Finley’s Birth Story!

For those who hadn’t heard, my sweet lady made her appearance two weeks early! She arrived July 18 at 9:20 in the morning. We named her Finley Jeanne. She weighed a mere 6lbs 10oz, compared to her brothers at nearly 9 pounds. And she’s 19 3/4 inches. Tall and skinny.

Her birth story is mostly boring with a few interesting tidbits, but here it is for those of you who love a good birth story:

On Monday morning (July 17), I ate a bowl of cereal and then for the rest of the day, I felt sick. Like I had eaten something bad, or had gotten the stomach flu or something. Not a lot of vomiting, but a terrible stomach ache and no desire to eat. I wasn’t having any contractions. This is quite similar to the way my labor with Bowie started, but his started with a bang. Violent vomiting and the trots, heavy contractions.

In the evening, things got a little worse and a little worse until I was having contractions. Still very mild, but enough to make me wonder if things were getting started. I called Labor and Delivery, and because of my history of being dilated well before my due date, they wanted to see me.

While getting admitted, I had to jet off and do some major damage to a hospital bathroom, and though there was still no bleeding, I was pretty sure this was it.

Once hooked up to the monitor, they could see I was indeed having regular contractions, albeit mild. I was at 3cm and held there for a very long time. Pretty much all night. I walked around the halls of the hospital, I bounced around on a birthing ball, but not much happened. I went to bed and tried to sleep, it was about midnight at the point. I had a few contractions strong enough to wake me up, but still nothing to really write home about.

in the hospital

After I got up in the morning, I turned a corner. The contractions got really uncomfortable, and finally some blood showed up to the party. Then suddenly, after hours of seeing no one, a nurse came in and said some really antsy OB wanted to put me on Pitocin (though I don’t know what the rush was, given that they had no recovery rooms available for hours after I gave birth). I not so politely declined, saying I was having strong contractions, and no one had checked my cervix for hours, and I had never needed it in the past and certainly wasn’t going to be put on it for no reason. (Kind of a breakthrough moment for me really, I have a very hard time questioning anyone in the field of medicine. I digress.)

I was only at 6cm, but things were moving quickly. I was in a lot of pain, and seemed to be going nowhere, so I asked for an epidural. They had seriously asked me every 5 minutes since my arrival if I wanted an epidural. But suddenly the dude was nowhere to be found. In the 45 minutes that it took for the anesthesiologist to show up and hook me up to the magic juice, I had dilated from 6cm to 10cm and my water broke and it was time to deliver her. My feet and lower legs were numb, but I could feel everything else. All the contractions, the ring of fire, all of it.

I felt so damn foolish for asking for it! I did without one with Ferris, after all. But the rate at which I was dilating made the pain unbearable. I thought, if I’m only at 6cm, and this is what the contractions are like, I don’t think I can handle this anymore.  I just had no idea that I was dilating at the speed of light.

Just as the OB suggested they break my water for me, my water broke on its own. And exactly like my labor with Ferris, I immediately felt the insatiable need to push. I think about 5 pushes later, she was out. They kept saying, I see her head! Her head is out! Here come her shoulders! But I wasn’t believing a word they said. It felt like I was pushing and pushing and getting nowhere. Then, they dropped that dirty, bloody, beautiful baby girl onto my belly. One of the most surreal moments of my life. From beginning to end, this pregnancy did not seem real. Did not seem possible. And then suddenly, there she was.

We did skin-to-skin for hours, and it was glorious. She nursed within 10 minutes of being born, and I hardly even had to help her latch. Total natural. (And now she never! stops! eating!) I was not in a lot of pain afterward, but I had to sit around and wait for that stupid, worthless epidural to wear off.

And then there were the blood clots. Apparently, I had a lot of large clots in my uterus, which can sometimes mean trouble. So, they had to “massage” my uterus about every 15 minutes to get out what they could, and make sure there was no placenta left. And by “massage”, I basically mean “jackhammer.” It was extremely painful, and would cause me to have more contractions every time. And blood got everywhere. But hey, better safe than sorry.

After hours and hours of waiting for a recovery room (see earlier where I mention no need to make my labor go faster), and having visitors, and already having the billing department tell us we needed to drop $2000 before leaving (story for another time), I finally got moved to a recovery room, with a much nicer, softer bed.

