Tag: Anxiety


Operation Visa

Up this morning at 5 a.m. to bid farewell to my hero of a husband, off to Operation Visa. Or, as I like to think of it, Operation Please God Help The Female Hitler Who Works In The Consulate To Temporarily Get Over Her Chronic PMS And Give Us The Visa Before I Have This Baby Or Teleport Myself Across The Ocean To Her Cubicle To Break The Sixth Commandment, Whichever Comes First. We have gathered every official-looking document within a 20-mile radius and have only refrained from including Dan’s first-grade report cards because The Womanazi would tell us they need to be signed in triplicate by the king of Libya. Only if our names were Dan & Bethany bin Laden would I understand the efforts this lady has put forth to not help us.*

Exaggeration aside, I truly am worried about this trip. Roundtrip airfare to the States seems an enormous price to pay for the chance to get a stamp in my husband’s passport. Yes, he’s been approved and authorized and affirmed by every necessary Italian office, and yes, he’s taking literally every document one could possibly show to get a Visa (and then some!)… It’s just that we’ve already tried so many times, and after nine months of waiting, my sense of realism feels a lot more like pessimism.

Plus, there’s the little person inside me kicking in Morse code, “I’m coming out soon!” Which she’d better, considering that her 33-week ultrasound showed she was already 6 lbs, 3 oz. If she goes to full-term, the doctor says she’ll be 10 lbs. So, ahem, she’d better come out soon. Just not next-week soon. That would result in a 1991-style comedy caper of Dan running through the airport to catch the next flight to Italy while I gracefully hyperventilate at the whole childbirth-in-a-foreign-country-without-my-husband concept. Which I would rather avoid.

And then, reasonable fears or not, I just miss my hubby when he’s gone. Quite a lot, in fact. Sure, Natalie and I will stay busy, and life will go on, but we’ll feel the empty space at every meal and during every long evening and when we go to bed every night. Our world just doesn’t rock anymore with him gone.

So now that it’s almost a reasonable hour to wake up, I’m going to curl back up in my big, empty bed and console myself with the knowledge that at least life is never boring.


* Yes, I used a split-infinitive… ON PURPOSE. Oh, how daring I am!



I’ve been a bit lost the last few days…

This is the same week of pregnancy that I was hospitalized with pre-term labor last time. I expected everything to be different this time around–after all, no complications had presented themselves yet–but then I woke up Sunday night with the familiar tightening across my belly.

So I’m waiting it out in a haze of fatigue and worry, relieved at the permission (a.k.a. order) to stay in bed all day but disheartened at the sight of Natalie wandering the house listlessly. I wish I could do bright and exciting things with her. I wish I could be productive. I wish I could fully relax. But my mind is too fragmented to focus on any one thing; it’s skipping recklessly from anxiety to anxiety, leaving no time for perspective.

Looking up stories on Italian hospital procedures isn’t helping. Everything sounds so different, and while I can get used to different transportation systems and different business hours, I can’t welcome the idea of a different birthing environment… at least not the kind I’m told to expect. This, plus looking up pictures of a dear friend’s wedding we couldn’t attend, and I’m spectacularly homesick for the first time since we moved here.

Is it OK for me to just be a little bit hormonal and emotional and possibly even irrational tonight?


Going Hoarse

Apparently, a week away from writing was too much. Or maybe late-pregnancy unmanageability has finally settled in my brain. Maybe I just haven’t gotten out enough lately to refill my stockpile of words. At any rate, I’ve had a dry week.

Writing the last few days has consisted of me sitting at my desk in a pool of afternoon sunlight, feeling the baby fidget, staring into space as I try to corral my creativity. I’ve typed an average of one word a minute, and reading back, it sounds so forced. I explain to Dan that it just isn’t clicking, as if my brain and the blank page were puzzle pieces, temporarily mismatched.

I want my voice back, soon, while I still have the opportunity to use it. I’m apprehensive about losing my spare moments or my motivation (or both) once the baby comes; I feel like the next month is all the time I have left in the world. Irrational, I know. But once I have two little girls here, I don’t know how I’ll manage even grocery shopping, much less building a schedule that includes time just for me.

Dr. Phil would probably say that anxiety about the upcoming birth is stifling my creative process. Oprah would probably tell me that I’m not in-tune enough with my own spirit. Jerry Springer would… I don’t know, but it would probably involve getting hit by a chair. Which might be exactly what I need. Who knows?

What I do know is that making next to no progress on my writing project this week has turned me into a grouch. Grumpy, frustrated, unsatisfied, disappointed. My mind feels like a movie kept on pause for far too long–spinning in aimless circles, leaving the rest of the story unplayed. I also feel guilty that my blog entries haven’t been the happy, waltz-y, sunshine-with-a-balloon-on-top variety. I guess I’ve gone most of my life putting on a good face no matter what, and it feels intrinsically wrong to admit ugly, gritty, human things like frustration.

