Tuesday, January 10, 2012


This morning I was a nervous mess as we sat in the waiting room outside of the lab. My son sat between my husband and I, impatiently squirming and commenting, "I wish we could just go in there and get this over with." He really had no idea why we were there. It hadn't sunk in yet that we were having a baby. 

At Christmas, I had revealed to both my husband and son that I was pregnant. Jason's last gift was a shirt that read, "Big Brother." My husband helped him open it. Jason was not impressed with his shirt and disappointed that I didn't include a pair of pants. My husband read the shirt several times before looking at me blankly. "Are you pregnant?" "Are you serious?" He repeated these two questions several times before it finally sunk in.

Two weeks ago I was here at the lab alone, and she could not find a heartbeat. She made a couple of jokes about how it was my right ovary that had gotten me into trouble, and she smiled as she pointed out that the baby was located in a good spot. Sensing my concern, she comforted me and told me that the baby was a little small, and more than likely, we were just off on my due date. It was still very early in my pregnancy.

When I was pregnant with Jason we had some problems in the first trimester. I had a lot of bleeding. My sister had taken me to the emergency room one afternoon when it was particularly bad, and after five hours in the waiting room, a doctor finally saw me. He said he saw a lot of blood, and it looked like a "threatened abortion." Of course, I had no idea what he was saying and got hysterical almost immediately thinking he had gotten confused on why I was there. I didn't want an abortion. He then told me that there was no amount of blood that was normal in pregnancy. I had no idea if he meant that a woman couldn't bleed or that there was no predetermined amount of blood that would be typical. All I had wanted was a sonogram, and when I asked he simply said, "We cannot change the events that are taking place, and even if there is a heartbeat now, that doesn't mean anything." He left the room leaving me more confused than I was when I had gone in. As I got dressed the nurse told me to go home and prepare for a miscarriage. We were devastated.

Obviously though, we have Jason. We did not miscarry. My OBGYN said bleeding was not abnormal, and about 30% of women do so during their first trimester. She put me on a high risk pregnancy label, and I had my blood drawn every few days to make sure the hormone count was increasing. Many months later, I had a healthy 8 lb baby boy.

With this pregnancy I had been bleeding again. Because everything ended up ok the first time, I felt a little better, but I was still nervous. My husband held my hand in the waiting room and gave me a reassuring look knowing I was anxious. I couldn't tell if it was nausea from the pregnancy or my nerves, but I felt sick.

We were called in, and I had to endure the uncomfortable invasion of a pelvic ultrasound. She made the same joke about my right ovary being the one that got me in trouble. She searched around doing measurements, and I lay in discomfort. She turned the screen toward us. 

"This is the "yolk sac," but you could call it the baby's halo if you wanted. And this... this is your baby. And you can see it's tiny heart flickering. Good job, Mama. You have all your parts, and there's a baby in there."

I relaxed and was overjoyed. She added red color that lit up the baby's tiny heart as it flashed with each beat. My son sat, amazed, and whispered to his dad, "How is Mommy going to get the baby out of there?"

A conversation for another time...

She printed out a few copies of the sonogram, and typed on one of them, "HI BIG BROTHER!!!" Very proud and relieved I left the office. Our baby is doing great. All I needed to see was that heartbeat.

But still I am battling over what to do next. Soon, it will be more obvious that I am pregnant, and eventually my mom will hear that I am expecting. Is it wrong of me to not call her and tell her? We last spoke a few weeks ago, and I vowed that I wouldn't keep letting her treat me badly. If she wanted distance, she was going to get distance.

Then I struggle with the idea that I should have more patience with whatever this is.... with whatever is wrong with her. Depression... a personality disorder... whatever... Can she really be to blame for being so hateful and selfish? 

But then, why does everything have to be about her? When does this get old? I have had a lifetime of it and am exhausted with it. She doesn't have much of an interest in Jason. She sees him only on the holidays. He has never spent any one on one time with her. He has never seen her home, that he can remember. He has never talked to her on the phone. 

So, why would I think she would be excited about a new baby? Why should I put my children through something I can't explain to them? I struggle between being a better daughter or a better mother. Either I can be an empathetic and forgiving daughter, dutifully carrying the burden of her mother's disease, or I can be a fierce protector of my children, and not tolerate nonsense and hatefulness.

I imagine how angry she will be if she finds out from someone else. Then I imagine how I will tell her, and she will be flippant. I haven't any idea what to do.

I am so excited and so scared. Every day, I look up my baby's progress. I want to share that with my mother. I want her to cry tears of joy. I want her to take me shopping for baby things. I want her to want to be there. 

But that is not my mother. Even if I told her, she wouldn't respond the way I wanted. So, I'm at a crossroads, confused as to what I should do. Am I being immature? Or am I justified?

If only I could have something similar to the sonogram I had today. If only there was some way to illuminate her heart with a warm red. Maybe then I could know that she really does have a heart beating in there.


  1. Congratulations on your pregnancy!!!

    And you have the right to tell--or not to tell--anyone, including your mother, as you see fit. Being pregnant is enough of a burden that you don't need to add guilt on top of it.

    Sending you happy thoughts. :)

  2. I don't have a hoarder mother, but I do have a mother with what I am pretty sure is a personality disorder. She too, is not very capable of being a mother.

    After years of trying, I finally realized what was best for me and my family, including my daughter, was to just walk away from my mother, as well as all my siblings. It is excruciatingly hard at times - but I have 40 years of memories of how she would react, always negatively, always trying to make me feel bad for any small amount of happiness I had, to remind me that I am doing the right thing. And then I look at my daughter and realize that while she doesn't understand why we no longer talk to her grandmother, it's because she will never, ever know what it's like to have her mother out to undermine everything she does, she will never hear her mother tell her she doesn't love her, she will never have her mother jealous of her. Nor will she have that from her grandmother, who had already started doing that with her. It was being a mother myself that made me realize how messed up my mother was. After all, it is my job to protect my daughter, even if it's from people whom she's related to. My husband and I both think she's better not knowing my family.

    It's okay to cut those ties. When I finally cut them and got myself into therapy, I started realizing how deep the damage to me was from her illness. How I've pushed people away over the years simply because I thought that if my own mother didn't like me, no one else would either. I am constantly humbled at how much people care, how much people seem to genuinely like me, how much they want to help me in times of trouble, or even for things like starting my own business. Honestly, walking away from my mother has been one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

    I think you are justified. Congrats. On both the baby steps in healing yourself and the new baby.

  3. You are at a crossroad, and only you can determine if you're ready yet to take a divergent road. Having been there, there's so much I could say, but my story is my story. Things I've been through can give you insight and maybe courage, but in the end, you must determine your own direction.

    That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind as you struggle through your pain. Hoarders like your mother, and mine, are an emotional black hole. They suck all the emotional energy they can from others and give nothing in return. They are incapable of real relationships. The energy she is draining from you means you have less to give your children. Are you willing for this to continue?

    As much as you crave a relationship with your mother and want to help her, you will eventually have to accept the fact that this is not a possibility. There is nothing you can do to help her because she will not accept it, and she is hurting you. Are you willing to allow her to continue to hurt you? This is a fundamental question, because we, as children of hoarders, struggle with serious value issues. We feel that our needs and desires don't matter, that other people are much more important than we are. We're conditioned by our mothers' hoarding behavior to believe this. And so we allow ourselves to continue to be treated badly--until we realize what is going on and determine to deal with it, then move on toward becoming whole.

    Congratulations on the new life within you!