Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Rants of a Pregnant Mama from Chaos Toward Healing

I found out the week before my first daughter's second birthday.  I was busy with an internship to help me find a "real job".  I needed a job; I had been unemployed for almost 3 years, even though I have always engaged in volunteer based community work.
Okay so I was busy and had stopped tracking my moon cycle. At that time also weaned my eldest.  It was the beginning of June, and was spotting for a few months by then and my period absent for the whole month of May.  After feeling nauseous for three days....I knew.

So I told my partner, who had been trying to find a job for almost 2 years about my suspicion and he said - "Shut the f... up, for real?!"  We bought a cheap pregnancy test at CVS. I peed on it as soon as I arrived home.  The plus sign quickly formed....I then told my partner, "Read, what does that mean?"
He responded "It means you're pregnant.  I guess we are having Another baby"
"Wait but look one line is lighter than the other."  I said.
"That doesn't matter look."  He then showed me the instructions...yes they said that one might be lighter that the other.  Damn it, I was pregnant Again!
I stared at the test for about 10 minutes. I picked it up looked and looked, but the answer did not change.
"Oh My God! I am pregnant AND We Are Poor!".I thought."What are we going to do?!"
Denial was in full force."Maybe I did it wrong.  I peed on it too long...I can't BE...Not Now!"
I couldn't deny it for long.  Yes I was a poor pregnant mother and after a month of denial I decided to figure out what will we do now
Not having money is difficult and people always blame poverty on poor womyn of color who bring children into this world to suffer or leach off the government.  At times I wanted an abortion or I would pray for a miscarriage so I wouldn't feel guilty. Guilt is such a draining feeling.
Life inside my womb kept growing.  No money. No job. I thought, maybe Conservatives are right, poor people should not have babies, but we do -HA!
My friend Kristina also pregnant and broke reminded me once "Well mujer, we are not the only broke people to give birth;we'll be okay."
So yes we are not the first broke parents to have children, not at all, not the first and not the last.
I decided to keep my baby, I already loved this life inside my womb and recognized it was my choice; at the time did not realize how difficult it will be.
Though I had chosen,  the negative thoughts kept flooding my mind and I could not stop them even if I tried.
What was I thinking?
Why didn't I protect myself?
How can I bring a baby into this world?
I'm broke....what can I offer this baby? We don't have anything!!
My hormones were out of control and so were my emotions.

I was Angry. Guilty. Sad. Depressed. Afraid. We didn't have any money and kept struggling. We received cash aid and my partner recycled metal and still did not make ends meet.We slept on the hard cold floor since we didn't have a mattress. There were times we didn't have running water or gas. We went  without electricity for over a month. It was difficult; I complained a lot and frustrated my partner.  He of course was also going through depression but manifested differently than I did.
I felt like I was drowning at times or slipping little by little beginning to get buried in quick sand.
Thoughts of ending my life and my oldest daughter’s as well populated my mind.  It felt like nobody cared about us. My thoughts had me believing we wouldn't survive anyway maybe we should end it here.  I fantasized about getting run over or jumping off the freeway or dying in our sleep.
My friends and some family members helped me a lot. They listened and provided some type of support such as ideas on how to cope. My friends Reyna and Sammy babysat or dragged me out of the house.  Bernie took me to acupuncture appointments or  out shopping for food. My sister Julie would me pick up and drove me out of my house. One time another good friend, Sofia helped my family by organizing friends to chip in and pay my rent; they also provided me with a mattress. Panquetzani gave us space for my family and I in her home for a while. Aubrey was there with me during the Kali Ma phase.  Felt very lucky that I had this much support from my friends, my partner on the other hand was another story.

My partner was not emotionally there for me, he was busy focusing on surviving to feel empathy for me, I felt that he didn't love me.   I was angry and sad at the same time,  feeling ugly and stupid.  He wasn't involved in the pregnancy as much as he was with my first. I would scream, fight, and cry a lot. Without realizing, I was trying to drag him to insanity with me.  He would lose it plenty of times and said I was spoiled since I grew up in a privileged country.  We had somewhere to live, even though we struggled to pay rent.  We had food, even though we received food stamps. He would always point out how we were lucky for not getting bombed like the women in Palestine.  These were all words that a depressed pregnant women should not hear.  Plus I wanted to be off food stamps and have a house with space to grow our own food...then I'd be happy.  Sometimes I would think, he is right we are rich and I am spoiled.  Others survive worst, we will survive this and life is Beautiful.  But every minute I changed my mind.  I was pregnant and an emotional wreck trying to find balance somewhere inside myself.
Sometimes I was reminded by my good friend Maria that unhappiness is not necessarily and "bad" thing; it is also part of life.  “Don't be afraid of the dark times,” she said “immerse yourself in them and be at peace”.  I started calling my depression my purple phase of chaos and reminded myself that only after chaos there is true peace.  I meditated and my mantra was "Immerse yourself in darkness to find the light."
Being poor and pregnant is tough because at this time you need love, security and peace.. I didn't feel any of that.  I  coped as best as I could and some people did support me.  I dragged myself outside sometimes, I would journal and draw my emotions into  paper.  Sometimes I danced or would drink warm tea and take deep breaths to gain some peace. What helped me the most was speaking to people about what I felt and receiving their much needed empathy.

My friends organized a mother's blessing for me; where I was honored as a mother.  They also organized my postpartum care (meals, babysitting, laundry, house work etc.)  above all they promised to always be there for our family in support.  Since that night my partner changed . Didn’t realize, because he kept it all in and was just as afraid as I was. After that night, surrounded by our loved ones he was relieved to see we were truly not alone.

After the  turmoil experienced during my pregnancy, I had an orgasmic birth with my partner and friends supporting me throughout labor and birth, and my oldest daughter nearby.  My postpartum phase was a wonderful time; people visited our home  not only to meet our newborn but also helped me with recovery.  I felt loved and I allowed myself to be bathed, fed, and taken care of by those that loved me.  This was immensely healing to feel so much community love. My self-love grew and so did my love for my family.  I was happy to be a mother again.
I share my story in attempts to help other mothers and pregnant womyn especially those facing economic difficulty so they see that survival and happiness is possible.  Through this story I shared my process, struggles, my support and strategies in  hopes they may help someone find help or sanity. It’s not easy to remember this, but we are not stuck and Money is not #1. We have something better: we are resourceful and hopeful, and to remember after chaos comes peace!

                             Speak up when you are down because you are not alone!!
A special thanks to my partner and children; we continue on our healing journey and doing so much better.  A very special thanks to my sisters from Ticicalli Yahualli, Classmates in Jumpstart Mental Health LA, Colleagues from LDIRs in Health, Echo Parenting and Education, Ana Paula Markel from BINI Birth, The Village Health Foundation, family, and many other friends. Whether you are aware of it or not, you were there for me during these challenging times and because of YOU I was able to pull myself out and  I am immensely grateful for this.  Much Love and Blessings to you ALL.