I’ll keep trying to write, just to prove that I can. I’m very, very good at beginning projects, and very, very bad at finishing them; it’s my version of smoking, and I want to kick the habit. I only have one question… Am I desperate enough to actually conquer myself this time?


All That Time

So you don’t currently have a job; what do you do with all that time?

8:00a – Wake up. Wonder why I feel like a poorly-engineered hybrid between a whale and overcooked spaghetti. Wonder also why my internal organs feel as though they’ve been through a 40-round boxing match. Have the vague sense that I used to have abdominal muscles, but can’t quite remember where I put them.

8:03a – Remember I’m 7 months pregnant. Ah.

8:15a – Set table, pour juice, get out vitamins, cut bananas for cereal, gather napkins from afar… and realize husband and daughter have already finished breakfast. Feel horridly motherish.

8:45a – 10:25a – Clean up from breakfast, sweep house, primp, re-sweep house after Natalie procures fresh dirt from her secret stockpile, run two loads of laundry, water flowers, sing forty-five verses of “Old MacDonald” (including the ever-popular elephant and kangaroo variations), dress Natalie, wipe Natalie’s nose 5,142 times (how did she manage to catch a cold in August?), clean Natalie’s room, wipe Natalie’s nose another 4,916 times, and sing on demand “the Elmo song,” “the Ernie song,” “the Bert song,” “the Barney song,” “the tomato song,” and “the broccoli song” (guess how many of those I actually know?).*

10:26a – 11:45a – “Mommy, you want to read a story?” Translation: “Mommy, I want you to read me every story we own, and then some more, until your vocal chords start making horrible grating noises. And then just one more, pleeeeeeease?”

11:46a – 12:35p – Let MP3 player take over Sesame Street Sing-along duties. Channel my inner Martha and prepare an unrecognizable form of chicken for lunch, using things like capers and fresh rosemary from my little balcony garden. Feel very impressive and Ratatouille.

12:36p – Wonder why I’m melting into puddles of sweat, steaming like a teakettle, and then evaporating when such pleasant, mild breezes are blowing through the windows. Wonder also why I find myself on the brink of starvation just half an hour before lunch. Fight the urge to consume a pre-lunch snack of everything in our cupboards. Conclude death is imminent.

12:40p – Remember I’m 7 months pregnant. Right.

12:45p – Put deliciously clean, sunshine-scented sheets on beds. Fight the overwhelming urge to nap for an hour or four (see above).

1:02p – Suddenly realize gourmet chicken contraption has been in oven for… a while. Discover it burnt, of course. On cue, polenta explodes all over stove and grievously injures my finger. Feel not so much like Martha Stewart, more like Mr. Bean.

1:15p – Welcome husband home for “Blackened Chicken Medley” and “Firecracker Polenta.” Enjoy lunch despite itself. Bravely conquer dishes despite wounded finger, and feel a little like William Wallace.

2:15p – Finally collapse onto lovely clean sheets to nap.

2:45p – Can’t.

2:50p – Dan, getting ready to go back to work, invites me to go with him to the electronics store tonight. Fondly reminisce about last night’s trip to the electronics store in which I inadvertently set off the store alarm and, in my consternation over our bus being 15 minutes late, left our bag at the bus stop, giving Dan the unique opportunity to run frantically through town in the dark to rescue our new telephone, which turned out not to be in its box in the first place. I opt to stay home.

3:00p – Settle onto couch with laptop and aspirations of grandeur. Nothing will stop me from writing this afternoon!

3:01p – Natalie wakes up crying and rubbing her head. Soothe, kiss, and put her back to sleep. Wonder mildly if she could have head lice.

3:10p – Wish I knew what lice looked like. Resist impulse to reawake Natalie and search every pore on her scalp.

3:14p – Start to feel terrified of couch, bed, own hair, and every other soft substance in our house. Wonder where one goes to buy industrial-strength gasoline in this town.

3:18p – Reflect that if bugs are found occupying heads of anyone in a 20-mile radius, I will surely die.

3:19 – 3:26p – Shudder violently.

3:27p – Tired, tired, tired from all this worrying. Doze off despite my newfound phobia of pillows. Firmly resolve to be up by 4:00. I will write this afternoon!

4:00p – Press snooze.

5:15p – Wake up. Stare at ceiling during that buffer zone between waking up and getting up in which I closely resemble the undead.

5:20p – Get up, though still a zombie. Snack: brains. I mean, popcorn.

5:30p – And coffee yogurt, because I’m adventurous like that. (And also because, despite the widely-known fact that coffee and yogurt should never mix, it’s spectacularly yummy.)

5:35p – And wafers, which are basically crisped air with vanilla creme filling, yet snacks nonetheless.