Brien went home that night to be with the boys, and it was very overwhelming being all alone with this brand new baby who I knew nothing about. She would nurse for a few minutes and fall asleep. I’d put her in the bassinet and she’d wake up 10 minutes later, wanting to eat again. She wanted to nurse constantly, which, after several hours of this, I finally figured out meant she needed a pacifier. And I was just so worried, being all sleep deprived and having hormones coursing through me. I barely slept at all that first night. And there’d be many sleepless or very-little-sleep nights to come. The hospital didn’t have a nursery (!!!) or I’d definitely have taken advantage.

We arrived at home very late the next night. I kept waking up (when I would be able to snooze) and wondering when the nurse was going to come in. I was completely delusional. But, I had Brien there to help, which was a huge relief. As was learning she likes the pacifier. Total game changer.

We are a family of five now, and I still can’t believe it. It’s amazing how this perfect little something comes from basically nothing, and it’s all yours to love and cherish forever. That’s the hormones talking. We will revisit in a year, when she’s tearing through the house and making me crazy.

finley day 1

Party of Five

I have managed to carve out a few minutes to write a little blurb about how I’m doing. If you hadn’t heard, I gave birth to my baby daughter, Finley, July 18th. In an unexpected twist of events, she decided to come early, and she decided to prolong her entrance into this world much more than big brother Ferris. I will gather up a full birth story post soon.

Right now, I’m hanging in there. Like the cat on the motivational poster, I’m grabbing onto that branch for dear life, hoping I can get a leg up real soon.

I’m not getting a ton of sleep. Some, but not enough. Finley has yet to carve out her own little schedule, which is a new one for me. Both boys came out sleeping two 4-hour stretches over night, which made things very easy. Finley has a new plan every night, usually involving one initial 3- to 4-hour stretch, followed by anything from no more sleep to hourly feedings to sleeping on and off until morning, needing to be cuddled for most of that time.

Breastfeeding is just now beginning to hurt a little less each time. She knew what she was doing right away, so that wasn’t an issue at all. But I was dumb and didn’t use the cream and had cracked and bloody nipples and it was…unpleasant to nurse her. But I feel like I’ve mostly crossed the bridge to nursing champ.

Healing took longer than anticipated. As with Ferris, there was little to no damage to my undercarriage, so I was up and moving around pretty freely less than a day later. But, I decided kind of last minute to have a tubal ligation, and the surgery was hard to recover from. The spinal block messed up my insides for days, and the incision was very tender, and she basically lays right on top of it to eat. I was afraid it would get infected, or I’d pop a stitch coughing or sneezing. But, other than the fact that they tried to create a weird new belly button looking thing for me, it looks and feels fine now.

What I do know about her after two weeks of getting to know her: she LOVES to suckle. Took me a few nights of being used as her pacifier before I figured that one out. She’s going to be a pacifier kid. Which is fine. So was her big brother Bowie. And guess what. He’s a moderately well-adjusted nine year old that does not use a binky anymore. Also, she loves to be warm. Like, really warm. What I am sometimes afraid is too warm. It’s a struggle here, keeping her warm in air conditioning and cool outside, it’s a difficult balance. But she generally likes to be super warm. (Like her mama.) She hates having her diaper changed. Even when it’s fast. Feeling that draft on her bum is cause for a major protest, according to her.

The pediatrician says she’s not gaining weight fast enough. And I don’t understand that at all. Girlfriend nurses every hour, almost like clockwork. But, between her 2 day check up, jaundice check, goopy eye and regular two week check up, they have weighed her roughly 4 times in 2 weeks, so maybe she just needs some time. Her weight is holding steady, not dropping. But, you know, post partum hormones and all…I’m all anxious about it.

And mentally, I just keep bouncing back and forth between

a. I have another baby. Living in my home. Needing my attention all the time.

b. I have a baby at age 38. All the other moms with kids the same age as mine are 10 years younger than me. How am I going to relate to any of them?

c. I have a daughter. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I have to raise a daughter in our bro culture, rape culture, President Trump, sexist joke of an era. I hope I can do this justice. I hope I can send her the right messages and raise her to be the independent, intelligent badass I know she can be.

d. I’ve created a middle child. Poor Ferris is going to get lost in the folds of this family. Between having a special needs older brother and a very young sister, he’ll be lucky to get any attention. I vow to be mindful of what he needs as much as the other two, but it won’t be easy.

e. I have three kids. THREE. KIDS. I know it’s not five or six or anything, but when you have more kids than parents, all bets are off. We will find a balance, but it will likely take a few years. Lord help us.

