I've been staring at this screen for a while. I know, ultimately, what I want to say, I'm just not sure how, exactly, to get there.
In theory, I knew that people could suffer from "anxiety" or "panic attacks". Until I had Zachariah, those were just words. Something to be put in quotation marks and left. Mysterious. Seemingly over dramatic. Psychosomatic? Until you've experienced an actual panic attack, it's impossible to truly sympathise with someone who suffers from them. Even putting this down in writing is causing my heart rate to jump just a little.
For months after having Z, I rarely went anywhere. Getting all of the kids and myself dressed, and out of the house seemed like an insurmountable task. Zachariah nursed frequently - even more than your typical every two hour nurser. Even if I could get everyone dressed and out the door, by the time we had made it into McKinney (a 15-20 minute drive), he was ready to eat again. By that time, I was so exhausted just from the effort, we were only able to finish half of what we needed to do (on a good day) before I absolutely couldn't think anymore and had to go home. Most days, I was unable to even get dressed. Putting actual clothes on aside from pajamas stressed me out to the point of tears. When I was able to go back to work and absolutely HAD to get dressed and get out, I experienced a temporary respite. Being around other people helped quell the anxiety I felt at home. I took some supplements that helped, but were not able to completely remove the overwhelming stress I was feeling. After several months of this, I considered that perhaps, the birth control I had been put on was contributing to my emotional turmoil, and I stopped taking it. I saw a marked improvement in less than a month's time - getting dressed no longer made me completely crazy, and I was able to get out more. Shortly thereafter, it became necessary for me to quit my job. Zachariah had refused months of attempts at taking bottles. We tried every bottle, nipple, sippy imaginable, and he was just having none of it. I thought surely, when he was old enough to begin eating solid food that it would ease the pressure of getting him to drink for the few hours I was gone. That maybe we could slip some breast milk into his food and it wouldn't be such a big deal. Quite the contrary, it became even more of a problem. Solid foods turned his bowel movements into solid, almost golf ball sized poops. Just what you always wanted to know, right? It was bad. He screamed in pain every time he pooped. We had to back off of food and go back to just nursing, which left us right back where we started with Z's refusal to take a bottle. Around this time, gas prices were again flirting with the $4.00 a gallon mark. Jonathan's travel schedule was intense. I was driving the kids down to Dallas, driving back up to Allen, returning to Dallas after my work shift, and then driving all the way home to Anna. The month I put in my notice, we estimated that I had actually spent $200 more than I made in additional gas and food. Add to that the fact that Zachariah was not at all thriving at my parents' house while I was at work, and I just couldn't keep my job. The one thing that got me out of the house and broke up the monotony of being at home with the children all day, and it was costing me too much. When Zachariah was 13 months old, he finally began drinking water from a water bottle. I could leave him for a little while as long as he was with one of his sisters, and he would be fine. I had been without a job for longer than ever in my life, and was chomping at the bit to find something. But what to do with the children? Celestia and Tatiana barely get along well enough for me to take a shower. Sad, but true. Celestia is totally capable of watching her brother as long as her sister isn't there, but the three of them together can't happen without more mature supervision. The anxiety began to creep back in.
Can't get out.
Can't contribute financially to the family.
We worked so long to get to a place where I could stay home with the kids, and now that we're finally here... I can't handle it. It's not just that I'm not crazy about being home, or that I don't enjoy being with my children. It actually causes me emotional distress to have to be completely dependent on Jonathan for everything. I very much need to get out of the house and be social, but I don't have any money of my own. Not that Jonathan makes me feel that way, but I'm definitely the more frugal one in our relationship, and I hate myself when I spend his hard earned money on going out for coffee. And Jonathan travels so much. We're well into his fifth year at this job. When he started, I was such a good little wifey. I knew where he was, what hotel he was staying at, what restaurants were nearby... Now I'm doing good if I can keep up with what time zone he's in. When Jonathan is home, I don't want to waste my time doing things without him. I need to work on my relationship with my husband. And we won't even talk about all the business type things that simply have to be handled when he's here, that take away from our precious family time. He took yesterday off of work and, I'll be honest here, I wasn't the best partner. Zachariah had slept particularly poorly, so Jonathan and I turned Z over to the girls for a little while and got caught up on sleep. Did I need it? Yes. When I stumbled into the family room Celestia looked at me and said "Oh, Mom, you look tired. Didn't Zachariah sleep well?" I could hardly stand, much less walk straight. Sleep was a must. But I hated myself for the rest of the day. So much to be done. So much I needed Jonathan for. So little time. We even had a date planned for that evening. Our very first without Zachariah. In almost seventeen months. It was nice, but I couldn't detach myself from everything at home. All the things that need to get done, but didn't. All evening long, I choked down tears and did my best to smile and calm the pounding of my heart.
You're not contributing.
You're not doing enough.
The house is a mess.
You'll never have the time and energy to study.
You'll never be able to go back to work.
You'll never be able to get back into shape.
This is all you're ever going to be.
You're not good enough."
choke it back.
Too much sake, Honey
I love you, Babe.
Thanks for supper, My Love.
I'm OK. Sorry I'm not better company.
I'm not OK. I feel completely lost. I know what I want to do, but logistically it seems impossible. How can I possibly attain an apprenticeship where I may or may not get paid, and may even have to pay a midwife for her time to teach me? So not only will I (most likely) not be making any money, I will have to pay for childcare, books, schooling and possibly a preceptor. It's not like there are government grants for apprentices. (They do exist in other countries, but here in the US, it's college grants or nothing.) How do I weigh that against my children's needs? Yes, having a full time job will be better for my kids in the long run, but how far back will that two or three years (if I'm lucky) of schooling set us? Should I just get a job? Just a job. Would it even be worth it once I pay for childcare and gas?
I don't really know why I'm writing all this out. I'm not sure what I think it's going to accomplish. My blog posting has been sporadic, at best, over the last year, so maybe I'm just looking for an explanation. For whatever reason, I felt strongly that I needed to write this today, so here it is.