Monday, February 2, 2009

Part 3: In Flux

As I mentioned in my previous post, Harry and I went through a very difficult time. My last trimester of pregnancy was emotionally and physically difficult. I had lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions due to stress, although they mostly stopped once I learned to drink tons of water. I had all the usual issues with late pregnancy; swollen ankles, lower back pain, fatigue, etc. Harry was grieving and panicking about finances, because we were buying furniture and whatnot for Nora, who was due on September 1. What probably made this so much more difficult was that I had stopped my medications for depression and ADD as soon as I knew I was pregnant.

We felt very much alone, because the support from the church continued to be cursory or absent. The ladies of the PPR threw me a shower, which I appreciated. However, there were a few strange things. First, my PPR chair told me about the shower in the "handshake line" after church one Sunday. The shower was two weeks away. Second, she expected me to put an announcement in the bulletin, although I insisted that she make an announcement in church. Third, no one asked where I was registered, what I needed, or if there was anyone else that I wanted to invite. While I was grateful for the gifts (mostly clothes) that I received (and sent nice thank-you notes), the whole affair had a strange feeling about it. Sort of like they had gotten together and said, "well, we HAVE to give her a shower. It'll look bad if we don't. So, might as well get it over with." I could be projecting, of course, but that's what I felt.

I continued to work hard, preach well, and keep up with visitation. I began making concrete plans for my maternity leave, and made sure that everything was covered. I was certainly less productive than usual, but hoped that people would understand. I also expected that I'd feel a lot better once Nora was born. I sensed some tension between myself and the congregation, but since no one said anything, I pretty much ignored it (Of course, much later I found out that they had lots of concerns, even some dating back to March. However, they didn't say anything because they didn't want to jeapordize my pregnancy.)

Nora was born on August 29, 2007, after 22 hours of labor (only the last 4 with the epidural, thank you). She was healthy and beautiful. I took eight weeks' paid maternity leave (a provision in our Book of Discipline; I could have taken as much as twelve weeks) and looked forward to a period of adjustment and bonding. I figured that by the time my leave was over, I would be physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to return to work.

I could not have been more wrong about that last part. I had a rough start to motherhood, probably complicated by a moderate case of Post-Partum Depression. Harry was miserable at work; they were working him to the bone so he was constantly bringing work home. He was tired and felt guilty that he wasn't spending as much time with us, and I was tired, hormonal, overwhelmed, and angry with him. The stress level in our house was incredible.

Once again, we found ourselves without a lot of support. My mother came for a week and Harry's mom came for a long weekend (not that she was much help, but at least she held Nora a bunch). A few church members dropped off casseroles and a few more sent cards. I sent out a birth announcement and invited people to come and meet Nora, as long as they called first. But only one person called and asked to see Nora. My PPR Chair didn't even contact me or come see me. It was like I dropped off the face of the earth for eight weeks.

In the meantime, Harry got fed up with his job and began contemplating other possibilities. He considered returning to industry (he had worked for five years as a government contractor before grad school) and talked to a few friends to "feel out" job leads. What seemed like the perfect job dropped in his lap. It paid well, interested him, and was located in a good-sized metro area. The only catch was that they wanted him to start ASAP...and the job was four hours away. After a lot of tears, prayer, and hyperventilating, we decided that he should take the job and come back on weekends. The deciding factor for me was that I wanted him to be happy and fulfilled, even if that meant only seeing him a few days at a time.

For the next part, click here

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