In this blog, I talk a lot about my son and my husband. Maybe it’s time to tell the story. It’s not that long ago. It feels like just yesterday that I found out I would be having a baby, then we found out it would be a boy. I was nervous about taking medication at first. In fact, I tried to stage a protest in my doctor’s office while I was in the hospital (not the maternity ward). They wouldn’t let me out, I felt, until I agreed to take medications they deemed were the least likely to be risky toward the baby. I was still uncomfortable, but I had little choice.
We had met in transitional housing for people with mental illness. I arrived there in maybe 2007. He had been there a couple of years longer than me and was in permanent housing already when I met him. I was on my way to the Clothes Closet where residents and people from outside that housing could pick up free donated clothing. I didn’t have many of my own at the time because lots of my things were still waiting to be brought over from storage or had been stolen in the facilities in which I had to reside during my treatment.
Chris and I started to run into each other a lot. This would not have been noteworthy since we lived across the circle from each other. Still, I did not know where he lived at that time even though he says to this day the first words he spoke to me were, “I live over there.” He saw me when I was on the bus and trying to cash a check that I’d received for my weekly funds. I didn’t know I could do it in a store, and he showed me how. I didn’t have a bank account then. He showed me where the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market was in that town. He introduced me to a few shortcuts between the corner store and where we lived. He helped me get acquainted and became a kind of guide as well as a friend to hang around with in those early days.
I did not know yet then that he had a girlfriend. She lived in transitional housing, too. She lived in my side, the non-permanent, two year program. Chris had started following me around, knocking on the house door where I was staying with two other female roommates, and just around that time his girlfriend decided to pay me a visit. One of my roommates was concerned when she wanted to go for a walk with me. Apparently, she had a history of violence and stalking. I was fine but nervous.
Time passed and the girlfriend ended up being kicked out of the program. She had been somewhat difficult with Chris. I’m not sure I should go into detail about that since it is private and over with.
During the time my husband and I were still dating, there were moments when I couldn’t trust him. He had a hard time pulling away from his relationship with his ex. I would hear gossip about him being with her. Sometimes he would tell me himself. Other times we would have other kinds of disagreements after which he would run away to her. We broke up and got back together a couple times. During the breakup, he got together with her, and I was upset. One time I even think I walked by them as I was walking over the ball park on the way home from somewhere. They didn’t see me, but I saw two people that looked like they could’ve been them lying on the grass together. He and I used to do that, too. I felt embarrassed, and I didn’t feel like saying anything at the moment.
When I found out I was to have a baby, he and I were not really together. I suspected the pregnancy and had been concerned about taking medications so stopped taking them completely without letting anyone know. My thinking and behavior changed. I fell at one point (probably my balance was off and I didn’t even know I was pregnant). This was almost two years after I moved in and I met Christopher.
The main chapter began when I was walking home all the way from where I used to study to be a Special Ed teacher. I think I had just barely managed to save myself from being disqualified from the program due to incompletes (since then I have actually been disqualified). I had walked probably over two and a half miles. I was almost home, but there was a gap in the sidewalk. I wasn’t looking where I was going and was just in my head as I was walking. I was dreaming about career objectives. I tripped on the sidewalk itself right where it ended and the road began. My ankle or maybe the bottom of my instep smashed the very corner of the sidewalk. I could barely make myself get up, but there was no one around. I managed to drag myself back to the community room. I sat there, but there was a group going on. It was Halloween or the weekend of and no one wanted to take me to the doctor. I managed to convince someone to take me to one on campus where I had just come from. I ended up getting an ankle brace and sleeping downstairs.
I was concerned about being pregnant around that time and stopped taking my medication as a precaution. It may or may not have been related to my concerns because I have always been at odds with the need to take medication. While I was injured and lying on the couch, I ended up getting really bored. When I get bored, I sometimes end up with the urge to just eat a lot, so I ended up eating some of my roommate’s white rice. I got in a whole lot of trouble for that. I felt terrible. I ended up staying in the studio apartment they reserve for some people’s family members. I didn’t do well there.
One night, I ended up in a confrontation with the director and assistant director of the program. The result was that I went to Community Hospital. They asked if I wanted a pregnancy test, and it turned out to be positive. That was the first I knew for certain. It changed my life. I’ve never been back to that particular hospital. Since the baby has been born, I haven’t ended up in the hospital much at all. I’m not sure if that’s my doing or because of all the work I’ve done at Shelter Cove and other treatment programs.
While I was pregnant, we began with one obstetrician who recommended 3D ultrasounds, which we did. The preliminary ultrasounds had all been healthy. We had also learned we were going to have a boy. Chris and I were thrilled. However, the 3D ultrasounds showed possibilities of genetic problems we had not anticipated. Chris was very scared while I tried to stay strong.
David, our son, was born onApril 24, 2010at10:41 am. Chris and I had been married on April 10th, just 14 days before. We had talked about marriage even before I found out I was pregnant. I’m not sure it’s possible to find a reason we got married or to say it was just because of the baby. I think it was not just one dimensional.
