Guest Post: Catherine Gourd from “The Naked Truth” on Pregnancy–and Mental Health
Ed.: Catherine “Catou” Gourd is perhaps my dearest friend. We go back to the 90’s during my days in Hull (sorry, Gatineau!), Québec. We met, of course, in therapy! We had an immediate rapport. I was taken by her sass and verve, but also by her earnestness. These are qualities that have been evident since she started blogging in a very revelatory manner–exposing The Naked Truth about herself (this is her site). Here, in a specially commissioned piece, she describes what it means to deal with emotional health issues… and to suddenly find yourself pregnant.
Pregnancy, it changes everything. At least it did for me.…
Hubby and I have been careful. The pill, condoms, etc…. We were trying to be careful. But eventually I got off the pill because the side effects had gotten bad. So we made sure to be extra careful. But then we had a really good crazy night, we had one oopsie, and the deed was done.
One day, I was me: a 30-something woman struggling to live her life, to find happiness, to cope with mental illness. Then my period is late. Uh-oh!
After it had been late for a while, I used a magic pee stick (home pregnancy test)…. And there it is. I am pregnant….
Yup, I am now the mothership to my little alien. I am going to be a mommy. If that isn’t life changing, what is?
As with all things that are a bit of a shock to me, first I panicked, and then I calmed down and processed the information. Then I got happy. I am going to have a baby. Then I got scared again. What if something goes wrong? Then I decided to just breathe and to try to take it one day at a time…. Easier said than done.
Since the beginning of my pregnancy, I have encountered a number of silly to bizarre symptoms of pregnancy. All of which threw me for a loop at first because I have had many encounters with “Panic Disorder” which have left me receptive to odd physical sensations. Some of them I expected: bloating, excessive farting and peeing, feeling hormonal. Others I had hints about: constipation, fatigue, splotchy skin, sore breasts. What I did not expect was for my nipples to suddenly feel like I had been sanding them down regularly with sand-paper, for my nose to be constantly stuffed up and bleeding, to have both constipation and diarrhea, for my usual extreme fatigue to become worse, to be both an insomniac and a hypersomniac, to have heightened sensitivity to stimuli, for my thoughts to get fuzzy, to have overwhelming feelings, for my memory to worsen, and generally to feel like my body has become totally alien to me. And let’s not forget that this is a whole new level of “hormonal” in my case.
Some women report feeling great, happier than ever, during pregnancy. Others also report that their state of mental health improved during pregnancy. Lucky them. I am not among them up to now. Then again, I have just entered the second trimester. Maybe I will get lucky later on.
But up to now, pregnancy has been wreaking havoc on my peace of mind and mental health. My sleep is even worse than usual, my moods and emotions are even more erratic than before, I often can’t think straight, I am more anxious and more easily saddened. Let’s face it, I’ve always been nutty. But this is worse.
And then there is the sudden onset of the “Get your shit together syndrome” which really, really hit me hard. All of a sudden, things that I was fine with taking my time over have become urgent and things that were good ideas of things to achieve eventually now feel like they need to get done yesterday.
Take our finances (Hubby’s and mine’s). They were always kind of a mess. I was a student dealing with mental illness. That means debts piling up and only one income (his). We are still a one income home in a two income world. I can’t keep a job to save my life. I can’t deal with keeping a job to save my life. But suddenly, fixing our finances feels like we need to get it done a year ago. Every little reminder of what a clusterfuck our finances are, sends me into a total tailspin.
Also, we rent our house from my Dad and Stepmom. It is a quaint little two bedroom house. We frankly can’t afford anything more. But now I want to make my nest! Now I want us to be able to afford a nice 3 bedroom house of OUR OWN! Something that is ours! And I want that done, like, yesterday!
Also, I feel the need to cut my evil stepmother out of my life COMPLETELY! Getting our own house would help accomplish that. That woman is mean, cruel and unrepentant. As if I will ever let her near my kid. That won’t happen. So now, I want her out of my life and my little alien’s life. Period. But then we go back to our finances and our house, etc….
And usually I would know how to just bide my time and plan ahead. But now that I am pregnant, it just seems so vital, and my needs are so primordial that I can’t think. I just want it done!
But heck, let’s face it, I cried over lack of cheese the other morning. I am far from patient now that the hormones have kicked in.
On top of it, I suddenly feel like I am inadequate and a giant loser. I feel like, is this who I want my kid to have as a mother? A mentally ill woman who can’t work, function? Ugh!
Up to now, pregnancy has been a wondrous experience but it has also been a lot of pressure. I want the very best for my little alien. I want the perfect nest and peace of mind. I want things to get fixed NOW! But fixing everything now is beyond my power, so what do I do?
You see, all of a sudden, all of this is way more important. When I screw up, I am not just messing up my life and my poor hubby’s life. I am also affecting this little innocent being inside of me…. That is a lot of pressure, a lot of responsibility. And although some people don’t seem to get it, pregnancy really does take over your life.