Browsing Tag

post-partum

depression, Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

The Intruder

September 22, 2019
intruder

By E.F.C Warden

I remember how my brain started working, how even well before my daughter was born I kept envisioning her death. Not a peaceful “died in her sleep” or was “born sleeping” death but horrific versions of the same endings.

While pregnant, I would envision falling on sharp objects that would pierce my belly and my daughter and end her life. I saw myself being hit by a car and her tiny form being squished to death inside of me. We died together in many ways inside my mind.

Visions after visions of our untimely end filled my senses on a daily basis to a point where it was all I thought and even dreamed, my brain consumed with how she would die and when she didn’t fulfill the nightmares new ones would form in their place.

This should have been my first clue something was wrong.

The thoughts never ceased after her birth. I thought she would die during her arrival. I thought she would suffocate from my inability to progress during labor. I believed she would choke to death or stop breathing before she was even born. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts

Difficulty Breathing

February 29, 2016
grief

By Beth Alvarado

When I was twenty years old, I spent a lot of time crying in a closet. It was 1975 and I’d just had my first child. I lived with my husband Fernando and two of his younger brothers in a small house. I cried often and I didn’t know why and so I was embarrassed about it. One afternoon when I was in the closet, I heard Fernando come home from work. “Where’s Beth?” he asked his brothers and I heard them say, “Oh, she’s probably in the closet crying again.”

Various people explained to me that I had post-partum blues. They said I was sad because I was no longer pregnant, which I interpreted as meaning I wanted the baby inside of me again. But the explanation didn’t make sense. I didn’t want to be pregnant again. I hadn’t especially liked being pregnant. The baby weighed almost nine pounds at birth, I had been slender before I got pregnant, and I was tired of carrying him around inside me.

Some weeks ago, I started seeing a therapist because Fernando had died—it had been two years—and I couldn’t make up my mind about what to do next. I thought maybe I was experiencing complicated grief, which can happen when you lose someone after forty years. The therapist explained to me that there are two major anxieties. One is separation anxiety and one is its opposite, encroachment anxiety, and we all feel both of them but to different extents.

This made sense. What sent me into the closet was encroachment, not separation.  Of course, there was also the mystery of separation. I remember looking at the baby’s face and thinking, where did you come from? Who are you? Who gave you that name? Of course, I knew the answers but maybe that’s why we spend so much time gazing at our infants. We can’t figure it out, the mystery of their births. Even though we were there. How they did they go from being inside to being outside? How can they be separate people?

But who would want the baby back inside? When you’re pregnant, the baby isn’t such a distraction.  He’s just there, a part of you.  He doesn’t cause problems other than a little indigestion, maybe, a little difficulty breathing. You don’t have to change your life much for him, except you can’t eat raw oysters or have more than one cocktail or ride horses.  (Or, in my case, smoke cigarettes or shoot heroin.)

But when he’s born?  Suddenly he requires all of your attention.  Twenty-four seven, as they say. The baby wanted to breast-feed every two hours.  And then he had to have his diapers changed and then I had to wash his diapers and hang them on the line and take them down and fold them and put them back on him. I used to think if I could get four hours of sleep in a row I would be a new person. But who would that person be? Someone who had another child, went back to school, became a teacher, a writer? Or someone who cried in a closet and went back to drugs?

It’s the same with death, when I think about it: you have to redefine yourself in light of another person. Only, instead of wondering ‘where did you come from?’ you wonder, ‘where did you go?’

With death, there is no separation anxiety. Oh, maybe there is when you hear the diagnosis, but not with the death. For one thing, anxiety is always about the future, what you’re afraid might happen. But when you know death is inevitable or when it’s already happened, there’s no anxiety.

For another thing, the separation is just as mysterious. Maybe that’s why we use words like gone, lost, passed—they reflect the un-realness of the situation, a person disappearing. My late husband. But I had never been one for euphemisms. I knew Fernando was dead. I had been in the room as he was dying. I talked to him, I sang to him, my voice didn’t break down.  But I didn’t realize dying was the end.  I hadn’t thought beyond getting us both through that moment.

That moment: when what has always been invisible disappears.

You are left with the body but the body is not-him.

For a while, because he was nowhere, he was everywhere at once. The slightest breeze was his breath on my neck.  If the microwave malfunctioned or if I saw a hawk, he was sending me a message. He was a constant presence in a way he never had been in life. In life, he had come home in the evenings and we’d taken care of the kids or, later, after they were grown, we’d shared a walk, dinner, a bed, but the days were mine. In life, there had always been a space between us, but now he had moved inside. The encroachment was complete. Death had not parted us.

But this is the paradox: because he was everywhere, he was nowhere. I began to miss him, his physical presence. I knew he wasn’t in the house, I knew I couldn’t see him or touch him or hear him. I couldn’t take a train to find him, I couldn’t reach him on my cell phone, not even in my dreams. Again, there was some difficulty breathing.

Where are you? I’d wonder. And why don’t you answer? And who am I without you?

Beth Alvarado is a writer in transition. Her essay “Difficulty Breathing” came out of a story-sharing party at a friend’s house; it is now part of an essay collection in progress. “Water in the Desert,” another essay about her husband’s death, recently appeared in Guernica, and she has another essay about being a mother, “The Motherhood Poems,” in Necessary Fiction. She teaches at OSU-Cascades low residency program in Creative Writing.

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough. Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough.
Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

%d bloggers like this: