Disclaimer: This post is not written in my usual style. I’m often a facts-driven, optimistic blogger, but I’ve been struggling with a lot of difficult, emotional stuff lately, which, when coupled with the onslaught of mood destabilizing pregnancy hormones, has got me feeling pretty off. I don’t actually feel this way all of the time, but when I do have these days, they feel all-encompassing.
I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. I’m sure that I’m being unreasonable. I’ve hit a patch of depression, and I worry that depression coupled with unemployment is bad for the baby. We’re twelve weeks and one day pregnant, again. I’m carrying this time. I’ve been unemployed for two months, one week, and five days. I have a Master’s Degree and over fourteen years of work experience. I’ve applied for something like 40 jobs. I’ve signed up with three temp agencies. I’ve gone on three job interviews, and still, nothing. Granted, we live in a state with a 10.3% unemployment rate. Additionally, last month marked the worst national jobs report to come out in recent years. Still, this is the longest I’ve been out of both work and school in my entire adult life. At current, R is writing the first chapter of her dissertation. Her research assistantship has been our only source of income in the last two months. Our nest egg has dwindled to half of what it was when I graduated in April. My private health insurance expires sometime next month. I think that I’ll continue to qualify for Medicaid, which will pay my prenatal bills until after the baby is born, but I hate the thought of having to continually qualify for a state aid program. What if I’m somehow booted off of the program? Or the funding is cut because of the economy? Or I need tests or services that aren’t covered? I’ve had private insurance my entire life, and while it hasn’t always been great coverage, it’s felt stable.
Additionally, I am so fucking sick of being at home all of the time that I could scream. Until recently I haven’t felt well enough to go out and do much of anything. Now I’m starting to feel a little better, but I’m feeling depressed and I’m scared of finding that true whether I’m home or not. I usually don’t wake up until mid-morning at the earliest. By the time I eat breakfast, look for jobs online, and read pregnancy blogs and e-mail, it’s almost noon. Then it’s time to eat something else. I find that, though it often feels like a chore, eating is the only time that I feel like I’m doing something mutually beneficial for both me and Rabbit. The baby needs food, and, now that I’m feeling better, I like eating food again. Then I have to screw up the motivation to do the things that I’ve committed to R that I’ll do with my day. Usually it’s only a little more than two hours worth of chores (housework, yardwork, errands, etc). But I feel like I move at a snail’s pace. Occasionally I’ll have moments of satisfaction in a job well done (a nesting instinct might kick in while I’m cleaning the house, or I’ll be proud of the weeding job that I did in the yard). But even then, I’m usually overwhelmed by the fact that I’ve made such a little dent in the world (our little corner of the world, even, not to mention any sort of larger impact).
R is still handling 95% of the cooking, 95% of the dishes, 100% of the trash, cat food, and kitty litter. She’s responsible for the car, for fixing many things around the house and yard, and for lifting anything over 20 pounds. I’m dependent on her for any income right now. I feel like my long-standing niche in our family (as the fix-it person, the handyman, the provider) has been usurped. Some of it, like the heavy lifting and the cat box, doesn’t bother me, since I know that they are the safest choices for the pregnancy and things that I was more than happy to take over during R’s pregnancy. But many of these aspects, not being able to contribute financially, not being useful in the kitchen, not getting out of the house, these things aren’t really related to the pregnancy anymore. They have much more to do with a lack of motivation, with a fear that I’m just going to barely get by as this pregnancy progresses, the fear that, even then – once the baby is born, I still won’t be able to provide for my family. In a million years, I never thought that I would be worried about these kinds of issues. I am a geek for personal finance (I just love paying bills and investing wisely and spending within our means). I am motivated to work and have always held a job since I was in high school. I am devoted to R and to our family. So the prospect of being a depressed, unemployed, pregnant couch potato has never been on my radar before. I’ll admit, I’ve judged others in this position pretty harshly in the past. Perhaps, then, this is my comeuppance.
While I understand that it’s a poor social model, I myself have always had a bootstraps mentality when it comes to achieving my goals, yet I feel like I’m struggling in quicksand a lot of the time. I know intellectually that it’s July, but I feel like my authentic self, my confident self, got stuck back in January. It’s like I can’t really get my bearings in a world where my daughter is dead. Try as I might, I just can’t figure out how to carry it right. I want more than anything for Emmett’s death to mean something important, I want for her to motivate me toward gratitude and compassion. But most of the time I just feel so upended. I’m stuck in the loop that says that this isn’t fair and that we didn’t do anything to deserve this (which, I recognize, is a wholly useless line of thinking). My sense of justice and security has been ripped out from under me and I feel like I’m struggling to hold up my half of our life. I feel like anger is the only emotion that staves off sadness and fear. I love this little Rabbit with all of my heart, but I worry that I’m not providing him/her with the best prenatal environment, I worry that I won’t be able to provide for him/her in all of the ways that a stable parent should be able to once s/he’s born. I worry that I’ll be a disappointment to my wife and children. I worry that I’m just not what people are looking for in a well-paid, well-respected worker. I worry about everything. I find that my moments of pleasure are fleeting. This makes me sad because I know just how good and right this life can feel when I’m open to it and tuned into my marriage and home life. It’s just easier to feel tired, to want to curl up and pull the blankets over my head.
I know that R fell in love with me for the strong, self-willed, sexy, independent person that she found in me. It’s often hard for me to find those innate qualities in myself when they are masked by sadness, apathy, and fatigue.I know that I have often made the mistake of attributing my self-identity to external ties. This situation is no different. I trust that my inner reserves, my spiritual core, my unique drive is in place. It’s just a tad out of practice at this juncture. I want to trust that when I dig deep to summon strength, confidence, and compassion, that I’m not somehow draining an unsustainable resource. I know just how sustaining and fulfilling this life can be if I can just open myself back up to vulnerability. It’s a scary, but rewarding prospect.