5:40p – Natalie: “Mommy, my head hurts!” (Rub, rub, rub.) Me: “Why does your head hurt?” Natalie, shrugging: “I don’t know anymore.” Call husband to see if the internet knows whether Natalie has lice or not.

5:55p – The internet isn’t sure but can tell me how to save 15% or more on my car insurance. So helpful.

6:10p – Give Natalie shampoo of the century. Remind her 46 times to stop drinking the bathwater (a favorite pastime of hers since her very first bath).

6:40p – Peel off her scalp and dissect it with the finest-toothed comb in modern history. Find nothing growing on it but hair. Rejoice!

6:50p – Wonder why else Natalie’s head would hurt. Can only think of leprosy. Feel slightly like House, M.D.

6:55p – Natalie starts chanting, “PLAYGROUND! PLAYGROUND! PLAYGROUND!” Am amazed that she remembers my promise of a trip to the playground from 9 hours ago, while I cannot seem to remember why my own stomach looks like a watermelon. Revisit fears that other moms will criticize, ostracize, and possibly throw gravel at me for not speaking perfect Italian.

7:00p – Look at Natalie’s bright, expectant little face, suck up my fears, and walk with her to playground. Natalie surveys the 803 other children running amok around all the exciting equipment and opts instead to sit in a pile of gravel already occupied by a little girl, her mother, and a plastic shovel (“I help play!”). Ask the mother if it is OK for us to join them, and she briefly says yes without looking up. Awkward silence ensues. Feel like a trespasser. Quite certain of being prosecuted.

7:15p – Hear mother speaking to daughter in… well, not-Italian (something closer to a coughing fit actually). Realize that I might not be the only foreigner in Italy. Realize that I might not be the only woman at the playground afraid of talking. Realize I’ve been wretchedly pathetic.

7:20p – 8:00p – Start a conversation with the other mother. Help Natalie make a new friend. Relax. Feel like Wonder Woman.

8:01p – Dan returns from non-disastrous (i.e. – wifeless) trip to electronics store, and we settle into our evening together. Am happy to be.


The Belly Nears Its Expiration Date

The moment I first suspected I was pregnant with Natalie, my stomach performed a complicated gymnastic maneuver and my mind fogged over. When I regained conscious thought, I could hardly stop worrying. Details like finding a doctor and buying maternity clothes seemed overwhelming because I wasn’t sure I’d even love Natalie when she came. Needless to say, the start of my first pregnancy wasn’t exactly the thrilling, Hallmark-worthy experience I had always imagined.

Along the way, though, excitement managed to sneak in between all the doubt. I felt Natalie move for the first time as the results from the 2004 presidential election were being broadcasted, and after that one tiny flutter, I wouldn’t have cared if the antichrist himself had been elected grand dictator of the previously free world. I fell in love with her long before her birth, but I still wished that the first weeks hadn’t been tainted by so much anxiety.

Enter my resolve to thoroughly enjoy this pregnancy. And I have enjoyed it, from the moment Dan’s smile told me we had our blue plus sign (I was too nervous to look for myself). It’s been so much easier, physically and emotionally, than last time, and I love the wriggly roundness in my belly that means our family is finally complete.

Lately, though, my pregnancy has been on the back burner of my mind. I suppose it could have something to do with moving three times in one summer, learning a new language, hanging out with a busy two-year-old, etc. At any rate, my stomach did another highly athletic move this week when I realized that we only have ten weeks before we meet our baby girl face to face (and quite possibly fewer, considering how early Natalie decided to make her appearance). Where in the world did time go?

While I have zero (0) clue how life will function with two little girls, I can’t wait to find out. I can’t wait to cuddle my newest daughter and watch my oldest learn how to love in a new way. I can’t wait to see my husband’s face glow even brighter as yet another female wraps herself around his heart. I can’t wait to tell people our baby’s name and have her warmly welcomed into the world.

Ten weeks…

::Deep breath. Smile::


Test Anxiety

Today was going to be The Day, the Yes or No Day. And, instead, we’re still very much stuck in the familiar territory Not Yet. A measly computer glitch now stands in the way of us seeing whether the door to Italy is open or closed.

And I can only find the energy to wonder…

Does he want to keep us pinned to Delaware, though our hearts are far away?

Is it punishment? A test of faith? A test of commonsense? A test of patience or emotional breaking points?

Is he stringing us along for a laugh? Is he simply standing by and watching bureaucracy string us along?

Are we supposed to be learning some grand life lesson? Is this all for the sake of a dinner-party story?

Because this is not dinner-party material. This is raw and murky and too agonizingly real to share a laugh over. This is our faith on the line–we’ve sold and packed and moved and tied off loose ends and trusted since November. We’ve used up our Plan Bs and our Plan Cs, and we’re still no closer to knowing whether our faith will be validated or thwarted.

And now comes that time of the show when my sinking mind finds out how much it believes a certain man called James:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”(1:2-8, The Message)

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