Diego, have our baby, and enjoy our life with a new little girl.
It would be hard, but we both agreed it was the right thing to do.

I hated thinking that I'd have to be on medication while pregnant. It made me sick with guilt. But then again, all the feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness probably weren't having the best effect on the little body growing inside me.

A few days later, I said goodbye to my husband.
He seemed distant and didn't want to talk to me.
Point blank, he was angry. Again, the guilt kicked me in the stomach.
I questioned whether what I was doing was right, but then I always felt the same confirming feeling:

This is what needs to happen.

My father and sister drove into LA and picked me up. We began the long drive home. I was quiet all of the way back, thinking and thinking and thinking about what I'd done, what I was going to do, and trying to find some hope that everything would be okay. I wondered, and almost feared, how I would feel once we came around the mountain and saw the familiar lights of Provo and Salt Lake City. Would I see them and realize that I'd made a mistake? Would the guilt be too overwhelming? Would I feel empty once I got to my parents' house and realized that I belonged in San Diego with my husband?

The hours went on. The sun went down. Soon we approached the mountain that precedes the Utah Valley. As we came around, I saw all those familiar places, signs, lights, and streets. My heart came alive and I felt the most beautiful feeling of reassurance, peace, and comfort. For the first time in weeks, I felt like everything was going to be OK.

I made the right choice.
I am exactly where I need to be.

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