neurotica


(Yes, another super whiny post. You’ve been warned.)

So, for the past few days I have been Freaking. Out.

The anxiety and the panic attacks are back in full force, and after going 38 weeks without ever once calling my doctor’s after-hours line, I’ve called twice in the past two days and spent a couple hours at the hospital last night for monitoring.

Friday night I sat for a couple minutes with my foot pressed against my other shin, and when I moved my leg there was this gigantic indentation about 2 inches long and, seriously, almost an inch deep. It was insane. It looked like someone had whacked my shinbone with a hammer, and it took about 10-15 minutes to go away. Naturally, I freaked out. The on-call doctor (the one I like the most in the practice) said it probably wasn’t a big deal unless my blood pressure was weird.

So I try to calm down, and then the next day (Saturday) I went (of course) to check my blood pressure. Normally my bp is really low–normal for me is about 90/60. Yesterday afternoon it was 135/85, which is the highest I’ve ever seen it. So I freaked out for awhile. I was feeling really crappy all day yesterday anyway (probably about 95% anxiety/panic induced–I recognize this in retrospect), and GB and I sat down to try to watch more of The Wire and I was just not calming down. So I called the dr. again (the guy I’m not crazy about, this time) and he suggested I go to L&D for monitoring.

Things seemed fine there. My bp was in the 120s/70s or 80s, which they feel okay with (even though it’s high for me), and Hank looked good on the monitors, so they didn’t keep us long. But. Before we left they wanted to do an exam to check on my (lack of) progress, and Oh My Fucking God, friends, I’ve had these exams before–but this one made me cry. Seriously, I don’t know what this nurse’s deal was, but Holy Fucking Ow. And I’m all, Oh, I have a high pain tolerance. But holy shit. Made me cry, bleed, and cramp for hours afterward. Oh, and I learned that progress, I have made none.

So now I don’t know what to make of these cramps and contractions I’ve been having all day. GB went to work for a few hours, and I’m trying to figure out if they’re timeable or if they’re just kind of there–and it’s hard to tell, really. They’re definitely worse than any I’ve had yet, but I’m still thinking they’re not the Real Thing. So I’m trying ot chill out, overall, and not time them now, until they start demanding more of my attention.

But the biggest issue here is the fucking anxiety. It’s hit a pretty unbearable point. I’m constantly freaking out (and I mean ALL DAY LONG, every day, and every time I wake up at night) that my blood pressure is fucked up, that I have blood clots in my legs, that H. isn’t moving enough, that Something Terrible is going to happen to me, H., and/or GB. More than anything else that’s going on right now–the pain, the discomfort, the not sleeping–the anxiety is making me crazy. I am No Fun. I can’t concentrate, I can’t relax, and I can’t stop worrying. And that fucking exam was so painful that I am now having Serious Doubts about my ability to handle the whole childbirth thing, and I have lost any modicum of confidence I had in that department.

So there you have it. I’m a freaking mess. And I want to just get H. out here and get that part all over with, and I also want to just keep him in there forever at this point.

Can I have a handful of Klonopin and a martini now, please?

For the most part, I’ve done really well not being on my anti-anxiety meds for the past eight months. Surprisingly well, actually. No major anxiety attacks, no panic attacks, and dealable levels of the OCD.*

In the past few days, though, the anxiety levels are completely out of control. I’m having anxiety attacks again and feeling like I’m constantly fighting off panic attacks–I’m generally shaky, feeling like my heart’s racing (though it’s really not), feeling kind of dissociative, lightheaded, and weird. Oh, and convinced I’m dying. That’s a nice one, huh? And obsessively worrying about GB’s health and safety. Like, to the point where I get myself all weepy, thinking about all the things that could happen to him. And me. And H.

This is no fun.

I don’t really know what to do about this. Meds are out right now.** I try to just do some deep breathing when the anxiety gets really bad, but it doesn’t seem to do much–maybe I’m not doing it right (see, I’m worrying about how I’m breathing–I am a freak).

Do any of you smart and well-adjusted people have tips for handling anxiety disorder/attacks and fending off panic attacks without drugs?

*My OCD is heavy on the O, light on the C. It mostly manifests as obsessive thinking, usually about terrible things happening to GB or random horrible images and thoughts. I have very few (if any) real compulsions, so I guess that’s something to be grateful for.

**GB is really hoping I can go back on something after H. is born–he’s worried that if I’m anxious now, I’ll be a complete freak when H. is here and I’m worrying about him in Real Life. I’ll talk to the doctors about that, but the research I’ve done about SSRIs and breastfeeding is not promising. I’ll keep looking into that, of course.