So, here we are, a family of five. Learning a brand new dynamic. They tell you that the baby will “just fit into your life.” But the truth is, your life completely changes. You must readjust everything, find a new “normal”, move on as new and different people.

But oh, how full my heart is. I remember reading some quote about your heart making room for all of your kids, but I can’t for the life of me track down the actual quote. It’s like this for me though: whenever you’re pregnant, even with the first child, you have these moments where you wonder, how could I possibly have enough love to go around? How can I have enough room in my heart for all of this? And then the baby comes, and your heart splits wide open all over again, and you realize you’ve had that love all along, you just needed somebody to give it to. You can’t possibly use up your love reserves. There’s always more. There’s always plenty to go around.

If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant for the first time, just know that life’s going to be hectic and tiring and weird for a while, but you will figure your new family out. You will figure it all out. And you will be so happy. If you’re pregnant with your second or later, just remember that you can and will survive the early days. And then you get to know each other, and your family will feel like it’s been that way all along.

For all the worrying I did about having an unplanned third baby, it all seems to be going well. Yes, we have hospital bills to contend with. Yes, it’s hard to be on a newborn’s schedule at back-to-school time. Yes I am still running on 4 hours sleep (tops) per night. But life is humming along. Because it just does. You have no choice but to keep going. And it will be easier than you thought it would be.

Ok, with that, much love to all of you. Mothers, not mothers, new mothers, experienced mothers, pregnant or not pregnant, all of you. And, as I said, birth story is coming!

finley day 1

36 Weeks: Nesting and Realizations

I was officially 36 weeks on Monday. We’re in the last month here, folks. I can see, feel, taste, practically touch the end of this pregnancy.

Sunday was VERY exciting and also quite stressful. I woke up in the morning with lower back pain similar to my normal menstrual cramps. And I managed to get that pain to go away with a heating pad. But then I was having Braxton Hicks off and on. They’d only last for about 10 seconds or so, but they were consistent and pretty powerful, and I’d have a half hour on, an hour off, another half hour on, for quite a while. I laid down and drank a bunch of water and just tried to relax. (HAHAHAHA me, relax? Sure. But I tried.)

I napped a little, watched some Netflix, and then HELLOOOO I had a few real, actual contractions. The kind that hurt. The kind that last for a minute. Now, don’t fret, Internet. I only had three of them over the course of about five hours, not grounds for calling the doctor. But I did start to flip out. I was like, little girl, we are not officially 36 weeks until tomorrow, and I know the goal is to keep you in there for at least another week, can you not start trouble with me right now?

And the next day I felt fine. I had probably spent too much time in the heat, walking around. We went down to Tombstone for their “Freedom Days” Fourth of July celebration, and also because it was the weekend, we were bored, and it’s a nice little one-day getaway. But mama probably should have sat longer. I drank a ton of water, but it was still crazy hot. Thankfully the temps have settled down a bit, and our monsoon season should start anytime now.

I had an OB appointment that next morning, and she checked my cervix, just to be sure, given what happened with my early labor with Ferris, and I am only at 1cm, which is practically nothing for a third baby. Panic session over. For now.

But it did throw me into mega nesting mode. I had Brien get the bed all set up, I have the changing station all set up, I’m washing all the sheets, blankets, clothes, everything her teeny tiny body will be touching.

And after telling about a million people that she’s due at the end of this month, it has really dawned on me that she’s due at the end of this month. As in, anytime now. Like whenever. I could just be going about my day, and then TA-DA! Lights, camera, action!

OMG you guys, I’m going to have three kids.

34 Weeks, 113 Degrees

It got to 113 degrees today. And I stayed in air-conditioning for most of it, but holy hell. It’s hot. Even now, as I prepare to publish this, it’s 7pm and still 110.

And I’m GIGANTIC.

I am 34 weeks pregnant today. I am measuring 36 weeks, according to the OBGYN. I am huge, and I’ve gained a lot of weight. I’m sweaty. All the time. I guess the technical term for it is “glowing,” but I’m sweaty, y’all. I’ve got serious brain fog from heat, and hormones, and the stress of keeping my other two spawn busy while they are not in school.

We’ve almost got everything that we need, thanks to our wonderful, generous friends and family. I forget sometimes how far our village reaches, but have been reminded. I didn’t have to buy a stitch of clothing for her (well, I did, obvs. but I didn’t have to), and what we didn’t receive in a care package of hand-me-downs delivered right to our door, we received from our Amazon wish list, almost to completion.

