There, I said it. Judge away.
But before you get your undies in a bundle, please read on because it’s probably not what you think.
I love my kids. I wanted them desperately, and fortunately for my husband and I we didn’t have to wait long; they were both conceived the first month we tried.
And please know I am not being insensitive to the women who have tried to conceive for months or years, or the ones that have loved and lost. To be honest, those women may need to hear this more than the rest of us.
Here’s the thing, the most important thing in my life is me.
Because, without me, neither of them would be possible. And the loss of me would change the trajectory of their little lives so magnificently I can’t even think about it without tearing up. I got close enough to that situation I felt the need to write it down and now share it.
About three years ago, I was in a bad place. And the scariest thing is I didn’t even know how bad it was until I was already there. I [barely] remember the night where I spent a few hours, pounding wine at my laptop, collecting all of our bank account, insurance and health care information, usernames and passwords to financial, credit card and investment accounts and important papers that he would need if things went south (read: suicide).
My husband and I got in a huge fight that night, of course because I instigated it, probably trying to justify the bleakness of my situation. I remember saying things out loud that give me the chills now.
The reality was this wasn’t a normal, down-in-the-dumps kinda funk I have every so often. This was more than I could handle and it had gone on long enough.
Luckily, and obviously, I made it through that night. I woke up the next day, in the guest room, with a pounding headache with a big ‘ole side of shame. I can only now, a couple of years later forgive myself for what was going through my head.
Because, it wasn’t my fault.
Now, you medical people out there can argue with me about what’s to follow until you’re blue in the face. I don’t really care. I don’t tend to believe conspiracy theories (although I do love me some House of Cards because it’s so unbelievable it’s believable) but I also don’t believe everything I read on the back of a prescription.
So, in April 2016 I had an IUD put in (I’m not going to name the label because I don’t want to get sued). A few months later shit hit the fan.
A little back story here. I have only been on birth control once when I was about 17. I, like all of my other pre-adult friends went to Planned Parenthood because we were too scared to tell our moms (God help me my daughter won’t be scared to talk to me about her body) I took that little white pill religiously just like the friendly nurse said.
A just a couple months in I went bat-shit crazy.
Not like I’m a teenager whose parents got divorced and I haven’t dealt with it crazy, like legit crazy. Calling my boyfriend at all hours of the night (thank God he had his own line, remember when that was a thing?), crying uncontrollably at the drop of a hat, completely paranoid that my friends didn’t like me, etc, etc. One time I hit a squirrel on the way to my dad’s house and I pulled over and picked the poor thing up and sobbed over it for 20 minutes. Yes, bat shit crazy.
I also ended up gaining about 15 lbs in less than three months and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, on my little 110 lb frame it was.
Of course this was well before Web MD and I didn’t have time to wait around for our dial-up anyway, so I just went off the Pill. Within a couple of months, I was back to my less dramatic self. Years later when I offered this scenario to my doctor after she suggested birth control again, she gave me some bullshit line about those not being side effects of the low estrogen pill.
I never went back on the birth control again.
Until I did.
After Miles and Maddie were born and we had the unspoken conversation that we weren’t going to have a third, I thought it would be a good idea to try and IUD. Frankly I thought it might spice up our sex life a little since we were basically confined to the drawer in the bedside table…well, you do the math.
I voiced my concerns about my experience with my last bout of birth control, including the weight gain, to my doc but she assured me that this didn’t have hormones and there are no side effects, especially not like the ones I described. Basically in not so many words that she didn’t believe me either.
In hindsight I should have trusted my gut, but I didn’t. I had that contraption inserted, which by the way was one of the most painful 3 seconds of my life, and went on my merry way. Within six weeks I had gained 20 lbs, yelled at my poor kids more than I ever had and cried myself to sleep every night, usually after fighting with my husband for reasons only known to me.
I called my doctor for an appointment hoping that with the weight gain proof on the nurse’s scale she would believe me and take the thing out. Instead I got the “you know this is just about calories in and calories out, right?” Yes, fuck wad, I know about calories and I wasn’t fucking eating an EXTRA 3000 calories a day, every day for six weeks. I hadn’t changed anything in my diet and I had even started exercising. And, I knew my body, it wasn’t calories.
I stood up for myself and said I wanted it taken out anyway. She obliged, but not before telling me that if I had it taken out that insurance would not pay for it to be put back in. I was so angry and disappointed in our health care system that day.
The evening after my appointment was the night of my bad place. One day later I had that thing taken out. I cried while I stared up at the ceiling tiles and the bright white lights. I knew I had maybe just saved my own life.
This was a long story to get to why I am the most important person in my life. I almost wasn’t here to yell at my kids again or to see a sunrise or discover my love of writing. But I am here today because I took care of myself.
I listened to my gut and I took a stand. I hadn’t realized the importance of this story until recently.
As women most of us are natural care takers. Some of you obviously better than most of us, but you get what I am saying. But, in the midst of taking care of others we totally neglect ourselves. And I’m not talking about getting to soak in a hot bath for 15 minutes before you go to bed once a month. Or reading a book or having lunch with friends.
I’m talking about the real shit. The massage and the acupuncture and the yoga classes and the doctor’s appointments. I’m talking about you making you the most important thing in your life.
I hate to break it to you, but it’s not your kids. Your kids are not the center of your Universe. Depending on their age, YOU are the center of THEIR Universe. And if you don’t take care of you, who is going to? No one.
Who’s making your dentist appointments? Who’s making sure you have clean laundry to wear tomorrow? Who is emptying the dishwasher, putting together a presentation for work, picking up your toys?
If the answer is you…then for Christ’s sake, take care of you. If the answer is your spouse, take care of them.