  • I will be going off the Nifedipine on Friday, when I hit 36 weeks. My doctor said, “I can’t say that you’ll go into labor as soon as you stop the meds, but you never know.” Apparently, my doctors are okay with that scenario.
  • I, on the other hand, am terrified and overwhelmed by that scenario.
  • I’ve been having tons of the mostly-painless Braxton-Hicks contractions in the past two days. This isn’t abnormal, except that the Nifedipine is supposed to be preventing them, and it’s clearly not. In general, I do feel like my body is getting ready to start Making Things Happen.
  • OMFG. So not ready.
  • When I was 12, I had my tonsils out. Apparently, there was some issue about my blood not clotting as quickly as it should, but they went ahead and did the surgery anyway. Two days later, I was rushed to the hospital with lots of bleeding in my throat, and had to have emergency surgery to stop it. No one in my family is quite sure what the actual bleeding problem was, and it hasn’t been a problem since–though I haven’t had any other surgeries.* This has been a concern to me lately, though–obviously, I’m worried about the blood-clotting issue coming up during or after delivery. So. I told my doctor about it on Monday (I had mentioned it before, but I don’t think they noted it then), and she looked concerned, and sent me to the lab for blood tests. I’m extremely anxious about this whole thing. One, because a bleeding disorder means that an epidural is contraindicated–and I’d really like to know ahead of time if an epidural is not going to be an option. Two, because I am terrified of dying. Yes, I know that maternal mortality is this country is thankfully low. But really? It’s my biggest childbirth-related fear. Reassurance that I will probably not die would be welcomed in the comments.
  • I have to say that I’m not entirely prepared for an epidural to not be an option. I’m madly researching other pain management techniques and drugs, as well as telling myself that I have a super-high pain tolerance and hey, maybe it’ll all just be a breeze. (Work with me on this one, people. I’m trying out positive thinking.)
  • My anxiety lately is through the fucking roof as a result of all this, though. Part of me very much wants the whole thing to just be over, safely, for everyone involved.
  • The rest of me, of course, really, really, really wants H. to stay right where he is until 37 weeks, which is full term, which is next Friday.
  • Which is also the day that Bar results come out.
  • Is it any wonder that video games have become the most popular entertainment in my house right now? GB and I are both wildly freaked out and overwhelmed.
  • GB kissed me goodbye today and said, “Try not to go into labor.” I said I’d try. Can’t promise.
  • I keep thinking that if H. shows up soon, it’ll be awhile before I get pho again. I think I need to make a pho trip for lunch today.
  • Oh, and? Another one of my school friends passed his defense yesterday. I am thrilled for him–he’s got a job, he’s got a degree, he’s an all-around swell guy. Yeah. I’m very happy for my friends. But I feel like a gigantic loser, and everytime one of my friends successfully defends, it makes me cry. Am I *ever* going to actually finish this fucking degree?
  • Stupid hormones.

*My OB did ask if I had problems with bleeding gums. I do, constantly–it’s gotten worse with pregnancy, but even non-pregnant, my gums bleed if you look at them funny. I always assumed it had to do with my immense fear of dentists, and maybe it does…Or maybe not. Yeah. Not reassuring.

Bar exam results will be announced on May 16th.

I am so nervous for GB that I’m almost (almost) hoping that H. shows up on that day, just to be sure *something* good happens then.

I am so freaking out of sorts. I’m so freaking grumpy that my sister (who’s had three kids) thinks it means I’m about to go into labor. Which just makes me grumpier, of course.

I have to whine. I tried to fight the need to do it, but I can’t. I. Must. Whine. Random bullets of whining ahead:

  • GB is stressed and overwhelmed and a complete crankypants lately. This also makes his depression worse. So we’re all cranky with each other right now, which is completely counterproductive to easing either of our anxiety. We’re trying to get back on the same page, but it’s a struggle.
  • This situation makes me feel like I’m all alone in my stress/anxiety/fear/uncertainty, which makes me even crankier in return.
  • I’m dealing with hormones from hell. I feel like I’m back in the first trimester. I’m totally weepy and emotional and depressed and volatile all the time now. No fun.
  • Both of my wrists are *killing* me. (That would be the pregnancy carpal tunnel.) I have wrist splints for both of them, and they help a little. But ow. They are SO fucking sore. Everything hurts.
  • Seriously, *everything* hurts. Getting out of bed is a painful, complicated, time-consuming process. My back hurts. My hips hurt. My crotch hurts like a motherfucker. This kid couldn’t be any lower and still be on the inside.
  • Did I mention getting out of bed hurts? And takes forever? Seriously, I am like an upturned beetle. And I get up to pee two or three times a night.
  • I walked to 7-11 to get eggs, so I could make cupcakes, which I thought might help. 7-11 is maybe 1/2  a block from my house. It’s the longest walk I’ve done in a while. Within about half an hour, I felt so crappy that I was pretty much convinced that I was going into labor RIGHT NOW. I drank a bunch of water (and ate a cupcake) and I’m a little better, but it totally pisses me off that I can’t do anything.
  • My family (just my immediate family–parents and siblings’ families) wants to have a reunion this August. We haven’t all been together in about four years. I would love to see everyone together and let them all meet H., but I *did not* volunteer to be the planner for the whole fucking reunion. As it happens, though, I am. If I don’t plan it, it’s not going to happen–that’s abundantly clear. Not sure if I’m going to keep trying to plan or not.
  • I can’t stop eating today. And yesterday. I think it’s stress, and not really hunger. But it’s not really helping.
  • GB and I started watching The Wire, and I want to like it, but I am so stressed and so tired that I can’t even follow it. We’re about 6 episodes in and I have very little idea what’s going on, who people are, and what the fuck is happening. GB likes it, so I’m guessing it’s good, but basically “watching” it for me involves staring at the TV while my brain does fourteen other things.
  • I’m afraid that H. will show up too soon (I’m pretty much anxious about him showing up every single day), and I’m afraid that he won’t, and that I’ll have five (or, god forbid, 7) more weeks of this. I’m afraid of the whole labor/delivery experience. I’m afraid of something being wrong with H. I’m afraid of dying. (That last one is a *much* bigger fear than it really should be–not so surprising, given my anxiety/panic background.) I’m constantly worried about awful things happening to GB (this is how my OCD manifests most obviously, to me at least). I am, in short, a giant ball of anxiety.
  • Cupcakes aren’t helping. People, listen to me: CUPCAKES AREN’T HELPING. I never thought I’d see this day.
  • I cannot get a single fucking thing done on the dissertation. Nothing. I am completely stuck. One of my school friends passed his defense on Monday. I am thrilled for him, and I now feel *completely* incompetent. Okay, I say, maybe it’s not fair to compare myself to him. But you know what? I have a very good school friend–my best friend in my program–who started at the same time as me. She’s also pregnant, and due 2 weeks before us–so basically, any day now. She just–like, this week–completed her dissertation and will be defending in July. So yeah. It’s kind of hard for me to not feel like a gigantic loser.
  • I CAN’T STOP WHINING. But I can stop whining in this particular post, for right now. I expect there will be more later.