All we need to buy is a carseat. Ha! That’s like the ONLY thing you need to take a baby home with you. You don’t even need diapers or clothes if you can’t swing it, but a carseat you need. And that’s the one thing we don’t have! I have begun to set up a few things. We got a new dresser and I set up a diapering station on it. And I gave baby girl the top drawer all to herself. So, I’m emerging from total denial. See, here’s how an unplanned pregnancy goes. Well, for me at least, and I’m betting a whole lot of other mamas who got surprised.

Month 1: nope.

Month 2: nope.

Month 3: I can start telling people, but it’s not really happening. Nope.

Month 4: nope.

Month 5: nope.

Month 6: Ok, maybe there’s something in there.

Month 7: There may or may not be a baby coming. I can’t say for sure.

Month 8: Well, crap.

So, it’s been weird preparing for her, all the while sort of denying that any of this was actually happening. It felt theoretical. Hypothetical. But nope, she’s real. She’s real and she kicks the crap out of my ribs, and punches my bladder, and gets the hiccups in the middle of the night, and she’s coming, and everyone in her life is thrilled. Yes, even mama, finally.

Yes, once I re-learn how to breastfeed, and diaper her, and make sure she’s the right temperature all the time (because, see, this information was removed to make room for 3rd grade math and preschool snack days and the main roads in Tucson) I’m sure it will be a joy, just like it was when her big brothers came into my life.

Anxiety-wise, this has been one of the most difficult times in my life. Just when I start seeing a psychiatrist here in Tucson, just when I begin to make progress with CBT, and continue to be successfully sober, I get this giant bomb dropped on my whole life. It set me back, WAAAAAAAY back. But somehow I think I’ve come out the other end, mostly intact. Yes, I realize the hardest days are in front of me, but I’ve got a good set of safe coping mechanisms and the love of my friends and family to see me through.

I’m hoping she comes early. I’m getting an early vibe. I’ve been having contractions like crazy (I mean, the fake kind, and not in any regular pattern, but contractions nonetheless). And if my trend of having babies continues, my 36 or 37 week appointment, whenever they do an internal exam, will put me into labor. And she’ll be out in like, an hour. But, we’ll see. All babies are different. She’ll come when she’s ready.

(Which better be early.)

Thanks for seeing this thing through with me.

34 weeks

Third. Tri. Mes. Ter.

You read that right. We’re in the home stretch now! Monday marked the beginning of my 28th week, and the THIRD TRIMESTER!

Current hobbies include: popping Tums non-stop, eating non-stop, sleeeeeeping, but not really sleeping, peeing non-stop, Braxton Hicksing like it’s going out of style, getting all nostalgic when someone asks if it’s my first, waddling, staring wistfully at regular sized clothing and wondering what size I’ll end up being this time.

Also, thanks to pregnancy brain, I enjoy treating stop signs like stoplights, walking around with my phone in my hand wondering where my phone is, never knowing what day it is, trying to put one kids’ shoes on the other kid’s feet, and forgetting to buy stuff even when I remember my shopping list.

It’s been a real humdinger, this pregnancy. Totally unexpected from the start, and leaving me more tired and more sore than I ever remember being with the boys. I feel enormous, I’m measuring a week ahead. The heartburn has always been a pregnancy thing for me, but now I’ve got reflux! A fancy word for puking in your mouth if you lay the wrong way. Or make any sudden movements. Or have just eaten a big meal. (But not really that big because you are full after four bites, and hungry again 10 minutes later, repeat for all of eternity.)

But, I am trying not to complain too much. I’m trying to remember the good parts of pregnancy. Like the fact that there’s a baby coming. That’s fun and exciting. Yeah, I feel like crap and we have no idea where she will sleep when she outgrows her infant bed and both boys are regressing like crazy and I can hardly move but have two kids to take care of….but…it’s going to be over with in three months. And it will all work itself out one way or another.

After my miscarriage, I had a few women in my life that became unexpectedly pregnant (well, it felt like the WHOLE WORLD was pregnant and I wasn’t) and they just whined and complained. I’m not ready for this, pregnancy sucks, blah blah blah. And I hated them. I hated them so much. How could they not be overflowing with joy at the life growing inside them? This gift that was just handed to them?

Well, now I see their side. But I am also trying so hard to be positive about this. Because I know some women out there are wishing it was them. Trying so hard and getting nowhere only to see someone get it without trying at all. I’m so sorry if you’re in that position. And rest assured, I know what a wonderful gift I have been given. And I will be fine, my sons will be fine, my husband will be fine, we will welcome our little girl with open arms.

