Baby #2 Bumpdate: 39/40 weeks

Spoiler alert: NO BABY! Haha. I get texts and messages all day and sadly, I’ve always had to say “Nope. Nothin’.”

Despite plenty of false starts and hopes of promised inductions, here we are, just a mere four days from my official and “final” due date of 11/11, and we have no baby. (PS, Baby 2 – Holly was here by this time. Just sayin’.)

Baby’s Size: American Shorthair Cat or Watermelon
Weight Gain: 43 pounds. Lost a pound this week because baby is so big I can’t cram as much in my gullet.
Maternity clothes? All day every day.

Best moment the past few weeks: We went to Teppenyaki (the Japanese steakhouse where they cook your food at the table) with my parents and Holly for an early Holly birthday dinner. It was super fun even though she was kind of freaked out by all the fire and lights mere feet from her face! Also, my parents took Holly for a few days this week and Matt and I got to go have a really nice Italian dinner last night. It was deeeeelicious! And despite being anxious about somebody’s pending arrival, I’ve really enjoyed being so lazy and resting on maternity leave, and doing small projects and chores here and there.
Miss anything?
Not waking up to pee every hour and a half, not thinking every twinge is my imminent labor, and HEARTBURN.
Movement: Definitely less this week as she’s out of space in there.
Food cravings: I’ve been craving classic coke, which I’m limiting because sugar, and who needs it; and then prosciutto, and jazz apples. I got some at Trader Joe’s and they are SO GOOD!
Anything making you queasy or sick: Nope.
Gender: Girl!
Symptoms: Sore lower back, waddling, massive belly, fire-breathing-dragon heartburn, tired, crampy with practice contractions.
Happy or moody most of the time: Happy though quick to be annoyed. You should hear my verbal expletives when I read the news. I also have a tendency to delay answering some of the “Anything yet?” texts until I feel more chipper (and sometimes, I just ditch my phone for a few hours because I caaaaan and it’s nice.) It’s nothing personal, but it’s difficult to have to say “No” and share disappointing news that the same old is the same old. This of course, backfires on me, because the longer I take to respond, more people assume I’m in labor. Haha. I know people are just excited, but I can’t win until I can text a photo of a fresh baby!

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Labor signs: What’s so frustrating about being so close is I’ll have several contractions that slowly start to pick up, get more painful, and then… gone. Silence. My OB confirms I’ve been in “prodromal labor” which is basically practice labor and super common for second-time moms. She asked me to call on Monday to see about getting me in for induction, but I haven’t heard back (annoying) and I know it’s because I’m not a priority as all is well and healthy (thankfully), and I’m not quite yet past that official due date mark (C’MOOOOOON Saturday). My next appt is Thursday morning and I’m not leaving until they schedule me a few days out for an induction, just in case. I’m the perfect candidate for induction since my body already has so many signs of being ready for labor – so if it doesn’t happen naturally, we’re gonna MAKE it happen. Boom.

Looking forward to: meeting this kid. One day. It will happen one day… right? Also, my Hollydolly turns 2 on Thursday. Chances are good she’ll have a baby sister as a birthday gift… maybe even the same day?

Allright, citizens of the Internet… send collective thoughts, energy, juju, prayers, and vibes that this kid MOVES ALONG safely, happily, and healthily into the world! I do NOT want to share a bump update next week! Bye! 🙂

My personal experience with mental illness: when panic attacks

Mental illness. Two simple words so loaded with meaning. “She’s mental,” we said in high school, to describe someone who’s crazy. And illness, of course, meaning a sickness that takes over the body. When I think of mental illness, I think of the white jacketed men with butterfly nets and strait-jackets, of overblown images of someone in the throes of unmanaged schizophrenia. In reality, mental illness has a much more normal looking presence in many people’s lives, including my own.  In the past few years, mental illness has been showing up more and more in the media. When Robin Williams took his life, the nightmare of depression made headlines, having successfully stolen America’s favorite funny man. Now, his wife claims it wasn’t depression that took Robin Williams, but Parkinson’s. No matter the reason Robin Williams took his life, his death, for a moment, caused a glimmer of hope in a hurricane of sadness. In his passing, Robin held up a candle for everybody suffering with mental illness.

I have a personal history with mental illness, and though it’s big and scary to write something like this on the Internet, I’m quite open about it in person, so it’s time to share my story here. I have an anxiety disorder. Nowadays, people jokingly say they had a panic attack, meaning they got really worried when their boss called them into a meeting, or they lost their keys. Their fleeting few moments of stress is what pop-culture calls a panic attack, when in reality, a panic attack is a terrifying misfiring of the neurons and stress hormones in your brain. Have you ever had a real panic attack? If you have, I’m quite certain you don’t use that term for a mildly stressful situation. I was always a worried teen, fretting about getting in trouble or crashing the car. I had to be forced to learn how to drive because I had no interest in operating a giant machine capable of death, thank you very much. I felt stressed out a lot in high school but figured it was just my own pressure on myself to get good grades and be a “good kid”. Add a heaping dose of perfectionism and adolescent angst and you’ve got a recipe for panic.