So, I just registered for this year’s Big Damn Conference.

I like to register early for it, because I’ve learned my lesson about staying in non-conference hotels (after a long, thoroughly annoying Red Roof Inn weekend), and I wanted to be sure to get a room in one of the two main headquarter hotels this year. So I got all OCD about it and registered today, as soon as registration opened.

Every year that I’ve gone to this conference–maybe six years now?–it’s pretty much the same plan: I share a room with my awesome friend Margie and her husband. This arrangement has worked for me (and I’m hoping, hasn’t been too onerous for Margie and Mr. Squirrel). We all go off to presentations or whatnot during the day, and we all enjoy a few (or a few too many) drinks in the evening. It’s lovely. Plus, it’s the only time I get to see them all year, so I totally look forward to it.

This year, though? This year, all my plans for Big Damn Conference are completely up in the air. Will GB stay home with H.? Will GB and H. want to come with me? Will I want to bring H. and leave GB home (hopefully working at the amazing permanent associate job he’ll undoubtedly have gotten by then)? Will I have (gulp) job interviews this year? (That’s the plan– I should be on the market this fall. But I kind of feel like I should maybe start thinking about that, then? Double gulp.)

I just don’t know. And I’m not sure when I’ll know what exactly I want to do with all this, because, you know, I’ve never really done any of this stuff before. So I have no frame of reference, and no good way to see into the future.

I find this lack of prescience on my part somewhat frustrating.

So yeah. It’s weird, not knowing what to expect, or how to plan this. I did book a room at one of the HQ hotels, and have informed Margie and Mr. Squirrel about my complete lack of any clue as to what November will bring. So I’m pretty much covered, for now.

But I’m seeing where this parenting thing is, already, not so good for the planning ahead.

I hate when my normal, everyday anxiety/panic stuff meets Real Life worries.

Because I just don’t trust myself, you know? I know that I worry constantly, that my anxiety levels are always high, and that I’m prone to panic attacks. So I’m never sure if pain or anxiety that I’m feeling is “real,” or All In My Head, and I hate that no one else can verify this stuff for me, either.

So I’ve been feeling weird since yesterday, but I seem to be completely incapable of figuring out whether or not something is “wrong.” Am I feeling crampy, or is it just indigestion? Is that pressure preterm labor or gas? Is my complete (and unprecedented) lack of appetite and gastric weirdness Something, or just stress and those fried pierogies I shouldn’t have had yesterday?

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, but I was stressing out enough this morning (after feeling weird and just kind of off all night) to call and see if I can/should come in today. Of course, my doctor was walking out the door for a delivery and there are no other doctors there (and what’s up with that, anyway?). So now I’m waiting for a call back from the Nurse Practitioner. And I’m still second-guessing myself. Should I have just waited until tomorrow? Or did I downplay the weirdness I’m feeling too much? Did I make it sound worse than it really is, or was I not clear enough that this is all unusual for me? Would I know if there was really something wrong, or would my inherent hypochondria and anxiety cancel each other out and leave me completely immoblilized?

Yeah, not so good at this. Chances are pretty good that I would have something more noticeable than cramps and discomfort if H. was actually planning to be born, say, today, right?

Update: I have an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner in an hour. Better safe, she says, especially after last week’s irritable uterus issues. So okay then. I am prepared to be thoroughly embarrassed when they tell me it’s just gas. But whatever. I’ve never done this before. I plead ignorance.

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