Three more months. THREE MORE MONTHS.

28 weeks

Shorty Post About my New Favorite Thing

I know most of you are still wishing for summer, but she has ARRIVED in Tucson.

Sometimes the boys wake up in the morning, and it’s already 80 degrees out. Last summer, we became big fans of the breakfast popsicle. I tried some different varieties and recipes, and frankly with all the yogurt and fresh fruit, they were kind of expensive to make. And some recipes called for ice cream. Yes, ICE CREAM for breakfast. Sure.

Recently I re-discovered a recipe I had filed away in my recipe manager a really long time ago, and now it’s my absolute favorite thing. It is the Horchata Pops recipe from Real Simple. (Real Simple is not sponsoring this post in any way, I just like to pass on good ideas when I find them!) They are real simple to make (see what I did there?), cost hardly anything, and have been a big hit with my boys.

Horchata Pops

3 1/2 cups rice milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch fine salt

Whisk, pour, freeze, done.

I use half of this recipe to fill six traditional sized ice pop molds.

Yes, they have sugar in them. But less per serving than yogurt. The rice milk has no saturated fat, no cholesterol, is full of antioxidants, and is good for cardiovascular health. The minimal amount of cream added provides calcium, and could be reduced in amount, or easily be replaced with half and half, or a dairy free alternative like coconut milk. Cinnamon regulates blood sugar levels, and is also good for your heart. Flexible recipes are my favorite, you can play around with them to meet your family’s dietary needs and preferences. This one definitely fits that bill.

It’s my new favorite thing, a total parenting win. The boys think they’re just having popsicles for breakfast, but joke’s on them! They’re getting hydrated and getting health benefits to boot. And hey, you might like them too!

ice pops

 

Two Years. And a week.

I’m a little late with this post. Honestly, I’ve just been so tired and busy and sick and busy and tired and hungry and tired to find time to sit in front of the keyboard. When mama suffers, the blog suffers. Many apologies.

Anyhow, as most regular readers know, April 22, 2015 is my sober date. So, I just earned my two-year chip. And I’m very grateful and happy, but cautious (as usual).

I remember when I earned one year sober, how excited I was. It felt like graduation day. Like a real accomplishment. And then a few weeks later I thought, now what? The idea that I had to do that, over and over again, every year, for the rest of my life, was a bit daunting. And then I went on to have one of the most challenging years on record. It was no 2013, but it came close.

It was touch-and-go when we first moved to Tucson. I was determined to make a fresh start, and leave all that AA stuff behind in San Francisco. But, I got very depressed about the move and started having thoughts. Those thoughts. So, I bounced here and there around Tucson, trying to find a good meeting, and luckily I did. Those people saved me. I needed them, and as any AA will tell you, they needed me too.

I wanted to give a gift to everyone at that meeting. For all the support they offered up, without me even having to ask. From the moment I walked in, I felt welcomed and wanted, in the way only AA can make an addict feel. And I owed so much of my second year to them, and their help.

And on the evening of my 2nd sober birthday, I was confronted with visions of my former self. Very up close and personal. It was like a message from my higher power (which hasn’t taken a real form in my mind yet, but I have ideas). “This is what it was like for others to watch you. Never forget that.” Lately I had been harboring resentment (a big AA no-no) toward people in my life who seemed, to me, to ignore the emotional pain I was in back then, and chose instead to focus on the alcohol problem. How could they not see? How could they not care? But, I suddenly realized that evening that they just didn’t know what else to do. It was the most obvious and fixable of my many issues, and a good place to start. I see that now.

The next year of my life will be full of challenges, as every year is. But, this year I will have an infant. My third child. That alone is going to toss up challenge after challenge. I just have to remember all the things I’ve survived, and remember that this will be joyful. Stressful, but joyfully stressful.

Thanks for your support, everyone. Onward and upward!

2years

22 weeks and counting

I am 22 weeks with my baby girl. I have been so bad about posting updates and keeping everyone in the loop. But, time is slipping by oh so fast, with the other two kids to keep up with, and life just refusing to slow down.

While I am excited about her arrival (though cautiously excited because my anxiety never lets myself get too excited about anything), I have been plagued with some pretty serious negative emotions, and it’s made this whole thing very difficult. I’m panicking for two now.

