Habits

Pregnancy is a continuum of habits. Prenatal vitamins, less caffeine, no alcohol, no pasteurized cheese. Eating healthier, sleeping worse, swelling, walking, and prenatal visits.

For me, there was an added layer. Waking every day in gripping, paralyzingly fear that something would go wrong. Like needles constantly being shoved into me, reminding me that this was not a “normal” pregnancy. Every appointment was the slow torture of waiting for affirmation. I developed other habits, like languid baths in the middle of the day to calm my nerves. Using my weekly therapy session to crawl into my fears.

There were other habits associated with pregnancy and second-trimester loss. Being poked and prodded and dragged to doctors looking for answers. Paying exorbitant medical bills for testing and hospital stays as an additional insult. Habits of back and forth hope-no-hope that an explanation would somehow materialize.

I formed personal habits to cope. Sleeping pills in the first few weeks when nightmares reappeared every night. Alcohol to temper the nerves. Yoga to counterbalance body hatred. Anything and everything to get through the day: I grabbed it. I spent inordinate amounts of money on beauty products that I never would have considered previously, perhaps trying to erase the pain from my face. A daily habit of hiding behind oils and creams.

Writing became a near-daily habit. It had become haphazard in recent years as our lives grew busier, but then it was a habit, a ritual of sitting with my thoughts or the moment or the story and spilling out the after-effects.  I would wake during the night with an urgent need to check for the daily writing prompt, or to respond to my self-created prompts.  The need to write was real, and urgent.

In the past few months, all of these habits that I gripped with white knuckles to stay even-keel have cracked a bit. I am more unsteady. The self-care has taken a backseat. Habit-mode has been traded in for survival-mode, and to what end?