WhenPanicAttacks

When I moved to Southern California for college, I rode my bike to class one day. I made it to class a few minutes late and rushed to the back of the room where there was only one seat left. I ran into the seat, embarrassed I was late, and sat down. Suddenly, I started to feel warm and dizzy, and began to lose my breath. The room started to spin and I felt like I was going to pass out. Every time I took a breath, I felt like a fish out of water gasping for air. I had an overwhelming urge to get out of the room, so I quickly fled. I sat in the bathroom for 15 minutes, sure that I was dying, embarrassed for having made a big show. I eventually pulled myself together and went back into class, where I apologized to the teacher afterwards, saying I thought I was going to throw up. I honestly thought I had maybe overheated on my bike ride or that my allergies were just acting up. It wasn’t until a few years later with repeated episodes like this that I finally read about symptoms of a panic attack and went “That’s ME! That’s what’s happening to me!”.  How did I know it was panic? Because every single attack was hallmarked by the uncontrollable urge to escape the situation I was in; a classic “fight or flight” reaction.

 

In 2013, I realized I was sick of my panic attacks interfering with my life. They’d hit me fast and hard, sometimes out of nowhere. I’d be in a meeting at work and have the familiar “can’t breathe” sensation, so I’d chug water or furiously scribble notes, trying to distract myself from thinking I’d soon pass out. I even had a panic attack one time while I was getting a massage. It was at this point that I decided I needed help. I went to a therapist, and found that I was indeed suffering from panic attacks, mixed in with a nice dose of generalized anxiety, which is categorized as irrational fear or worry about everyday situations. I worry about big, traumatic things like people I love dying, and less about stuff like “Does this person like me?”, but sometimes, I can’t get my brain to stop swirling with overwhelming scenarios.  Flash forward three years, and while I still get the occasional panic attack, I know how to manage them, and because of this, they show up less frequently. I have treated myself both with medication and without, have read countless books, and have all kinds of strategies for soothing an oncoming attack or a barrage of yucky “What if?” questions.

For years, I hid this diagnosis from my family and friends, ashamed that I couldn’t just pull myself together or get over it, convinced I was weak and crazy. Well-meaning but uneducated people would tell me to just “relax”, as if smelling a sprig of Lavender would magically unbundle the tense knots of adrenaline in my brain . Guess what? If you have anxiety, and I mean REAL ANXIETY, essential oils are not going to snap you out of it. Just like they can’t cure cancer.

Why am I talking about this today? Because a three-star Michelin chef took his life. Because at my post-partum checkup last month, my OB never thought to ask how I was feeling, even though I’m high risk for postpartum depression or anxiety because I have a preexisting mental health condition. (I feel great, thankfully, but I’m angry that I wasn’t even asked, when science has now proven that PPD is strongly linked to dramatic hormonal shifts.) Because three of my closest female friends struggle with depression and are ashamed to seek help because they’re embarrassed. Because I just read that two high school girls in Plano, Texas killed themselves an hour apart, each of them secretly struggling with depression and anxiety. People who knew them quoted that they didn’t “seem depressed” at all. A few times when I have confided in people about my panic disorder, they tell me I seem “so calm”. I’m fortunate that I’m able to manage my disorder enough to live a normal life, but we never know what somebody is going through until we walk a mile in their shoes. We all know somebody who took their life because they couldn’t or didn’t seek help. It’s time to change that.

I’m sharing this because when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know anyone else who had panic attacks. The more I opened up, the more I found how many people experienced the same things I did. In addition, it was bloggers who made me feel less ashamed about getting treatment. In the spirit of passing it on, if sharing my story encourages just one person to get help for something they’re struggling with, then it’s worth it.

We need to talk about mental health the way we talk about physical health. I am not broken. My body is not broken. It’s just different, a little overcharged, and that’s okay. The important thing is that I keep trying, that I continually work on my mental health the way we work on our physical health by going to the gym or eating well. I go to therapy twice a month, even if I feel great, because I know that my brain is just like any other muscle in my body, and it too needs to be worked. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and even though it feels like I’m screaming to the world that I’m “screwed up”, what I’m really doing is joining the ranks of millions of men and women who suffer silently with an anxiety disorder, depression, or some other mental illness that affects them in many, many ways.

Please, please, please — if you are struggling with your mental health, get help. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you need some support, but it’s worth it. You are not broken. You are not crazy. You are worth the time and effort to feel better, and one day, you will.