My anxiety has been a constant in my life, going back as far as I can remember. But I feel like it is escalating as I get older. Partly because motherhood is, well, motherhood. And also partly because I found my way through an extremely difficult couple of years by always having a bottle of alcohol by my side, and sometimes I am afraid I will lose control again, and let myself sink to that point again. It is a constant terror of mine: that I will relapse again. My psychiatrist tells me to think positively about my awareness. That being on guard all the time will work in my favor. And he’s right. But it’s exhausting.

I am on a lower dose of my antidepressant than I was before I got pregnant. Just to keep things safe. But I can definitely tell the difference. It mostly keeps the depression at bay, but I have some pretty terrible days. Whereas before, it was a lot of fairly good days, almost no terrible days. It just feels like something isn’t right. I don’t know exactly what, but something is off. I am allowed to take my anti-anxiety medication in moderation, but even that doesn’t seem to help much. I can barely go five minutes without letting my intrusive thoughts evolve to the point that I and/or the baby and/or my whole family are dead. I can’t get it out of my mind. It hasn’t been this bad for a very long time. I’m the one-day-at-a-time girl again right now, which is working. But gosh I want to be “normal.”

The “logic” behind worrying about anything and everything is that you can prepare yourself for the worst. And if you worry about the worst, it probably won’t happen. If you go along in life all happy-go-lucky, not a care in the world, that’s when the bad stuff sneaks up behind you and side swipes you on a random weekday morning. Just when you thought everything was ok. So, worry! Worry it up. Of course, I know logically that this is absurd, life will happen as it happens whether I worry or not, so I may as well spare myself the anxiety. It’s just not quite that easy.

I find myself doubting whether or not I can handle the early days with a newborn without feeling swallowed up by the whole thing, unable to breathe, unable to move. Those early days are so hard. You’re all hopped up on hormones and lack of sleep. And not to mention the physical healing you have to go through. And with the demands of life scratching at the door like a dog that needs to be let out, you can feel very guilty and ashamed for focusing on your baby so much.

The comedian Jim Gaffigan made a joke once about having a fifth child. “It’s like you’re drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.” Which is pretty funny, I laughed very hard at that. But, I think it can also apply to a mom with serious mood disorders trying to be just a mom, just a regular mom who can do it all and be it all (even though we all know in the back of our minds that those expectations are just too high). It’s like you’re drowning in your illness, and then someone hands you your baby. Good luck, hon!

But, hey. There’s also her gorgeous ultrasound pictures. And the reassurance that she’s growing and developing wonderfully. And I can look forward to looking into her eyes for the first time. And smelling her big, bald head. And watching her sleep in my arms. And watching her brothers bond with and love her. There are positives here. I was avoiding buying anything because I was afraid I’d jinx something. But I bought a few tiny, adorable pieces of clothing. And no matter how many babies you have, it’s still mind blowing to imagine that a person tiny enough to fit into that stuff will soon come out of you. Just mind blowing.

The first thing I ever said to Bowie was, “I’m so glad you’re out of me.” And when they handed Ferris to me, I said in a hormonal daze, “I forgot how small these things are.” I’m hoping I can come up with something a little more brilliant to say to her. To my daughter. To my little fork in the road. I will be nervous, I will battle my illnesses, but I will be able to see the beauty in all of it, I just know it.

Just a little more than halfway done, and holding on. Thank you everyone who has offered kindness and support. This mama needs it.

The Story of my Relapse

It was two years ago this very day that I relapsed after coming home from rehab. It’s a story I have alluded to on here whenever I talk about my recovery, but I’ve never told the story in full. To anyone really.

I remember so vividly that it was this day for two reasons. Nobody would shut up about how it was Pi Day, and my husband had a very massive surfing accident that earned him extensive surgery and an overnight hospital stay.

The day started off like any other, really. It was a Saturday, the boys and I were having a lazy morning at home. Brien went off early to surf, as he often did.

As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the doorbell ring. At that time, we had a gate on our house and you had to unlock it with a key, or get buzzed in. Brien did not bring his keys with him when he surfed, so I was pretty sure it was him. I told Bowie to let daddy in. Instead of pushing the button upstairs, he decided to go downstairs and greet daddy.

As I was getting dressed, I heard Brien yelling my name. And saying, “Bowie, go back upstairs, it’s too scary.”

I went down there and Brien was covered in blood, and his nose was…not where it should be. “I think I broke my nose,” he said, cool as a cucumber. “I need to go to the emergency room.”