I had been due to give birth in June. David was about seven weeks early born by Cesarean. He had small holes in his heart that showed up in the 3D ultrasound, which was why I was advised to give birth at UC San Francisco Medical Center rather than locally as I had planned. All that is inconsequential now, but it is history.
The more serious medical issue was that David had meconium ileus, basically a blockage in his intestines. The hospital tried to move it or diagnose it, but the intestine ruptured. Finally, they had to have us sign papers to perform a colostomy operation. David had the colostomy bag from four days old to when he was six months old. It was very stressful. The maintenance of the bag itself was nightmarish. I will not go into detail. Suffice to say, it was all very difficult, and Chris was out of work since he felt like helping in the beginning. Even when he returned to work, he would sometimes miss it in order to go up toSan Franciscowith his mother and me or to go to local pediatric appointments.
I did not know for a long time Chris had relapsed on drugs and alcohol. This got to be more of a problem later on, but the mere fact was always a problem to me. I did not feel it safe while having a young baby. Chris went off his medication for a long time. We would also argue quite a lot and lose our focus taking care of our son. It was very hard. I feel bad for that part of our time together.
I stayed with my mother-in-law at the suggestion of a social worker. It was not the best situation and caused dissention between me, Chris’ sister and Chris. I was there last year from about October to just before Christmas. I had Thanksgiving with my mother but prayed really hard to be with my husband as a family for David’s first Christmas. Maybe God’s trade was that we could be together that Christmas but none anymore after that. Who can say, right?
Chris and I only lived together until just after Christmas. We had been fighting all the way through the holidays. I am a vegan, but I forget what I had for Christmas that year for myself. All I remember was making two Cornish hens for Chris, not knowing how to cook them, and them being very dry at the end. I remember getting very angry at him in the supermarket over him eating a loaf of bread before paying for it. An argument over a loaf of bread; I am so ashamed. I remember Chris had bought a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree with one red ornament just like in the movie.
When Chris left, we got into the worst argument we’ve ever had. I won’t go into details. It resulted in the social worker telling him we shouldn’t live together if we can’t get along. She recommended a divorce. We have just remained living apart.
I kept taking care of David up untilApril 5, 2011. My mother-in-law took him up toSan Franciscowith us for a genetic result. Everything was fine, but they wanted to do a test on Chris and I to make sure David didn’t have any other genetic problems. I was being cautious because it was an expensive test and I don’t have insurance right now. Chris’ mom got upset that I wouldn’t “just get a poke in the arm” for my son. We got into quite an argument. Sometimes Chris tells me “everyone argues.” Call me crazy (some folks will anyway), but I don’t like arguing. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked her opinion and everything would have been fine. Sorry for wanting to be on good terms.
While on the ride home, mom-in-law didn’t speak to me except when I asked to pull over at Target to get something for David to eat, and she barked at me to get out of the car. She drove the car really fast, and I was concerned. The carseat struck me as not safe.
I may have gotten to the point of anxiety or paranoia at that point because I was already kind of in grief. You see, April 5th was my father’s birthday, and it will be ten years next year since he took his life. I had a long time when I blamed myself. I had recurring anniversary effects at his birthday, date of his death, Father’s Day, or sometimes other holidays. I was already triggered. My reactions on this day were not the same as they would have been if it had been another day.
When I got home with David and it was time to give him a bath, maybe read a story, put him to bed, have dinner for myself, I must not have been thinking correctly. I overreacted to my feelings that the carseat had been unsafe (a used model, but still functional). I called the emergency number, and I believed my son wasn’tbreathing. They checked him out, but they were also concerned for my state of mind and how that would impact my ability to care fo my son. Since there was no one else who could watch him, for that night, he went into custody. I went to the hospital. My mother-in-law took care of him for a fewmonths with her daughter’s assistance. Finally, they decided they could not take care of him, so they found a foster home with the people he stays with now.
During the beginning of when my mother-in-law took care of David, I was in a crisis house. There was a first assessment during that time of both Chris and me to see if we would be able to get services for reunification services through the family and children’s services department. The results of that assessment were unfavorable for both of us. It was devastating. Chris was starting to come to terms with the fact that most likely David would be adopted by the foster family, who had already agreed to do so if necessary. There was a second evaluation a few months later, the results of which were also not favorable.
Visitation with David started at twice a week, then after the last assessment went to once a week, once every two weeks, then now it’s once amonth. The foster/adoptive family will move sometime after next summer since the foster dad is in the Navy
I occupy my time hanging out and volunteering atOmniResourceCenter. I’m an administrative assistant there as well as a peer. I also am helping to organize and edit the newsletter for Our Voices. Both are peer support centers run by the same program that had our transitional housing.
This whole story leads up to now. Today Christopher and I are having a cozy New Year’s Eve at home. I might try to find the Time’s Square thing on the internet. We’re watching the movie Gran Turino with Clint Eastwood. He lives in Carmel, where we both grew up. I made myself some very garlicky popcorn, so now, it’s time to join my husband.
!!!Happy New Year!!!