So, off we went. And the boys and I waited in the waiting room for a while after Brien got checked in, eating breakfast from the vending machines. I got texts from him every once in a while with an update, but he didn’t know much. Eventually he told me we might as well go home, it was probably going to be a while.

And then I didn’t hear from him for hours. When he did text he said he needed surgery, he’d text when he was able to again.

In my mind I’m like SURGERY. Dammit. Is my husband ok? How much will we have to pay for this? I was going into what I can now recognize as Panic Mode. A state that, once I am in it, I have a hard time regulating my thoughts and emotions, and I have a hard time coming back down to earth.

Hours and hours later, I still hadn’t heard anything. I took the boys to the park to get my mind off of things. And, I talked myself into having a drink. I figured that rehab had “fixed” me. That it was ok to have a little wine to take the edge off. I went directly to the grocery store and bought a bottle. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Afterward, I regretted it, of course. But I didn’t crave more, so I still thought I was ok. But, I did crave more in the days that followed. Every couple of days I’d have more. Until eventually, I was right back where I started.

My dad and younger sister came to San Francisco for a visit a few weeks later. I drank my way through their visit, using it to “calm my nerves” or whatever nonsense alcoholic thing I was telling myself. Meanwhile I made a fool of myself and ruined their whole visit. I regret it deeply.

My husband and my rehab counselor urged me heavily to return to the rehab house for a short stay, get my feet back on the ground, try some new strategies. I refused. I insisted that I was fine. Everything was fine. Just a slip up from the stress. I was ok.

Except I was not ok. One afternoon, I picked Bowie up from his OT appointment and as I pulled away from the curb and realized I had a flat tire. A totally flat tire, not the kind of flat tire I could have limped home with. So, I pulled over and called Brien to come help me.

I can change a flat tire. I know how and everything. It’s just that…I was in no shape to be changing a flat tire that afternoon. He knew it, I knew it. Bowie’s OT knew it, everyone at Ferris’ preschool knew it, it was one of the lowest and most humiliating moments of my life.

I went back to rehab for 10 days. I was terrified. If rehab couldn’t work on me, then what hope was there? Would I ever be able to get over this? Would anyone ever want to speak to me again? After a few days of drying out, I was able to see very clearly how and why I wanted to stay sober.

Seeing life as it could be, with me feeling happy and strong, and then returning to that dark and awful place, showed me that it was the happiness I wanted. Everything they were teaching me at rehab suddenly made sense. And I finally, finally took the advice of three doctors, two rehab counselors and dozens of friends and accepted medication for my depression and anxiety.

When I returned home, things were very tense between me and Brien for a while. I didn’t know how to interact with my kids. I didn’t know who knew my secrets, who was mad and judging me and who still wanted to be my friend.

But, I got a part time job, and I went to AA regularly, and I soldiered on. Turns out the majority of people didn’t know, and the ones who did know didn’t judge me. The ones who did judge, they were few, and I knew my life would go on without them. I had help, I had support. I made it to a year without a hitch. That day, as many of you know, is April 22.

I would not recommend a relapse to anyone in recovery. The fall is so much harder than the first time around, and the pit is so much harder to climb out of. It is a very, very dark place. You will regret it.

But what I will say is that for me, personally, it was one of the best things that could ever have happened to me. I finally fully hit rock bottom. Before that, I had been hovering just above. I had my eyes opened to the damage my addiction was really making. I was aware of the control that alcohol had over me, and I was determined to regain that control. I finally admitted that maybe my mood disorders were too much for me to handle on my own. And by taking medication and seeking therapy, I was among so many other people doing the same thing.

I hate Pi Day, for what it represents for me and my family. It was a dark, scary day and I have a lot of bad memories of all of it. And worst of all, I caved to my addiction, which I still feel pretty ashamed of, even though they all tell me not to be.

I learned a lot from the whole situation. I’m not proud of it, but I also can’t discount the benefits it created, ironically. They say that relapse is the rule, not the exception. Not to condone relapsing, but to remind those of us who have relapsed that we are still ok, we can still beat our addiction, we are still worthy of recovery and still worthy of love.

I’m lucky to have been surrounded by an extremely supportive community, and to have a team of people working with me. Some are not so fortunate, but you can be an advocate for someone who is suffering. You can’t force anyone to recover, they have to be ready to do it on their own, or it won’t work, it just won’t. But, you can let them know you’re there for them. Millions of other addicts have gotten better. There is help out there.

Unpredictable

Life can be so weird sometimes. And often, when we get to a place of comfort and normalcy, something drops in our laps. Something we never saw coming. Something we never even imagined might happen.

Thanksgiving week, I found myself fainting while I did yard work. And peeing constantly. And the official nail in the coffin: not getting my period.

I took a home pregnancy test and got a very faint positive. I took another test: another faint positive. I started wondering if any of my medications might cause a false positive, but Dr. Google seriously let me down. As you can imagine, there was very conflicting information, and nothing regarding my specific medications. So anyway, the next day I took 4 more tests (just to be sure) and got 4 positives. Four.

And I commenced to freak the hell out. And then I had the unbridled pleasure of making my husband freak the hell out right along with me.

I was on the birth control pill. No one saw this coming. Not me, not him, not my gynecologist. We had two boys. We were done. This was it. This was our family, this was our future.

I mean, we had certainly discussed the possibility of adding one more little one to the mix. But, with all the struggles I had been through, and then with the move to a new city and purchase of a new home, we just decided that it wasn’t a good time, and that by the time it was a “good” time, it would probably be on the later side to be contemplating such a thing. So, no more kiddos.

And suddenly: baby.

I’m going to be a mother again. I’m going to go through 9 months of pregnancy. Again. I’m going to have to go through labor and delivery. Again. I’m going to be changing diapers. Again. And when I’m 40! Unless this is a super genius baby who will by potty trained by then. Finger crossed.

I wasn’t thrilled when I found out, but I also wasn’t disappointed in any way. It was a shock, and shock takes some time to wear off. I went through all the stages of grief (grief for my no-diaper, big-kid mom life) and ended up here, at 15 weeks, feeling…ok. Just ok. Which in turn makes me feel guilty. Shouldn’t I be over the moon about this? Babies are a blessing, and all of that? What’s wrong with me?

And the fretting, oh my word the fretting. I was a basket case when I was pregnant with Ferris, because he was my post-miscarriage baby. My rainbow baby. I was a nervous wreck with him. But this time, it’s so much worse. I am going to be 38 in a few weeks. That’s oooollllldddd according to the OBGYN. And everything that can normally go wrong, can really go wrong. There’s Down’s syndrome and zika and heart defects and my lord, a million other things I can’t even think of. We didn’t plan for this baby, and the prospect of something being wrong is too much to bear. I’ve been plenty reassured that the odds are in our favor. And our chromosomal testing came back totally and completely normal. But, that still doesn’t calm an anxious mind.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that we don’t have any stuff. We have NO. STUFF. No crib, no changing table, no carseat, no stroller, no high chair, no swings, no carriers, no bibs, no blankets, no clothes, nada. We were done. We gave it all away. Which I had heard is a surefire way to get yourself a surprise baby, but I just chuckled at it. Let me be a PSA for you here, don’t get rid of the baby stuff until you go through menopause. Just to be sure. Thankfully, what we do have are plenty of friends and family with small children who have lots of goodies to pass along to us. I’m so grateful for the kindness of our “village” right now.

And the real kicker: it’s a girl. A GIRL. No more Boy Mom Dot Com here. I mean, a girl is wonderful. So exciting. I’m happy about it. But, with boys, I knew what I was doing. I have no idea how to raise a girl. Especially in these crazy times we live in. Thank goodness for the big, wide Internet parenting community.

But anyway, it’s happening. I have definitely felt pregnant. Mega morning sickness, the worst of all my pregnancies. I was showing by 8 weeks, so fun when you’re not ready to tell people yet. You just look like you’ve been hitting the chocolate Hostess Donettes too hard. Which I had. So, fair enough. I have also been so tired, I nearly nod off at red lights. And gassy. GOOD. LORD. I have made a lifestyle out of crop dusting entire aisles at Target.

Cravings have been coming and going. Previously when I’ve been pregnant, I’ve avoided lunchmeats and fish totally grossed me out. This time? Give me all the sliced turkey and fish you’ve got. I know, I know. But I’ve been craving protein like mad. And turkey sandwiches were all I could stomach for several weeks. Cravings for sweets come and go. With Bowie and Ferris, I couldn’t stop with the sweets. It was all I wanted. This time, meh. Food turn offs include anything lemon flavored (but oddly not lemons themselves) and French fries (I KNOW!).

So, I’m 15 weeks and doing fine. Except for the occasional freak out about doing this all over again. And having more kids than parents in our house. Stick around, because it’s about to get very exciting over here!